Alumni Spotlight: MANDY EIDSON

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?
Mandy Eidson.

2. Which 4CITIES cohort were you a part of?
Cohort 09 (2016-2018). 

3. Where and when were you born?
Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 1991.

4. Where did you grow up?

5. What did you study before 4CITIES?

6. Why did you join 4CITIES?
To get a masters degree in Urban Studies…abroad!! For free!!

7. What is your fondest memory from 4CITIES?
Making a video of one of my classmates dragging a lonely suitcase through Berlin to the soundtrack of Akon’s “Lonely”.

8. What was the most important thing you learned from 4CITIES?
The importance of applying a critical, global lens to urban issues.

9. What (if anything) have you studied since 4CITIES?
I work in community development finance.

10. Where do you live now?

11. Where else would you like to live?
Nowhere else! Atlanta is home.

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

13. Where is your favorite non-urban place to be?
Mountains…and beach, preferably at the same time!

14. What kind of work are you currently doing?
Community development finance. I just started a new job as director for Self-Help Credit Union, one of the US’s largest CDFIs.

15. What other work have you done since graduating?
Before this I was working for an affordable housing nonprofit in Atlanta, managing their loan fund.

16. What job would you most like to attempt?
My current one is my dream job!

17. What urban-related job does not exist but should?
Public jobs that focus exclusively on addressing wealth & income inequalities.

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

19. What about cities do you enjoy the least?
Pollution / trash.

20. What about cities do you find most interesting?
Local politics.

21. What about cities do you think is over-emphasized or over-hyped?
I think the perception of crime in cities is often larger than the reality.

22. What about cities do you think is under-appreciated?
The value of living somewhere walkable.

23. Why do you think urban studies is important?
I think it makes us think critically about what kind of cities we want to live in and help promote through out careers.

24. What is one myth about cities that you would like to bust?
That they are superior to non-cities.

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

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?
Incorporate more water into your city!

28. What books, authors, or films would you recommend to someone who wants to better understand “the urban”?
Jane Jacobs.

29. What changes would make cities more livable?
Walkability & public transit.

30. What are the most important changes cities must make in response to the sustainability crisis?
Addressing environmental justice & making sure low-income communities are targeted for energy efficiency improvements, solar, etc.

31. If you could change one thing about your city, what would it be?
The massive amount of racial wealth inequality & segregation.

32. What question have I not asked that you would like to ask other 4CITIES alumni?
What is your favorite dessert?


You can find Mandy on LinkedIn.