Power to the people: New series to spotlight urban innovators
What do you think of when you hear the words “urban innovation”? Do you think of smart technology and clean energy? Or open data and civic tech? Maybe you think of entrepreneurship or creative placemaking or the future of mobility?
It can be easy to forget what these all have in common: People. Extraordinary people. Brave thinkers and doers finding new ways to make cities more sustainable and equitable for all.
This fall, Urban Innovation Exchange and Meeting of the Minds are turning our attention to the human-powered ingenuity behind transformational change in cities for a new series on urban innovators across America.
Who are these individuals leaning in to solve problems? How are they testing and growing new ideas? What impact will they have on the future of urban life?
This series is made possible thanks to support from The Kresge Foundation, working to expand opportunities in America’s cities.
To do this, we are calling upon an ace advisory group, including the editors at Issue Media Group, a network of online magazines covering what’s next in cities, and Tumml, an urban ventures accelerator empowering entrepreneurs to solve urban problems.
But stepping back a bit — why do urban innovators matter in the first place? Here’s our take: They challenge the status quo, obsess over ways to do better, and bring passion to problems in need of fresh thinking. Often we find them crossing sectors, disrupting boundaries, and cultivating exciting new collaborations with unlikely bedfellows.
Their verve keeps cities vital, daring us to dream of a better tomorrow.
By telling their stories, we hope to shine a light on not just the “who,” but the “how” of their work, to demystify the process of converting ideas into action.
Maybe you or someone you know is looking for inspiration to advance an idea and transfer it to your city? Or maybe you are in a position to help take an innovator to the next level?
Wherever you sit in the movement for healthier cities, we hope you will follow along to meet some pretty outstanding individuals working to shape a brighter future.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
I see the outcomes of Duke Pond as a representation of the importance of the profession of landscape architecture in today’s world. Once obscured by the glaring light and booming voice long-generated by building architects, landscape architects are steadily emerging as the designers needed to tackle complex 21st century problems. As both leaders and collaborators, their work is addressing the effects of rising sea level on coastal cities, creating multi-modal pedestrian and vehicular transportation systems to reduce carbon emissions, reimagining outdated infrastructure as great urban places, and as with the case of Duke Pond, mitigating the impacts of worsening drought.
AI has enormous potential to improve the lives of billions of people living in cities and facing a multitude of challenges. However, a blind focus on the technological issues is not sufficient. We are already starting to see a moderation of the technocentric view of algorithmic salvation in New York City, which is the first city in the world to appoint a chief algorithm officer.
There are 7 primary forces determining the success of AI, of which technology is just one. Cities must realize that AI is not the quick technological fix that vendors sell. Not everything will be improved by creating more algorithms and technical prowess. We need to develop a more holistic approach to implementing AI in cities in order to harness the immense potential. We need to create a way to consider each of the seven forces when cities plan for the use of AI.
In New Zealand, persistent, concentrated advocacy and legal cases advanced by Māori people are inspiring biocentric policies; that is, those which recognize that people and nature, including living and non-living elements, are part of an interconnected whole. Along the way, tribal leaders and advocates are successfully making the case that nature; whole systems of rivers, lakes, forests, mountains, and more, deserves legal standing to ensure its protection. An early legislative “win” granted personhood status to the Te Urewera forest in 2014, which codified into law these moving lines:
“Te Urewera is ancient and enduring, a fortress of nature, alive with history; its scenery is abundant with mystery, adventure, and remote beauty … Te Urewera has an identity in and of itself, inspiring people to commit to its care.”
The Te Urewera Act of 2014 did more than redefine how a forest would be managed, it pushed forward the practical expression of a new policy paradigm.