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September Changemaker — Topeka, KS Cluster

September Changemaker — Topeka, KS Cluster

September Changemaker is Topeka, Kansas //

This month’s Changemaker is Topeka, Kansas!  The city has recently had major revitalization in its downtown and is one of our newest City Learning Clusters. CEOs for Cities interviewed city three leaders in Topeka to learn more about the work they are doing. Topeka, KS is on the rise and see why!

Topeka Leaders Interviewed:

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August Changemaker — Sherry Ristau

August Changemaker — Sherry Ristau

Sherry Ristau, President & CEO, Community Foundation of the Great River Bend //

Quad Cities has a very interesting dynamic. Can you talk a little bit about it?
My husband Bruce and I moved to the Iowa-Illinois Quad Cities three years ago so I could take the leadership role at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend (CFGRB).  Today it is truly our home and one of the best things for us is we now live in a community where my friends and family want to visit and spend the whole weekend! With beautiful Mississippi Riverfronts, our bi-state community includes both Iowa and Illinois and a ton of great FUN with lots of both cultural and physical opportunities.

One of the things I noticed right away, both in my role as the President and CEO of CFGRB and as a proud Quad Citizen, was the ways in which individuals, businesses and nonprofits in both states use the river as an opportunity—to build bridges among our Quad Cities communities to support one another and make this a totally awesome place to live, work and play.

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Community-based Solutions for Individuals with Autism and Other Different Abilities

Community-based Solutions for Individuals with Autism and Other Different Abilities

By Denise D. Resnik, Founder, CEO & President of First Place® AZ; Co-Founder Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center; and CEO, DRA Collective // 

Taking stock of assets is essential, whether in business or within community development, , and most certainly in the case of people with different abilities. Too often, we look at our special needs population through the lens of “disability,” focusing on what they can’t do versus what they can.

In Greater Phoenix, we’ve been working hard to shift that paradigm by exploring what individuals with special abilities can do and learn, where they can work and live, and how they can contribute a valued dimension to the fabric of society.

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Vacant Spaces to Happening Places

Vacant Spaces to Happening Places

Top Main Image: CB20 in Phoenix (office + retail mixed-use), developed by Wetta Ventures, Image by Kitchen Sink Studios

by Kimber Lanning, Executive Director, Local First Arizona // 

Vacant Spaces to Happening Places | The Case for Preservation and Reuse
In the current race to create high quality jobs, retain local talent and attract great companies, several American cities are looking closely at the kinds of places educated workers want to live. Rather than solely focusing on tax incentives or other strategies to entice the desired companies, they are instead focusing on building great places where those companies want to be. According to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), an increasing number of workers have been choosing their city before their job and now more than ever, companies are reluctant to relocate to cities that have a dry, homogenized or suburban feel to them, no matter how large the financial incentives are. The workers, and Millennials in particular, are actually driving location by voicing loudly the kinds of places they’d want to consider home. In a recent study, AIER cited 70 percent of young college graduates decide where to relocate based on quality-of-life factors such as robust restaurant scene and good mass transit, rather than economic conditions.

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July Changemaker — Valerie Patton

July Changemaker — Valerie Patton

Valerie Patton – Senior Vice President-Inclusion and Talent Attraction and Executive Director, St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative //

How can other cities develop a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce?
The question today is really more about inclusion and equity. We really have to be intentional about who we are hiring, who we are in community with, and who is being provided services. The discussion becomes then, do you have all people represented (or a sub set of people) at the table? Then, you need to think about the equity piece. For example, if one part of the city is getting one service and the other part of the city is getting the same service at a lower level, there is a problem. Equity goes from the boardroom to the playground. What kind of environment do you really want to create at the end of the day? By having diversity, inclusion and equity, you’re having different thoughts, time, talent, treasures, and people, which all gets integrated together for a richer more prosperous experience for all. As CEOs for Cities [Clusters] look at communities, we have to figure out how we make these communities better places to live or play in. If you don’t see yourself or an experience within that, then things will always be the same and things won’t change. If you are open to change, you must be open to the possibilities. 

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On the Edge: Our City’s Middle Neighborhoods

On the Edge: Our City’s Middle Neighborhoods

by Paul C. Brophy, Brophy & Reilly LLC //

Researchers at the Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia report that 48 percent of central city residents in the United States live in “middle neighborhoods.” These neighborhoods are generally affordable and attractive and they offer a reasonable quality of life, but many are in danger of decline.

