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The Case Against Urban Corridors That Act Like High-Speed Highways

The Case Against Urban Corridors That Act Like High-Speed Highways

By PlusUrbia Design //

From the beginning of urbanized America, streets functioned to provide mobility in many ways:

People walked to work, trolley, horse-drawn then powered moved workers from factories and offices to home. Trains played a role in commutes. Bicycles incited a pedal power mobility craze for a while.
Then the automobile came along.

PlusUrbia_Calle Ocho Comparisonv2By the 1950s, roads became the sole domain of automobiles

The automotive industry even created the term “jay walking” and launched a campaign to demonize people on foot.

Sidewalks shrunk and beautifully landscaped medians were torn out to create more lanes for automobiles.

Trolley lines were ripped out and replaced with buses. But buses were devalued and branded as last ditch transportation for the unfortunate. Only the sedan was fit for the upwardly mobile middle class American.

Crosswalks were diminished. Those brazen enough to move around on two feet were seen as merely an impediment to moving more cars faster.

Government loans encouraged suburban single family homebuilding, giving rise to the super highway, and when highways weren’t enough, surface streets – even the most picturesque and historic – were overhauled to turn them into another layer of de facto highways.

After a half century of destroying hundreds of urban corridors for the sake of the almighty automobile, sanity started to creep bank into the minds of elected officials, town planners and constituents.

Milwaukee, San Francisco and other major cities razed elevated highways that had torn apart their urban fabric. Boston paid billions to put its in-town highway underground, with acres of urban park space and connectivity built above.

Miami, which consistently/tragically ranks near the top of annual lists of the most deadly cities for pedestrians in America, is slow to offer options for pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders, wheelchair users and others who do not wish to be beholden the automobile.

Construction for I-95 tore apart the city’s historic community. Car dependence reigns supreme despite tens of thousands of dwelling units being built in what should be a walkable urban core. Because Miami grew up in the car age, its commute times are among the longest in America.

Something has to give.

Miami’s PlusUrbia Design, a design practice dedicated to creating better places, is trying to undo car culture chaos in its hometown.  The studio, known for its acclaimed Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District plan, is working to save Miami’s best-known street.Model

Calle Ocho, the heart of Little Havana, functions as a high-speed highway into Downtown Miami and Brickell, its financial district. Two PlusUrbia team members, who each live in historic homes just blocks from Calle Ocho, have dubbed the dangerous road “Highway Ocho.”

For half a century, Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street) has served as an eastbound speedway for commuters, along with the equally dangerous one-way, three-lane, westbound SW 7t
hStreet. It is time to make streets for the people, not simply for cars.

Originally a two-way typical American main street, Calle 8 was transformed in the late 60s into commuter highway.  A few years later, the nearby Dolphin Expressway (I-836) was completed.

Despite the opening of an elevated east-west speedway into downtown, Calle Ocho’s prime stretch between 27th Avenue and I-95 was never converted back into the quaint main commercial core of Little Havana.Model

Plusurbia Design proposes to turn Calle 8 back to its original, main street self.  The firm’s calmed traffic and wider sidewalks would reverse 50 years of degraded neighborhoods and commerce left in the wake of a corridor turned freeway.

PlusUrbia advocates for Calle Ocho as a destination, not as a pass-through corridor scarring one of the oldest, most authentic neighborhoods left in Miami.

The Florida Department of Transportation is currently studying the SW 7th and SW 8th Street corridors.  Early Little Havana community meetings have shared FDOT scenarios that seem to be more concerned with vehicle movement than people movement.

By early 2016, the state transportation agency will pick a team of consultants to conduct a $2 million study and redesign of the corridor.  PlusUrbia, which has committed 500 staff hours to its pro-bono redesign effort, was approached by major engineering firms to serve as a consultant for the SW 7th and SW 8th project. However, the studio has turned down those opportunities to better serve the public interest.

PlusUrbia_Calle Ocho Rendering2v2
PlusUrbia, with strong ties to Little Havana, wants to unlock Calle 8’s potential by proposing the restoration of the original two-way traffic. The Miami-based urban design firm has created images of a 21st century Calle Ocho with multimodal transportation alternatives such as dedicated bike and transit lanes, comfortable wide sidewalks and additional safe crosswalks in a vibrant urban setting.


More than 100 Little Havana stakeholders attended PlusUrbia’s October forum to share a vision for a better Calle Ocho. A diverse group of urban and transportation design experts worked interactively with the audience to empower the growing grass roots movement for calmed traffic and a better pedestrian experience on SW 7th and SW 8th streets. The overwhelming opinion of those in attendance, including three elected officials, is that Calle Ocho and SW 7th must be Complete Streets that serve pedestrians, cyclists and public transit equally with automobiles.

PlusUrbia’s designers firmly believe Calle 8 should be for all Miamians to enjoy, not only to drive through.  Its pro-bono effort believes popular opinion will rescue SW 8th Street from half a century of destruction as “Highway Ocho”.

