"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"


Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)



"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster



INTRODUCTION

Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

American Public Transit Association

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.apta.com

APTA is the leading force in advancing public transportation.

APTA members are public organizations that are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail. Members also include large and small companies who plan, design, construct, finance, supply, and operate bus and rail services worldwide.

Government agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, state departments of transportation, academic institutions, and trade publications are also part of our membership.

To strengthen and improve public transportation, APTA serves and leads its diverse membership through advocacy, innovation and information sharing. APTA and its members and staff work to ensure that public transportation is available and accessible for all Americans in communities across the country.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Challenge Detroit

Location: Detroit, MI

Website: www.challengedetroit.org

Challenge Detroit is a leadership and professional development program that has invited 30 of tomorrow's leaders to live, work, play, and give in and around the greater Detroit area for one year.

Can retaining and attracting 30 of the best and brightest innovative thinkers really make a difference? Detroit is betting on it. Challenge Detroit fellows have the courage, passion, and drive to make a difference. Combine this with a community-wide effort of highly connected, motivated, creative, innovative thinkers, and the formula will be explosive!

Fellows will receive incentives to live in selected areas of Detroit.

All 30 fellows will work approximately 32 hours per week at their host company for an entire year.

To strengthen the bond between the 30 fellows while demonstrating the positive qualities of the region, Challenge Detroit, along with local organizations, will make monthly social and cultural activities happen.

The 30 will participate in monthly team challenges designed to positively impact the community while keeping the fellows as well as the followers of Challenge Detroit engaged.

During their year in Detroit, each fellow will gain new insights about the city and the greater Detroit region. We expect, through their experiences with Challenge Detroit, these individuals will be intrigued to stay in Detroit, work in Detroit, even start their own business in Detroit. And by doing so, they will have a positive influence on many other people who are looking for a great city to plant their personal flag.

You can be a part of it! Participate, support, or just follow us as our fellows lend their intellectual capital to philanthropic challenges that contribute to the growth and revitalization of the greater Detroit region.

Accept the challenge to be a part of the REVITALIZATION EFFORTS FOR ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CITIES IN THE WORLD!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vancouver Public Space Network

Location: Vancouver, BC

Website: www.vancouverpublicspace.ca

VPSN is here to preserve and celebrate public space as an essential part of a vibrant, inclusive city.

The VPSN is a grassroots collective that engages in advocacy, outreach and education on public space issues in and around Vancouver, British Columbia.

This includes challenging the increase of advertising ‘creep’ in public places, promoting creative, community-friendly urban design, monitoring private security activities in the downtown core, fostering public dialogue and democratic debate, and devising creative ways to re-green the neglected corners, alleys and forgotten spaces of the city.

We also like to devise ways to have fun in public space.

The Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN) was formed in early 2006. Since that time our numbers have grown from a dozen initial participants to over 1500 members. The Network continues to expand: a testament to the large number of individuals who value public space and view it as an essential feature of a vibrant, inclusive city.

Members are drawn together by both a shared concern for various issues facing public spaces and public realm amenities in Vancouver, as well as a desire to celebrate the role that public space in shaping the city.

Among the concerns that were initially identified were the following:

- The blurring of public and private spaces, and the increased corporatization of public parks, squares and gathering places—not to mention the city’s skyline, waterways and view-sheds,

- The need to find creative ways to (re)-green the urban environment,

- The increased presence of advertising in public institutions—including our schools, arts centres, transit shelters and elsewhere,

- The rise of private security and surveillance and its role in redefining the public space of our sidewalks and roadways and,

- The accessibility of decision-making processes around how all public space is dealt with by varying levels of government and by the private sector.

Members of the Network are drawn from a variety of backgrounds—professionals, academics, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, students, planners, cyclists, flanneurs, young, old, and all sorts of folks in between.

To join the Network, simply jot us an email and say as much. We’re interested in connecting with anyone who shares our interest in public space. We’re also looking for volunteers, co-collaborators and anyone who’s got a public space initiative of their own.

Our working groups are always looking for volunteers, so if you'd like to lend a hand please let us know!

The VPSN has monthly meetings which are open to anyone who wishes to attend.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mayors Challenge

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org

Bloomberg Philanthropies is inspired by the opportunity to find and spread innovative local solutions to national problems.

We created the Mayors Challenge to celebrate the creative problem solving and incredible innovation that is happening in city halls from coast to coast. The five boldest ideas with the greatest potential for impact will win funding as well as national and local recognition.

This challenge is all about identifying a need, solving a problem, and sharing local knowledge so that other cities and citizens can benefit from the insight and actions of their peers.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Urban Institute

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.urban.org

The Urban Institute gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues — to foster sound public policy and effective government.

The Urban Institute builds knowledge about the nation’s social and fiscal challenges, practicing open-minded, evidence-based research to diagnose problems and figure out which policies and programs work best, for whom, and how.

In the mid-1960s, President Johnson saw the need for independent nonpartisan analysis of the problems facing America's cities and their residents. The President created a blue-ribbon commission of civic leaders who recommended chartering a center to do that work. In 1968, the Urban Institute became that center.

Our Commitments:

- Use rigorous, state-of-the-art methods to analyze public policies and programs,

- Bring sound objective evidence to public policy decisions,

- Deepen public understanding of policy issues,

- Save government and communities time and money through research on effective and efficient programs and

- Work to make our Washington, D.C., metropolitan area a stronger community.

The Urban Institute is a member of theAssociation for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

OpenPlans

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.openplans.org

We help cities work better.

OpenPlans builds open source civic infrastructure. We collaborate with the public sector to create technology for more efficient, responsive, and inclusive government. Our tools address difficult transportation and planning problems — from multi-modal trip planning to public input on infrastructure projects.

Want to work with us?

Developers, city agencies, transportation officials, let’s work together to help your city work better.

Center for Transit Orientated-Development

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.ctod.org

CTOD is the leading national entity dedicated to providing innovative practices, policy reform, research, analysis, and investment tools to support TOD implementation. CTOD is particularly attuned to opportunities to leverage and catalyze market interests to support TOD, while also identifying the mechanisms through which benefits can be shared equitably by low and moderate-income people.

CTOD partners with the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to foster high-performing communities around transit stations and to build transit systems that maximize community and economic development potential utilizing the full opportunity created by the existing or proposed transit network, not just individual station area assets. CTOD works to integrate local and regional planning to generate new tools for economic development, real estate and investment issues, improve affordability and livability for all members of the community, and respond to imperatives for climate change and sustainability.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation

Location: New Orleans, LA

Website: www.nomaf.org

The New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation (NOMAF) evolved from the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to expand its mission and promise to keep New Orleans music alive by sustaining New Orleans’ traditional music cultures through our Gig Fund and our Emergency Fund.

Since 1998, the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic (NOMC) has been dedicated to keeping New Orleans’ performers alive in body, mind, and spirit by providing comprehensive health care and mental health/social services. As the “medical home” for more than 2,000 local musicians and tradition bearers, the NOMC’s Culture of Caring Model provides cost-efficient access to high quality healthcare and wellness programs for our patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

City Deals Programme

Location: Great Britain

Website: w
ww.gov.uk/government/publications/unlocking-growth-in-cities-city-deals-wave-1

The Minister for Cities, supported by the Cities Policy Unit, is working closely with individual cities and across all government departments to agree a series of tailored ‘city deals’. The content of the ‘city deals’ will reflect the different needs of cities.