­­­­­A shrinking middle class, the suburbanization of jobs, obsolete housing styles, and shrinking homeownership rates clouds the future of these middle neighborhoods that serve as the lynchpin of success for most American city regions.  Yet these areas—that provide a substantial portion of local property-tax revenue–are relatively ignored by policymakers who have focused on the problems of concentrated poverty, gentrification, and the need for downtown revitalization.

I recently edited a book of case studies and essays by leading policymakers, community development professionals, and scholars that aims to stimulate a national dialogue about middle neighborhoods. Published by The American Assembly at Columbia University, On the Edge: America’s Middle Neighborhoods explores the complex web of communities transitioning—for better or worse—across America.

Authors reviewed research, discussed the challenges faced by middle neighborhoods, and provided a number of examples of strong programs and effective organizations working to make a difference in these on-the-edge communities.  A key take-away of the essays is there is not a one-size-fits-all approach for supporting middle neighborhoods. Something that works in one area of a city may not work in another due to a host of factors such as the average age of homeowners, the quality of housing stock, and other existing neighborhood assets.

middleneighborhoods.org/overview/

Targeted improvement strategies, like Philadelphia’s Rebuilding Together, are working to build both homeowner and neighborhood value through low-cost, high-impact home improvement projects.  In Baltimore, Healthy Neighborhoods pools capital for mortgage and rehab loans in strong but undervalued neighborhoods to build home value.  These demonstration programs are operated by nonprofit organizations, with cooperation from city or county governments.

Modest public and philanthropic investments in a middle neighborhoods strategy—supporting research, demonstration projects, and/or resident engagement initiatives —will make a big impact to millions of people living in and around our country’s major cities.  Policymakers and city-builders should recognize the critical importance of middle neighborhoods and invest in them–as we already do in our very distressed neighborhoods and our downtowns.

Sign up to join the conversation and stay informed on the latest on middle neighborhoods.


About the Author

Paul C. Brophy is a principal with Brophy & Reilly LLC, a consulting firm specializing in economic development, and neighborhood improvement; the management of complex urban redevelopment projects; and the development of mixed-income housing communities. Brophy has been a Senior Advisor to the Center for Community Progress, a Senior Scholar at the George Warren Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis; a Senior Advisor to Enterprise Community Partners.  He is currently an adjunct professor at School of Urban and Regional Planning, Georgetown University and a member of the Reinvestment Fund’s Policy Advisory Board.

In 1992, he chaired the so-called Brophy Commission for Mayor Ed Rendell that recommended broad changes to the city’s housing and community development programs and organizational structure.

Mr. Brophy holds degrees from LaSalle University and the University of Pennsylvania.  He is co-author or editor of four books: On the Edge:  America’s Middle Neighborhoods (2016); Neighborhood Revitalization:  Theory and Practice (1975); Housing and Local Government (1982), and A Guide to Careers in Community Development (2001).

And, he was born and raised in Philadelphia in Hunting Park.

 

 

 

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June Changemaker — Wellington (Duke) Reiter, FAIA

June Changemaker — Wellington (Duke) Reiter, FAIA

Wellington (Duke) Reiter, FAIA, Senior Advisor to the President, ASU; Executive Director, University City Exchange, ASU // 

Phoenix is hosting the 2017 National Meeting. What can attendees look forward to?
First of all, thanks for inviting me to offer a few thoughts.  We are delighted to be hosting the CEOs for Cities National Meeting and we believe you are coming at a pivotal moment.

Phoenix is a place still very much in a state of becoming, and a living laboratory for experimentation, reinvention, and continuous change.  While we will certainly showcase many site-specific projects, we hope also to present a program dedicated to the macro forces that are shaping not only our home but the country as a whole.  There is probably no better location for such a dialogue and this is why we intend to frame the event around the idea that “Everything Will Be Different.”

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May Changemaker — Wim Wiewel

May Changemaker — Wim Wiewel

Wim Wiewel, President, Portland State // 

What inspires you?
I’m a city boy.   I’ve always focused on how to make cities economically strong, culturally vibrant, and socially just.  Urban universities are in a great position to contribute to these goals, and I’ve been fortunate to work on this for the past 38 years.

