Cities are never blank slates. Every urban ranking and rating begs acknowledgement of lasting cultural legacies and histories. It is essential that any quantitative assessment not stand outside of context. At stake is the difference between possessing sheer quantities of information, on the one hand, and quality knowledge, or wisdom, on the other. In order to put data into a context for wise action, Thriving Cities has created distinct city profiles for its pilot cities.

These profiles are central in that they characterize a given pilot city in relation to the Project's distinctive "human ecology" framework and research design. In applying the human ecology framework, profilers collected and analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data on each city according to the six fundamental community endowment areas. Additionally, the profile assesses the unique ways in which the community endowments interact with and relate to each other in the context of a particular city.

City profiles include conventional demographic, economic, and political data, but also incorporate information pertaining to a city's historical peculiarities, cultural norms, and community perceptions, at both the macro-community and the micro-sub-community (e.g., neighborhood) level. They will stand alone as important resources about and in service to their communities.

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Copyright © 2015 University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. This article first appeared in Thriving Cities (2015), 1-39.

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