Terroir and the Distinct City

Photo from flickr user Bernt Rostad

Craft beer has recently boomed in popularity across the United States with unique ingredients taking main stage. Often a brewery utilizes local ingredients and easily recognizable regional favorites for flavoring. Terroir, a term generally reserved for wines and cheese in the past, refers to the idea of tasting the flavors of a locality, and is becoming a main focus in the craft brewery world.


Youngstown: A Shrinking City with Big Ideas

Photo from Model D Media

The city of Youngstown, Ohio has learned to embrace its shrinking population by downsizing its infrastructure.  The Youngstown 2010 Plan, originally created in 2005 as a joint vision between the City of Youngstown and Youngstown State University, calls for sweeping changes in the city’s land use.  Since the plan was implemented, the crime rate has fallen and businesses are once again starting to invest in Youngstown.  There is still much improvement to be made in Youngstown, but this plan could serve as a model for other larger Rust Belt cities.


Re-Imagining America through the Lens of Municipal Innovation

Photo from CNNMoney

Rising out of the depths of the Great Recession, we are living in turbulent and fiscally uncertain times.  We’re trapped between employment and financial uncertainties, and an ever-widening knowledge and skills gap.  In spite of this perplexing narrative, one piece of the story has remained consistent: skepticism of the usefulness and effectiveness of government is on the rise.  The public is not happy with the public sector.  But Americans are rethinking what is no longer working; many have figured out that the directional nature of change does not have to be the traditional top-down flow from Washington to states to localities.  City governments across the country are realizing they cannot afford to wait for Washington to make change. Through municipal innovation cities have become the drivers and incubators of social change and better governance.  And by sharing their innovative ideas and success stories, cities everyday are paving the way for greater change across America.


Historic Preservation and the Identity of a City

Photo from flick user JasonParis

Every city has its own unique identity.  This identity is embodied in its citizens and also its buildings.  For example, Boston is defined by its narrow winding streets and historic brick colonial buildings; and New Orleans is defined by its multiculturalism and unique French architecture.  Architecture is a physical representation of the history of a city, and a city’s history is perhaps the most important aspect of its identity.  Historic preservation does not only mean preserving old buildings, but means preserving the entire identity of a city. Read More.


Making Historic Preservation Economically Viable: Heritage Tourism

Photo from Historic Fresno

One potential way to make historic preservation more economically viable is through a heritage tourism platform.  This can be an attractive economic revitalization strategy, providing a larger source of sustained revenue for a community, creating new businesses, increasing tax revenues, and fostering job growth.  Together, historic preservation and heritage tourism have the potential to generate greater civic pride and promote a community’s unique character. Read more.


Transportation: Who Is Responsible?

Photo from flickr user Complete Streets

Transportation infrastructure remains an important talking point in the national dialogue.  On the federal level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009) and the Federal Transportation Bill (2012) signal a gradual downward shift in responsibility for transportation policy and funding.  States and localities have simultaneously pushed for a “complete streets” policy to address the equitability of transportation infrastructure and networks.  While transportation policy becomes more equitable, however, funds from Washington continue to dwindle, leaving states and localities to search for new tools to fund projects.


Take a Second Look at Detroit

Photo from Buzz Feed

The City of Detroit has been in the news lately, mostly in ways that make it seem like the city is beleaguered with one problem after another.  A new emergency manager has been appointed who recently published a report of the City’s finances that makes the prospect of looming bankruptcy seem even greater. Then there are the ongoing issues of rising crime, declining population rolls, and failing city services. Yet, in spite of what you hear and read trumpeted daily, there are many individuals and organizations working quietly and tirelessly in local neighborhoods to improve life for residents and/or children. They realize the challenges to their beloved city, yet they continue to strive to make it better. This type of passion and commitment is what keeps hundreds of thousands of people living in Detroit. This is why people, young and old, continue to move into the city, hopeful that better days still are ahead. Along with support from political leaders, the business community and philanthropic community, these local champions are the ones that keep the city viable. In their honor, we invite you to take a second look at Detroit.


Artists: The Urban Crusaders

Photo from Market Wired

Some of America’s most struggling cities are showing signs of resurgence.  This trend in urban resurgence is the result of many efforts coming together, and artists have proven to be one of the most important roles in urban renewal.  Artists have moved into run-down neighborhoods and renovated abandoned buildings to open galleries and boutiques.  Like crusaders campaigning for their worthy cause, these artists move to the city with a purpose: to revive our cities.  Their success has been so widespread that cities across the country are specifically targeting artists to contribute their skills for improving the quality of our cities.


Promoting Community Development through Visual Arts: Skid Row Los Angeles

Photo from Los Angeles Poverty Department

The visual arts have a profound effect on the cultural vitality of impoverished communities.  In particular, artistic and cultural activity creates an emotional outlet for Skid Row community members, translating into a greater sense of empowerment for the community at large.  For ten years the Los Angeles Poverty Department has incorporated visual arts through arts-based engagement within the Skid Row community.  Recently, the Los Angeles Poverty Department partnered with the REEL Recovery Film Festival to launch Biggest Recovery Community Anywhere, a 3-day festival including performance, film, discussion, and fellowship.


The Gender Pay Gap, Happiness, and What it Could Mean for Profits

Earlier this week, June 10th, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Equal Pay Act being signed into national law. Women and their influence in the workforce have come a long way since the bill became law, but are women and men’s pay as equal as The Equal Pay Act would suggest?

A recent study released by the National Women’s Law Center has indicated that there are large state-by-state variations on just how wide the gap is between women and men in the same positions.  Over the last 50-years the gap has narrowed to a national average of 23 cents for the same positions and comparable qualifications.

Why does equality matter in the workforce?  Great ideas could be overlooked because a woman does not feel comfortable or equally compensated in their position and they do not speak out. Women are not likely to succeed if they are not treated as candidates for success.

Innovations and positive company experiences are directly linked to equal treatment and could benefit a company’s profits and customer relations says Tony Hsieh’s new book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and speaker…