Author Archive: Next City

World Urban Forum 9, Day Five: Informal Workers and LGBT Rights

A panel discusses ways to better integrate urban and rural spaces.

This week, planners, policymakers and urban practitioners from across the world are gathering in Kuala Lumpur for World Urban Forum 9. This story is part of Next City’s coverage of the Forum. For more stories, visit our World Urban Forum 9 page here.

Each day during World Urban Forum 9, Next City is inviting attendees to visit the World Stage for conversations about the principles enshrined in the New Urban Agenda. On Sunday, Feb. 11, our speakers talked about connecting architecture to the Agenda’s principles, building smart cities for all, and creating urban spaces that make LGBT residents feel welcome.

Gallery: World Urban Forum 9, Day Five: Informal Workers and LGBT Rights

  • In a presentation organized by WIEGO, informal workers from Thailand described their struggles to earn a living in the face of stricter regulations and government crackdowns. “Bangkok is trying to become a global city,” said Raywat Chobtham (far right), a street vendor who works in the capital. “In the government’s view, that means a city where the public space is not a place to earn a living.” 

  • Sion Jones and Danilo Manzano, LGBT advocates from Ecuador, took to the World Stage to discuss how cities can ensure residents of all sexual orientations feel welcomed.

  • In a discussion about how architects can better connect with the principles enshrined in the New Urban Agenda, Carl Elefante, incoming president of the AIA, declared, “The fields are fertile for change. Direct engagement in your community begins with dialogue, and I think we, as a nation, have a great appetite for that. From left: Tom Dallessio, Carl Elefante, and Roger Williams.

  • A panel led by IHC Global, a coalition for inclusive housing and sustainable cities, discussed how smart cities can also be places of social inclusion. From left: Luisa Bravo, CitySpace Architecture; Ahmed Eiweida, The World Bank; Tom Dallessio, Next City; and Judith Hermanson, IHC Global. “It is difficult to ask all social groups to be part of the same discussion,” said Bravo. “You must first build trust, and only then can you ask for cooperation. But building trust is an overwhelming, exhausting activity that many cities are simply not interested in.”

World Urban Forum 9, Day Four: U.S. Mayors and Empowering Women

This week, planners, policymakers and urban practitioners from across the world are gathering in Kuala Lumpur for World Urban Forum 9. This story is part of Next City’s coverage of the Forum. For more stories, visit our World Urban Forum 9 page here.

Each day during World Urban Forum 9, Next City is inviting attendees to visit the World Stage for conversations about the principles enshrined in the New Urban Agenda. On Saturday, Feb. 10, our speakers talked about community-driven art and creating cities that are safe for women. Plus, four U.S. mayors and civic leaders joined us in the Mayor’s Corner.

Gallery: World Urban Forum 9, Day Four: U.S. Mayors and Empowering Women

  • Jane Anyango, founder and director of the Polycom Development Project, and Elsa Marie D’Silva, founder and CEO of the Red Dot Foundation, talk about addressing sexual violence in cities as a development challenge. “There’s a lot of sexual harassment in Kibera, [Nairobi], and at times, because of their financial status, girls end up accepting these people taking advantage of them because they have no option and they also have no one to share with when they’re being harassed,” said Anyango.

  • Ruxanda Renita, cofounder of the Urban Catalyst Lab, discussed community-driven art as a tool for promoting community ownership of sustainability and urban development dialogues.

  • Mayors and civic leaders from four U.S. cities explained the challenges they confront on a daily basis. From left, Tom Dallessio, publisher and CEO of Next City; Marita Garrett, mayor of Wilkinsburg, Penn.; James Diossa, mayor of Central Falls, R.I.; Christopher Cabaldon, mayor of West Sacramento, Calif.; and Andrew Rodriguez, city councilor of Walnut, Calif.

  • Luis Bettencourt, Pritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago, shares the stage with Anni Beukes, in charge of data initiatives and community organization at Slum Dwellers International. 

World Urban Forum 9, Day Three: Architects, Advocates and Mayors from across the Globe

Members of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization discuss gateway portals to New York City.

This week, planners, policymakers and urban practitioners from across the world are gathering in Kuala Lumpur for World Urban Forum 9. This story is part of Next City’s coverage of the Forum. For more stories, visit our World Urban Forum 9 page here.

Each day during World Urban Forum 9, Next City is inviting attendees to visit the World Stage for conversations about the principles enshrined in the New Urban Agenda. On Friday, Feb. 9, our speakers talked about cities’ role in dismantling inequality, new ideas in flood adaptation, and how a city in Albania—“until recently, the North Korea of Europe”—is reinventing itself after the fall of communism.

Gallery: World Urban Forum 9, Day Three: Architects, Advocates and Mayors from across the Globe

  • Eugénie Birch, a board member of the New York metro area’s Regional Plan Association, discusses how her organization advocates for smarter growth near transit nodes. “The poison word is density,” she said, referring to efforts to encourage towns in New Jersey to upzone. “We need to create language that is not threatening.”

  • Martim Smolka, director of the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, talks about how “land value capture” has helped South American cities earn dividends when privately owned land rises in value due to investments in public infrastructure. “All of the increased value of private real estate is essentially framed by public action,” he said. “The benefits of public investment should not only accrue to private developers.”

  • Members of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy engaged in a wide-ranging discussion about equitable cities. From left: Sena Segbedzi, policy analyst; Enrique Silva, associate director of the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean; Amy Cotter, associate director of Urban Programs; and Rohan Kocharekar, resident fellow. “Yes, inequality is happening, and yes, it is especially happening in cities. But cities also have a role to play in dismantling that inequality,” said Segbedzi.

  • “For the first time in Panama, we are starting to think about water in the natural way. We used to push back against the water. Now, we make space for the water to stop the floods.” Panama City Vice Mayor Raisa Banfield tells the World Stage audience how her city is embracing new thinking on environmental issues.

  • Erion Veliaj, mayor of Tirana, Albania, was interviewed for a podcast about how his city has reinvented itself since the fall of communism. “You say to people, ‘Do you want change?’ And they say, ‘Yes, we do.’ And then you say, ‘Do you want to change?’ And they say, ‘You go first.'”

  • “When your federal government fails to take on the Sustainable Development Goals, it falls on local government.” Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Australia, Nuatali Nelmes, explains the sometimes challenging relationships between municipal- and national-level leadership.

World Urban Forum 9, Day Two: Art, Housing and Smart Cities for All

This week, planners, policymakers and urban practitioners from across the world are gathering in Kuala Lumpur for World Urban Forum 9. This story is part of Next City’s coverage of the Forum. For more stories, visit our World Urban Forum 9 page here.

Each day during World Urban Forum 9, Next City is inviting attendees to visit the World Stage for wide-ranging conversations about the principles enshrined in the New Urban Agenda. On Thursday, Feb. 8, the topics discussed included how New Orleans can create more affordable housing in the face of resistance from the state, technological accessibility, and the discrimination faced by artists with disabilities.

Gallery: World Urban Forum 9, Day Two: Art, Housing and Smart Cities for All

  • Andrew Reschovsky, a fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, explains how financing is key to cities’ attempts to meet the goals of the New Urban Agenda. “The rich can always take care of themselves,” he said, but the consequences of under-investment in cities falls squarely on everyone else.

