Why you should care
Because the smartest ideas might be right in your own community.
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 National League of Cities. From funding early childhood education in Park City, Utah, to helping homeless vets in Phoenix, Arizona, to striving for “zero waste” in Madison, Wisconsin, take a look at these novel solutions from five cities across the country. Read the story here.
In most cities around the globe, rich and poor do not mingle much. But a movement is afoot to change that. It aims to integrate the poor into the urban bloodstream, instead of shunting them from sight. For this “inclusive cities” movement, urban renewal doesn’t require razing slums and markets. Instead, a world-class city embraces its informal workers — those who work for cash and usually lie outside the tax system, uncounted. Some shining examples: Bogotá recently incorporated 15,000 informal trash pickers into its municipal rubbish and recycling program. And in February, India’s parliament passed a law to regulate and protect street vendors, and last year saw the creation of the first worldwide domestic workers union. Read the story here.
One of the biggest minefields when it comes to developing a city can be found in San Francisco — specifically, an abandoned Navy shipyard and Candlestick Park stadium at Hunters Point. There’s plenty to hate about this project. A federal Superfund site that once housed radioactive materials. State and local bureaucracies with federal and military overseers. A landfill with asbestos in the soil. A historic neighborhood that suffers from the worst poverty and crime rates in a city where, for many, the “housing crisis” is middle- and upper-class people scrambling to find property under $1 million. Most developers would run the other way. But not Kofi Bonner, a regional vice president at mega-developer Lennar. Read the story here.
How often do you meet a man who can convince people to pay for city improvements 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 an abysmal scandal. 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. Read the story here.