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

Best Friend of Cities

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CityBFLast week my regional alternative press held their annual “Best of the Bay” awards. Creative Loafing highlights everything from Best Dining Adventure (Locale Market in St. Pete) to Best City Council Person (my friend Darden Rice) to Best sign of intelligent life in South Tampa (Cass Contemporary Gallery).  The awards are an awesome, highly creative and a fantastic snapshot of the things we (mostly) love about our community. So I was very honored that CL awarded me the designation of being “Best Friend of Cities”.

In our work, in our lives, we want to be known for something. And I think it is especially nice to be known as a friend. Think of that designation. One of the finest things we can say about a person is that he or she is a friend. So I take the title with a great deal of appreciation. My friend and in many ways mentor, Charles Landry, set that standard for me years ago by his example.

Landry is the English author of many books, the most well know being the seminal “The Creative City”. He is a global citizen who has worked in hundreds of cities all over the world. I first met him in 2004 and recall thinking that his work and career were something that I wanted to emulate. Charles calls himself a “critical friend” to cities; someone who cares deeply about places and can see them with a clarity and truthfulness that is sometimes hard for locals to muster. Think about it – a real friend will tell you when your shoes and belt don’t match. A real friend will tell you when you haircut is bad. A real friend will tell you when you are wrong.   Landry is that critical friend to the places he works with and that is something I have tried to emulate.

As the “city love guy” part of my job is to be relentlessly positive about places. I find the bright spots, the love notes and the things that make an emotional impact on people. I do try to look at the bad as well and not ignore the most challenging aspects of the cities I visit. But as a friend, I love you despite the flaws. In fact, I think I love your places because of the flaws. It is in the flaws that we strive to become better and to rise to the challenge building something.   As a best friend, I’d like to think that in good times or bad, I am someone you want to see, connect with and maybe just commiserate with. A best friend sometimes just listens. So thank you Creative Loafing for reminding me of what my job actually is and how lucky I am to have it.

Workshop with City of St. Petersburg Leadership

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On Wednesday, June 15th, it was my honor to present to the leaders of the City of St. Petersburg at their monthly learning session. The meeting brings together over 100 of the city’s department and divisional leaders for opportunities to learn and connect with each other. I was there at the invitation of St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who has become a fan of the book and big supporter of the ideas.

The group was very eager to hear about ways they can engage with their citizens without having to spend resources they no longer have. We workshopped several ideas including the very popular “what is your city t-shirt” exercise that got everyone very engaged. Thanks again to Mayor Foster and City Administrator Tish Elston for the invitation.

With St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster

5 Questions with Biz(941)

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Biz941, the business magazine for Sarasota and Manatee counties here in Florida, asked me five questions about the future of our cities. Check out the answers here!