We are looking to civic and private sector leaders to identify their economic priorities and to develop specific propositions, setting out what they would like to do differently, and what needs to change for this to happen. Every deal aims to give cities the powers and tools they need to drive local economic growth and unlock projects or initiatives that will boost economies and deliver a step change in the governance arrangements.

Our approach to city deals is informed by a set of key principles:

- Putting cities in the driving seat: cities, not Whitehall, are best placed to understand the economic opportunities and challenges they face. Many have already taken the initiative and begun to develop credible economic strategies, and these will be the starting point for our work with cities.

- Focusing on the wider metro area: Encouraging deals across the wider economic area has clear merits in terms of scale, geographical reach and economic governance. Deals will be negotiated with groups of authorities across a functional economic area.

- Working across boundaries, sectors and professions: partnership and collaboration between Government, cities and their neighbouring authorities, and local business leaders will be critical to delivering transformative change.

- Devolving real power to city authorities: cities need the right levers to drive economic growth. Where there are clear economic gains to be had we will look for opportunities to devolve powers and responsibilities.

- Providing incentives for sustainable success: local leaders will need to redouble their efforts in creating incentives and conditions for private sector success.

- Frontload political engagement: getting real political traction and buy-in within central government by frontloading ministerial engagement with cities.

The first round of participating cities are:

Birmingham
Bristol
Leeds
Liverpool
Newcastle
Nottingham
Sheffield
Manchester

These largest and most economically important English cities outside of London were invited to set out the powers they need to drive local growth in December last year.

In return, the cities have agreed to put in place stronger, more accountable local leadership and to spend their resources more efficiently. The resulting groundbreaking agreements signal a dramatic shift, freeing cities from Whitehall control.

Living Cities

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.livingcities.org


Living Cities harnesses the collective power of philanthropy and financial institutions to improve the lives of low-income people and the cities where they live.

Living Cities’ core values – those we believe are fundamental to the organization’s success in achieving its mission – are collaboration, innovation, leadership, and impact. These organizational values guide our everyday decisions about how, why and what we do:

- Collaboration : As a partnership of foundations and financial institutions, collaboration is core to who we are. We believe that respect, diverse perspectives and the open exchange of ideas will lead to the innovative solutions and catalytic change that our country needs.

- Innovation : We take risks, catalyze fresh thinking, and test new approaches in order to creatively disrupt the status quo, change broken systems and provide opportunities for all.

- Leadership : We continually ask difficult questions, challenge obsolete norms, and support others in their efforts to do the same. We look for strategic opportunities to promote our point of view and to move innovation from the periphery to the mainstream.

- Impact : We are committed to making material improvements in the lives of low-income people, cities, and the systems that affect them. We hold ourselves accountable for evaluating our effectiveness and are intentionally self-reflective as we strive to continuously improve, adapt, and inform future innovation.

African Centre for Cities

Location: Africa

Website: www.africancentreforcitiess.net

The ACC seeks to facilitate critical urban research and policy discourses for the promotion of vibrant, democratic and sustainable urban development in the global South from an African perspective.

In mid 2007, UCT Signature Theme funding was awarded to the Cities in Africa Project, which was a collaborative venture between the Faculties of Engineering and the Built Environment (EBE), Science and Humanities. The initiative is located within the EBE Faculty.

The Signature Theme builds on an interdisciplinary network of academics across these three faculties, which emerged during 2005 and 2006, and which was supported in 2006 by EBE funding.

This network in turn, had emerged as a result of an initiative by the Ove Arup Foundation, which had committed funds towards the establishment of an interdisciplinary masters programme in EBE (Urban Infrastructure Design and Management) in 2005, on the understanding that faculty staff would raise further funding for a related research initiative.

In 2007, the proposed new director of the Theme was also granted an NRF Research Chair in Urban Policy, allowing the alignment of these two initiatives.

Professor Edgar Pieterse was appointed to lead the Theme and take up the Chair, and he took up office in August 2007. Since then, there has been a process to rename the initiative as the African Centre for Cities to denote the focus on urban research in the global South but from an African perspective.

The ACC is a response to the growing recognition world-wide of the importance of cities, and particularly cities in the developing world. In South Africa this is reflected in the increasingly urban emphasis in policy documents at both national and provincial level.

The sense is one of impending crisis, with the realisation that rapid urbanisation also raises issues of adequate food supply, affordable shelter, employment opportunities, water and waste management, public transportation, crime and disease, and environmental degradation and climate change. These challenges intertwine with critical social processes such as exclusion and conflict, which require effective socio-political management institutions and processes.

Achieving well governed and sustainable cities is becoming increasingly important to the future health of the planet. And yet most policy 'solutions' continue to be generated by the large aid and development agencies of the global North, with a generally poor track-record of successful interventions in the very different context of Africa and the global South.

The central objective of the African Centre for Cities is to provide a base from which critique and alternatives in relation to urban issues can be launched. In Africa, South Africa and across UCT, urban-related research is highly fragmented.

The aims of the Centre are therefore two-fold to partner closely with policy-making centres in the public sector in South Africa (national, provincial, local) and subsequently more widely to provide an alternative perspective on dealing with critical urban issues; secondly to provide an intellectual base and home for interdisciplinary, urban-related research at UCT, from which relations can be established with selected international funders and think-tanks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cities of Love

Location: International

Website: www.citiesoflove.com

Emmanuel Benbihy’s Cities of Love took us to The City of Lights in Paris, Je t’Aime, The Big Apple in New York, I Love You and now it’s on to the Holy Land. The Jerusalem edition will follow in its predecessors’ footsteps by stringing together several segments created by well-known directors using the universal theme of encountering love.

The directorial roster will include three Israelis, three Americans and four from other countries. Scott Berrie of Creative Productions LLC, the company that attained the license and is co-producing the film noted, “The Israeli directors we choose will represent the population of Jerusalem whether they be Jewish or Palestinian.”

The goal of the film is to portray the citizens of Jerusalem as accurately as possible and represent all religions and national objectives. Berrie explained he is aware that the war will be occurring in the background, but it will not be the focus of the film.

Benbihy has two other installments he’ll be working on. First, Rio, I Love You in the spring of 2010, then Shanghai, I Love You in the fall. Rio is expected to be in theaters in early 2011, then Shanghai in late 2011 followed by Jerusalem in early 2012.

Benbihy produced both Paris and New York and will do so for Shanghai, but will only act as executive producer for Rio and Jerusalem. He said, "I've created a guide of more than 400 pages that explains everything there is to know about organizing production for this specific format."

Just in case Benbihy’s instruction manual does not suffice, he’ll be on-call to help should any problems arise. Benbihy also hopes to bring the series to the Internet in a short film format, but licensing issues will keep that from happening for at least another three years.

EUROCITIES

Location: European Union

Website: www.eurocities.eu

Created in 1986, EUROCITIES brings together the democratically elected local governments of 134 cities including cities in the European Union (Full Members) and cities in other European countries (Associate Members). Membership is open to the municipal governments of cities which are recognised as important regional centres with an international dimension, and normally having at least 250 000 inhabitants.

EUROCITIES works along 3 complementary strands of activities:
The city of Warsaw is currently the president of EUROCITIES.

EUROCITIES members benefit from taking part in trans-national projects, research activities, policy seminars and workshops with regard to a wide range of urban issues and challenges.

Through networking cities can learn from each other by sharing knowledge, exchanging experiences, comparing different approaches, testing innovative solutions and analysing best practices. Alongside the advantages for the participating cities, these thematic activities also provide a sound and solid basis for the development of EUROCITIES policy positions and proposals.