From its office, on a bike lane footsteps from a commuter train station, PlusUrbia hopes to export its Calle Ocho campaign nationwide. The firm believes democratic streets – that treat pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and automobiles equally – will benefit every urban corridor in America: from the subtropics to Main Street USA.

About PlusUrbia Design

PlusUrbia LogoThe studio’s work on the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District earned the American Planning Association’s 2015 America’s Great Places Award. The entire staff of Miami-based boutique urban and architectural design firm is contributing to the landmark Calle Ocho complete streets visioning effort. PlusUrbia Founder Juan Mullerat and storyteller Steve Wright both live blocks from Miami’s Calle Ocho. Both have first-hand knowledge of the dangers of an urban corridor turned into a highway. Wright’s wife uses a wheelchair for mobility and Mullerat has two young daughters in strollers. Wright is a regular contributor to CEOs for Cities and other urban blogs. Mullerat, Assoc. AIA, APA, NCI, CNU, is an award-wining urban designer who has created walkable neighborhoods around the world.

Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World

Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World

by Jared Green, Author, Designed for the Future, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2015) //

In Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World, I asked 80 leading urban planners, architects, landscape architects, and artists the same question: What gives you hope that a sustainable future is possible?

Many of these planning and design leaders pointed to cities as the answer.

There are a few reasons why cities give them such hope:

First, dense, walkable cities are sustainable – they are the most resource-efficient and low-carbon environments we have. They become even more sustainable when they provide a high quality of life, eliminate pollution, and offer access to nature, affordable housing, and reliable public transportation systems.

Second, these sustainable cities are the product of decades, or even centuries, of discussion, collaboration, negotiation. Through their existence, they show these processes can actually produce sustainable outcomes – and, therefore, can possibly resolve global crises related to the climate, environmental degradation, and inequality. Sustainable cities, and their leaders, in this sense are role models.

Here are three excerpts from Designed for the Future in which cities are role models for sustainability. Each contributor points to one city’s efforts that gives them hope for our future.

Medellín, Colombia

Santo Domingo Metro Station Library, Medellín, Colombia Credit: Daniel Latorre, Creative Commons

In Medellín, Colombia, the city has built libraries for kids in subway stations. This shows me that everywhere, all the time, the city is trying to educate their children.

The library I saw is found right on the platform, as you go from one track to another. This library is in a station that connects to the metro-cable system that takes people up into the hills surrounding the city, where poor people live. This isn’t a nice area.

The library is about 215 square feet (20 square meters). The interior of the library was full, and there were about ten kids in line to get in.

The subway is the most urban environment we have—it can be so impersonal, even dangerous. The library in the station is like a pearl. It’s just for kids. It completely changes the tone.

This library gives me hope for the future because it puts more good things in these kids’ heads and hearts. They will now look at the city and their environment differently. They are being taught there are other ways to see the world. These kids are our future mayors.

Medellín initiated a program of remaking the city just eighteen years ago, building a new subway and creating a network of parks and libraries. In the life of a city, eighteen years is nothing. In that time, they went from a narco-city ruled by drug lords to a model city. I wish more cities in Latin America had their spirit.

This is a model for other cities in Latin America. While each city is different, they share many of the same problems. These kids waiting in line to get into the library give me the hope I often don’t have. 

Ana Lucia González Ibáñez is the director of Taller Patrimonio & Metrópoli in Mexico City.

London, United Kingdom

London Congestion Pricing Credit: Mariodo59, Creative Commons
London Congestion Pricing
Credit: Mariodo59, Creative Commons

A game-changing urban policy for me was congestion fees in the central business district of London in 2003. This policy redefined how people perceive the true costs of transportation, and allowed them to make more informed choices about their modes of travel.

The initially unpopular policy was implemented by Mayor Ken Livingstone under his manifesto of “getting London moving.” The goal was to manage heavy congestion in the London Central Business District (CBD). Traffic had led to gridlocked streets, negative impacts on the urban environment, and lost economic productivity. The congestion is caused by many travelers driving cars at peak hours without realizing that they in fact cause the congestion that imposes delays on themselves and fellow travelers, so the policy essentially charges a fee to drivers in the CBD during periods of high traffic.

This form of pricing is also called area-wide pricing. The fee may vary by time of day or vehicle type. Although congestion reduction is often the primary objective, cities also seek to reduce emissions, noise, and traffic accidents, and to improve pedestrian access and enjoyment of public spaces and businesses.

In London, travel times decreased by 14 percent after implementation, peak period bus ridership increased by 40 percent, and there was a 20–30 percent reduction in private vehicles entering the charging zone as people shifted to other travel times or routes. The revenues from the congestion charge help fund public transportation, creating improved travel alternatives for the majority of people, rather than the minority who actually use cars in London.

Area-wide pricing has existed in some form in Singapore since 1975. In 2007 area-wide pricing was proposed in New York City, but was not approved by the state legislature.

Political will makes the London example extremely important. It was the first time that a major city with a democratically elected government implemented a relatively radical policy that has sustained for over a decade, through successive changes of government. Other city leaders around the world have followed suit.

