What Role Will the Innovation Economy Play in Disrupting Economic Inequality?
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
A call to dialogue with fellow attendees of Meeting of the Minds 2014
At Meeting of the Minds 2014, we’ll be treated to a look at some of the Innovation Economy’s most extraordinary achievements. From data analytics to self-driving cars, capabilities that were once the subject of science fiction now border on commonplace. Simply put, the public, private and nonprofit leaders represented at Meeting of the Minds are advancing the frontier of human achievement. While we are together at Meeting of the Minds, we have an opportunity to dialog about how we can advance this frontier further: by harnessing the greatest wave of innovation the world has ever seen to expand economic opportunity for all.
There has never been a greater urgency for this conversation. The U.S. is poised to become majority-minority within the next 25 years. And yet, according to research from the Pew Center, median wealth of white households is roughly 19 times that of African American households and 14 times that of Hispanic households — and that gap is growing, not shrinking. While, on average, Americans with college degrees earn 234% more over their lifetimes than Americans who didn’t graduate high school, just 36% of whites, 19% of African-Americans and 14% of Hispanics hold college degrees. Even the long-prized American value of upward mobility is under threat today: A child born into the bottom 20% of America’s income distribution has less than a 1-in-20 shot at making it to the top. (These facts and more, along with their sources, can be found in Living Cities’ 2013 Annual Report, “Disrupting Inequality.”)
For too long, conversations about the innovation economy and those about achieving economic opportunity for all have largely been divorced from each other. The vanguard represented at MOTM can be a force for disrupting the pervasive economic inequality that threatens to undermine America’s future. Doing this will require government, private companies, nonprofits, philanthropy and others to think and work together in fundamentally different ways. In the context of Living Cities’ work, we talk about this as a new urban practice focused on achieving dramatically better results for low-income Americans faster.
Meeting of the Minds will be an opportunity for all of us to reflect on what, with respect to the innovation economy, this new practice looks like. Already, dozens of attendees have emphasized how critical it is for the group to wrestle with this important issue. The 64 bloggers who wrote for the Living Cities/ Meeting of the Minds Group Blogging Day earlier this year, for example, have already begun this crucial conversation. We look forward to further exploring:
- Initiatives and practices that have been effective in creating jobs, preparing people for or connecting them to good jobs in the innovation economy
- How we can ensure that the innovations we pioneer benefit, and reflect the needs and desires of, communities at the margins, and
- Simple things we could try, and roles that government, corporations, startups, nonprofits and philanthropy can play, to advance the frontier of practice in these regards.
Whether it’s revitalizing Detroit, putting automated vehicles on our roads, or simply building a smarter streetlight, the organizations gathered at Meeting of the Minds 2014 will have a profound impact on cities for years if not decades to come. We look forward to engaging our colleagues at Meeting of the Minds in conversation about how we can use that influence to disrupt the economic inequality that threatens to undermine our ability to innovate, compete globally, and sustain our democracy. We hope you’ll engage with us in this important dialogue:
- Come find me or Tamir Novotny on my staff at Meeting of the MInds
- Add #disruptinginequality to your tweets during or after the conference
- Check out more on the Living Cities website about the innovation economy, job creation and economic opportunity
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
Housing that is affordable to low-income residents is often substandard and suffering from deferred maintenance, exposing residents to poor air quality and high energy bills. This situation can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory health issues, and siphon scarce dollars from higher value items like more nutritious food, health care, or education. Providing safe, decent, affordable, and healthy housing is one way to address historic inequities in community investment. Engaging with affordable housing and other types of community benefit projects is an important first step toward fully integrating equity into the green building process. In creating a framework for going deeper on equity, our new book, the Blueprint for Affordable Housing (Island Press 2020), starts with the Convention on Human Rights and the fundamental right to housing.
Since the Great Recession of 2008, the housing wealth gap has expanded to include not just Black and Brown Americans, but younger White Americans as well. Millennials and Generation Z Whites are now joining their Black and Brown peers in facing untenable housing precarity and blocked access to wealth. With wages stuck at 1980 levels and housing prices at least double (in inflation adjusted terms) what they were 40 years ago, many younger Americans, most with college degrees, are giving up on buying a home and even struggle to rent apartments suitable for raising a family.
What makes it hard for policy people and citizens to accept this truth is that we have not seen this problem in a very long time. Back in the 1920s of course, but not really since then. But this is actually an old problem that has come back to haunt us; a problem first articulated by Adam Smith in the 1700s.
More than ever, urban transit services are in need of sustainable and affordable solutions to better serve all members of our diverse communities, not least among them, those that are traditionally car-dependent. New mobility technologies can be a potential resource for local transit agencies to augment multi-modal connectivity across existing transit infrastructures.
We envision a new decentralized and distributed model that provides multi-modal access through nimble and flexible multi-modal Transit Districts, rather than through traditional, centralized, and often too expensive Multi-modal Transit Hubs. Working in collaboration with existing agencies, new micro-mobility technologies could provide greater and seamless access to existing transit infrastructure, while maximizing the potential of the public realm, creating an experience that many could enjoy beyond just catching the next bus or finding a scooter. So how would we go about it?