EUROCITIES is committed to working towards a common vision of a sustainable future in which all citizens can enjoy a good quality of life.

EUROCITIES aims at achieving a European context where cities can be inclusive, prosperous, creative, and sustainable, with democratic and effective governance, and where all citizens can be provided with opportunities for participation in all aspects of urban life - including political, cultural, social and economic aspects.

EUROCITIES provides a strong voice for cities in the European Union, and actively contributes to the development and implementation of European policies, legislation and programmes which are relevant for cities.

EUROCITIES is an important partner for dialogue with the European Commission, both on the political level and on the technical level. EUROCITIES also maintains close contacts with the Committee of the Regions, the European Parliament and the Member States.

The Brussels office carries out policy, project, human resources, finance, administration and communications work.

An executive committee, made up of twelve elected representatives, manages the business of the organisation. This is currently led by Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, mayor of Warsaw and president of EUROCITIES.

The executive committee meets at least three times a year and oversees our annual work programme, internal rules and budget, as approved by the annual general meeting (AGM).

Important decisions relating to the network are made at the annual general meeting (AGM), which is held during our annual conference. Each member city is represented at the meeting.

The 2012 annual conference took place in Nantes on 7-10 November 2012 (www.eurocities2012.eu) and the 2013 conference takes place in Ghent on 27-29 November 2013.

Our day-to-day work is conducted through six thematic forums and a number of related working groups in which our members can participate. Forums monitor developments in specific policy areas, addressing issues and coordinating activities. They also set up and monitor working groups, and draft EUROCITIES position papers. Each forum meets two to three times each year and elects its own chair and vice-chair.

The executive committee also has working groups on cross-cutting themes such as governance, neighbourhood policy and climate change.

I-Tree

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.i-treetools.org

i-Tree is a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools.

The i-Tree Tools help communities of all sizes to strengthen their urban forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying the structure of community trees and the environmental services that trees provide.

Since the initial release of the i-Tree Tools in August 2006, numerous communities, non-profit organizations, consultants, volunteers and students have used i-Tree to report on individual trees, parcels, neighborhoods, cities, and even entire states.

By understanding the local, tangible ecosystem services that trees provide, i-Tree users can link urban forest management activities with environmental quality and community livability. Whether your interest is a single tree or an entire forest, i-Tree provides baseline data that you can use to demonstrate value and set priorities for more effective decision-making.

i-Tree Tools are in the public domain and are freely accessible. We invite you to explore this site to learn more about how i-Tree can make a difference in your community.

Tree Pittsburg

Location: Pittsburg, PA

Website: www.treepittsburg.org

Tree Pittsburgh is an environmental non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the City's vitality by restoring and protecting the urban forest through tree maintenance, planting, education and advocacy.

Our vision is to be a leader in creating a healthy, attractive and safe urban forest by inspiring and engaging citizens to plant, maintain and protect trees. Trees provide substantial environmental, social and economic benefits that greatly enhance our quality of life.

Resources
There is so much to learn about trees - how to maintain them, protect them, to speak on their behalf. This website is designed to equip you with the knowledge necessary to assist Tree Pittsburgh in meeting our mission to protect and maintain our precious urban forest.

Look in the menu in the sidebar at right for a selection of specific tree-related topics. More are being added regularly, so check back often!

Have a resource you'd like to share? Is something missing? Contact education@treepittsburgh.org.

We appreciate your care and concern for our hard working trees!

Can't get enough arboreal education? Consider taking a Tree Tender Course to deepen your knowledge.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Meu Rio

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Website: www.meurio.org.br

Meu Rio (“My Rio” in Portuguese) is an independent popular movement for and by the people of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Together we are building a more democratic, just and livable city. Our campaigns and tools will help empower all Cariocas to work together to improve the city we love as we prepare to host the World Cup and Olympics.

MY RIO meurio.org.br
This is our headquarter site, where you can enroll in our missions and receive instructions on the next goals to transform Rio de Janeiro. You are also located inside of everything that My Rio is doing on the streets, the large network and in our other tools. Want to be a change agent in Rio de Janeiro?
PRESSURE COOKER paneladepressao.org.br
In the Pressure Cooker, population and social movements can create their own campaigns of popular pressure. Because all the pressure is faster. The recipe is simple: you point a problem, calls other people who want the same change directly and presses politicians, businessmen and public officials, by email, Twitter or Facebook. If you want to transform the river you live near, start here.
TRUTH OR DARE verdadeouconsequencia.org.br
Know the game Truth or Dare? In these elections, we created one way for you to find your ideal Councilman and candidate to know what people expect from a good politician. In verdadeouconsequência.org.br voters collaboratively construct a questionnaire, send a questionnaire to candidates and compare the answers. After, our Truth or Dare will get you to the polls to vote. And this is just the beginning. We are always experimenting with ways of interacting and working on new transformation tools.

The Civic Crowd

Location: International

Website: www.theciviccrowd.org

The Civic Crowd aims to map amazing initiatives and ideas for citizen-powered change, providing an open public domain resource where people can:

- Share the projects they are working on and get feedback and support from the community.

- DIscuss Ideas for improvements to their area and help realise them through local collaboration.

- Offer their skills and support for the benefit of the community.

- Appreciate great projects or Ideas to express their gratitude and backing.

- Propose actions they are willing to take to help others realize their projects

- Volunteer to support each other to turn proposals into reality.

The Civic Crowd is inspired by the Compendium for the Civic Economy, Hand Made, the Community Lover's Guide to the Universe series, and the Britain's 50 Top New Radicals project by The Observer and NESTA; but the map belongs to everyone.

This infrastructure was designed by 00:/Espians, Social Spaces, and Cassie Robinson. Special thanks to NESTA and the Hub Islington. The Civic Crowd is sponsored by Design Council.

ioby

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.ioby.org

Climate change. Toxic landfills. Shrinking parks—and wildlife.

You care about these things, and you want to pitch in. So you recycle, buy local and use only ‘green’ products. You’re doing your part for the environment. Right?

Sure. Recycling and buying local or green are great. But if you want change that goes deeper—change you can really invest in—what about starting in our backyard?

Welcome to ioby. Together, we represent a new face for change—one that’s hopeful, positive…and visible.

"It’s our backyard, and it belongs to us and our kids." –Brandon Whitney

It started with a legacy of city dwellers. These people—your everyday neighbors—created daily change. They cleaned up lots. Planted trees and gardens. Brought fresh produce to areas that needed it. They got their hands dirty. But few noticed. Joyful as it was, the change was tiny—and isolated. To gain steam, it needed power, money, people and hype. It needed a platform.

Enter ioby. ioby connects change with resources. It enables all of us to invest in change—then see (and live with) the return on our investment. These pages aren’t glamorous. There are no celebrities, no large-scale protests. There are everyday neighbors taking small steps—bringing sunlight, open space, fresh food and greenery into our backyards.

Small steps have big impact. They can ripple through the city. To us, that’s real—and it goes far. It goes beyond your intentions, beyond the abstract, beyond the simple ‘click.’ Take a look around! Pick a project close to your home or your heart—and help us spread the word.

ioby is an environmental nonprofit organization. Our name is derived from the opposite of NIMBY. We have a mission to deepen civic engagement in cities by connecting individuals directly to community-led, neighbor-funded environmental projects in their neighborhoods. We do this primarily through our web-based crowd-resourcing platform.