In Asia, where vehicle fleets are doubling almost every seven to ten years due to increasing urbanization and economic growth, a policy like this is much needed to avoid the severe costs of growing motorization that people don’t perceive.

 Anjali Mahendra is the strategy head for research and practice at EMBARQ India, the sustainable transport and urban development program of the World Resources Institute in India. 

San Francisco, USA

San Francisco Bay, California Credit: © Getty Images
San Francisco Bay, California
Credit: © Getty Images

Gaspar de Portolà discovered the San Francisco Bay in 1769. The map had just been a straight coastline because the first mapmakers of the west coast couldn’t see the entrance to the bay from the sea. San Francisco Bay was an estuary then, rich with plant and animal life. Only 5 percent of that is left today. The rest has been eradicated by civilization.

The missionaries who came with de Portolà wrote about the Ohlone tribe of Native Americans who lived there. In the missionaries’ writing, the Indians were described as primitive because they had no permanent houses. Everything was makeshift. They didn’t need much and didn’t even practice agriculture. They lived off the land.

By the 1960s, when so little of the original ecosystem was left, the prognosis was that the bay would be totally filled in by 2020, with only a shipping channel left. Filling in parts of the bay had started in the 1800s. The San Francisco Marina was made of landfill, as was Treasure Island, which used to be used by the military.

The idea to fill the bay was completely reversed by an organization called Save the Bay, founded in 1961 by three women—Kay Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Esther Gulick.

Their goal was to revive the bay and make it as clean and natural as possible, which was very difficult; for decades industries had been pouring oil and chemicals into it, and waste facilities had been routinely dumping trash into it.

Bit by bit, waste deposit into the bay was stopped. With the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, run by the National Park Service, much of the bay shoreline is now preserved. Some estuaries have been re-created and natural habitats have been re-established.

The first time I visited Crissy Field, a part of the San Francisco Bay, in the late 1980s, it was an inaccessible, fenced-off military wasteland. Now, it’s one of the most popular and beautiful recreation sites along the shoreline.

The protection and restoration of the San Francisco Bay gives me hope because this could happen everywhere. Former military and waste sites can be brought back. We can reestablish the original ecosystem, but perhaps not in its original state. We can use our land in a more protected way, instead of abusing it.

Sonja Hinrichsen is an artist whose immersive video installations and interventions examine urban and natural environments through exploration and research.

Betting on Bold Ambition

Betting on Bold Ambition

by Daniel Regan, Vice President, Kanbar Properties //

Tulsa is a fortunate city. Fortunate to have a rich history of entrepreneurs and risk takers, of community leaders who learned long ago that sometimes you just have to be willing to take a leap of faith and bet on the bold ideas. This is the foundation on which we are growing our young talent today.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, inspired by the great gestures of generations before us, it feels to me as though our community’s young talent has started to wake up to its potential and began taking our city’s destiny by the hand.

Stepping out in faith, seemingly unaffected by the naysayers amongst us who would reject anything that resembles progress as being speculative or premature, my generation has become emboldened to lead. Thanks to the encouragement of enterprising millennials, our town is now being invigorated by a renewed sense of ownership of our future and our communal potential. The kind of real community engagement amongst the 20- and 30-somethings that gets sparked by this type of support can be transformative. It is without a doubt one of the reasons for Tulsa’s recent revitalization. It is also something that has been a core competency of Tulsa’s Young Professionals since its inception.

Indeed, I am convinced that when barriers begin to shrink and once-thought crazy ideas get encouragement through “little bets” by those with resources and experience, our generation starts to step up. It’s precisely the reason we created the Tulsa’s Young Professionals Foundation – to help give life to those innovative ideas that make our city awesome. Bold leadership, driven more by actions than words, is something embraced by my peers. We have grown tired of polling and analyzing and talking things to death. We want action. We crave results. We thrive, despite skeptics.

Case in point, a few friends and I recently decided it was time for our community to stop just talking about the potential of our downtown adjacent river and instead start doing something about it. On Labor Day 2015, after a nearly 25 year hiatus and in an attempt to showcase the recreational potential of our urban waterway, we brought back what was once the largest attended event in our state’s history: Tulsa’s Great Raft Race. In spite of being told for years that it wasn’t possible to revive the race because of new municipal, county, state and federal regulation; we decided it was time to bet on ourselves and trust in our capability to rally the resources needed. The grand revival of this beloved community event is now in the books and by all accounts it was a huge success; but that’s only because a small group of committed individuals were encouraged to say “why not”.

When those in power begin to realize the potential of enabling those who are coming up, and when they encourage the next generation to be fearless in realizing their dream, that is when a community truly begins to double down on what is good. That is the real key to unlocking future potential of a community.

Daniel ReganDaniel Regan is Vice President of Kanbar Properties, a commercial real estate developer in downtown Tulsa, OK; co-owner of Garden Deva Sculpture Company; and the 2016 Chairman for Tulsa’s Young Professionals.

