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

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.

Interview from Detroit – April 7, 2011

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

While in Detroit to speak at the Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference, the Detroit Regional News Hub interviewed me.  The News Hub is a not for profit, grass roots news agency that is helping to bring the unheard stories about Detroit to the forefront.  I sat down with Jeremiah Staes and we discussed Detroit, talent and how 719 people could change the city!

Crime & the Lovable City

Posted on by admin in Lovable Cities | Leave a comment

Last month I presented to the American Planning Association via their national webinar series. I got to speak about lovable cities to several hundred planners from all over the United States. It was a real honor.

During the Q&A session that followed I was asked about the impact of crime on the relationship that we have with our city. I noted that crime, despite our best efforts, an inevitable part of the makeup of cities. I also noted that some places, like Detroit, wear their crime badge with a sense of pride and toughness. My friend Eric Cedo of Detroit says that real Detroiters get robbed and it is part of the deal.

But I have been thinking about crime and our relationship with our cities ever since.

In the book I noted:

Cites exist in a state of constant flux influenced by the accumulation of positive acts and deficit acts. When a homeowner fixes a broken step, or a pedestrian places trash in a recycling bin—positive act. When someone breaks a window or throws a cigarette butt onto the sidewalk—deficit act. When the tide of deficit acts grows, we see the larger manifestation of those tiny acts in the decline of streets and neighborhoods; the edges begin to fray, and the slow slide towards shabbiness and decay begins. Unchecked, negative acts accumulate and add up to blighted areas that may never bounce back. When positive acts accumulate, the opposite occurs: areas thrive and blossom like well-tended gardens and nurtured children.

And there is clearly a difference in the degree and nature of some acts:

All joys and all negatives are not created equal. Clearly there are degrees of acts (being mugged, for instance, is a far more negative experience than seeing rubbish on the sidewalk), but generally the old adage of one joy dispelling a thousand worries has merit in experiences with cities.

Upon reflection I don’t want people to think that I am understating the impact of certain crimes on our relationship with our cities. Crime is a violation – of our person, of our property. And when it occurs our community gets some of the blame for it. Crime is a failure of our civilization and thus our cities. So when someone is mugged, the result may be more than a lost wallet – it becomes a loss of trust between citizen and city. In relationship terms it is that breach of trust that comes when someone we trust hurts us.

The solution is not just more police and surveillance cameras. The solution is in perpetually filling the “love bank” with deposits big and small. By filling that account we can weather the rainy day that is a crime and still have enough love for our city so that we don’t up and leave.

Rust Belt to Artist Belt III

Posted on by admin in Engagements | Leave a comment

Peter Kageyama, author of For the Love of Cities,  will be a keynote at Rust Belt to Artist Belt III in Detroit, Michigan on April 6th, 2011. The conference, now in its third year, centers on cultivating talent and innovation to transform post-industrial cities. It explores the ways these cities are being shaped and reinvented by the diverse skill sets of artists, designers and other creative entrepreneurs.

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.

“Imported from Detroit”

Posted on by admin in Lovable Cities | Leave a comment

Watching the Super Bowl yesterday I was really struck by one ad in particular. It was officially for Chrysler Motors but if you saw it, it was actually more an ad for the City of Detroit and I think, by extension an ad for the American spirit.

The ad features Detroit native Eminem and Chrysler’s latest luxury car. The voice over speaks of the past generations and of community identity: “That’s who we are. That’s our story. Now its probably not the one you’ve been reading in the papers, the one being written by folks who have never even been here and don’t know what we’re capable of.” The add goes on to say “We’re from America. But this is not New York City. Or the Windy City or Sin City. And we’re certainly no one’s Emerald City.” Then in dramatic fashion Eminem turns to the camera and says “This is the Motor City and this is what we do.” Powerful stuff.

This is about re-inventing our narrative. The media, particularly traditional media is obsessed with loss: murder, death, crime, scandal, the latest crisis and another thing for us to fear. Negativity sells. Detroit has been caught up in that negative narrative. That is not to say that the there are not deep and significant problems in Detroit – clearly there are. But there is something else going on there too.

Out of this crisis is a toughness, resiliency and a sense of opportunity that I have come to know through my friends and colleagues in Detroit. That story needs to told and it needs to be heard by the whole country. If Detroit can embrace its identity – the good, the bad and the ugly of it and build upon that authenticity, then that becomes an example for every community that is trying to figure out its place and its purpose in the 21st century.

Cities like Detroit define us a nation. As much as New York City or Los Angeles may dominate our perceptions of culture and identity, at our hearts we are a middle class nation that believes in making things.  Detroit epitomizes that identity and their success or failure is all of our success or failure.  We are all Detroiters.