The Blog

Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

By Lee Fisher, Senior Advisor, CEOs for Cities //

This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled, but there are moments when we can … reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.’” – Leonard Cohen  (via SNL’s Kate McKinnon)

On election night, no matter who you supported, most of us were surprised and many were shocked by the outcome. It is particularly difficult for Clinton supporters to understand how so many good people could have supported President-elect Trump given how many people were offended by his language in the campaign. Yes, a number of Trump supporters cheered his rhetoric. But I believe that many, maybe even most, Trump supporters voted for him despite his language, not because of it. For them, there was something in his populist, anti-establishment message that was much more important to them that his behavior. Trump’s message was that their lives matter. Many Trump supporters wanted to send the same message that Howard Beale, in the 1976 movie, Network, sent when he yelled, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”  It’s worth noting that a number of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 voted for Trump. Youngstown, where Obama won by more than 20 points in 2012, was basically a draw. A number of counties that supported Obama in 2012 voted for Trump by wide margins.

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Want to Change the World? Plant a Tree

Want to Change the World? Plant a Tree

Photo credit: Instagram | @juliegeb
Photo credit: Instagram | @juliegeb

Cities around the world face a number of challenges, including infrastructure, safety, economic, and environmental challenges. In its recent report Planting Healthy Air, the Nature Conservancy and C40 Cities collaborated to examine two major environmental challenges that impact health: particulate matter pollution and extreme heat.

Fine particulate matter, which is emitted from a variety of sources, including burning agricultural residues, fuelwood, and fossil fuels, is currently estimated to cause 3.2 million deaths per year globally. By 2050, its projected that fine particulate matter could kill up to 6.2 million people per year.

Extreme heat is also a major health concern. Currently extreme heat kills an estimated 12,000 people annually (and makes life miserable for billions more.) By 2050, it’s projected that deaths from heat waves could reach 260,000.

Though these are very serious issues, taking a heavy toll on our cities. There is a solution. And it is beautifully simple. Plant trees.

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The Economic Inclusion and Competitiveness Imperative

The Economic Inclusion and Competitiveness Imperative

By Johnathan M. HolifieldCo-founder, ScaleUp Partners //

During the last century, America’s position as a global economic leader was unaffected by the lack of contribution of disconnected Americans in key performance areas. We were the largely unchallenged global leaders, and U.S. economic competitiveness was assured despite less than optimal productivity from more than half our population. This is no longer the case. With unyielding global competition for jobs and opportunity, our nation cannot continue maintaining the walls that separate too many Americans from opportunities to successfully compete and prosper. Without an economy open to more contributions from more Americans (especially from disconnected populations; generally, women, African Americans, Latinos, and rural populations) we accept spectacular success for a few at the expense of a resilient, globally competitive national economy.

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October Changemaker: Cindy Frey

October Changemaker: Cindy Frey

Cindy Frey, President, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce  //

What is your advice for the next generation of city change makers?

The biggest piece of advice I can offer to the next generation of city change makers is to get involved! Community leaders are eager to form relationships with next generation leaders, to share the community’s history, to mentor, and to provide guidance. On the other hand, community leaders need to be open-minded about the approach young leaders take.  Here, we have a history of a strong, nine-month community leadership training program. It’s a great program, but I sense we need to update our model.  Next generation leaders might prefer to hold a hackathon to solve a problem in a weekend. They may see a solution that involves new technology. We need to move over and make room for new ways of tackling issues.

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Why Can’t We Just Look Up to See When the Bus Is Coming?

Why Can’t We Just Look Up to See When the Bus Is Coming?

By Scott Kolber, CEO, Roadify Transit // 

How civic partnerships can create Transit Information Networks (TINs) to spur economic development and promote transportation equity.

Civic collaboration = shared success

A central theme of the recent CEO’s for Cities national meeting in Columbus was that a culture of civic collaboration between public and private organizations, including business, government and everyone in between, can deliver shared success. Columbus’ success in winning the $40 million federal DOT Smart Cities grant, along with $100 million in additional grants from Vulcan, and local business and organizations, is measurable evidence of this culture in practice.

In an innovative collaboration, committed local leadership, including business improvement districts, foundations, economic development boards, chambers of commerce, advocacy groups, local employers, franchises, merchants, transit agencies and city government, can fund and establish Transit Information Networks (TINs) –indoor electronic screens on which transit arrival times and related information can be distributed and displayed. This model can deliver immediate, highly visible benefits to many stakeholders at a modest cost.

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Peek into one of Cleveland’s Growing Neighborhoods: Slavic Village

Peek into one of Cleveland’s Growing Neighborhoods: Slavic Village

by: Ed Zdolshek, City Fellow, CEOs for Cities //

The City of Cleveland is on the rise. Not just because its sports teams are winning championships or because the Republican National Convention brought an influx of economic opportunities and people into the city. But because the city is experiencing a revitalization in many of its neighborhoods that have long been dormant. Some of these neighborhoods have already begun their ascension, including Ohio City, Tremont, and the Flats. It looks like Slavic Village will be next.

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September Changemaker: Carol Evans

September Changemaker: Carol Evans

Carol Evans, Executive Director, Legacy Parks Foundation  //

What is your advice for the next generation of city changemakers?

The best advice I can give to the next generation is to listen in many different ways. So many people are passionate and have great ideas. It is extremely important to give these talented people a voice and a platform.

An expression I like to use is to “make the table rounder and larger.” By this I mean it is part of my job to invite people to this table so that their ideas can be heard and we can achieve sustained success. In my line of work, you do not always have to come up with the best idea but you have to be able to identify the best idea.

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What’s the Role of Economic Development Organizations in Inclusive Growth?

What’s the Role of Economic Development Organizations in Inclusive Growth?

Cross-posted from Regional Growth Strategies blog.  By Pete Carlson, President, Regional Growth Strategies //

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a day with local economic development leaders from across the country to explore the role of economic development organizations (EDOs) in achieving more inclusive growth. The strong interest in the meeting suggest that a lot of EDOs are wrestling with this question.

I, too, have been wrestling with this question for some time now, and I’ve come to a few conclusions about what works and what doesn’t that might be useful to others heading down this path.

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Building A Walkable City

Building A Walkable City

By Daniel Drees, Cleveland Foundation Summer City Fellow, CEOs for Cities // 

Walkable Cities

Jeff Speck’s book, Walkable City, might have been published in 2012, but his ideas are still revolutionizing American cities. It’s not written for the car-dependant urban dweller.  If you are adamant about continuing your white-knuckled commute, then you will not be friends with this book. If you think that people on bikes ruin the roads in your city or you might only consider the bus an option if your car breaks down, you will not like what Speck has to say about walkability, bikeability, and transit. Speck’s steps to achieve a walkable city are unapologetic odes to those for whom cities were first designed: the people.

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August Changemaker: Tanisha Robinson

August Changemaker: Tanisha Robinson

Tanisha Robinson, Founder + CEO, Print Syndicate //

How did Print Syndicate get started?

I grew up in a small town in Missouri, in a large Mormon family. I didn’t really fit in. In high school, with the launch of AOL chatrooms, I was able to find other odd kids like me and a place to belong. Twenty years later, the Internet is a place where, regardless of geography, people can find belonging among others just like them.

While I was the director of marketing at a company similar to Café Press, I realized that there was an interesting opportunity at the intersection of on-demand printing and creating a timely response to what people talk about on social media.

Print Syndicate’s purpose is to enable self-expression through exceptional design. And, through self-expression, hopefully to enable self-acceptance.

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