  • Executive Director of HousingNOLA Andreanecia Morris argues that New Orleans is “creating housing that is not connected to the population of the city.” The number of million-dollar homes in New Orleans has surged since Hurricane Katrina, putting affordable housing out of the reach of many, despite a surplus of supply. “We have enough supply,” said Morris. “New Orleans has not earned the right to an affordability crisis.”

  • Attendees from World Enabled discussed the steps cities and countries are taking to ensure that information and communications technology is accessible to people with disabilities.

  • “The minute you tell someone you are special needs, they don’t even look at your work. They look at it as charity instead.” Artists with physical and intellectual disabilities showcased their work in a moving discussion about how artistic talent is fostered and consumed when the person creating it is disabled.

World Urban Forum 9, Day One: Conservation, Children’s Cities and More

This week, planners, policymakers and urban practitioners from across the world are gathering in Kuala Lumpur for World Urban Forum 9. This story is part of Next City’s coverage of the Forum. For more stories, visit our World Urban Forum 9 page here.

Each day during World Urban Forum 9, Next City is inviting attendees to visit the World Stage for wide-ranging conversations about the principles enshrined in the New Urban Agenda. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the topics discussed included how conservation can coexist with development in George Town, Malaysia; the importance of making cities accessible to older people and people with disabilities; and a tool to help cities prevent “resilience” from being just a buzzword.

Gallery: World Urban Forum 9, Day One: Conservation, Children’s Cities and More

  • From left, Think City Program Director Neil Khor, George Town Councilwoman Khoo Salma Nasution, and investment banker turned hotelier Chris Ong debate the tension between conservation and modernization in the World Heritage City. “Heritage cities have to continue to be living cities,” said Khor.

  • Sachin Bhoite, an urban designer from the independent design firm Arup, explains the City Resilience Index, a tool to make resilience tangible, practical, and globally applicable to cities. “Resilience has become a buzzword,” said Bhoite, adding that a calculated approach to the concept back to earth.

  • Jens Aerts, an urban planning and policy expert at UNICEF, talks about the need for more child-friendly cities. “I believe we are on the verge of a discipline,” he said of the movement to merge children’s rights with urban planning. “A lot of cities have space, but if you’re a child you can’t use.”

  • In a conversation about building cities for older people and people with disabilities, (from left) World Enabled President Victor Pineda, Katherine Klein of S.E.R.R., and Sion Jones of HelpAge International stress the importance of building accessible cities from inception rather than trying to fix them later. “It’s so much more expensive to retrofit a city after you’ve made those mistakes,” said Klein.

The Best and Worst Urban Trends of 2016

(AP Photo/ Shakh Aivazov)

While 2016 is poised to go down as a tough year all around, there were some bright spots amid the losses. We had more real talk around urban design than ever before, from planners letting go of the rational to a design guide offering up the sage advice, “don’t be a dick.” And although the year brought stark reminders that racial inequality in the U.S. is alive, well and dangerous, 2016 also saw a number of new racial justice initiatives in cities, including the first U.S. memorial to lynching victims announced for Montgomery, Alabama. On the legislative level, cities are stepping up to promote equity in the form of paid leave, protections for gig workers and cutting ties with socially irresponsible banks

On the other end of the spectrum, the U.S. President elected this year will enter the White House without anyone who holds deep urban policy expertise in his cabinet, putting cities at a disadvantage and threatening the achievements of the last eight years. The mixed messages we have heard from Treasury appointee Steven Mnuchin and from HUD appointee Ben Carson do little to assuage those fears.

From the good to the bad to the downright perplexing, here’s our take on the most influential urban trends of 2016.

Bike-Share Isn’t Just for Big Cities

Sponsored content from Zagster. here for a live webinar featuring Zagster and the Shared-Use Mobility Center called “Making Bike Share Work Outside of the Big City” on Tuesday, December 20.

Bike-sharing should be for everyone — not just big cities. Yet when bike-shares first cropped up in the United States more than a decade ago, technological, financial and logistical demands confined them primarily to large metropolitan areas.

Smaller cities lacked the big budgets necessary to install sweeping systems full of depreciating assets. Nor did they have the finances to hire all the staff needed to operate and maintain bike-shares. So even were they able to implement small systems scaled to their needs, they still had no realistic way to pay for all the upkeep.

However, with technological innovations and new business models, smaller communities are breaking down barriers to entry and launching successful bike-sharing systems that are tailored to their needs and built within their means.

Join Zagster and the Shared-Use Mobility Center for an exclusive webinar, which will examine how smaller communities are making bikesharing work for them. Register to attend the webinar here.

“Zagster is focusing on bringing a solution that works for the rest of the country,” says CEO & Co-Founder Tim Ericson. “New York and Boston have a subway, but that doesn’t mean Albuquerque or Fort Wayne need to put in that sort of infrastructure. That’s where we fit in.”

As opposed to the expensive docking kiosks used in big-city programs, Zagster’s bikes come outfitted with built-in locking technology. And because the company manages all aspects of its programs — from technology and infrastructure, to maintenance and marketing — Zagster enables cities to deploy cost-effective programs tailored to their communities.

To further reduce the cost to cities — and taxpayers — Zagster also offers a unique private-public funding structure in which local businesses and organizations sponsor systems. In exchange for their support, sponsors get to be associated with a positive community development and — through branding on bikes and stations — enjoy the exposure of their brand riding around town.

“Zagster allows mid-sized cities like Fort Wayne the opportunity to have the amenities of major metropolitan areas without the cost and complexity of bigger systems like those in Chicago and New York,” says Kathryn Gentz, a member of Leadership Fort Wayne, the group instrumental in bringing bike-sharing to the Summit City.

It’s not just bike-loving organizations backing these programs either. Zagster’s sponsors range from Fortune 500 corporations to local mom and pops. So while Zagster’s partners have brought on board cycling advocacy organizations, health care nonprofits and universities, they’ve also signed up museums, breweries and even, in Lakeland, Florida, a church.

Zagster believes that strong communities build strong bike-shares. And to that end, the sponsorship model exemplifies civic engagement by allowing anyone and everyone in the community to be a stakeholder in the bike-share system.

“Everybody is looking to provide better transportation options,” says Ericson. “They’re always trying to compete with others in the state and so bike-sharing has become an expected amenity in urban environments throughout the world.”

Learn more about Zagster and the collaborative sponsorship model for cities in this webcast Making Bike Share Work Outside of the Big City on Tuesday, December 20, at 2 p.m.

With Global Agreements, Vision for Resilient Cities Sharpens

October started with the gathering of enough signatures for the Paris climate agreement to take effect in November, and the month is winding down with another positive sign for those advocating for more resilient cities, with the adoption of the New Urban Agenda at the UN’s Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador.

The first is a treaty among countries, negotiated in Paris last fall, that signals an intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The latter is a nonbinding UN document intended to guide sustainable urban development in decades to come. Questions remain about inclusivity and implementation when it comes to the New Urban Agenda, but the agreement does acknowledge the risks of climate change and address mitigation and adaptation.

