OZY Looks at Local Transformations
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because the fact that these cities can find creative solutions to their problems might offer cool comfort to those that would like to do the same.
Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. Five smallish municipalities are solving urban problems with long-range strategies that any big metropolis can learn from, creating solutions to big issues like climate change and aging populations. And we’re not talking only about the 40 percent of cities that raised fees as a way of circumventing revenue caps, according to the NLC. From funding early childhood education in Park City, Utah, to helping homeless vets in Phoenix, Arizona, to going ”zero waste” in Madison, Wisconsin, take a look at these five novel solutions from cities across the country.
There’s a new star on the geopolitical stage: the city. According to a number of scholars, cities have usurped the role that nation-states used to play. Credit metropolitan growth, or blame dysfunctional national politics. Nowadays, the modern metropolis has an Athenian city-state sheen about it. It’s mostly well-earned. While presidents fight their legislatures, and party elders squabble over ideology, cities are quietly getting things done: ramping up early education, tackling climate change, luring investment, creating jobs and, perhaps most important, modeling effective governance. That’s why, scholars say, city hall has become fertile ground for new ideas — and for mayors to build and demonstrate their leadership chops.
How often do you meet a man who can convince people to pay for city improvement while simultaneously persuading them to lose weight? About as often as you find a TV sportscaster turned four-term mayor. Meet Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City’s mayor. The 55-year-old was just re-elected to his fourth term with 65.7 percent of the vote, becoming the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. It’s unusual for mayors to make it into the national consciousness unless they govern a major coastal metropolis or fall into abysmal scandals. But this landlocked mayor is on the radar because of the way he’s effectively reviving the city by keeping lines of communication open between residents and other government officials. His health and quality-of-life measures have already earned him international attention and have raised the city’s profile.