Building Bridges Between People & the Skills They Need to Succeed

Building Bridges Between People & the Skills They Need to Succeed

by Stephen J. Langel, Chief Development Officer, NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology //

NewBridge seeks to transform the lives of economically disadvantaged adults and youth in Greater Cleveland. For adults, NewBridge offers free career training programs that prepare graduates for in-demand, market-based careers. For youth, NewBridge provides free, cutting-edge after-school arts programs in ceramics, digital photography, film, graphic design and music recording and production in order to encourage students to stay in school and pursue post-secondary opportunities.

These programs have been tremendously effective in in helping the community as 81% of our adults are hired within six months of graduation and earn more, on average, than $27,000, plus benefits, to start. In our last phlebotomy class, 14 of our 16 students had jobs within two months, with the other two students unable to apply for medical reasons. Also, 97% of our last two senior classes graduated high school and 77% of those were accepted to college, with many receiving scholarships.


Ceramics created by Tristan

Tristan is a high school senior whose life has been transformed through art. Tristan first heard about NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology from her family when she was a freshman in high school. Now, four years later, she is a confident, accomplished young ceramicist who is planning to apply to the Cleveland Institute of Art to continue her training and education.

Tristan creates beautiful, polished works of art, including bowls and mugs, each containing striking colors and patterns and each unique. The creative process helps her to express how “I feel on the inside” and gives her the strength to cope with any problems she might face each day. Creating art “helps me to appreciate myself,” Tristan says.

And Tristan wants the same for those who view her art. She wants the observer to “see what I see, the colors, and the patterns in the colors.” “Tristan adds, “That’s why I have different handles [on each mug she creates], so there is something different for everyone.”

Tristan says that her inspiration for this path came, to a great extent, from NewBridge, where she had a safe, supportive atmosphere to learn her craft and express herself. Not only did teaching artists, like ceramics studio coordinator John Miyazawa, take an interest in her art, but he and other staff took a personal interest in her performance in school. Tristan says that her instructors asked to discuss her report card and encouraged tutoring when necessary. She adds that she now has more pride in her schoolwork. We believe that Tristan serves as an example of the difference a supportive environment and a creative outlet can make in students’ lives.

Cortece & Dionna

Cortece and Dionna are both aspiring rap artists and music producers who learned their craft and grew as performers while at NewBridge. They were part of our after-school music recording and producing program for four years and now not only write and perform, but also do their own production and editing.

Cortece says that this program gave him the opportunity to stay out of trouble and channel his energy into something positive. Dionna adds that the positive, supportive environment here helped her grow as a musician. She felt safe here to make mistakes and improve as a result.

Beyond teaching them the basics of their craft, NewBridge’s teaching artists taught Cortece and Dionna a strong work ethic and persistence, along with how to be humble and focused in their approach to creating music. The hands-on training and extensive projects motivated them to work harder as they began to see initial success, Dionna said.

While NewBridge provided the first step to transform their lives, Cortece and Dionna continue to benefit from that experience. For Cortece, the creation of music allows him to express his feelings and cope with the stresses of life. He adds that his experiences at NewBridge “made me want to better myself.” Dionna agrees, adding that she is inspired by her music, motivated to speak to “what’s weighing heavily on my mind.”

Beyond ceramics and music recording and production, our after school program offers artist-led classes in digital photography, film and graphic design. These classes are offered five days a week and help encourage students to stay in school, graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary opportunities. We also provide the interpersonal skills needed for long term success. As Tristan, Cortece and Dionna show, art can change lives.

Daryl Johnson

Daryl Johnson
Daryl Johnson, NewBridge pharmacy technician graduate

NewBridge prides itself on providing both a supportive environment that emphasizes the personal needs of our students and removing any obstacles to their success. One of our pharmacy technician graduates, Daryl Johnson, serves as an example of the importance of this approach.

Daryl was one of the first graduates of our Pharmacy Technician Program. He came to NewBridge after the recession left him without a job. According to Daryl, he came here because he wanted to learn the job skills necessary to be able to take care of his family, to have more financial stability.

Daryl was also drawn to NewBridge because we offer our training at no cost. Finding out that our classes are free “was really close to my heart,” Daryl says, because he could not take on any debt. He adds that NewBridge stood out because such training is usually very expensive and he could not afford it.

Since NewBridge reaches out to underserved communities, we provide full scholarships, including tuition, books, uniforms or any other fees that are typical obstacles to proprietary schools or community colleges. We also provide bus tickets to students in need of transportation assistance, along with wraparound services to help students meet day-to-day challenges around housing, childcare, transportation and domestic violence. It’s our goal to remove any obstacles to success.

Daryl was also struck by the positive, supportive culture we foster here at NewBridge. “I really felt that the help that I got was sincere and from the heart.” He adds that NewBridge’s “focus is on helping people,” he said, adding that “it’s a positive culture to build people up, to build the community up.”

We believe it’s essential that our students feel safe and supported, which helps the students to believe in themselves and to build the self-esteem necessary to lead successful lives. Like Daryl, other students have told us that NewBridge is a “safe haven.”

Several recent graduates also told us that their instructor is like a part of their family and someone they turn to for guidance, someone who motivates and inspires them, and helps them cope with life’s challenges. This environment, this support, along with providing our services for free, is what makes us different, and what we believe helps us stand out.