Crowd-resourcing is a made-up word combining the concepts of crowd-funding (the ability to pool small donations made online to a specific cause or project) and resource organizing (a core tenet of community organizing that considers activists and advocates the best supporters to ensure financial sustainability of a cause or project). We believe that crowd-resourcing is a powerful way to build support and ensure success of a project.

CITY2.0

Location: International

Website: www.thecity2.org

The City 2.0 website is a platform created to surface the myriad stories and collective actions being taken by citizens around the world.

We draw on the best of what is already being discovered by urban advocates and add grassroots movers and shakers into the mix. What's emerging is a complex picture of the future city--a place more playful, more safe, more beautiful, and more healthy for everyone.

Here are some tips for how you can enliven this site with your inspiration, stories, and projects. This site is most fundamentally about—city dwellers, urban entrepreneurs, organizers, dreamers, doers.

Create a Profile:

This is the best space to tell us who you are. What is a city, after all, without its citizens?

Share an Inspiration:

This is the best space for brief thoughts, favorite quotes, snapshots etc. Think of it as your own urban focused Twitter.

Submit a Story:

This is the best space for more thorough explanations of your most informative urban experiences. It's structured with a series of prompts, so it's fun and creative.

Citizens Union

Location: New York, NY

Website: www.citizensunion.org

Citizens Union is a nonpartisan good government group dedicated to making democracy work for all New Yorkers. Citizens Union serves as a civic watchdog, combating corruption and fighting for political reform.

We work to ensure fair and open elections, honest and efficient government, and a civically‐engaged public.

We are New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds and political beliefs, connected to our communities and united in our commitment to put the city’s long‐term interest ahead of all special interests.

Principled and pragmatic, Citizens Union is an independent force for constructive reform, driving policy and educating the public to achieve accountable government in the City and State of New York.

We accomplish our mission through three entities:

- Citizens Union of the City of New York is a 501c4 organization that advances legislation to improve our government and political system, and conducts evaluations of candidates for city and state offices.

- Citizens Union Foundation is a 501c3 organization that conducts in-depth research on public policy, provides information to the public, and promotes public policy solutions.

- Gotham Gazette, a New York City-based online watchdog publication that covers city and state government, elections, environment, education, public safety, health, transportation and housing. Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation.

Citizens Union is also guided by a set of overarching organizational values that define our union of New Yorkers and the way we work:

- Independent of Any Political Party,

- Principled, Pragmatic and Problem‐Solving,

- Rooted in New York City,

- Representing Diversity in Political Beliefs, Community, and Backgrounds,

- Mutual Respect and Civil Dialogue,

- Honoring our Tradition of Standing up to Tammany Hall,

- Striving for the “Highest Common Ground” Policy Solutions and

- Collaborative with Strategic Partners.

The term “good government” means different things to different people and too little to too many. For Citizens Union good government in the City and State of New York is expressed through these values, qualities, and actions:

- Open Elections and Transparent Government,

- Accountability for Public Officials,

- Fair Process in Decision‐making,

- Efficient and Effective Administration of Government,

- Public Knowledge of Candidates, Public Officials and Policy,

- Reduced Influence of Money and Special Interests in Politics, and

- Public Participation in New York’s Civic Life.

Citizens Union finds common ground and uses the tools of public policy, public education and public engagement to:

- Reduce the influence of money and special interest power in politics and policy making,

- Improve voter access to, and participation in, the selection of candidates and elections,

- Foster accountability and openness in government to increase public trust,

-Make more information available, increasing access to public records and expanding public knowledge of government actions; and

- Provide leadership in finding the highest common ground needed to achieve effective solutions to issues of city and statewide importance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pop Up City

Location: International

Website: www.popupcity.net

The Pop-Up City is a blog that explores the latest designs, trends and ideas that shape the city of the future. We strongly focus on new concepts, strategies and methods for a dynamic and flexible interpretation of contemporary urban life.

The Pop-Up City is curated by the creative directors of Golfstromen, along with an international team of reporters.
Today’s world cities deal with many problems related to rapidly increasing international societal, cultural, technologic and economic transformation processes.

More variableness in economic, political and cultural patterns leads to new expectations and renewals of dynamic capacities of the city. Our aim is to search for creative solutions regarding flexible urbanism and architecture. We are located in downtown Amsterdam. Feel free to contact us for all your invitations, proposals, questions and tips.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

504ward

Location: New Orleans, LA

Website: www.504ward.com

Welcome to 504ward, the home-base for the young talent in New Orleans to meet, learn, explore connect and grow. Allow us to be both your hub and your bridge, your anchor and your sail, your source for deep connection and frivolous nonsense.

Our mission? To keep you: the twenty and thirty-somethings living in New Orleans and working to improve it.

Like many others in this city, we are inspired by the influx of talented and motivated young professionals, and we are working to retain these powerful assets by providing access to jobs, leadership, social connectivity, and opportunities of all shapes and colors.

This is a powerful moment in New Orleans. While Katrina may be our nation's greatest challenge, it could also be our resounding legacy. For the first time in its storied history, New Orleans is saturated with talented networks of young people, who have followed the road less traveled all the way to the Crescent City.

In what has become an incubator for innovation and intellectualism, New Orleans is watching the development of a generation of leaders, who will pay dividends to their country for generations to come.

In early 2008, following an independent consulting firm’s assessment of the unique challenges and opportunities facing New Orleans, Leslie Jacobs, a local venture philanthropist, spearheaded the 504ward movement to engage the young movers and shakers who are arriving in New Orleans with dual aspirations of sparking social change and advancing their careers.

Representatives from a broad spectrum of New Orleans organizations have united to address the issues pertinent to this 23-35 year-old dynamic: career prospects, social engagement, and opportunity for community impact.

504ward was developed in collaboration with our partner organizations to retain the New Orleans “Vanguards,” those brave enough to see an opportunity and crazy enough to lunge for it. It is our belief that this generation is capable of delivering social and economic change, and we are committed to making New Orleans the hub of opportunity.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Atlanta Beltline

Location: Atlanta, GA

Website: www.beltline.org

Here we've outlined the who, what, when, where, why and how! Learn how we're making this project happen and about all the research and work that has gone into bringing it to life!

- The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive revitalization effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment and mobility projects currently underway in the United States.

- This sustainable project is providing a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit by re-using 22-miles of historic railroad corridors circling downtown and connecting 45 neighborhoods directly to each other.
- Federal funding for the Atlanta BeltLine is already underway. The Atlanta Regional Commission has programmed $18.66 million of federal funding for use in right of way acquisition and trail construction in the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).

- Over $4.7 million of other federal funding for streetscape improvements has already been committed to the Atlanta BeltLine. Other considerations include Transit, Transportation,

- TAD was created in 2005 after receiving overwhelming support from the community and votes of approval by the Atlanta City Council, the Atlanta Public School Board, and the Fulton County Commission.

- Importantly, TAD financing does not require a tax increase. It is a means of using future tax funds to pay for investment in the Atlanta BeltLine now.

- Some neighborhoods have continued to prosper with time, while others have fallen into disrepair. New development, new roads, and new realities have altered some neighborhoods, while others have remained virtually unchanged for decades.

- Obstacles, both natural and manmade, have created barriers separating many of these neighborhoods, and the result is a curious hodgepodge lacking a common thread — until now.

- The Atlanta BeltLine represents an extraordinary opportunity for the City of Atlanta. City leaders the world over spend decades seeking ways to upgrade infrastructure, improve housing opportunities, revolutionize transportation services, promote new job growth, and bring communities together. A success story in any one of these areas is worthy of accolades.

