Who is Shaping the Future of Cities?

By Claire Nelson and Nicole Rupersberg

Claire Nelson is director of Urban Innovation Exchange, an initiative to advance the growing movement of people leading impact in cities. She is also founder of the Urban Consulate, a new network for cross-city exchange launching next year in Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia. A 2015 Knight Cities winner, Claire is a passionate advocate for quality of place and civic engagement, having led a number of Detroit projects including Bureau of Urban Living, Open City, Declare Detroit, Mind the Gap and On the Ground. In 2014 she was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome and a speaker at TEDxDetroit. A graduate of Smith College and Columbia University, Claire currently splits time between Detroit & New Orleans.

When we talk about cities, it’s easy to focus on the macro – systems and networks, infrastructure and industry. But if you zoom in closer you’ll find a very different story – one of passionate people working every day to shape a better tomorrow.

This is why we’re excited to share People Changing Cities, a new series to spread stories of remarkable individuals leading urban change.

Each week we’re spotlighting someone we think is worth knowing, and we invite you to follow along at UIXCities.com. Join us to meet people like:

  • Sommer Woods, bringing her passion for community engagement to building better public transit in Detroit;
  • Rose Broome, creating an app to help San Franciscans donate nearly a million dollars (and counting) to the homeless;
  • Randy McShepard, shifting the conversation and building bridges in Cleveland through research, advocacy and community development;
  • Bobby Zappala, promoting a culture of innovation and collaboration in Pittsburgh with Thrill Mill and Thrival Festival;
  • Yael Lehmann, improving food access and healthy living in Philadelphia, and sharing best practices across the country.

What do these people have in common? They’re all deeply committed to creating more sustainable and equitable cities.

As Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis reminded us at this year’s Equity Summit: “Our cities were not designed and built for equity. It is incumbent on us to take what we have and make it better.”

If you subscribe to one of our partner publications, you may have already seen an email in your inbox. We hope you’ll keep reading and sharing these stories as a reminder that the “who” shaping cities is us.

“People Changing Cities” is presented by Urban Innovation Exchange, in partnership with Meeting of the Minds, The Kresge Foundation and Issue Media Group. Signup for emails at UIXCities.com and follow us on Twitter @UIXCities.

Discussion

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1 Comment

  1. Alex Assenov

    Ms. Nelson, I’d like to suggest the name of Zann Gill, in Los Altos, CA, included in this distinguished list, and who you probably already know (EarthDECKS.net)
    Very impressed also with your work in Detroit, on the way perhaps, on the long term, to experience a new ‘Renaissance’. Will Marchionne be the new Medici for Detroit?
    ….. and from today Rome has a new door open…

    Reply

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