The Metrolab 2017 MasterClass entitled ‘Designing urban inclusion’ took place just weeks after a devastating national election in the United States. The subject of the MasterClass could not have been more timely for us. For those of us working to produce more equitable, inclusive and open cities in the United States and across the world, the narratives and actions that were spewing forth from Washington, D.C. represented the most hideous convergence of exclusionary political and economic narratives that we had witnessed in our lifetime. In the year following the election, this same sense of finding ourselves in new territory seems to persistently recur. The popular appeal of these divisive ideas in disturbingly large segments of American society is perhaps the most terrifying part of the story: decades of sublimated intolerance and racism given new life in a populist explosion of nationalism and xenophobia, with an intensity unmatched since the middle of the twentieth century.