- The Atlanta BeltLine accomplishes every one of these elements, and as the project takes shape, it will provide a blueprint for urban renewal that will be envied and followed by cities across the country and around the world.

- There are many different ways for people to get involved in the Atlanta BeltLine. This is a project by the community for the community, and residents have an active role in every phase of the process. Study Groups and Advisory Boards are opportunities to engage in high-level discussion with neighbors, planners, developers, and elected officials tasked with making the Atlanta BeltLine .

- Study Groups are the primary way to participate in planning the Atlanta BeltLine. Created by the Atlanta City Council, Study Groups enable direct input into the planning, design, and implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine. There are five Study Groups around the Atlanta BeltLine (N, NE, SE, SW, W), and they focus on topics ranging from park design to transit planning. Visit the event calendar to find Study Group meetings near you.

- Cotywide Conversations are the primary way Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. introduces the community to concepts unique to planning and implementing the Atlanta BeltLine vision. These forums engage subject matter experts, provide community education, and promote in-depth dialogue covering different perspectives. Concepts introduced to date include transit supportive development, affordable housing, and community benefits.

- Visit the event calendar to find Citywide Conversations near you.Attend our Quarterly BriefingsAtlanta BeltLine, Inc. convenes quarterly for a citywide briefing on its progress regarding planning, design, and construction activities. You can engage the Atlanta BeltLine team and partners one-on-one and in an open Q&A format.

- Participate with Advisory BoardsThe community can serve on advisory groups by appointment from Atlanta BeltLine Inc., City Council, Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County, the Mayor and others. The two key advisory groups for the Atlanta BeltLine are the Tax Allocation District Advisory Committee and the BeltLine Affordable Housing Advisory Board. Other planning and advisory committees are created for a short term and typically technical purpose.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CEOs for Cities

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.ceosforcities.org

Today, a city’s future relies upon engaged organizational leaders from across sectors with a shared agenda and a coherent voice. With more than 250 partners from over 40 cities, CEOs for Cities is a civic innovation lab and network of urban leaders and change agents from diverse sectors, including business, higher education, economic development, cultural and creative sectors, foundations and government- dedicated to building, advancing, and sustaining the next generation of great American cities

Our customers are Civic CEOs. Rather than be self-limited by our name, CEOs for Cities’ inclusive definition of CEO means not only Chief Executive Officers but also Chief Entrepreneurial Officers, Chief Education Officers, Chief Economic Officers, Chief Experience Officers, and Chief Exploration Officers. In other words, our customers are urban leaders, and we honor leadership where it happens, regardless of rank or sector.

Our theory of change is that at a time when more than half of the world lives in urban areas, strong, successful American cities are more essential than ever to a strong America. And at a time when our federal and state governments too often are dysfunctional, cities are the best scale at which to organize to tackle critical issues. Cities are big enough to make a difference but small enough to make things happen quickly and effectively.

Cities must be connected and engaged - the connective tissue that links and leverages the human, social, and physical capital of a city is the key to its success. Cities must always be thinking ahead and learning from the best ideas and practices from all sectors, leaders at all levels, and cities, regions, states, and countries throughout the world. The world is coming at us a lightning speed, so this will require constant learning, change, and adaptation.

Our value proposition is that we are a platform that serves as a connected, cross-sector, cross-generational, collaborative infrastructure for making cities better and more successful places to live and work - places where you can build your business and love your life. We are a a cross-sector, cross-generational learning network that facilitates online and face to face interaction through national, regional, and city convenings; research; and the collection and communication of smart ideas and practices for making cities successful. Our learning network is a delivery mechanism for cutting edge ideas, smart practices, and lessons learned.

Our mission is to be a strong, deep, and broad global, cross-sector, cross-generational, inter-connected network that serves as a cutting edge online and face to face platform and collaborative infrastructure for making American cities more vibrant, sustainable, and economically competitive and successful, with a focus on investing in the distinctive assets of cities.

Our vision is to be the premier online and face to face cross-sector, cross-generational learning network in the world for creating and sharing smart ideas to make American cities more successful.

We identify first-look trends and opportunities that represent the best opportunities for cities and their residents to succeed.

We take an asset-based approach to cities, because we believe that cities are the solution to a stronger America.
Cross-Sector – We engage urban leaders across all sectors at all levels because we know that none of us is as smart as all of us

We honor leadership at all levels, including both established and emerging leaders

We connect cross-sector urban leaders to powerful ideas and to each other

We recognize that there is no single recipe for city success and that each city must find its own unique combination of approaches for achieving success

We provide data-driven research with a return on investment approach that can be translated into action.

We mobilize urban activists to execute real change in cities, and we do not insist on elusive perfection to the neglect of the achievable good.

We help cities and regions FACE (Frame, Act, Connect, & Engage) their opportunities and challenges:

We Frame and measure work in a way that is easy-to-understand , remember , and use

We Act by motivating, mobilizing, focusing, and accelerating action on memorable short-term goals that demonstrate measurable progress (City Dividends and Dividend Prizes).

We Connect with the latest, up-to-date, cutting edge information from throughout the world about how to make cities more successful, and with the people creating and implementing those ideas.

We Engage by harnessing and connecting cross-sector, cross-generational talent within and between cities for the purpose of improving their city .

City Vitals is our signature research framework:

We benchmark city/regional performance in the four areas most vital to CITY success: Connections, Innovation, Talent, and Your distinctiveness.

We believe that given the complex, interconnected problems that cities and regions face, it is critical to first research, frame, and organize work that puts a focusing lens on the city and region, and helps to see and understand the critical levers for city and regional success.

We believe that framing is critically important, because, as Wayne Dyer has noted, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

We also believe that once the issues are framed and the levers of success are identified, it’s equally important to motivate, mobilize, focus, and accelerate action that can show demonstrable and measurable progress on the critical success levers. City Dividends is our signature action agenda.

We focus our action agenda on City Dividends and Dividend Prize competitions, premised on our research and experience that measurable progress, or “moving the needle,” on targeted work reaps huge economic growth dividends for cities, and accelerates movement on important goals. City Dividends is based on what Harvard Professor Teresa Amabile calls the “progress principle”- the single most important motivator and catalyst of positive action is making progress and showing forward momentum in meaningful work.

Finally, we believe that it is important not only to frame and act but also to connect and engage. Cities must always be thinking ahead and learning from the best ideas and practices from all sectors, leaders at all levels, and cities, regions, states, and countries throughout the nation and the world.

The world is coming at us at lightning speed, so this will require constant learning, change, and adaptation. As a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute report noted, “Be connected. Rather than seeing each other city as competition, building strong connections to other cities can become a collective strength…There are potentially large benefits from being able to tap into the experience of other cities.” The cities that will win in the new networked economy are those that make their boundaries porous to new ideas and talent and demonstrate the humility to understand that there is always something more to learn from someone else, somewhere else.

MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism

Location: International

Website: www.cau.mit.edu

The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism’s objective is to become the world’s pre-eminent cultural center about the design of metropolitan environments, by articulating methods and projects to integrate separate disciplinary agendas in architecture, landscape, ecology, transportation engineering, politics and political philosophy, technology and real estate through a most eloquent design culture on scales ranging from the complex infrastructural intersection, to that of a neighborhood, on to the scale of an entire regional system.

Urban environments are being planned, designed, constructed, and retrofitted at an unprecedented pace and scale, which often precludes a rational, thoughtful process.