Many working on the challenges that cities face also see a connection between both agreements and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda that sets targets on everything from poverty and hunger to sustainable cities and climate action.

Watch Next City’s Quito Dispatch below to hear experts and officials at Habitat III this week talk about preparing cities for the effects of climate change, and how urban planning and policy can answer the threats of rising temperatures and sea levels.

5 Ways U.S. Cities Are Paying for Parks

(Photo by Lee Cannon via Flicker)

Sponsored content from City Parks Alliance . proven benefits of greener cities and the increasing demand for great community spaces, public dollars for funding parks have been increasingly hard to come by.

But rather than simply cutting already-tight budgets, many cities and park advocacy groups are getting creative, rallying around new revenue generators, or mobilizing private monies in innovative ways. Take Philadelphia, which just last June passed a soda tax that will raise some $300 million for Philly’s parks, libraries and rec centers.

Several places had tried before to pass similar sugary drink taxes as a way to bolster city coffers and improve public health; all but Berkeley, California, were unsuccessful. Philly’s win, says George Matysik, executive director at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, was in large part because Mayor Jim Kenney was so vocal about spending the revenue from the tax on city projects the public craved, specifically parks and universal preschool.

“This was the first time we’ve had the political will beginning at City Hall, with the Mayor laying out a clear agenda with these priorities,” Matysik says. “And we worked hard to have an outside coalition ready to rally around that agenda. That combination of political will and the advocacy arm working in tandem got us to victory.”

In Seattle, a major funding win came through a different sort of political victory, when citizens voted to create an independent Seattle Park District with the power to tax residents. The idea of a metropolitan park district in itself isn’t a new one — neighboring cities like Tacoma had employed similar models for nearly a century — but for Seattle, the newly granted authority to levy taxes (currently $0.33 per $1,000 of residents’ assessed property value) has been key in helping pay for park maintenance and operation.

“It’s been a huge weight off the shoulders of the city,” says Tyler Emsky, legislative assistant to Councilmember Debora Juarez, chair of the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee. “Without it, we definitely would have had to make very tough decisions down the road dealing with the level of service we’re giving to citizens and maintaining all that vibrant green space that’s so important to people’s lives here.”

Of course, levying new taxes isn’t going to be an option in every community, notes Catherine Nagel, executive director of the City Parks Alliance, a national urban parks advocacy organization. “There’s no silver bullet,” she says. “Every city needs to find its own method that makes sense for that city.”

Consider Chicago, where the Chicago Park District includes 61,500-seat Soldier Field. Not surprisingly, the district relies on events and privately contracted programming to raise a significant amount — almost 20 percent — of revenue. (The rest comes from city property taxes and personal property replacement tax.)

While Soldier Field alone raised $6.74 million in revenue last year, it’s not just the concerts and sporting events that contribute to the bottom line: Golf courses, concession programs, parking lots, harbor fees, equipment rentals and other privately run amenities like the new outdoor rock wall at Maggie Daley Park help keep the revenue flowing and the park programming growing even as city property taxes remain level.

In fast-growing Houston, the almost decade-old Houston Open Space Ordinance smartly tapped into the city’s construction boom by dictating that any developer building within city limits must either create parkland or pay a fee to the city’s park fund. Since that ordinance passed, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department reports, more than $34 million park dollars have been created.

Another notable funding plan has come from St. Louis, where the private nonprofit Forest Park Forever entered into a game-changing partnership with the city in 2013. The 30-year-old agency, long a key player in funding the 1,400-acre, nationally lauded Forest Park, agreed to raise $100 million in endowments for the park and buy $30 million in city bonds that would pay for capital improvements. The city will pay the group back, with interest, over the course of 30 years with money made from existing taxes and park revenue. The agreements not only cemented the agency’s shared role in the planning and running of the park, says Lesley Hoffarth, the president and executive director of Forest Park Forever, but also guaranteed both the cash to fund upcoming projects and the city’s commitment to funding the park in the future.

“The bond transaction was especially important,” Hoffarth says, “because as we put more private dollars into funding the park, we wanted to make sure that the city stayed there, too, that they didn’t start appropriating funds for the park for other needs.”

Even as park advocates all over the country continue to struggle with that very issue, Catherine Nagel believes there’s reason to remain optimistic. “Despite the fact that many cities continue to see funding cuts for city parks and recreation budgets,” she says, “it’s heartening to see how the growing demand for parks is driving innovative approaches to funding.”

Our 15 Most-Read Posts of 2015

(Illustration by Andrea Posada)

Out of the thousands of stories we wrote on the leaders, policies and innovations driving progress in cities this year, here are the 15 you read the most. Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting our work. For more look-backs at 2015, check out the best and worst Urban Trends of the year and our Year in Review. See you in 2016!

A Germophobe’s Guide to Buying a Metrocard
We kicked off 2015 with a strangely compelling tale of one germophobe’s investigation into a cleaner commute.

How a Not-Entirely-Polite Card Game Is Changing Urban Planning
The members of “Do Tank DC,” planners, architects and activists, and the founder of Greater Places, an online hub for urban design, had a wild, not-entirely-sober idea to turn urban planning into a game.

The Just City Essays
These 26 essays on urban justice were so popular we turned them into a free ebook that was downloaded thousands of times. Now you can receive a beautifully designed, limited-edition print copy.

The Threat to Detroit’s Rebound Isn’t Crime or the Economy, It’s the Mortgage Industry
One of the most sinister legacies of urban development — redlining — is making a de facto reappearance in Detroit.

Lexington, Kentucky (Photo by Britt Selvitelle)

New Species of City Discovered: The University City
Post-industrial City. Metropolis. Border Town. Tourist Mecca. We like to classify our cities, giving them labels that signal what makes them tick, why they’re special. Op-ed contributor Scott Shapiro broke down new data which suggest there’s another urban typology to add to the list: The University City.

What an Urban Sociologist Thinks Harvard’s Planning and Design Students Need to Know
Tom Dallessio, Next City’s president, CEO and publisher, spoke with Diane E. Davis in June, soon after she was named chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. They chatted about everything from urbanization in the “global south” to her morning commute.

Why One Silicon Valley City Said “No” to Google
Big money and even bigger egos are colliding in the tech world’s new company towns, and at least one tiny California city has “Google fatigue.”

10 Must-Read Books for Urbanists on Cities, Race and Public Space
Contributing writer Anna Clark offers her picks for anyone looking to better understand the dynamics of urban life. In a year when the literary world’s race issues made headlines more than once, Clark’s picks were 100 percent produced by writers of color.

Are You a Helicopter Parent? Blame Gentrification.
Evidence continues to mount about the negative impact that overparenting has on children. This is our story of how the rising cost of being a middle- or upper-middle-class parent in America’s most rapidly gentrifying areas is causing anxious, well-intentioned moms and dads.

Appreciating the sunset on the aptly named Sunset Limited near Willcox, Arizona (Photo by Danya Sherman)

What Long-Distance Trains Teach Us About Public Space in America
The long-distance train is one of America’s greatest and least heralded public spaces. We explore how the train encapsulates many qualities of public spaces that planners and designers try so hard to create.

