Alumni Spotlight: JOHN MASON

According to Vanity Fair, “the Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.” Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, we have put together a set of 32 questions designed to reveal the true nature of 4CITIES alumni. Or to at least give us some insight into what they are up to and what makes them, as students of “the urban”, tick.

1. What is your name?

2. Which 4CITIES cohort were you a part of?
Cohort 05 (2012-2014). 

3. Where and when were you born?
An industrial brewing town, 1991.

4. Where did you grow up?
The countryside.

5. What did you study before 4CITIES?

6. Why did you join 4CITIES?
Life experience.

7. What is your fondest memory from 4CITIES?
The friends I met.

8. What was the most important thing you learned from 4CITIES?

9. What (if anything) have you studied since 4CITIES?

10. Where do you live now?

11. Where else would you like to live?
Just Cambridge!

12. Which city have you never visited but would most like to?

13. Where is your favorite non-urban place to be?
My parents’ place.

14. What kind of work are you currently doing?
Planning consultancy.

15. What other work have you done since graduating?
All sorts.

16. What job would you most like to attempt?
City dictator.

17. What urban-related job does not exist but should?
City dictator.

18. What about cities do you enjoy the most?
The variety.

19. What about cities do you enjoy the least?
Cars and pollution.

20. What about cities do you find most interesting?
Architecture and urban fabric.

21. What about cities do you think is over-emphasized or over-hyped?
Gentrification (controversial).

22. What about cities do you think is under-appreciated?
Manhole covers.

23. Why do you think urban studies is important?
To learn how to make the places we live better.

24. What is one myth about cities that you would like to bust?
That they aren’t places for families.

25. If you could time travel, what city and year would you visit?
Renaissance Florence.

26. What is your favorite imaginary city (from books, movies, etc.)?

27. What would you like real cities to learn or take from this imaginary city?
The use of fairy lights.

28. What books, authors, or films would you recommend to someone who wants to better understand “the urban”?
Experiencing Architecture (Steen Eiler Rasmussen).

29. What changes would make cities more livable?
Better traffic management.

30. What are the most important changes cities must make in response to the sustainability crisis?
Better traffic management.

31. If you could change one thing about your city, what would it be?
A proper mass transit system.

32. What question have I not asked that you would like to ask other 4CITIES alumni?
Your favourite of the four cities?


You can find John on LinkedIn.