Daryl continues to be drawn here as, after stints with the Cleveland Clinic, CVS and elsewhere, he now works at NewBridge, in part, by helping to train the next wave of pharmacy technicians. Coming back to support NewBridge “was kind of a dream for me,” he says.

Tyeishia Long

Tyeishia Long
Tyeishia Long, NewBridge Cleveland phlebotomy graduate

For Tyeishia Long, NewBridge Cleveland was the difference between homelessness and a bright future.

Tyeishia, 24 years old with a two year old daughter, had slept on a mattress at a different home every night for more than a year because she had no money for a place of her own. She felt hopeless, stuck earning $8 an hour at a local photo shop and barely paying her bills. Unfortunately, Tyeishia lacked the skills or experience to change the pattern of living paycheck to paycheck.

But then she heard about NewBridge. Finding out about this opportunity “saved my life,” she said, adding that the fact our courses are free meant she could move toward a career without going into debt.

But her challenges did not end there. Tyeishia had trouble passing the basic skills test needed to become a student, but NewBridge made sure that she had the help she needed to overcome this obstacle. Using our free tutoring and refresher training, Tyeishia finally passed the test.

She made it clear, during the interview process, that NewBridge was a lifeline for her. “My life depends on this,” she said, as she could not support herself and her daughter on minimum wage jobs. “I need a career and I need it now.”

Unfortunately, even after acceptance into the program, she still faced other obstacles. Even though NewBridge is free, she still needed to work to pay her bills and support her daughter. But doing so, as well as taking classes and taking care of her toddler, left her exhausted. According to Tyeishia, she was so tired that she had trouble staying awake during class.

But that’s where NewBridge’s supportive, nurturing environment came into play as her classmates and teacher provided her with the support she needed to make it through to graduation. “We were a family. We all loved each other, looked out for each other, including bringing food when others didn’t have it,” Tyeishia says. Also, her teacher brought her free bus passes when her car broke down so that she could get to and from class.

Tyeishia learned now only how to be a phlebotomist, but also how to be a professional, using the technical skills and workplace skills that NewBridge makes a central part of our program. Her skills only increased during the externship that NewBridge provides as part of an agreement with University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth. “I became one with the needle,” Tyeishia joked. This training and experience put her in demand and she just landed a job with the Cleveland Clinic.

Now, not only is Tyeishia saving up money to get her own apartment, but she has the time to be a much greater part of her daughter’s life. Beforehand she only had the time to feed her daughter and put her to bed each night, but that’s no longer the case.

NewBridge changed her entire perspective, Tyeishia said. After our program, “I felt like I was going to be okay,” Tyeishia said, adding “I wasn’t drowning anymore.”

3 Reasons Why People Don’t Ride Bikes

3 Reasons Why People Don’t Ride Bikes

by Traci Pollard, Brooklyness //


Commuting by bike, it seems, would be a no-brainer. It’s great for health and physical fitness, it’s fairly inexpensive and it’s good for the environment. So why don’t we see more of it in our urban centers? Especially in NYC.

We are Brooklyness, a boutique bike brand based out of Brooklyn. We design, and market products for urban mobility. Our products are practical solutions that are crafted to provide comfort and style for the urban commuter, focusing not just on bicycles, but the riding experience as a whole. We’ve done extensive research on some of the obstacles that have kept commuters from adopting a bike as a solution. “Millions of Americans commute less than 10 miles each day, but getting from home to work is usually inefficient”, states our CEO, Manuel Saez. Here are some of, what we believe, are reasons that people are reluctant to adopt commuting by bike.


Arriving to work sweaty and disheveled is not a great way to start your day. One thing that deters people from biking is the fact that, yes, it can be a workout and yes, you may need to freshen up afterward. If your workplace requires more than business casual, it can be especially difficult to stuff your attire into a bag without it becoming wrinkled. Also, distance may be a factor as to why you won’t bike to work. Is your workplace just too far to get to? Does it make more sense driving or taking public transportation?


Biking on city streets can be an extremely scary experience for newbies. Streets that don’t have dedicated bike lanes can be pretty intimidating to tackle, especially during rush hour. During the colder months when it gets darker earlier, would you be reluctant to ride? Many people are afraid that drivers won’t be able to see them at night, even with reflectors.


What is the point of buying a bike only to lock it up and come back to find it gone. While we are happy that more people are riding, with more riders comes an increase in bike theft. In the last 4 years in New York City, the instances of bicycle theft have risen almost 70%. Add to that, only about 2% of stolen bicycles are recovered.

