15 to Watch in 2015

I got a great shout out from the Tampa Bay Times as someone making things happen in the Tampa Bay region for 2015.  For the full list click Read more

Do You Love Your City?

What makes cities lovable? Why do we connect emotionally with some places and not others? And why does that matter? Author and consultant Peter Kageyama loves cities.  Big cities, small cities, villages and small towns.  He thinks he has Read more

City Trends – 2013 Part One

Posted on by admin in Trends | Leave a comment

City Trends for 2013 – Part One: Positive Trends

A few weeks ago I was speaking at the New York Conference of Mayors.   As part of the gig I was asked to partake in a panel discussion at the end of the event and the topic was  urban trends we had been seeing over the past year.   It got me thinking about what I had been seeing over the past 12 months or so and to look forward to 2013.  Here is a synopsis of what I said:

Some Positive Trends

DIY Spirit – The urban do it yourself spirit shows no signs of abatting.  In fact it seems to be picking up steam as it expands beyond the expected urban laboratories of San Francisco, New York and Detroit into places like Raleigh, Dallas and Orlando.  Kickstarter and other online crowdsource funding platforms have fueled many of these projects as well as new models such as the Awesome Foundations that have made giving circles hip.  Cities have started to get into the crowd sourced funding as withnessed by the launch earlier this year of Neighbor.ly which is essentially Kickstarter for cities.

Backlash Against the CarStudies are showing the young people are falling out of love with the car. Buyers between the age of 18 to 34 make up just 11% of the auto market, down from 17% in 2007,  and even drivers licenses issued to 20-24 year olds is down from 92% in 1983 to 81% in 2010.   To this age group the car is more encumbrance than symbol of freedom.  As they flock back to urban centers where parking spaces are scarce and parking fees are high, the bike, the scooter and even the skateboard become highly appealing.

And look at the current crop of cars that are targeted towards young people – small, stylish, hybrid or entirely electric.  Parking spaces that were designed for big sedans or even bigger SUVs suddenly seem like lots of wasted space.  When these smaller cars become the norm, what interesting things might we do with some of that reclaimed parking space?

Small is the New Big – A few years ago, I kept hearing “Green is the new black” as people and places got religion about issues  around the environment and sustainability.  Every city started to ask if they should have more recycling and LEED certified public projects.  That is still a powerful and very important trend but the economic crisis of the past few years has slowed or curtailed many of those projects.  And in the wake of those fiscal challenges we are seeing a huge increase of smaller, faster and cheaper projects.   Crowdsourcing platforms (see above) have gotten small amounts of money into the hands of really creative people who can stretch a buck  to unknown lengths.  Part of this is the lack of formal organizational structures to many of these projects.

Without official status, offices or full time employees, these groups are smaller, highly social and often passion projects that fill strange gaps.  For example, in Edmonton, Alberta a group called Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton has a bicycle based juicing machine that travels to peoples’ backyards when they have more fruit than they can use.  And the juicing machine was the result of a crowd-sourced fundraising effort!


Coming next – the negative trends.

Does New York City Love You Back?

Posted on by admin in Lovable Cities | Leave a comment

Does NYC love you back? This new app and website tracks the loves and hates people have for the city. As was pointed out by one resident, being able to express your emotions for the city, good or bad, is important.

Surprising Life in America’s “Dying” Cities

Posted on by admin in Lovable Cities, Love Notes, Publications | Leave a comment

Here is the piece I wrote for Infrastructurist.com which challenges the way we think about statistics.  In cities that Newsweek magazine declared to be “dying” we have seen amazing amounts of life and activity.  Recall the recent post that showed New Orleans was the “coolest city for startups”; on Newsweek’s list, New Orleans was the #1 dying city.

Check out the piece which includes the amazing Grand Rapids Lip Dub – if you have not seen the video yet, you must check out the incredible response that Grand Rapids came up with to being declared a dying city.

