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.

Dec 1, 2015 | Smart Cities | 1 comment

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

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.

1 Comment

  1. 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

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org

Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

How Urban Industry Can Contribute Green Solutions for COVID-Related Health Disparities

How Urban Industry Can Contribute Green Solutions for COVID-Related Health Disparities

The best nature-based solutions on urban industrial lands are those that are part of a corporate citizenship or conservation strategy like DTE’s or Phillips66. By integrating efforts such as tree plantings, restorations, or pollinator gardens into a larger strategy, companies begin to mainstream biodiversity into their operations. When they crosswalk the effort to other CSR goals like employee engagement, community relations, and/or workforce development, like the CommuniTree initiative, the projects become more resilient.

Air quality in urban residential communities near industrial facilities will not be improved by nature alone. But nature can contribute to the solution, and while doing so, bring benefits including recreation, education, and an increased sense of community pride. As one tool to combat disparate societal outcomes, nature is accessible, affordable and has few, if any, downsides.

Crisis funding for public parks

Crisis funding for public parks

I spoke last week to Adrian Benepe, former commissioner for the NYC Parks Department and currently the Senior Vice President and Director of National Programs at The Trust for Public Land.

We discussed a lot of things – the increased use of parks in the era of COVID-19, the role parks have historically played – and currently play – in citizens’ first amendment right to free speech and protests, access & equity for underserved communities, the coming budget shortfalls and how they might play out in park systems.

I wanted to pull out the discussion we had about funding for parks and share Adrian’s thoughts with all of you, as I think it will be most timely and valuable as we move forward with new budgets and new realities.

3 Ways Communities Can Bond with Residents in the Age of Covid & Beyond

3 Ways Communities Can Bond with Residents in the Age of Covid & Beyond

There is a risk of further widening the gap between so-called ‘knowledge workers’ able to do their jobs remotely and afford to move, and those with place-based employment who cannot. Beyond that, retreating residents might take the very identity and uniqueness of the places they abandon with them.

Nurturing the community-resident bond could be an antidote to these dismaying departures, and new research sheds light on how. A recent report by the Urban Institute and commissioned by the Knight Foundation surveyed 11,000 residents of 26 U.S. metro areas to uncover what amenities created a “sense of attachment and connection to their city or community.” Three key recommendations emerged in Smart Cities Dive’s synopsis of the results.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Sign up for our email list to receive resources and invites related to sustainability, equity, and technology in cities!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This