At Brooklyness, we focus on, not only the bike, but the overall riding experience. Our aim is to confront these issues head on. How can we make riding as a primary means of transportation more comfortable and accessible for everyone? What can be done to make your experience safer? What’s the best way to keep your bicycle secure? What we’ve learned, is that riding a bike, and especially commuting by bike is a lifestyle. We want to make the transition easier for those just starting out. With our latest product, the CMYK 4.0 we aim to solve some of the issues outlined above. Check it out at

Rebirth of a City Through the Millennial Perspective

Rebirth of a City Through the Millennial Perspective

by Daniel Regan, Vice President, Kanbar Properties //

A little over a decade ago, Tulsa experienced something of a renaissance. I had just moved back to my hometown after living in Costa Rica for a year, and it was clear that the community’s focus had shifted. More exciting was the fact that this change was being led by an energetic group of young leaders who recognized that WE have the ability to shape our lovely metropolitan riverfront community into whatever it is we want. A novel idea began to take hold – “placemaking” (even if we didn’t know what it was at the time) was a participatory activity.

Like Snow in Summer

Like many of our peer cities throughout the South and Midwest in the early 2000’s, Tulsa was in the midst of a true “brain drain” dilemma: skilled, educated talent was moving away at a rapid pace. Despite recent volatility within our historically strong energy industry that sent thousands of jobs out of state, other strong sectors like healthcare, aerospace and manufacturing still offered promising career tracks and good pay to those willing to call our region home. And yet, regardless of record enrollment at many of our community’s local universities, employers found themselves constantly struggling to find the skilled talent they needed. Even then, the problem was obvious to me – our city had the sticking power of snow in summer.

To be candid, most people my age couldn’t wait to catch the next flight out and start their careers somewhere…well, more interesting. While I’m sure general teenage angst contributed to some of that sentiment, I can still clearly remember my friends at the time lamenting Tulsa’s boredom factor. Outside of some beautiful art deco architecture throughout our downtown area, an intriguing history, and a handful of other cultural standouts like Cain’s Ballroom and the Brady Theater; Tulsa circa 2002 didn’t really have much sex appeal.

Tulsa Roughnecks Fans
Tulsa Roughnecks Fans

But then, this beautiful thing began to take shape! Instead of just giving up and moving on, like many of our friends had undoubtedly already done, we decided to step up and be the change we so desperately desired. Grassroots organizations like Tulsa’s Young Professionals began to take hold, ones in which like-minded individuals who were motivated to take action began to impact our city’s collective future. Seemingly simultaneously, civic leaders and our business community began to take bold steps to maintain Tulsa’s competitiveness – investing hundreds of millions of dollars into quality of life improvements.


What’s Happened Since

Guthrie Museum
The Woody Guthrie Museum

The tide has begun to turn. The buzz is becoming deafening. Our downtown is now on the cusp of a transformative development boom. Our new BOK Center consistently ranks among the top 20 U.S. arenas for concert ticket sales. We have a world-class riverfront park under development, the largest privately funded public space of its kind in the country. The Woody Guthrie Center built a grand new facility in the city’s burgeoning urban arts district, and we even have a new pop culture museum going up there soon too.

Most impressive though is the fact that young people in my community today have the best chance of any recent generation to start a successful new business, take that next step in their career, get discovered on a national level or impact local government and policy-making. With the support of past and present leadership, Tulsa is now harnessing its next generation of innovators and doers, of planners and politicians; it’s quickly becoming a hotbed for leaders.

Over the coming months, I’ll share our decade-strong process at Tulsa’s Young Professionals, and enlighten you on our organization’s trial-by-fire best practices of how to create the community young people desire through connections and engagement with the next generation.

Daniel ReganDaniel Regan is Vice President of Kanbar Properties, a commercial real estate developer in downtown Tulsa, OK; co-owner of Garden Deva Sculpture Company; and the 2016 Chairman for Tulsa’s Young Professionals.


Economic Opportunities through Education (EcO)

Economic Opportunities through Education (EcO)

Creating a Collaborative Regional System of Lifelong Learning by Aligning Educational & Training Offerings with Economic Opportunity

by Stephanie Weber, Marketing & Outreach Director, Ec015

Southeast Indiana Regional Demographics

  • Ten counties
  • Mainly rural
  • 300,000 population
  • Population growth rate is relatively flat and will be in the future
  • Nearly one in three people work in advanced manufacturing. Manufacturing is the top employment sector in seven of the ten counties
  • Average wages for advanced manufacturing jobs in Southeast Indiana is $44,000, which is 25% higher than the next largest employment sector
  • Healthcare represents 10% of the workforce

For this very rural region in Southeast Indiana, focusing on talent and educational initiatives has proven to be the most effective way of insuring that a higher percentage of our population will be successful in achieving postsecondary attainment and increases the base of highly skilled workers Southeast Indiana has to offer to employers.

Dream It. Do It. Southeast Indiana
Dream It. Do It. Champions and Student Ambassadors


It is becoming more and more necessary for students to achieve some level of post-secondary education – skills certification, Associate Degree, or Bachelor’s degree – in order to have hope of economic well-being.

Sixty-six percent of all STEM jobs (and growing) in Southeast Indiana require at least a certification and/or an Associate Degree. Yet only 27.9% of adults in Southeast Indiana (24 years & older) have a certification, 2 year, or 4 year degree.

According to the Department of Workforce Development, Southeast Indiana needs to fill 500-800 advanced manufacturing & STEM jobs every year through 2018 and this trend remains steady through 2020.