Global economic forces have eclipsed standard paradigms of post-World War II urban expansion and ideas of incremental urban development. New megacities are being built all over the world in record time and often without standard protocols or procedures of the established design and urban planning professions.

c Pressing cultural and environmental concerns are demanding new levels of accountability as we measure ecological performance, energy use, mobility and density relationships, and the deployment of dwindling resources.

These and other factors challenge the intelligence and efficacy of new urbanization forms and existing conventions and typologies for development. We have entered into a new era or urban growth whereby the rules have changed and paradigms of urbanism desperately need recalibration to meet today’s global challenges.

The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism’s mission comes from four working principles:

- Challenge pre-conceived professional roles and find solutions to real world problems.

- Embrace large-scale design and planning.

- Embrace technology in the design and planning of city form and function.

- Commitment to deliver real world projects and clear paths to solve pressing urban design, architectural, and environmental problems.


MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism is framed by six over branching areas of research:

- Territorial Design

We have entered an era of a new scale of design. Whether it is the immensely large-scale development projects underway in areas such as the Gulf and China, or the reconstruction and retrofitting of nation’s existing infrastructure. This presents a disciplinary challenge for designers, as existing techniques are not necessarily suitable or scalable.

The formal and figurative features that we can logically conceive and think of the very large scale need to be reimagined. Research must urgently address and develop new elements that are critical in the instrumentarium of the large-scale designer.

- Changing Systems

As our environment undergoes changes, our cities and their corresponding systems will need to adapt. Urbanism for a changing climate is first and foremost a question of rigorous systems analysis.

In part this is achievable through the integration of so far disconnected disciplines. In so doing, new opportunities arise for analysis such as through connecting datasets that have remained compartmentalized within each specialization.

- Durable Suburbia

The trend we need to expect, hope for, and actively plan for in future urban change of western cities, concerns the gradual densification of our suburbs. Our suburbs are becoming more intensely developed, putting pressure on the existing infrastructures, and as they age, they become progressively dense and more mixed in terms of class, culture and program.

This suburban transformation poses considerable challenges to the existing infrastructure and current mobility systems, and requires a re-think of domestic as well as retail culture in the suburban sphere.

- Resilient Infrastructures

Designing infrastructure for one single purpose is a strategic mistake; instead, such large investments, which are to service society for generations, can be made to serve a variety of different agendas - including not only transportation, but also real estate, ecological diversity, and public space, among others.

Furthermore, a sound infrastructural design permits utility in a variety of completely different circumstances. This is not a call to make infrastructural investments more complex and expensive; but to make them more intelligent and open-ended.

- Technological Urbanism

The steam engine, the car, the elevator, and the AC unit have in common that each contributed to a dramatic transformation in the form and configuration of cities.

We must look to new emergent technologies and their potential impact on the design, planning, and construction of our cities. We must examine the next generation of disruptive technologies and the influence they will have on the spatial order of cities.

- Ideal Cities

Ideal cities have, throughout history, provided templates, forms, and figures of our collective imagination, through which we conceive of, plan, and direct ourselves towards our common future.

It is important that this discursive tradition remain active and that we continue to formulate ideals, hopes, and especially, the forms that correspond to them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Great Rivers Greenway

Location: St. Louis region

Website: www.grog stl.org

There is a place that has always been wireless, cordless and decidedly un-virtual — Nature. Great Rivers Greenway has been preserving nature just for you. Greenways give you somewhere to go, close to home, when you feel a deep longing for time away from a screen.

Listen to a bird song you’ve never heard before. Smell the foliage in bloom. See your very first river otter and witness what nature can do for you.

Great Rivers Greenway District is the public organization leading the development of the region-wide system of high-quality greenways, parks and trails known as The River Ring. Our mission is to make St. Louis a better place to live while creating an enduring legacy for future generations.

Working with our many partners, the development of The River Ring and its greenways represents a common cause with common ground.

Clean air, clean water, healthy forests, connected neighborhoods and walkable streets provide a healthier lifestyle which serves as a catalyst for economic vitality, making the St. Louis region a better place to live.

Simply, our mission is to improve the community:

Making the St. Louis Region a Better Place to Live
Connecting Communities and Neighborhoods
Preserving and Connecting People to Nature
Improving Economic Vitality
Providing Transportation Options
Promoting Good Health

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce

Location: Great Britain

Website: www.thersa.org

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce): an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges.

Through its ideas, research and 27,000-strong Fellowship it seeks to understand and enhance human capability so we can close the gap between today’s reality and people’s hopes for a better world.

Bringing great ideas to global audiences, cutting across traditional political battle lines, carrying out cutting-edge research and development projects, undertaking practical innovation itself and by mobilising the talents and commitment of its 27,000 strong Fellowship:

in this way the RSA is becoming the kind of organisation this century urgently needs.

The Society was founded in 1754, was granted a Royal Charter in 1847,[1] and the right to use the term Royal in its name by King Edward VII in 1908.

Charles Dickens, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, William Hogarth, John Diefenbaker, Stephen Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee are some of the notable past and present members, and it has today more than 27,000 Fellows from 70 countries worldwide.

The RSA's Medal winners include Nelson Mandela, Sir Frank Whittle, and Professor Stephen Hawking.

The RSA Medals, named Albert Medal, the Benjamin Franklin Medal and the Bicentenary Medal, are still awarded. The RSA members are still among the innovative contributors to the human knowledge, as shown by the Oxford English Dictionary which records the first use of the term "sustainability" in an environmental sense of the word in the RSA's Journal in 1980.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Institute for Local Self Reliance

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.ilsr.org

The Institute’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development.

To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.

Since 1974, ILSR has championed local self-reliance, a strategy that underscores the need for humanly scaled institutions and economies and the widest possible distribution of ownership.

The United States has always emphasized the individual and deemphasized the community. From the cradle onwards we are taught that whenever “we” becomes as important as “me,” whenever the social becomes as important as the individual, we are heading down a slippery slope toward tyranny and misery.

This harsh American emphasis on individualism has always been tempered by the historical presence of extended families, of ethnic neighborhoods, of family farms, of small towns—places where people know when you’re born and care when you die. But in the last two generations we have moved more often and farther and our neighborhood based gathering places have been severely diminished.

Decisions are made in an unintelligible and inaccessible process remote from the people and places that will feel their impact. Little by little, we have lost our sense of mutual aid and cooperation. Fewer than half of all adult Americans now regard the idea of sacrifice for others as a positive moral virtue.

Some view this decline in the importance of territorial communities as an inevitable consequence of modernity. But this theory of the inevitable decline of community implies that public policy has been neutral on the issue. It has not.
For half a century Democratic and Republican administrations have consistently pursued policies that disabled rather than enabled compact, strong, and productive communities.

Urban renewal programs literally bulldozed hundreds of inner-city neighborhoods. Federal housing programs encouraged suburban sprawl. Federal policies have encouraged centralized technologies like garbage incineration and high voltage transmission lines while more modestly support decentralized strategies like maximizing recycling and composting and reuse or the use of highly decentralized energy sources. Federal tax and regulatory policies encouraged leveraged buyouts and hostile takeovers that shuffled hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate assets and forced tens of thousands of workers to abandon their communities in search of jobs.

ILSR challenges the view that localism and regionalism represent a misguided desire to turn back time. There is nothing inherently progressive about globalization, and there is nothing inherently backwards-looking about localism.

