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.
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Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Instead of looking around and thinking to one’s self about what could be done to make a certain place better, our program urges folks to share their ideas and begin building support from the ground-up. That’s how a group of neighbors and volunteers in Brightmoor, Michigan, succeeded in transforming their neighborhood’s food desert back in 2015.
We are firm believers in putting nudge theory to work within organizations. Luum is a data-driven commute benefits software solution that runs end-to-end employer commute programs and gives them deep insight into how their employees commute. We’ve seen the ripple effect that even the slightest positive behavior changes around the commute can have for an entire organization and, subsequently, its city. Over the past five years, our hometown of Seattle has seen its transit ridership grow (one of two cities in the country!) and boasts a downtown drive-alone rate that hovers around 25 percent.
You may not hear much about electric trucks and buses, but they’re here and growing. We have to put the policies and actions in place now so that we can leverage the clean air and economic benefits of this technology to fight environmental injustice and give an economic boost to people most in need.