Ec015 Overview Infographic


To address these two inter-related challenges, the EcO15 regional stakeholder network of school districts, secondary school career centers, local colleges and universities, employers, economic development, Chambers, community foundations, and workforce development organizations are pursuing strategies to develop future employees in technical careers by eliminating the divide between high school and college. The network is recruiting students at the high school level and guiding them “seamlessly” into postsecondary education, leading to certificates, associates degrees, and baccalaureate degrees in technical fields through Seamless Educational and Career Pathways. Sample projects underway:

  • Bartholomew County Works: A United Way pilot program that supports people in poverty through a process of becoming self-sufficient. Bartholomew County Works is halfway through a three-year pilot. Seventy percent of the members in the program have been employed for at least six months.
  • iGRAD: School-to-career program focused on keeping 8th-12th grade students in school through graduation and provide work-based learning experiences that will lead to career advancement opportunities, and or enrollment in a postsecondary institution leading to a rewarding career. Graduation rates are at 95% during iGrad’s first three years.
  • Dream It. Do It. (DIDI) Southeast Indiana Campaign: Focused on increasing awareness of Advanced Manufacturing/STEM related careers opportunities in Southeast Indiana. To achieve this goal, EcO15 and 29 DIDI Champions (high school educators/counselors) recruit 56 Student Ambassadors annually, assisting in expansion of the initiative and helping with marketing. Local DIDI Student Ambassadors help recruit middle school students into the high school Pre-Engineering and Career & Technical Education programs. Enrollments, awareness, and work-based learning have increased every year since 2007 when this campaign was launched.
  • Development of a network of sixty-seven advanced manufacturing integrated technology labs and associated programs located throughout the ten county region. The integrated technology labs & programs provide students with the opportunity to pursue education built around a curriculum of manufacturing/STEM.
  • Networks of Excellence in Healthcare: A regional network of stationary and mobile clinical simulation labs has been developed to ensure accreditation and advanced degree certifications for the regional health care industry. The ultimate goal of the group is to address regional shortages of nursing faculty, registered nurses, and other healthcare occupations. The network also focuses on improving patient care in the region.
  • Maverick Challenge: Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Regional manufacturers, EcO15 County Coordinators, and DIDI Champions have partnered in the Maverick Challenge, a high school business planning challenge for students in Southern Indiana. This Challenge is a great opportunity to help students learn about viable career opportunities through entrepreneurship, and to network with and be mentored by community leaders.
  • Institute for Coalition Building: The Institute for Coalition Building’s stakeholder engagement model, developed by the Community Education Coalition, has been the used for continuous improvement of the networks, partnerships and projects. This process model has been used as a project management tool, bringing stakeholders together to resolve a specific project-based question. And the model has been used on broad community coalition building initiatives to define and work on a common agenda in the region, Indiana, and across the country.

Stephanie Weber 

As the Communications Director for a ten-county regional economic development initiative known as Economic Opportunities through Education (EcO15), Weber works with area EcO15 County Coordinators, Dream It. Do It. High School Champions and student ambassadors, industry leaders, and educational institutions (both secondary and post secondary) in the ten-county region that makes up Indiana Region 9: Bartholomew, Dearborn, Decatur, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley, and Switzerland Counties. The overarching goal of the initiative is to help each person move up at least one level or more in their education, training, or job placement within the region’s strongest economic clusters.

MOVE: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead

MOVE: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead

by Micah Mitchell Hines, City Fellow, CEOs for Cities //

Move by Rosabeth Moss Kanter Who say’s infrastructure isn’t sexy? In Move, best-selling author Rosabeth Moss Kanter* contends that transportation and infrastructure are some of the most critical issues facing Americans. Our infrastructure is shabby and deteriorating. Frankly, it’s an embarrassment.

The average American family spends up to 20% of their income on transportation – and they’re not getting anywhere. Americans spend about a week (38 hours) per year stuck in traffic. But they don’t have to be.
Kanter provides an in-depth analysis of the nation’s transportation systems and infrastructure. She examines the history of transportation, discusses international models and shares examples of innovative work that is taking place in cities across U.S.

Through data and analysis, Kanter makes a compelling argument that mobility is essential to economic development, opportunities and quality of life. She challenges cross-sector leaders to innovate, engage in discussion and take action to develop solutions to antiquated systems.

After seeing her interview with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, we at CEOs for Cities were anxious to pick up Kanter’s latest work. We weren’t disappointed. It is a compelling read, and a critical tool for leaders who want to make meaningful change in the area of transportation.

*Rosabeth Moss Kanter also holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School and is chair and director of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Institute.

An All Star Summer in Cincinnati

An All Star Summer in Cincinnati

by David N. Ginsburg, President + CEO, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. //

Summer is a wonderful season for re-reading old books and taking long, contemplative walks with my dogs and a good cigar. This past weekend I (re)discovered Comeback Cities by Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio. This seminal book was written in 2000 when we were only first beginning to see the revival, repopulation, reinvestment and renaissance in American Cities. After years of decline and disinvestment, the book struck me as somewhere between visionary and wishful thinking at the time.

