At City Summit 2018, 50 cities committed to new initiatives to support their innovation economies. NLC’s City Innovation Ecosystems program collects and tracks these commitments in order to showcase successes, identify best practices and connect peer cities who can learn together. Here they share the story of one city’s work: In the beginning of the 20th century, Akron’s economy seemed invincible. The town was home to all four of the world’s leading producers of tires, lending it the nickname “The Rubber City.” Collectively, the city produced 80 percent of tires used in the U.S. and was at the forefront of a booming, and at the time, highly innovative sector. Follow this link to learn more.
For those individuals among us who possess a talent for art, opportunities to create something beautiful can be found all around us. Everywhere you look, there are empty walls that are just crying out to become something more beautiful, if only someone would take the time. Thankfully, there are plenty of incredibly talented street artists out there who are doing just that, turning drab public spaces into explosions of color and creativity. Check out the gallery here.
As of today, 138 cities have formally announced 100% renewable energy goals or targets, while others are actively considering similar goals. Cities have a wide variety of renewable energy procurement options to help them achieve their goals. One such option available to cities is leveraging an electric franchise agreement to partner with their local utility on new renewable energy projects or programs. New National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) research provides the first available analysis of franchise agreements nationwide. The analysis evaluates the extent to which municipalities have the authority to enter franchise agreements, how many have pursued additional energy objectives in or alongside their agreements, and to what effect. From a dataset of over 3,500 franchise agreements, the authors conclude that cities in 30 states have the opportunity to pursue franchise agreements, while municipalities in 20 states may be prohibited or otherwise precluded from pursuing this option. Follow this link to learn more.
Fort Collins, Colorado entered the Cities of Opportunity pilot cohort, an initiative to work in a comprehensive way to improve health and equity, with the intention to focus on housing. The city’s team evolved to focus instead on childcare availability, exemplifying the Cities of Opportunity approach to meet cities where they are. The Fort Collins team intentionally reached out to partners to be supportive and not duplicative of what is already happening in this area. NLC spoke with Sue Beck-Ferkiss, social policy and housing programs manager with the City of Fort Collins, about how their team identified affordable childcare as a key need and pivoted to most effectively expanding it in their city. Follow this link to read more.
As Americans, we see transportation as freedom. Give us a car and the open road, a bustling transit system, or bike lanes for miles. Transportation connects us to people and opportunity—and good infrastructure can make our lives better. This notion doesn’t end at the modes that move people. Freight trains are often the forgotten side of rail infrastructure, chugging day in, day out across our cities to deliver goods we rely on. Everything from consumer products to food to energy resources moves by rail. As infrastructure sits top of mind for policymakers at all levels of government, and we approach re-authorization of the federal highway program in 2020, it’s useful to reflect on our strengths. Privately funded freight rail is one of these strengths, an infrastructure asset that delivers stronger economies, more jobs, less congestion, and cleaner skies, all of which impacts municipalities. Here are five ways trains are driving cities forward. Follow this link to learn more.
Coordinated by graduate student Hannah Whitley in Penn State’s Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education, the Female Farmer Photovoice Project explores how socially constructed identities complicate barriers and opportunities for urban growers and connect to broader institutional inequities that perpetuate these problems. This past spring, 18 female urban agriculturalists were given disposable cameras and asked to take pictures that “tell their story” of urban agriculture. After three weeks of picture taking, participants met for a reflection meeting to share their photos, select which ones they wanted to share with the public, create titles, and write narratives for their photographs. These images and stories now are displayed on the project website’s digital gallery, www.thefemalefarmerphotovoiceproject.org, and in an exhibition that will travel across Pennsylvania and the Northeast this year. Whitley said she hopes the project will raise awareness of the importance of this kind of research. Follow this link to learn more.
Communities flourish when everyone within them has the opportunity to flourish. When urban-serving universities and communities join forces, we can confront the complexities of education, healthcare, economic, and human development in order to:
Prepare an increasingly diverse workforce to successfully navigate careers through technological, economic, and social change.
Assess, treat, and prevent urban health risks for increasingly diverse populations.
Create sustainable solutions for continued and inclusive growth that improve the quality of life in our communities.
Join educators, industry, nonprofit, and community leaders at The Ohio State University on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. EST in the Ohio Union to exchange ideas and reinvigorate the collective efforts toward strengthening and sustaining vibrant, inclusive communities. Follow this link to learn more.
At the top of a three-story building in Hong Kong, with car horns blasting on the streets below, Jim Fung teaches a dozen students how to thin out choi sum vegetables. “Always use the resources you have,” the instructor said as he placed shredded office paper into soil-filled plastic crates and wound string around bamboo sticks to make support frames. Fung was coaching the first cohort of students in an academy run by social enterprise Rooftop Republic to teach a new generation of urban farmers as demand for their skills soars. The organization is spearheading a movement to turn Hong Kong’s idle rooftops and urban spaces into farms to help residents reconnect with nature and make the finance hub more livable. Follow this link to learn more.