At the end of the 19th century, as we switched from wood to steel, from water wheels to fossil fueled central power plants, and from craft shops to mass production, technology seemed to demand larger scale and eventually worldwide production systems and economies.

But at the beginning of the 21st century, as we switch from minerals to vegetables as industrial materials, from fossil fuels to sunlight and wind for energy and from mass production to flexible manufacturing, technological progress may mean more decentralized, localized economies.

ILSR challenges the conventional wisdom that bigger is better, that separating the producer from the consumer, the banker from the depositor and lender, the worker from the owner is an inevitable outcome of modern economic development.

Surprisingly little evidence supports this conventional wisdom. In every sector of the economy the evidence yields the same conclusion: small is the scale of efficient, dynamic environmentally benign societies.

And unsurprisingly, we make better and more informed policies when those who design those policies are those who feel their impact. History shows that most policy innovations come from below: unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, minimum wage and maximum hour laws, environmental protection, and health care reform.
In an increasingly planetary economy, strong communities must be nurtured and protected by international policies, too.

Currently what we call “free trade” is not at all free. Indeed it comes with a high price tag: the subordination of our desire for community and equity and sustainability and democracy to the quest by ever-larger corporations to eliminate all obstacles to the flow of resources.

Moreover, the increasingly ubiquitous internet – unmediated by corporate media or big governments – plus the introduction of new technologies such as rapid translation will inevitably and inexorably overcome the inward looking nature of even the most parochial community.

We might envision a time where two metaphors guide our thinking: a global village and a globe of villages. Products made of molecules will travel ever-shorter distances while ideas delivered by electron or photon will be exchanged on a planet-wide basis.

We make the rules and the rules make us. Part of ILSR’s mission is to identify and design the new rules necessary to channel entrepreneurial energy and investment capital and scientific genius toward the creation of a global village and a globe of villages.

Both conservatives and liberals recite the proverb, “Give a man a fish and he will be without hunger for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry.” Yet the ability to fish will not keep someone from starving if he or she has no access to a net or a boat.

Even a boat is insufficient if the community lacks the authority to prevent overfishing or stop the pollution that can destroy spawning grounds. And all of these additional considerations are immaterial if the person fishing bears no greater responsibility to the community at large.

It seems oxymoronic to argue that the federal government can promote self-reliant communities. Yet we are at an important crossroads in world history.

People are clamoring for a more effective voice in government at the same time as the management of corporations are moving farther and farther away from their workers and their communities. The federal government can play a key role in mediating between local demands and global realities.

We at ILSR believe in the ARC of community: Authority, Responsibility, Capacity. Without authority, democracy is meaningless. Without responsibility, chaos ensues. Without a productive capacity we are helpless to manage our affairs and determine our economic future. International, national, state and local policies should be evaluated on the basis of how it strengthens all three cornerstones of strong communities.

Metropolitan Cityscapes

Location: International

Website: www.metropolitan-cityscapes.org

As devotees of Architecture we often travelled to visit famous buildings, not satisfied to only view them in books. Each Architectural quest brought us to places we might never have thought to visit, walking streets we otherwise would not have walked. In the end, it was the journey and not the destination that mattered. In these places and on these streets, we bore witness to scenes outside our usual experience. The array of foreign sights, sounds and smells quickened our senses as we breathed in these new vignettes of urban life.

Each journey's end left a growing desire, a need to create something we could hold onto to remind us of where we had been, a special keepsake to rekindle our memories and enable us to share stories with friends. And so the expeditions began.

We started with Sydney, then our home, walking every street, recording every building. We then moved onto Berlin, explored Paris and then London. It became an addiction. Eckard cycled for two solid weeks to capture the dense, intricate hive of Tokyo. He hiked up and down the steep lanes of Hong Kong and travelled twice to Beijing to document a city that was rapidly changing for the Olympics, taking more than 3000 photographs.

Cities are divided by a multitude of invisible boundaries; surprises are waiting around every corner. Walking every street means crossing these boundaries, a tedious process leading to exciting discoveries. We became accidental explorers, and inevitably perceived the city through different eyes.

The centre of a city, its beating heart, is a palimpsest overflowing with imagery. Layers upon layers of stories have accumulated and disappeared through time. Behind each facade, each brick, each pathway, untold stories, memories and dreams are waiting to be narrated. Above all the noise, if you listen carefully, you can hear your own tale of the city.

To tell our stories of the city, we peeled away all the complex urban layers so that only the bare bones of place remains. Each line drawn and cut on every cityscape has a distinct story. Metropolitan Cityscapes are a new vision of the city as organism. Each city is as different, and as beautiful, as we are.

Metropolitan Cityscapes is an homage to the cities we have visited and those that have inspired us. In making them, we hope to create a starting point for your own stories and experiences.

Current and former residents of Berlin, Sydney and Tokyo, Chauntelle Trinh and Eckard Buscher have a long held fascination for cities and the urban milieu. Working in the fields of Architecture and Design, they dealt with the minutiae of the city but yearned to explore the macrocosm of metropolitan life. They have been making art collaboratively since 2007.


Friday, February 8, 2013

New York City Economic Community Development Corporation

Location: New York, NY

Website: www.nycedc.org

NYCEDC is the City’s primary engine for economic development charged with leveraging the City’s assets to drive growth, create jobs and improve quality of life.

We are an organization dedicated to New York City and its people. We use our expertise to develop, advise, manage and invest to strengthen businesses and help neighborhoods thrive. We make the City stronger.

NYCEDC also helps create affordable housing, new parks, shopping areas, community centers, cultural centers and much more. How do we accomplish this?

We Develop to Make the City Stronger:

We build from the bottom up; starting with a strong infrastructure to support the City’s many neighborhoods. By leveraging partnerships between the public and private sectors, we stimulate the economy with real estate developments that create jobs, build and revive communities and improve quality of life for all New Yorkers.

We Advise to Make the City Stronger:

By providing expert business, economic and policy advice to the City, not-for-profit and for-profit private sectors, we work to ensure that New York remains a global center of commerce and culture.

We advise the City on strategic issues and devise programs that help to attract and retain world-class companies and professionals. In order to diversify and grow the City’s economy, our extensive initiatives are designed to assist the City’s various sectors and to introduce actionable plans to make our vision for the City’s future a reality.

We Manage to Make the City Stronger:

Our management of City properties and assets generates revenue while creating jobs and new business opportunities. We partner with other City agencies to ensure that our properties, which include manufacturing and distribution hubs, transportation and other infrastructure, are well-maintained and easily accessible. We also support initiatives that stimulate growth across industries that utilize City properties and assets.

We Invest to Make the City Stronger:

We provide the financial tools that allow businesses and not-for-profits to grow and create new jobs. We also fund public and private projects that generate jobs and revenue – investments for now and for the future.

NYCEDC is dedicated to investing in growth and capital but it’s not only economic, it’s also human growth and capital - New York and New Yorkers realizing a rich, rewarding and vibrant future. It is this investment and commitment that can help strengthen the City of New York.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation

Location: Cicinnati, OH

x Website: www.3cdc.org

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) is a 501(c) 3, tax-exempt, private, non-profit corporation. Its mission and strategic focus is to strengthen the core assets of downtown by revitalizing and connecting the Fountain Square District, the Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine (OTR).

Working together with the City of Cincinnati, the State of Ohio and members of Cincinnati's corporate community, 3CDC is committed to establishing a model of excellence and success when it comes to redeveloping and investing in Cincinnati's urban core.

To achieve its mission to strategically revitalize Cincinnati's downtown urban core, 3CDC has the flexibility to function in a variety of roles.

