Big Cities: Colin Boyd Shafer

Caring for the Elderly

Migiwa Sugimoto is a visiting nurse who works as an assistant manager at “Kurashi no hokenshitsu” (counseling room), where many Tokyo senior citizens visit to consult about their health and other worries. Of all the people who visit, Sugimoto is mostly concerned about Setsuko Maruyama, 89. Maruyama lost her husband seven years ago. Although her dementia is progressing, she is living independently thanks to the her friendships formed at the counseling room and Sugimoto's weekly visits.


Video produced by NHK in Japan.

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Cooperative Housing

People are rethinking housing arrangements in growing cities across the globe. Many are ditching the confines of traditional apartments and opting for communal living. In Seoul, three families band together to build the home of their dreams and the urban support system they’ve never had. On a larger scale, participants in a housing cooperative in Lyon band together to share space and the responsibilities of homeownership in a Vertical Village.

Featuring segments by KBS and QLM.

  • 2019-07-23T12:30:00-07:00
  • 2019-07-25T12:30:00-07:00

Traditional Practices

Looking back to traditional practices can help us find modern solutions to various environmental and social issues of city life.

In Q'ewe, Peru, we follow Victoriano Arizapana, a Native leader nicknamed “The Engineer” as he leads the construction of the Q’eswachaka bridge. Residents from four different communities participate in the three-day construction of a traditional rope bridge using ancestral techniques taught through their Inca heritage.

  • 2019-07-25T19:00:00-07:00
  • 2019-08-13T12:30:00-07:00
  • 2019-08-15T12:30:00-07:00

Immigrant Support Systems

Big cities attract dreamers from all over the world. This episode features the people building communities of inclusion for immigrants.

  • 2019-07-30T12:30:00-07:00
  • 2019-08-01T12:30:00-07:00

Historical Preservation

From the depths of a volcano to the density of a forest, people around the world are preserving natural wonders in their home cities. A docent at Mount Vesuvius shares why he has devoted his life to the volcano that destroyed much of the area in previous generations. A man in Hong Kong leads neighbors in a fight to preserve a historic forest that has become polluted.

Videos produced by RAI in Naples, Italy and RTHK in Hong Kong.

  • 2019-08-01T19:00:00-07:00
  • 2019-08-20T12:30:00-07:00

Helping Hands

Many people enjoy the anonymity found in city living, but this also creates dangers for more vulnerable people like the homeless and elderly.

In Malaysia, an organization called Rice & Roses feeds the needy, paying particular attention to those living on the streets of Georgetown, Penang. The group of volunteers prepares meals and delivers them, and offers free education to street children.

  • 2019-08-06T12:30:00-07:00
  • 2019-08-08T12:30:00-07:00

Living With Water

Great water demands require greater water solutions to keep big cities afloat.

Water activists combat climate change and illegal wetland development that is causing towns to flood in Argentina. Graciela Capodoglio founded the Natural Reserve of Pilar to preserve the floodplain ecosystem in the province of Buenos Aires.

In Mexico City, citizens formed an organization using innovative education models and technologies to address the city’s water shortage issues.

Videos produced by Construir TV in Argentina and SPR in Mexico.

  • 2019-08-08T19:00:00-07:00

Traffic Alternatives

Urban planners and average citizens around the world are working to improve transportation in congested cities. In Bangkok, an architect fed up with his daily commute studies the combination of traditional boats and modern trains to beat traffic. In Bogota, a professor and his students develop a citywide electric car sharing system to ease congestion in dense urban areas.

Videos by Thai PBS in Thailand and TAL in Colombia. 

  • 2019-08-15T19:00:00-07:00