How One City Will Change Its Entire Bus System Overnight
Last July, Houston revamped its entire 1970s-era bus network — more than 80 routes, 1,200 buses and a quarter-million daily passengers — literally overnight.

A Radical Design Movement Is Growing in New Orleans
What happens when activists, architects and artists team up to change their city?

A large temporary plaza built by Rebar on the Embarcadero on San Francisco’s Pier 9 (Credit: Rebar)

Hacking Public Space With the Designers Who Invented Park(ing) Day
Bay Area urban designer John Bela writes about how he and a small band of guerrilla planners liberated a parking space and with that, catalyzed a new way of thinking about public space.

The Urban Planner’s Guide to a Post-COP21 World
Cities are leading the fight against climate change. Here’s the blueprint for action.

One Mayor’s Downfall Killed the Design Project That Could’ve Changed Everything
Can public interest design survive in the political jungle that is the contemporary American city hall?

The Best and Worst Urban Trends of 2015

(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

In case you couldn’t follow all that happened in 2015, we decided to compile the most influential urban trends of the year and rank them; from the good — a historic climate agreement, the first urbanist pope, ditching the notion that certain ride- and house-share apps offer an altruistic business model, and so on — to the not-so-good — rising rent prices that make affordable housing seem to many like a charming relic of the past. Here, in the form of a slightly judgy list, we offer our take on the stuff that got cities talking in 2015.

15 Photos That Make Us Love City Agencies on Instagram

Our fave Instagram shares from 2015 include shots from Portland, Atlanta and San Francisco.

Social media’s been tricky terrain for many U.S. city governments navigating the era of transparency and Twitter, but on Instagram this year, these municipal departments and leaders managed to capture with a snap the reasons we love urban living.

1. Boston nails the beach look.

Fun in the sun today at our Splash Dance Party at Mozart Park in #jamaicaplain. Join us 8/7 at East Boston Memorial Park @mix1041 @turkeyhilldairy

A photo posted by Boston Parks & Recreation Dept (@bostonparksdept) on Jul 29, 2015 at 12:54pm PDT

2. Yes, Virginia, there is ice skating in the desert.

3. Raising funds with a Texas-sized cake. Yum. (Next City’s headed to Houston in May 2016 for our annual Vanguard conference.)

This is how we do #bakesales in #Texas. Last of our CMC #fundraisers. #givealittlehelpalot

A photo posted by City of Houston HCDD (@houstonhcdd) on Oct 29, 2015 at 8:32am PDT

4. Pogo sticks offer a different perspective on the skyline.

Were you at #Pogopalooza this weekend? #DTJax #ilovejax

A photo posted by City of Jacksonville, Florida (@cityofjax) on Jun 8, 2015 at 7:52am PDT

5. Twice the love: NYCGov’s “Instagram ambassadors” program + cats (kinda).

6. One word: Popeadelphia.

Are you ready for #popeinphl?

A photo posted by City of Philadelphia (@cityofphiladelphia) on Sep 25, 2015 at 10:44pm PDT

7. Sending a message.

8. Here’s a twist on the doughnut-buying cop.

ICYMI: Voodoo installed a cop drive-thru at Pioneer Square.

A photo posted by Portland Police (@portlandpolice) on Feb 11, 2015 at 4:28pm PST

9. Never too young to learn about water conservation.

WASD in the community! We’re participating in Commissioner Edmonson’s annual book bag give away! Come see us, we’ll be here until 2pm

A photo posted by Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Dept (@miamidadewater) on Aug 15, 2015 at 9:04am PDT

10. One thing the U.S. is no longer lacking: pics of bike-riding mayors.

After standing with our partners today, I was so proud to take my first ride on the new, $9.1M Lafitte Greenway. #nola #nolaprogress

A photo posted by Mayor Mitch Landrieu (@mayorlandrieu) on Nov 6, 2015 at 12:00pm PST

11. When a city gov displays the good kind of hot air.

Hot air balloons over downtown #Albuquerque this morning.

A photo posted by City of Albuquerque (@abqcity) on Jul 24, 2015 at 8:35am PDT

12. Citywide celebrations.

#Castro celebrates #MarriageEquality! #LoveWins #LGBT

A photo posted by Scott Wiener (@scott_wiener) on Jun 26, 2015 at 6:42pm PDT

13. Modern or no, libraries are a vital community resource.

14. Next time you take a pretty tree shot at your fave city park, remember the space’s day-to-day maintenance.

15. L.A. DOT shows off its creative signal cabinets.

Signal cabinet artwork at Western & Wilshire

A photo posted by LADOT (@ladotofficial) on Feb 4, 2015 at 4:04pm PST

10 Reasons to Apply for Vanguard Houston

Houston will host Next City’s 2016 Vanguard Conference in May 2016. (Photo by Alex via flickr)

Vanguard is Next City’s annual gathering of 40 of North America’s best and brightest urban leaders age 40 and under. The conference is free, and the window to apply closes Monday, December 14th at midnight. Here are our top 10 reasons to throw your hat in the ring to be part of the 2016 Vanguard conference happening in Houston, May 10th to the 14th.

1. Get to know 39 amazing leaders in your generation all doing innovative work in cities across North America.

2. Experience a city on the rise. Houston is tackling racial and economic inequality in a densifying urban core, taking the lead on data sharing and open government, and rethinking public transportation in a city often known for its sprawl.

3. Hear from academics and professionals about trends in urban policy and practice, including leaders from the Kinder Institute, a “think-and-do” tank at Rice University focused on urban issues in Houston and beyond.

4. Finally get your chance to not be the biggest urban planning geek in the room.

5. Explore Houston’s gorgeous Bayou Greenways with new friends who also want to talk about inclusive development.

6. Participate in the annual Big Idea Challenge, which will leave a lasting impact on the city.

7. Form deep and lasting connections within an influential network of your peers.

8. We’ll be staying at the Magnolia Hotel Houston, home to a rooftop pool, billiards room and an evening cookie buffet. Do we need to say more?

9. You won’t be just another tourist. Yes, there are fun photo ops, but Vanguard classes dive deep into host cities. Check out what we packed into three days in Reno last year.

10. After six years of hosting the Vanguard conference, we’ve built an influential alumni group, and many past participants will be attending. You’ll get to meet them — and join that growing club.

Working on the Front Lines to Create Affordable Housing in NYC

Eric Wilson

Eric H. Wilson is an assistant commissioner of planning and predevelopment for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development. Next City asked him to share his thoughts about his work, his favorite city, challenges for today’s young urban leaders and more. (Connect with him on Twitter @talofaeric.)

I get to work by: Bike and subway

The area I grew up in is: Suburbs (Littleton, Colorado)

What was your first job? I was a baggage handler at Denver’s old airport. I fell in love with the symphony of behind-the-scenes activities that take place while passengers file on and off airplanes. It got me thinking about the way that cities work.

What is your favorite city and why? Damascus, Syria. The physical structure of the city’s core invokes the best of classical urbanism.

Favorite public space in your city? The Brooklyn Museum holds free events on the first Saturday of each month. These are always packed with the super-diverse crowd that is Brooklyn. Where else can you party together with recent Caribbean immigrants and orthodox Jewish folks?

