Competitive Communities
Building Communities for Tomorrow's Economy
The Urban Age of the 21st Century:Economic Prosperity? Environmental Sustainability? Social Inclusivity?

Saturday, December 09, 2006  

The competitive communities model and open economic networks are innovative strategies to advance an urban agenda for the 21st century. Collaboration and issue connections lead to more comprehensive approaches to building communities – actions that are more broadly supported and more sustainable. MHSM is currently working on a specific area redevelopment plan initiative to organize community discussion and action around – housing, education, meaningful work, safety, health, leadership and culture. “People tend to move in the direction of their conversations.” Focusing these conversations on a specific area of the inner city, beginning first with the neighborhood and expanding to the broader community, could be a beginning of change to advance an entire city toward the 21st century agenda presented by Bruce Katz in November. The idea for this plan organization comes from the work of a non-profit organization, SBCR, that incorporates these 7 elements as part of a village structure model with mutually enhancing relationships as the foundation and basis for meaningful dialogue.

The following excerpts are from a speech given by Bruce Katz, An Urban Agenda for an Urban Age, presentation prepared by Bruce Katz, Andy Altman, and Julie Wagner for the Urban Age Conference in Berlin, Germany on November 10, 2006. The challenges presented are consistent with the work of our firm and network of partners.

…”we call for an Urban Agenda that matches the pace and intensity of the Urban Age. This Urban Agenda will embrace the goals of competitive, sustainable, and inclusive cities and, equally important, commit to pursuing and delivering these objectives in tandem. That will require wholesale change in how people— practitioners, policymakers, and researchers—do their business. It will necessitate programs and policies that drive integrative, multi-dimensional thinking and action. It will extol the role of the physical, emphasizing the importance of building cities that are adaptive and resilient and advance broader objectives. It will reinvent urban politics to advance the new urban paradigm. And it will require multinational corporations to be grounded in “place” and become strong partners for change.

Make no mistake, the stakes are high: the path of development in many cities around the world is simply not sustainable socially or environmentally or politically – nor, ultimately, economically.

Not only is our world increasingly urban, this urbanity is increasing at a scale…at a speed…fuelled by mobility and diversity… arranged in a complexity…and tied together with a level of connectivity…never before seen or experienced.

So, where do we go from here? How do we design and implement an Urban Agenda that matches the pace and intensity of the Urban Age?

The goals of the Urban Agenda—competitive cities, sustainable cities, inclusive cities—are not at issue. The trinity of economy, environment and equity is substantively warranted, morally imperative and widely accepted.

Cities are complex and interdependent. As such, they require multi-dimensional, integrated and holistic interventions.

This century’s Urban Agenda needs to be about delivery as much as aspiration.

Economic Development
Environmental Protection
,sources: The World Bank; Various

It is an agenda that must empower people, with more integrated and transformative programs and policies, through a heightened awareness of the physical “place”, with a realignment of politics, and an infusion of new partners.

We first need to focus on the people who deliver the Urban Agenda. Imagine networks of city builders who cut across disciplines, programs, practices, and professions. These city builders will perfect new ways of “reading” cities, and deploy new metrics and measures to diagnose city assets and ailments and gauge city progress. They will be fluent in multiple city “languages”—architecture, demographics, engineering, economics, and sociology—and be cognizant of theory and practice. Modern society has deified specialists and technicians who diagnose and strive to fix discrete problems, say traffic congestion or slum housing.

If cities are to succeed, we must build a generation of generalists who see the connections between challenges and work to devise and implement policies that advance multiple objectives simultaneously.

If cities are the organizing units of the new global order, then a broad range of policies and practices at the city, national and supra-national levels need to be overhauled, re-ordered, and integrated around new spatial realities and paradigms.

We need to break down the barriers between specialized and self-referential disciplines, professions, and bureaucracies.

We need to link learnings and share innovations across networks of urban researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, across the developing and developed worlds.

We need to build cities that are prosperous, sustainable and inclusive.”

posted by Kim | 6:27 AM