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.

“The Great Good Place”

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I am very excited to meet Dr. Ray Oldenburg this coming week. Oldenburg is the author of The Great Good Place, which began the conversation about the importance of “third spaces” like coffee shops, cafes, parks and public gathering spaces.  My friends at St. Petersburg Preservation are bringing him into town for a lecture and were gracious enough to arrange for us to meet.

Place makers today take for granted the idea of the importance of the third space – that which is not home or work.  Yet when Dr. Oldenburg first published his book in 1989, this was a revolutionary as Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone or Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class.  Third spaces today are seen as key drivers in successful places because of the social interaction they engender, the equality of status they convey upon citizens and the general good feelings (love if you will!) they create.  Yet less than a generation ago, these things were thought frivolous and ‘nice to have’ but not necessary.  How far we have come and we have pioneers like Dr. Oldenburg to thank for the great places we now enjoy.

Poynter Institute – The Future of Journalism

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I am honored to have been asked to speak at the renowned Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL, on the future of journalism on Friday, October 28, 2011.  Poynter is hosting TEDx Poynter Institute to specifically discuss this critical issue from multiple perspectives.  My talk will emphasize the role of social media and emergence of “unofficial” actors in the arena which mirrors the rise of these same citizen actors in community development areas.  

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

TEDx Tampa Bay Presentation

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It was my honor to be part of TEDx Tampa Bay for the second year in a row.  As part of the team that produces the event, I have been able to work with people who are passionate about the community and the spirit of ideas and engagement represented by TED.  This year I was also privileged to be one of the speakers at the event.

I have spoken around the world but I will say that TEDx was one the most pressure packed presentations I have ever given.  The tight format is part of it but mostly it is the pressure of knowing you are part of the global TED community.  The global audience for these talks is an amazing array of people who are also doing extraordinary things.  This is a group that you want to impress and I hope the ideas contained in it are worthy to be part of that global conversation!

Coverage in St. Petersburg Times

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It is often hard to get coverage, let alone love from your local newspaper.  But that changed last week when the Business Editor for the Times, Bob Trigaux and I got together for an in depth interview and discussion about our cities.

St. Petersburg Times – 4/19/2011

TEDx Tampa Bay – 2011

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TEDx Tampa Bay, the locally produced TED event for the region returns in April to the new Salvador Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  This year’s broad theme – “Synthesize, Mobilize, Humanize” will feature presentations from around the region and the country. Peter has been selected to present at this year’s event and will talk about lovable cities.  For more info – www.tedxtampabay.com.