Reviews of Creating Cities

"Creating Cities is a call for action...  Marcus makes the time for urban renewal now, driven by an obsession more than mere passion. This book is hopeful and optimistic, and a perfect case study of how systemic and emergent thinking (that is foresight), can create shifts beyond what seems possible." - Kristin Alford, Futurist & Founding Director Bridge 8 (via Goodreads)

"Highly recommended for anyone who works in the arts, urban planning or just has an interesting in adding to and influencing a city's culture." - Josh Donellan, Author (via Goodreads)

"a fantastic new book by Marcus Westbury called Creating Cities which is largely about the lessons learnt from Renew Newcastle and how the lessons learnt from this innovative approach might be applied to cities more generally... If you are interested in creativity and cities I highly recommend getting yourselves a copy." - Brad Pettitt, Mayor of Fremantle Western Australia

"Marcus Westbury’s outstanding non-fiction debut Creating Cities is testament to a movement he developed ... With over one hundred and seventy businesses, community projects and initiatives developed because of Renew, it is a gem of an idea that has punched well above its weight. Creating Cities does well to document its beginnings and success from its founder. We must remember it is still in its infancy, only six years old, but is now influencing cities and towns across the globe. As Westbury says ‘Renew Newcastle has proved to be universal story not just a local one.’ 

Though physically slight in size, the book concisely and richly chronicles the way cities and its inhabitants can change existing spaces, change a mindset and change a city in the process. Read it and be inspired."Krisitan Pithie, Artshub 

"It’s part memoir, part how-to guide, and is very readable. It starts with Westbury’s frustration, on returning to his home town after several years away, at seeing the vacant shopfronts in the city centre, his desire to do something with those empty spaces and the obstacles — legal, regulatory, bureaucratic, economic — that stood in his way... He writes very persuasively about the over-regulation of public spaces, and what seems to be a determination on the part of civic authorities to squander the goodwill and enthusiasm of imaginative, dedicated people.

“What grips me is how places enable or thwart people with initiative,” he writes with the authority of someone who has fought such battles himself." - Matthew Westwood, The Australian

Some nice things people have said about Marcus Westbury and Renew Newcastle

“Australia’s most underrated city” has transformed itself “from ‘steel city’ to creative hub” including “an explosion of artists... photographers, fashion designers, digital artists and more as part of the inner-city regeneration scheme Renew Newcastle” - Lonely Planet, Top 10 cities in the world Best in Travel 2011

“a truly outstanding thinker who combines vision based on deep thinking with an ability to implement his vision. ... I would place Marcus in a rare group of people who can actually shape our community in a powerful and practical way." - Zac Zavos, Lost At E Minor

“Renew Newcastle has demonstrated that grassroots, entrepreneurial and cultural solutions can be found to social and economic disadvantage through reactivating civic space. Very few people have Marcus' determination and vision" - Cassandra Wilkinson, Author, columnist, and President, FBi Radio Sydney

"Renew Newcastle is the single most impressive piece of direct action I have ever seen." -James Vidler, Regional Development Australia

"the cost of complying with regulation can make small businesses and small real estate transactions uneconomic. Marcus came up with a clever partial solution ... [his case] that commercial real estate is prone to market failure—is pretty striking." - Justin Fox, Harvard Business Review Group

"With some 90 derelict buildings in the city, Marcus did what others only talked about- he brought life and colour to the heart of Newcastle by turning empty buildings into thriving places for art and culture, thereby creating an eclectic hub of activity." - Jodi McKay, former Minister for Tourism, Science and Medical Research, Women and the Hunter region, NSW Government

"commercial real estate in general often stays empty for extremely long periods of time — something which harms neighborhoods and lets huge amounts of economic value go to waste ... Occasionally someone like Marcus Westbury will come along and shake things up." - Felix Salmon, Reuters.

"a breath of fresh air to academic researchers lacking the essential knowledge of the field. His critique of the position public institutions play in balancing the role of culture in urban regeneration and local economic development supplies us with new direction" - Xin Gu, Queensland University of Technology

"a creative whirlwind and visionary who again-and-again has pioneered desperately-needed new avenues for creative entrepreneurs to connect, share and develop their skills" - Tom Dawkins, Social entrepreneur, activist, and co-founder Start Some Good

"a rare combination of being able to connect and inspire people ... a true civic entrepreneur if you will. You can't underestimate how hard that is to find in one person." - Neil Takemoto, CEO, Cooltown Studios

"an incredibly important model for the regeneration of urban areas in Australia, through it's unique combination of people, spaces, and encouraging of creative entrepreneurialism" - Rory Hyde, Architect and author of Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture

"this NGO does not sell anything or engage in any real-estate speculation; nor does it offer anything remotely like a permanent solution. “Permanent beta" ... There is genius in this." Bruce Sterling,

"one of the most innovative and interesting urban projects to have emerged anywhere in the last decade or so - I use it constantly as a shining example of how to make cities work.” Dan Hill, formerly of Arup, Monocle and stil ofl City Of Sound and Fabrica.

"Last year, Lonely Planet listed Newcastle as one of its Top 10 cities to visit (to some sideline heckling) and The Seattle Globalist recently declared it one of five global hipster cities cooler than Seattle. The idea of Newcastle as hot and hip may have something to do with ... Marcus Westbury ... by negotiating cheap rent on disused buildings for artists and craftspeople. The knock-on effect has been a burst of creativity and caffeine fuelling stations in the city centre and east end." - The Sydney Morning Herald