Did you always want to be a city planner? No, I wanted to be a bike mechanic and focus my time on restoring old bicycles. I still want to do that when I grow up.

What do you like most about your current job? I get to learn new things every day from my colleagues, the most dedicated and intelligent people I know.

What is the coolest project you’ve worked on? I created a plan for downtown Al Ain in the UAE, the only central business district I know of with a real functioning oasis!

Coverage of Eric’s plan for Al Ain from Gulf News, June 2012

What are the hard parts about your job? Sometimes I feel like my efforts to create affordable housing in New York City are an undetectable drop in the bucket of need.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Both growing and shrinking cities must accommodate residents with highly varied means and needs. Doing so with equity and resiliency is their greatest challenge.

What makes a successful leader? A bold and inspiring vision, with a sincere interest in new ideas and perspectives.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? I want to restore American urbanism and its belief in cities.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Always push your comfort zone. That’s the only way that you learn.

What do you look for when hiring someone? I want to understand the underlying passions of someone I’m interviewing: What gets them excited? What kinds of challenges do they relish?

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Develop your sense of empathy and listen to others before you act.

Reno Designer Goes From Outer Space to Shared Space

Brianna Bullentini

Next City isn’t just a news website. We’re a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to urban changemakers and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together 40 top young urban leaders. Brianna Bullentini is a member of the 2015 Vanguard class from Reno. Upcoming Vanguard conferences will be in May 2016 in Houston, and Montreal in 2017.

Name: Brianna Bullentini

Current Occupation: Lead designer at The Basement, an upcoming multiuse incubator space of both retail and food vendors who all celebrate the craft of the hand, and owner of RAWBRY Cold-Pressed Juice Bar and Lifestyle brand.

Hometown: Reno

Current City: Reno

Twitter Tag: @rawbrybar

I get to work by: Walk. I intentionally moved a block away from my project to help it move a little faster. (I don’t think the construction workers are too happy about that.)

The area I grew up in is: Suburbs in Reno. Heart of the city in New York City.

What is your favorite city and why? Florence, Italy, because you can just feel the family atmosphere and love about it. The smells and the winding streets, it’s such an inviting and ornately beautiful city from every detail. (Also wins over my heart because my family is originally from Lucca, a town just an hour west of it.)

Did you always want to be a designer? No. Honestly, until the age of about 12 I thought I was going to be an astronaut. Even went to space camp at Cape Canaveral and everything. I had a poster of John Glenn in my room for years. It was about middle school when I came to the realization that my gift for “spatial” design didn’t necessarily involve ‘outer space.’

What are the hard parts about your job? The juggling. I think I wear about 18 different hats any given day. I am not just the designer, but the manager, the mother, the janitor, the book keeper, the secretary, and the list goes on … I love them all though.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? The dependency on cars and electricity. We have dug ourselves into a hole. Urban development from here on out needs to facilitate walkable cities and self-generated energy sources.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? In simple terms, I want to leave the world a better place than how I found it. In doing so, my big hairy audacious goal would be to design a better living experience on Earth as we know it. Whether that be through human interactions with each other, or with their everyday objects and spaces. Designers are able to literally design every little thing we touch and make it for the better, so I hope that within my lifetime I am able to make the world a little bit brighter as we, a culture, travel from one impactful experience to the next.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? One of my favorite all-time experiential design mentors and now dear friend in NYC, Lionel Ohayon, told me “no idea is ever too big or impossible.” He always insisted, at the very least, “start at the moon.” At the inception of every single design idea, go big, build the castle in the clouds. Society/building department/or budget will whittle it down to “reality” for you. It’s your job, as the creative, to deliver something almost unimaginable.

Brianna’s latest project, in the basement of Reno’s historic 1933 post office, will be a multiuse incubator space of both retail and food vendors who all celebrate the craft of the hand.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? To practice what you preach. We all know there are always more environmentally beneficial, healthy and “sharable” ways to live, but it’s often easier said than done. So … if you believe in a method or are advocating a movement, then live it. People won’t follow if you aren’t following it yourself.

Brianna Bullentini | TEDxReno

Building a Detroit Where Everyone Feels at Home

Regina Ann Campbell

Next City isn’t just a news website — we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Regina Ann Campbell

Current Occupation: Managing Director of Place-based Entrepreneurship, TechTown Detroit

Hometown: Detroit

Current City: Detroit

Twitter Tag: @ReginaAnnCampbe

I drink: Coffee topped with steamed soy

I get to work by: Car, sometimes taxi

The area I grew up in is: City. Always loved the city, urban environment, tall buildings, shopping, hustle and bustle.

What is your favorite city and why? Detroit. The people are warm and open to everyone.

Favorite landmark or public space in your city? Spirit of Detroit. This landmark represents the people’s spirit of community, resilience, pride, love, strength.

Did you always want to work in urban economic development? Yes. From the time I was a child I enjoyed going downtown with my parents and siblings. Shopping at the then Kresge’s and Hudson. Eating sandwiches from the deli, waiting in long line to see Santa Claus. As a teenager I began to see the urban business district change, neighborhood stores close, buses become less reliable as I would go downtown to meet Dad and Mom for lunch. I wanted to be a part of bringing back revitalization to the city I fell in love with, I dare say, at birth. I have been an urban planner long before I knew what it was and had a degree or specialty in this area. I mentally documented all the changes, and knew the history and legacy of the stakeholders. So in tune with what was happening in Detroit and took time to view the demolition of Hudson, to say goodbye to the past landmark in Downtown Detroit and hello to the new modern developments that would begin to attract life, people living, working and playing downtown.

What do you like most about your current job? Working with small businesses in Detroit neighborhoods. And, having an opportunity to be a customer of Detroit-based businesses like when I was growing up.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Segregation across race, class, sex and religion. The educational system is broken, kids aren’t prepared for jobs now or jobs of the future.

Regina facilitates a TechTown entrepreneurship youth talk.

What makes a successful leader? A leader that is able to communicate a shared vision, and get people to follow and execute the vision.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? To continue supporting Detroit’s transition into a world-class city where every native Detroiter and visitor feels like they are at home. No one feels different because of race, class, income, education, religion, gender — whether walking, running, riding a bike or driving a car — we feel safe, happy and connected across the same values that contribute to quality of life.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Push past fear when presented with experiences, people, place or purpose you are unfamiliar with. Do not talk yourself out of opportunities by saying you can’t do it because you have never done it. No one can keep you from your goals but you. Take risk and if you fail, try again but maybe differently.

The Urbanist’s Guide to SXSW Eco

A man rides a butterfly bike outside of a SXSW Eco event. (Photo credit: Anna Hanks)

Eco-minded social entrepreneurs of the world have descended on Austin this week for South by Southwest Eco — and Next City is there too.

For all of you urbanists already in Texas’s favorite capital of the weird, here are the four city-focused events you shouldn’t miss:

Place by Design: Urban Strategy

Place by Design is SXSW Eco’s public space design competition. The Urban Strategy competition will highlight five finalist projects whose work encompasses more than a single space and includes an ongoing, long-term vision for better blocks, neighborhoods and cities. These projects demonstrate the link between place-based design and civic engagement, and highlight how creative public/private partnerships can be a force for social, economic and environmental change. Next City’s own Tom Dallessio will be a judge in the competition.