Group Hug St. Louis

Posted on by admin in Lovable Cities | Leave a comment

The owners of STL Style, Jeff & Randy Vines, whom I profile in the book, have come up with an ingenious idea to spread the love in their hometown. The are sponsoring “Group Hug St. Louis” which invites people from all over the area to take a picture of themselves hugging something they love about the city. Could be a building, a piece of public art, a sign or even a person.

I love the simplicity and genuine heart that this idea shows.  Way to go guys!

St. Louis Group Hug!

Posted on by admin in Lovable Cities | Leave a comment

My friends Jeff & Randy Vines, the owners of STL Style House in St. Louis whom I profile in the book, have come up with a brilliant idea to spread the love for their city.  They have created a project call the St. Louis Group Hug.  Over the next few weeks they are encouraging local citizens to  “scour the city for your favorite people, places, and objects—ones that define our city and/or help to explain why you love St. Louis—and HUG these subjects for the camera. Get a friend to snap a photograph of you with your arms wrapped around your favorite St. Louis building, business, monument, person, etc.”

On June 2nd they are hosting a party at their store for a viewing party of the photo submissions.  They will gather other lovers of the city and who knows what other ideas, projects and actions may result.   I am sure beer will also be involved.

These guys are total lovers of their city – in what they do both personally and professionally.  Their enthusiasm for the city is infectious and I can’t wait to see the results of this event.  Small things like this that engage people, invite them to contribute and make them smile create an enormous amount of emotional capital for places.

Check them out here.

Can Robocop Save Detroit? YES!

Posted on by admin in Lovable Cities, Love Notes | Leave a comment

It started on Feburary 7th when a guy from Massachusetts tweeted to Detroit mayor Dave Bing that Robocop would make a great statue for the city, kind of like the Rocky statue in Philadelphia.  Mayor Bing politely tweeted in response “There are not any plans to erect a statue of Robocop.  Thank you for the suggestion.”  Too late, a meme was born.

The idea spread like wildfire and soon a  Facebook group was created by Detroiter John Leonard.  The idea sparked Imagination Station founder Jerry Paffendorf to launch a KickStarter project to raise the money to actually build the state.  They set the goal of $50,000 by March 26th to fund the project.    A website was launched – detroitneedsrobocop.com and on February 16th the New York Times featured the story.  As of today (February 19th), just 12 days since that fateful tweet, over $59,000 has been raised on Kickstarter by  2187 people.  Several sites for the statue have been offered and the project has galvanized supporters of Detroit from all over the world.

I wrote about Jerry Paffendorf in For the Love of Cities regarding his Loveland Project.  Paffendorf had previously purchased 3000 square feet of land in the city and had begun to sell it off to people an inch at a time.   The “inchvestors” were symbolically buying into the idea of Detroit and taking a piece (a very small piece) of ownership of the city.  But his idea resonated with hundreds of inchvestors who bought their stake and “moved into” these virtual neighborhoods at the website.  The funds raised by Loveland are being used to support other community projects, including the Imagination Station,  a clean-up project that is turning two abandoned homes in the shadow of Detroit’s Central Station into public art space.

Some have suggested that this is a colossal waste of time and resources.  One article called it “irony run amok” and some a concerned that a Robocop statue will dilute and devalue the public art that is already in the city.  Paffendorf told the New York Times “Sometimes it takes a RoboCop to show a different way to do things.  My hope is that it sets an example and puts this kind of funding on the map, so when people see big problems, they can think, ‘If crazy people raised $50,000 for a RoboCop statue, we can certainly raise more to take on something bigger.’ ”

Is one statue going to save the Motor City?  No, of course not.  But what this project represents – grassroots, Internet fueled efforts by people who love the city – THAT can save the city.  Take this one small success, where they get people to invest a little bit of their money and time in the city.  They network with each other and realize they are not alone.  In fact there are many more of them out there than perhaps they ever thought (over 2100 supporters on Kickstarter and 7400 fans on Facebook).  This success gives them confidence to try again and perhaps do something bigger (or more serious) next time.  Repeat this ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times and that is real change.  So to those that think this is a silly distraction from the city’s real problems, I say it is exactly the type of silly distraction Detroit and many other cities need.