How do you foresee higher education further developing and driving city success?
People’s need for higher education continues to increase as technology develops and the world becomes ever more competitive.  Therefore, both the education and the research provided by colleges and universities will be ever more important.  Urban universities that partner with their cities—business, government, and nonprofits—will make the greatest contributions, and will thrive through partnerships.

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The Million Dollar Question: How Can We Turn Everyday Spaces Into PLAYces?

The Million Dollar Question: How Can We Turn Everyday Spaces Into PLAYces?

by Priya Madrecki, Senior Manager, Strategic Communications, KaBOOM! //

Oftentimes the most poignant childhood memories are the simplest ones: playing in the backyard with a sibling, learning baseball with a parent, or going to the playground after school. And, frequently, those memories involve play. Play is a critical component to healthy development, and to simply being a kid. It sets the stage for helping kids to achieve their highest potential, and provides those essential, formative moments with friends and adults. It cultivates social skills, greater self-confidence, risk-taking opportunities and the chance to live a healthier lifestyle. Today’s kids deserve each and every one of those benefits linked to play. But for many kids, particularly those living in poverty, having time and access to daily play is a challenge. So how do we provide more opportunities for play by turning everyday spaces into PLAYces?

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April Changemaker — Brian Stephens

April Changemaker — Brian Stephens

by Brian Stephens, CEO + Co-Founder, CAISSA Public Strategy //

What inspires you?
I get passionate about my city and people getting excited about Memphis and fighting for it. From the business perspective, our company’s primary objective is to help move opinion. We work on visibility for clients and to improve reputation. We work to make things better and help people think differently and more positively. This is translated into the Memphis Cluster because in our city we have a deficit mindset. Leadership Memphis along with the Memphis Cluster are working to get people to have a positive opinion.

How do you use your background in business, industrial psychology, law and military science to help inform the work you are involved in and improve your city?
The movement of opinion is how we do things, get people to think differently, and get rid of biases, which is more psychology based. With a law and military background, strategy is vital. Also, what has helped teach me are my failures. I have had massive and epic failures and it was these failures that helped me learn! I am better able to break down the silos in the community and now am working to get the right people talking to each other.

In your opinion, what are the top 3 issues facing your city today?
I am going to change that – let’s talk about the top 3 opportunities… We all have the same problems in our cities, but here are opportunities Memphis has. First, we have a lower cost of living, which makes us attractive to businesses. Second, the people here are so real and polite in a way that is not fake. We are from the south, so of course we are polite, but we are down to earth. Third, we are one of the most generous and giving cities. When we look at what cities donate the most per capita, we are always in the Top 5. All of these opportunities can be leveraged.

What are one or two projects you are currently working that you are most excited about?
Leadership Memphis is a hub for our CEOs for Cities Cluster. They are taking on unbelievably difficult situations and helping to improve the city. Leadership Memphis is working on getting more volunteers in the city, helping more students get to college and helping others get back to college. Also, Leadership Memphis is currently working to train and teach people about what is going on in Memphis.

What’s your advice for the next generation of city change makers?
There are two parts to this…

First, care about something! You don’t have to care about everything, but whatever you feel passionate about, get to work on it and don’t quit. Even after you get movement and energy, don’t quit and then keep moving to work on something else. People check out and get frustrated, but you can make a difference and we need people who won’t give up.

Second, there are always going to be dragons and trolls. Dragons are the ones who fly and burn everything down and when you try to rebuild, they are not around. Trolls are the people who nitpick and complain about everything. They constantly tear apart good ideas and have a problem with everything but don’t help find solutions. You have to shut down the dragons and trolls in the world, or else they will take over. You can’t have people who just complain. People need to fight the dragons and trolls everyday and push back!

What should we know about your work that you haven’t yet mentioned because I didn’t ask the right question?
The Memphis Cluster is working diligently on making sure we pass along all the great info we learned to whoever needs it. We make a cognitive effort to inform others. For example, if we learned about planning, but not everyone could attend, we make sure to share the information so they can still learn about the topic and then, we start connecting additional people. This helps us create a “micro cluster” or a web of people in the community. We are hoping to push this effort more and use this web to navigate change.

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