Donald Trump has succeeded where decades of politicians in the US have failed: By his full-on approach, he has forced people – especially opponents – to think about what future they want & how they want to get there, or how they might get there once the pathway has been redrawn.
An example was in a CityLab article a week ago, recognising a populist election victory and taking that forward to an examination of economic & urban issues.
“Will your city go into triage mode, double down on progressive policies, or flex its financial muscle in 2017?” the CityLab article, The 5 kinds of cities we’ll see in the populist era, asked. It went on to list 5 types of city:
Besieged: cuts in funding and shifts in national regulations
Opposition to anti-trade & anti-immigrant efforts, weakening healthcare security, safeguards for the climate and consumer protections
Progressive: acting independently of national government, across the US & Europe, cities are leading efforts to lower carbon emissions, boost energy efficiency and accelerate the transition to renewable energies and, in Europe, leading efforts to integrate Syrian & other refugees through imaginative housing, education & skills-building initiatives
Prosperous: “Economic restructuring and the demographic preferences of talented workers have revalued proximity, density, diversity & vitality – in a word, ‘cityness’ – over dispersion & decentralisation”
Networked: “The power of cities lies in the fact that they are not governments, but rather networks of public, private, civic, university & community institutions. Governments can be hijacked by partisanship; networks, by contrast, reward pragmatic action”.
The writers said cities would get smarter about how to use their market position for fiscal purposes: “Copenhagen and Lyon, France, are using the value of public assets including land & buildings – and new publicly owned, privately managed corporations – to invest at scale in infrastructure and spur the large regeneration of harbours & urban districts. Like other urban innovations, we should expect these new models of city governance & finance to spread fast.”
Institutions have unused role in raising cities’ economies
In another article in October 2015, The new grand bargain between cities & anchor institutions, CityLab cofounder & editor-at-large Richard Florida wrote that “anchor institutions spur economic growth & innovation, but are still lacking co-operation with cities themselves”.
We’ve seen that in Auckland, where a decade of institutional development has been mostly inward-focused. Auckland University tried, 10-15 years ago, to combine a “research innovation campus” beside its Tamaki sportsfields with public & private sector research & development facilities.
The obstacles were chiefly about planning. The notion that an education facility, other public institutions & private sector businesses should embark on joint ventures and leverage off one another’s efforts – exciting & highly innovative, I thought – was incidental.
The Tamaki campus has been sold, for housing, and students are heading back into town, where the university’s new Khyber Pass campus is again inward-looking. The relationship between gown & town will again be incidental.
In the US, Mr Florida wrote: “For most of the 20th century, large companies like General Motors and Ford, IBM and General Electric, US Steel and Procter & Gamble were the veritable suns that powered both the US economy & the scores of economies that comprised it. Cities, in turn, measured their strength by how many of these headquarters & manufacturing plants they held….
“The driving force in our economy has shifted from those behemoths to clusters of companies, talent & support industries. Those clusters do not just emerge out of thin air; more often than not they revolve around large anchor institutions – mainly research universities, colleges, medical centres & other creative or knowledge-based institutions – that help shape & structure urban economies.”
A report by the Urban Institute & New York University’s Wagner School, released through the National Resource Network, identifies ways to align cities & local anchors around shared interests and largescale economic & community development.
Examples of changing approaches are Tulane University in New Orleans, collaboration in Cleveland, the urban lab model in Chicago and Oregon University’s sustainable cities initiative.
In New Orleans, university president Scott Cowen changed his view that the university was in but not of the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, becoming a champion for the whole city. That included helping revive an historically black college, Dillard, that the report said would have closed, and creating a public service requirement for all undergraduates – a first for the US – “that led to after-school tutoring, house rebuilding and the creation of public gardens in some of the poorest neighbourhoods most severely damaged by the hurricane”.
The report writers saw even greater collaboration in Cleveland, where the heads of the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals and the Cleveland Foundation joined city hall leaders to broadly chart a redevelopment plan for the 7 low-income neighbourhoods surrounding the University Circle district.
The future incorporates major redevelopment mixed with a local home-buying programme, co-operative business ventures tied to the anchor institutions and a largescale workforce programme.
Last March, Chicago University expand its urban lab model that identifies promising city programmes and rigorously tests to see which are worth expanding.
In Eugene, Oregon University identifies a pressing challenge and, through its sustainable cities initiative, matches up to 30 courses in many disciplines over an academic year, resulting in faculty & students acting as consultants working against a semester-based clock to solve a public problem.
CityLab, 12 January 2017: The 5 kinds of cities we’ll see in the populist era
Travel & Leisure: Copenhagen’s waterfront development
CNN Style, 9 July 2015: France’s vision of a utopian future comes to life in Lyon
Richard Florida in CityLab, 5 October 2015: The new grand bargain between cities & anchor institutions
Urban Institute, 29 September 2015: Striking a local (grand) bargain
National Resource Network, 29 September 2015: Grand bargain report
Report pdf: Striking a (local) grand bargain
31 July 2005: Tamaki campus plan change approved
18 November 2002: Tamaki campus expansion to benefit Glen Innes & Panmure
Attribution: CityLab, Travel & Leisure, CNN, Urban Institute, National Resource Network.