Medellínnovation District: Transforming Technologies, Markets and the City

In this session, innovator Juliana Escobar will share how Medellín is remaking itself as a capital for entrepreneurship and social innovation. To learn more about Medellín, read Latin America’s New Superstar.

Regenerative Public Art for Living Cities

Public art is essential to creating cities people want to live in. Learn how art can also be a tool for urban sustainability.

International Urbanization for Culture and Climate

Next City’s Tom Dallessio will moderate a conversation about how to build resilient cities in our rapidly urbanizing world.

Urban Farmer Wants to Grow a Washington, D.C. With Zero Food Deserts

Christopher Bradshaw

Next City isn’t just a news website — we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Christopher Bradshaw

Current Occupation: Founder and Executive Director, Dreaming Out Loud

Hometown: Morristown, Tennessee

Current City: Washington, D.C.

Twitter Tag: @doldc

I get to work by: Subway/Car

What was your first job? My first job was washing dishes at Pizza Hut at 14 or 15 years old.

What is your favorite city and why? I think that Toronto is my new favorite city. It’s a big city that feels welcoming, stays really clean and is really diverse.

Did you always want to be a social entrepreneur? Looking back at the arc of my life thus far, it seems that I was destined to be a social entrepreneur and a social change maker. I just didn’t know how I would get here. When I was in third grade (that’s nine years old), I helped to organize a boycott of recess among my classmates due to a teacher-imposed ban on tag. So you can say it’s always been in my blood!

What do you like most about your current job? I love working outside, being creative and growing food. I’m always astonished by the miracle of growing food, seeing a small seed that grows to a plant that provides nourishment (and tastes good). All of these aspects of my job are applied in my community, which makes it even more fulfilling.

What is the coolest project you worked on? The coolest project that I’ve worked on is at our urban garden space in Washington, D.C. It has a beautiful backdrop, a brilliant work of public art that covers an entire historic church. We are working to make it into a model of a highly productive, community-centered hub of agriculture.

Christopher Bradshaw is founder and executive director of Dreaming Out Loud, which was created as a response to the educational and economic disparities in underserved urban communities. Dreaming Out Loud’s mission is to use food as a tool to feed the dreams of all people, and build more resilient communities.

What are the hard parts about your job? There are two levels of challenge in my work: social and financial. Working within communities without equal access to healthy food, or often food at all, folks depend on our farmers’ markets for food access and affordability. Any challenge that affects our ability to be present, or provide incentive programs that help folks to afford produce means that someone may literally go hungry. That’s a lot of pressure! Financially, it has also been difficult to penetrate the funding community to access the funds to grow and scale our work, but that’s changing.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? I think that creating sustainable, rewarding, family-supporting wages for low-income, low-to-moderate-skilled individuals is the most critical challenge facing cities. Technology isn’t the solution for every social ailment or cleavage that the current economic system creates. You can’t under-resource, under-educate, over-police, over-incarcerate people for generations and then say that tech is going to save the day for the members of society we’ve left behind.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? My BHAG is to eliminate food deserts in Washington, D.C. and create 100 sustainable jobs with family-supporting wages through a just local food system.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? To never be afraid to fail, evolve and let go, and allow others to be creative within what you’ve initiated.

Who do you most admire? I most admire my mother. She’s accomplished so many things despite having to fight through racism, sexism and being born without the privilege of social position. She’s a true hero. Presently, and historically (and randomly), I also admire bell hooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Will Allen, Charlie Rose, LeBron James and Fannie Lou Hamer for various reasons.

What do you look for when hiring someone? Three things: commitment, inquisitiveness and integrity. I want to know that you are committed to the vision of a better world, that you question systems and ways to do things better, and that you are honest in intention and action, in all phases of life.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Practice what you preach. Ask questions. Build partnerships. You don’t know what you don’t know. These three statements will allow people to forgive you when you make mistakes, and allow you to learn what you need to, and build capacity to transform lives and communities in partnership.

Christopher Bradshaw was named a 2015 American Express Emerging Innovator.

This Son of Architects Was Destined for the World of Urban Design

Pedro Henrique de Cristo at Sitie Mirante (Photo by Redação Veja Rio)

Next City isn’t just a news website — we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Pedro Henrique de Cristo

Current Occupation: Partner at +D Studio and Executive+Design Director of Sitiê Ecological Park

Hometown: João Pessoa, Brasil

Current City: Rio de Janeiro

I get to work by: Walking and car when necessary

The area I grew up in is: City

What was your first job? Designer at my parents’ architecture studio

What is your favorite city and why? Other than my hometown of João Pessoa and Rio de Janeiro, which are dear to my heart, I would say Amsterdam for its urban design. I admire how the built space of the city serves its people, in dialogue with nature and how design is essential to its cultural production.

Favorite landmark or public space in your city? Park and Institute Sitiê in Vidigal. From the first time I went there I was moved both by the work realized by the community and how aesthetically unique the place is. During the last three years, I have had the privilege of working with its original founders and new members integrating architecture, technology, arts, industrial design and urbanism to nature while delivering concrete results. In this period the park area increased 772 percent, now amounting to 57 percent of Vidigal’s public space with an original design language and scalable solutions for urban sustainability and resilience. It is not just the most beautiful place in Rio, but also the one that gives me the most hope about the city’s future.

View of the Park and Institute Sitiê in Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro

Did you always want to be an architect/designer? I grew up at my parents’ studio learning everything from them as a given. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what a blessing it was to be raised in such an environment.

What do you like most about your current job? We have worked hard to create an environment where everyone’s creativity, knowledge and experience is valued over their title or discipline in solving whatever challenge we have at hand. We don’t abide by the typical disciplines of architect, policymaker, data scientist, coder, engineer, lawyer, etc. Instead we work together through a culture of ethics, evidence and excellence that is universal.

Stair and public space designed by +D (pro-bono) for Sitiê — winner of the 2015 SEED Design Awards for Excellence in Public Interest Design

What is the coolest project you worked on? RioLab, the urban strategy we developed that positions Vidigal as a laboratory for urban innovation. When I decided to move to a slum — I lived there for three years — right after graduating from Harvard, it took a while for people to understand that I was not there to do charity but to produce the most important urban solutions I could with the best people both from within and outside of the community. We are learning how to create a more dignified, productive and sustainable urban future, especially for the five billion people of the Majority World (Latin America, Africa and Asia), and proving that innovation in architecture, policy, technology, research and entrepreneurship can, and in fact must, be developed within the context of a favela to the world. We see each of our specific projects, including Park and Institute Sitiê (focused on urban development), Future Now (focused on education) and the Digital Agora (focused on democracy) as part of this larger strategy that serves the whole city starting from the favela.

