This issue of Transfers Magazine touches on some of the most important issues that we as a society face: how to attain more equality, and do less environmental harm. Our writers deliver essays about efforts to encourage cleaner vehicles and cleaner trips, to make cities more accessible to people without cars, to distribute the burden of e-commerce more evenly, and to prioritize the most vulnerable residents when we make transportation improvements. These are all topics of undeniable importance.
What makes these Transfers articles, however, is less the urgency of the subjects and more what the authors bring to them: a commitment to clarity, reason and evidence. Transfers is premised on the idea that solutions do exist to our problems, and that careful research, translated into respectful and generous prose, can help us find those solutions and usher them toward reality.
Prose is respectful and generous when it is clear: when it neither talks down to readers nor flies uncaring over their heads.
Academics have too few incentives to produce writing of this sort. Academics write academic articles, and at the risk of sounding cynical, an academic article is done when someone agrees to publish it. A Transfers article is done when almost anyone can read it, understand it, and engage with it. Publication for us is a means to an end, not an end in itself. I thank the writers who have labored to open up their work for a broader audience, and I hope that you (that broader audience) will pay that forward, and strive to make your own arguments with clarity and generosity. The world could use more of both.
Michael Manville is the editor-in-chief of Transfers Magazine and an associate professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.