DEVELOPER:
3CDC may directly serve as the developer for targeted redevelopment or new construction projects.

MASTER DEVELOPER:
As a master developer, 3CDC provides comprehensive, strategic, long-range planning.

ASSET MANAGER:
Once a project is complete, 3CDC may serve as asset manager to insure that the goals of the project are fulfilled and outcomes achieved.

LENDER/FUND MANAGER
3CDC loans funds to qualified to achieve its mission to strategically revitalize Cincinnati's downtown urban core, 3CDC has the flexibility to function in a variety of roles.

DEVELOPER:
3CDC may directly serve as the developer for targeted redevelopment or new construction projects.

MASTER DEVELOPER:
As a master developer, 3CDC provides comprehensive, strategic, long-range planning.

ASSET MANAGER:
Once a project is complete, 3CDC may serve as asset manager to insure that the goals of the project are fulfilled and outcomes achieved.

LENDER/FUND MANAGER:
3CDC loans funds to qualified developers for urban redevelopment projects. The funds are drawn from two private equity funds that specifically target downtown redevelopment. More >

In all these roles, 3CDC works collaboratively with funding partners and the City of Cincinnati to bring stability and vitality to formerly distressed urban areas. developers for urban redevelopment projects. The funds are drawn from two private equity funds that specifically target downtown redevelopment.

In all these roles, 3CDC works collaboratively with funding partners and the City of Cincinnati to bring stability and vitality to formerly distressed urban areas.

Artspace

Location: Nationwide

Website: www.artspace.org

Founded in 1979 and based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Artspace is the nation’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts.

The mission of Artspace is to create, foster, and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations.

Artspace owns and operates 30 projects in 19 cities and 13 states. Twenty-four of the 30 are live/work projects with a total of 1,008 residential units. The others are non-residential projects that provide space for artists and cultural organizations.

Many of the live/work projects also include non-residential space such as studios, offices for arts organizations, rehearsal and performance venues, and space for arts-friendly businesses.

A “live/work” project is a residential building in which each unit has extra space (usually 100 to 150 square feet) that the artist can use as a studio. Other design elements, such as high ceilings, large windows, durable surfaces, and wide doorways, accommodate a wide variety of creative processes. Artspace live/work projects also include common spaces that encourage cooperation and community involvement.

Communities interested in having an Artspace project invite Artspace to assess the feasibility of developing a project there. In an average year Artspace makes 20 to 25 feasibility visits to cities around the country; of these, two to four typically lead to projects.

In most cases an Artspace project takes from three to five years. As a nonprofit developer, Artspace does not bring its own investment capital to a new project. Instead, it assembles the requisite financial resources from a variety of public and private sources. This is a time-consuming process, but it has an important upside: Artspace projects are fully funded when it breaks ground.

The money come from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, CDBG and HOME funds, Federal Home Loan Bank funds, Tax Increment Financing, city and state cultural facility grants, a conventional first mortgage, and philanthropic gifts.

Artspace also utilizes federal, state, and local resources available through established funding programs that assist in the creation of affordable housing and economic development projects.

Artspace live/work projects qualify as affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households under Section 42 of the IRS Code. In setting rents, Artspace adheres to affordable housing guidelines set by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD uses a complex formula based on the Area Median Income (AMI) of the city or county in which the project is located, the degree of affordability of any given unit (expressed as a percentage of the AMI), the number of bedrooms in the unit, and the number of people in the artist’s household.

While rents vary by community, Artspace buildings provide live/work spaces that are significantly larger and usually less expensive than other comparable spaces. And Artspace buildings remain affordable in perpetuity.

Anyone who qualifies for affordable housing may apply for residency in an Artspace project, but we give preference to those applicants who participate in, and are committed to, the arts.

Artspace defines the term “artist” broadly to include a wide variety of creative pursuits, including arts forms such as clothing design, weaving and canoe making. All applicants are interviewed by a Selection Committee. The committee looks for evidence that the applicants are seriously committed to their art and that they will be good neighbors. The committee does not judge the quality of their work.

Artspace, unlike “turnkey” developers, remains involved as owner/operator of its projects. In this way, it ensures that rents remain affordable over the long term.

Artspace projects are financially self-sustaining through tenant rents, which are sufficient to meet mortgage payments and operating costs. Revenues in excess of expenses are set aside for preventive maintenance, commons area improvements, and building upgrades. To date, Artspace has never had to ask a community for support for a project.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

This Big City

Location: International

Website: www.thisbigcity.net

This Big City is an award winning social media organisation sharing ideas and encouraging discussion about sustainable cities.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Families United for Racial and Economic Equality

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Website: www.furee.org

Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) is a Brooklyn-based multi-racial organization made up almost exclusively of women of color. We organize low-income families to build power to change the system so that all people's work is valued and all of us have the right and economic means to decide and live out our own destinies.

We use direct action, leadership development, community organizing, civic engagement and political education to win the changes our members seek. Our guiding principle is that those directly affected by the policies we are seeking to change should lead the organization.

The Downtown Brooklyn Accountable Development Campaign started in response to market-led development prompted by the city's Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning Plan of 2004. Since then, FUREE has engaged over 3,000 local area residents, allies to work towards addressing the negative impacts of market-led development that effectively displaced many low-income and working class families and small businesses while limiting access to basic support services our families need to break the cycle of poverty.

This member-led campaign has won two court battles against eminent domain including working with community groups to prevent the demolition of Underground Rail Road Stations on Duffield Street; the second, forcing the City of New York to provide relocation assistance to families evicted through eminent domain on Albee Square West.

Currently, and in response to the economic recession, this campaign focuses on winning changes in three main areas to ensure a sustainable local economy and protect low income and working families of color from being pushed out the community they helped build: affordable housing, sustainable jobs and access to healthy, affordable food.

Affordable Housing Goals:

- Preserve the current stock of affordable and low income housing in Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn.

- Increase affordable housing development and conversion of underutilized condominium units in Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn.

- Ensure the relocation of displaced residents of Albee Square West into city owned or managed affordable housing
Identify public policy work to redefine affordable housing parameters in publicly subsidized developments.

- Hold developers, elected officials and city agencies accountable to inclusive community development.

- Use this work to inform regional and national organizing affordable housing preservation efforts.

Food Justice Goals:

- Increase access to healthy, affordable food and sustainable jobs for low income residents of Fort Greene.

- Force John Catsimatidis of the Red Apple Group to build healthy, affordable supermarket that provides local jobs for public housing residents.

- Mobilize area residents to create community-controlled alternatives to increase access to healthy, affordable foods and sustainable food systems.

- Work with community and labor partners to develop a food-grocers apprenticeship program using Section 3 funding; use this work and findings to inform other food-grocers apprenticeship programs that will open access to food/grocers’ careers.

- Work with the City to expand healthier options in bodegas in supermarket deserts in NYC.

Sustainable Jobs Goals:

- Increase employment placement, training and retention services to increase good job access opportunities in the affordable housing (construction, maintenance, management); retail (ownership, management, support services) and public housing sectors.

- Work with RWDSU to win the Living Wage NYC bill that calls for living wages and health benefits for workers employed in publicly subsidized developments/commercial buildings.

- Win increased placement of unemployed and underemployed public housing residents through Section 3 (a federally-mandated jobs training and placement program for publc housing residents) and ensure that placements also include career opportunities in emerging job sectors, including green jobs.

- Directly address the statewide revenue crisis to win increased job creation in New York State.