What are the hard parts about your job? Dealing with unnecessary politics, twisted interests and dysfunctional bureaucracy.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Integrating the rapidly growing slums (especially in the Majority World) to formal areas, anticipating cities’ growth, and making them resilient and sustainable are the main urban challenges of the 21st century. We have to recognize that cities function as systems that are decided from the bottom-up, and if we don’t rectify long-standing systemic inequalities, enable communities to compensate for the lack of architects in meeting the massive demand for construction, and increase urban resilience and sustainability in the face of climate change, we will face the possibility of massive collapse within our cities. Delivering this change is fundamentally a political act, and we must understand the advancement of democracy is intrinsically linked to the creation and occupation of public space.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? To evolve the practice of architecture to better serve humanity in dialogue with nature. First by ending the false dichotomy between social function and aesthetics, then by integrating it with policy and technology (based on evidence), and finally by advancing design as process widely applicable and necessary such as research and development.

What do you look for when hiring someone? I am looking for the outliers who are rebels with a cause and have sparks in their eyes.

Tehran Designer Is Creating “Cities for the Future”

Noushin Jafari

Next City isn’t just a news website — we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Noushin Jafari

Current Occupation: Freelance Designer

Hometown: Tehran, Iran

Current City: New York

I drink: Coffee, wherever there is a good one to be found!

I get to work by: Train

The area I grew up in is: City

What was your first job? I used to do paperwork at an architecture agency in Paris.

What is your favorite city and why? I believe contemporary Berlin is something like New York in the early ’90s, growing fast in an artistic direction with a high percentage of dynamic youth.

What do you like most about your current job? What I really like about what I do is the hierarchy I apply in my working system: using a combination of sociological, anthropological, and technical approaches in my analysis and conclusions. Also form designing, and honing my presentation skills.

Noushin Jafari’s Wild Ribbon project aimed to animate the Eastern area (La place de la nation) of Paris. It recently won the A’ Design Award & Competition in Italy for urban planning and urban design. “To animate the area, I used a connected ribbon that self-adapts in its function, facing each corner of the square (which connects Paris to its Eastern suburbs). The ribbon goes down with people into the subway area in all levels as “stair railing” and makes spaces beside the trains, comes up and makes moves on the ground to make compatibles spaces with every part the square, benches, et cetera,” says Jafari.

What is the coolest project you worked on? A project in Iran about the transformation of a heritage mansion (Ameriha House in Kashan-Iran) into a five-star international hotel. We started with a very, very little crew doing everything, and ended with about 100 people involved.

What are the hard parts about your job? The hardest part is the very technical way of thinking, because I believe it can limit ideas. The other part is the cruel deadlines. I always wish I could have the time to do something more sophisticated than what I have.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Cities are facing challenges today in many different directions, and all are important to consider in urban projects. Sustainability in design and materials, lack of water, pollution, overpopulated zones and historic preservation.

What makes a successful leader? Being a good listener, and strong enough to make decisions.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? To design a whole brand-new city.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? To be open to new ideas. We are designing cities for the future, for days that haven’t come, a time with more advanced technology than we have now, and with different needs. So let’s be welcoming to new thoughts and viewpoints, consider nature in all urban decisions, and take advantage of having good sociologists, anthropologists and thinkers on our teams.

Detroit Business Builder Works for Today’s Entrepreneurs

Jessica Meyer

Next City isn’t just a news website — we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Jessica Meyer

Current Occupation: Director of Programs, BUILD Institute

Hometown: Elk Grove Village, Illinois

Current City: Detroit

Twitter Tag: @StartWithBuild

I drink: Black coffee

I get to work by: Bike

The area I grew up in is: Suburb

What is your favorite city and why? Detroit … HANDS DOWN. A good friend of mine and director of Detroit Experience Factory Jeanette Pierce always says, “Detroit is big enough to matter in the world, but small enough for you to matter in it.” And it’s so true. Individuals can have a huge part in remembering Detroit’s past, actively participating in Detroit’s present, and creating Detroit’s future through being a part of Detroit’s communities. You can’t say that about a lot of major world cities.

What do you do when you are not working? I socialize a lot. There is so much to do in Detroit and so many amazing people that I’m constantly going to five things a night like a neighborhood block party, then a new small business that opened, then the Eastern Market farmers’ market, then an art show. It’s exhausting yet energizing at the same time.

What do you like most about your current job? I can see the impact of the work I’m doing every day. I can physically go into the storefront of small business owners who went through our eight-week business plan development class or see the number of minority-, female-owned businesses growing. We aren’t waiting to see if our work is impacting Detroit in five to 10 years. We know it is right now. It’s incredibly empowering.

Entrepreneurship class at BUILD Institute

What are the hard parts about your job? We’re a staff of two and some seasonal interns so we do a lot with very little. We’re very grassroots and scrappy which makes the job innovative and creative, but can be overwhelming and stressful when you have so much work that needs to be done with very little resources. If I wasn’t so passionate about our mission and the work we’re doing, it’d be easy to feel burnt out.

What makes a successful leader? One of my favorite quotes is: “For the strength of the pack is the wolf. And the strength of the wolf is the pack.” A leader is only as successful as her/his team members, which is why integrating personal development, encouraging transparent communication styles, and actively cultivating a partnership among all folks involved is really important. I actually have a wolf tattooed on me to remind me of it!

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? I have two! The first is to create my own social venture from the ground up. I’ve worked with thousands of people with business ideas, but have never pursued my own idea. Helping others has really empowered me to pursue it. My second goal is to create a loving family of my own. A huge motivation for all the work I do is being a role model I’d be proud to be for my children.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Seth Godin and Catherine Hoke both talk about the importance of dancing with fear and failing young as an entrepreneur. Imagine if you got straight As your whole life. The fear of the F would prevent you from ever taking a risk. If you’ve been getting quite a few Fs, one more F won’t kill you. It’ll give you more lessons and more information to get to that A. Strive for the Fs. It gets you that much closer to the As. And all it takes is one A to show you that you’re doing it right.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Focus on your own personal development just as much as your work helping others. If your heart is telling you to go in a different direction but the job you have is “steady and secure and doing good work,” listen to your heart.

The View From the Big Data Frontier of Urban Planning

Elle Ramel

Next City isn’t just a news website — we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Elle Ramel

Current Occupation: Urban Planning Consultant, PositivEnergy Practice

Hometown: Chicago

Current City: Chicago

I drink: Tea

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Bike

The area I grew up in is: City

What was your first job? I was a wedding photographer for my father’s wedding photography business from age 15-21. My father taught me everything I know about client relations, improvising on my feet and creative business.

What is your favorite city and why? I love Paris, France, for a variety of reasons. First, I was able to spend a year there after college as an au pair, and the time allowed me to walk the little streets and find hidden shops and cafes. The French have this word flâner, which translates to “strolling aimlessly through streets,” that I really embraced. Also, for an urban planner, its Haussmannian design principles are superb.

What do you do when you are not working? I currently have challenged my family to explore the 77 neighborhoods of Chicago with me.

Did you always want to be a planning consultant? I wanted to be an urban planner ever since my first college internship working on Daniel Burnham’s documentary. I actually went to college thinking I would major in business, and I ended up ironically in the economic development world. I like merging urban planning concepts with the cost-effective land use more seen in the development world.