How many American cities were working well in 2000?  Maybe a handful. New York City was beginning to clean up its act under Mayor Rudolf Giuliani and the growing impact of Business Improvement Districts (BIDS). Portland, OR was seeing center city revival led by a growing light rail system and Denver was experiencing substantial residential growth in LoDo around the new Coors Field. Finding a successful American City to benchmark was a challenge in 2000 but no more.

As Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati likes to say, downtown Cincinnati is “on fire!” We recently had a chance to showcase our center city by hosting the 2015 Major League Baseball All Star Game. People from more than 200 countries (and the vast television audience) got to see our spectacular riverfront/Smale Riverfront Park, the vitality of the central business district featuring distinctive architecture old and new, and once downtrodden, now hip Over-the-Rhine.  All of these areas are bustling with a diverse array of residents and businesses helping to reinforce a walkable urban environment and a growing tax base.

We are very grateful to Major League Baseball and the owner of the

Downtown Ambassador helps All Star fan find her way. Photo courtesy of Downtown Cincinnati Inc.

Cincinnati Reds, Bob Castellini (and his team) for selecting Cincinnati for the All Star Game. There are so many wonderful, vital cities from which to choose. Last year it was Minneapolis and next year San Diego. Organizations like CEO’s for Cities have played a vital role in identifying and sharing best practices such as place-based economic development, mixed-use development, attention to diversity, multi-modal transportation, breakthrough research, and securing the environment through “safe/clean” programs and the innovative use of public/private partnerships.

Today, the resurgence of American cities is the norm. It is amazing, as we rediscover Comeback Cities, that is has only been 15 or 20 years since we first recognized this trend. I am confident this success will become a “flywheel” propelling us to even greater, more innovative and inclusive things to come.

Banner photo courtesy of James Patterson


Growth & Opportunity (Emphasis on the Ampersand)

Growth & Opportunity (Emphasis on the Ampersand)

by Jeff Linton, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and Community Relations, Forest City Enterprises, a member of the Fund for Our Economic Future //


A Growth & Opportunity Approach to Economic Development

At the Fund for Our Economic Future, you hear a lot about Growth & Opportunity as a driving strategy and a key to strengthening Northeast Ohio’s economy. Sounds like a good thing, right? Who doesn’t like growth? Who wouldn’t want there to be more opportunity?

Now reread that first sentence and put the emphasis on the “&.” That’s the special part—and the most challenging. The problem is that just focusing on creating jobs is not enough, and can actually hurt a region. It may seem incongruous, but research shows that metros that experience big increases in job growth often also see increases in poverty, income disparity and even crime.

Strengthening and sustaining the Northeast Ohio economy requires a coordinated effort to 1) create more good-paying jobs with advancement potential, 2) better prepare residents for those jobs, and 3) improve access to those jobs. In other words, we must not only create jobs, we must consider, too, the job’s wage, who it goes to and where it is located. That’s Growth & Opportunity.

What does it look like in practice?

The Fund set out to answer that question in this recently released video (produced by Airhead Media of Cleveland). It illustrates what we know from research: Too many of our citizens have been left out of the region’s recovery. One in 20 Northeast Ohioans lives in an area of economic distress, where less than 65 percent of the working-age population is employed or looking for work, and where median household income is in the bottom quartile. These areas tend to be job-creation “deserts,” with residents isolated by limited access to reliable transportation and held back by lack of needed skills for the jobs that are available.

A key part of the Fund’s work centers on establishing a baseline understanding of how economic growth and opportunity are linked and why both are integral to supporting and strengthening the region’s recovery. Meaningful progress on Growth & Opportunity requires working collaboratively and across boundaries—organizational, geographic and political. It requires that public, private and civic leaders recognize the importance of Growth & Opportunity to economic vitality, and embrace the role they can play by building the principles of Growth & Opportunity into their own organizations’ goals and strategies.

For Forest City, Growth & Opportunity is about creating that much sought-after “rising tide” that truly lifts all boats. It’s about helping to foster an even stronger community that we continue to call home. Our involvement in the Fund is an extension of the tradition established by our founders of giving back, and a function of our belief that we in Northeast Ohio can accomplish so much more working together than we can separately.

The WorkAdvance pilot (in partnership with Towards Employment) highlighted in the video is just one example of the many efforts happening around the region to advance Growth & Opportunity. We certainly hope this will help encourage more.

Contact the Fund if you’d like to know more or get involved in Growth & Opportunity efforts happening in your community.


Jeff Linton 

Jeff Linton is senior vice president, Corporate Communications and Community Relations, for Forest City Enterprises Inc. In his role, Linton has responsibility for communications planning and strategy, corporate identity and branding, issues management, investor relations, media relations, and internal communication. In addition, he is responsible for community relations, corporate philanthropy and the administration of FOCUS PAC, the company’s political action committee.Before joining Forest City in 2007, Linton was a managing director of Dix & Eaton, a nationally known public relations and investor relations consultancy, where he led the firm’s transaction communications practice.

Photo courtesy Airhead Media

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