What do you like most about your current job? I like the idea that my team could be creating new tools that would help to save time on urban planning projects. I like that I am working on technology of the future that does not exist yet but we could provide.

What is the coolest project you worked on? The parametric model is a really cool project. The idea of manipulating different data sets through 3D urban layers really can help users visualize different scenarios and trade-offs between different planning and development decisions.

PositivEnergy Practice’s Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan

What are the hard parts about your job? Using big data and software in urban planning is still a new concept, so I think it is always hard, though exciting, to be on the frontier feeling forward a bit blindly. There are no past case studies to draw on in this respect, the ideas we have are independent and different.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? I think that the cities of today are grappling with finding new and creative funding sources for all of their projects and their budgets. In the past, cities could depend on the federal government for grants, economic development and infrastructure delivery. With budget cuts and the various pension crises, I think we will see a rise in private money involved in cities and cities competing for that type of equity.

What makes a successful leader? A successful leader knows how to utilize the unique talents and resources of their team. He or she will showcase other individuals and give credit when it is due. I think a good leader is also willing to pitch in at any level if there is that immediate need or an emergency. I think leadership also requires a genuine interest in others and a retained sense of humility.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? I would like to eventually play a significant role in city government, either as a department commissioner or run in city elections. I would like to join the ranks of other urban planners in the United States who deeply influence governmental decisions.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Remember that opportunities to lead in a city environment are not always through the professional channels. Chicago is known for its expansive civic culture. There are many boards, organizations and advocacy groups to be involved in. The civic community cares deeply but is almost a small town in that everyone knows each other. An emerging urban leader should seek to achieve professionally but also be engaged in the larger community.

Planting a Public Arts Project in Austin

Carrie Brown

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Carrie Brown

Current Occupation: Art in Public Places Project Manager, City of Austin

Hometown: Lombard, Illinois

Current City: Austin

I drink: Coffee and tea

I am an: Introvert

I get to work by: Car or bus

The area I grew up in is: Suburbs

What do you do when you are not working? Going on adventures with my dog, watching movies at the Alamo Drafthouse, eating tacos with friends, perfecting my two-step, catching an artist lecture or gallery opening, or planning my next vacation.

Did you always want to work in public art? No! I really stumbled into this career and I feel lucky to have done so. A job posting at the university led me to Valley Metro’s Public Art Program in Phoenix and I’ve never looked back. Public art is the perfect combination of art and civics, two of my biggest passions.

What is the coolest project you worked on? The North Austin Community Garden, Austin’s first artist-designed community garden, is definitely a feather in my cap. The project was a partnership with the YMCA of Austin and the City’s Sustainable Urban Agriculture Program. When the garden officially opened, all 48 plots were rented within four hours. Now, a little over a year after the opening, the gardeners and the YMCA are working together to expand the garden using the artist’s master plan for the site.

North Austin Community Garden, 2014 (Design: Thoughtbarn)

What are the hard parts about your job? Navigating the politics of public art and not always knowing the path forward.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Here in Austin, I would say one of our biggest challenges is affordable housing. As the city continues to grow, it is imperative that we maintain a diverse housing stock that is well integrated into the urban core so that mid- to low-income families are not pushed out to the suburbs. I think many cities are facing a similar challenge.

“Hello Lamp Post: Austin” art project in 2015, by PAN Studio

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Someday I want to buy land near a body of water where I will build two tiny houses (one for me and one for guests) with plenty of outdoor space for my dog and my newly adopted goat/lawnmower.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Got for it, you can do it! Remember that each mistake (perceived or real) is a learning opportunity for you, both personally and professionally. Try not to focus on precisely how you are going to get somewhere, instead enjoy the ride, keep going, and tackle one thing at a time. One day you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come.

This Planner’s Most Rewarding Work Was a Contentious Streetcar Project

Gunnar Hand

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together top young urban leaders. This week’s profile is of Gunnar Hand, a member of our 2015 Vanguard class.

Name: Gunnar Hand, AICP

Current Occupation: Senior Urban Designer at SOM Los Angeles

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri (GO ROYALS!)

Current City: Los Angeles

Twitter Tag: @MOCK_Studio

I drink: Chai tea lattes

I get to work by: The only subway in L.A.

The area I grew up in is: A streetcar suburb without a streetcar!

What was your first job? I owned my own landscaping business starting when I was 10 years old until I was about 16. In retrospect this may have been my first foray into shaping the built or at least manmade environment.

What is your favorite city and why? Not including my hometown, I absolutely love Copenhagen. I spent a semester abroad there in college, and it taught me almost everything about what I now consider best planning practice. Those Danes are just so happy.

Did you always want to be an urban designer? When I was 12 I dressed up as a city planner for Halloween. Considering most adults don’t know what planners do, I think I have been pretty committed to it for some time.

During Next City’s Reno Vanguard conference, Hand and other 2015 Vanguards planted a rooftop garden at the Community Assistance Center. (Photo by Chris Holloman)

What is the coolest project you worked on? I was recruited by my previous employer, BNIM, to manage the streetcar expansion plan for Kansas City, Missouri. It was the hardest, most contentious and expansive project I have worked on to date, but by far the most rewarding.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? We are a largely socio-economically segregated society. As demographics shift and the middle class returns to urban neighborhoods, how we choose to revitalize our cities and support existing communities provides an opportunity to heal or at least begin to address decades of neglect, racism and inequity.

What makes a successful leader? Charisma and conviction balanced by sound morals. Maybe with a sprinkle of genius and imagination.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Stay on your grind and never give up. The most radical change happens in baby steps, and usually comes down to the wire.

Watch: Highlights From Next City Vanguard in Reno

Bryon Evans

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Next City’s annual Vanguard conference for urban leaders age 40 and under was in Reno this year, May 6-8. We worked with many talented locals to make the event a success, and we’ve been using the Network to introduce people from our great “on-the-ground supporters” in Nevada. Bryon Evans was our 2015 Vanguard videographer. Check out his work on our conference coverage.

Name: Bryon Evans

Current Occupation: Video Producer, Bryon Evans Films

Hometown: Hemet, California

Current City: Reno

Twitter Tag: @BryonEvansFilms

I drink: Coffee

I am an: Extrovert

What is your favorite city and why? Reno! The people here are amazing.

What do you do when you are not working? Snowboarding in winter, camping in summer.

Did you always want to be a video producer? At the age of 14, the moment I left the movie theater after my first viewing of Pulp Fiction, I knew that I would have a career in production.

What is the coolest project you worked on? Shot a pilot TV episode for a travel show in Eastern Europe in the Republic of Georgia.

Bryon in Georgia’s Dartlo village

What are the hard parts about your job? Constantly staying creative can be a challenge. Sometimes I need a break in nature to reboot and recharge.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Climate change and poor government infrastructure.

What makes a successful leader? Someone who can listen to other options yet is not afraid to lead.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Win an Oscar before I’m 65. Giving myself plenty of time 🙂

Who do you most admire? Directors and freelancers. Anyone that has the courage to carve their own path has my respect.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Grow a network of friends and collaborators. Much more can be accomplished with the collaboration of talented, like-minded people.

Next City Vanguard 2015 from Next City on Vimeo.

Host Next City’s Vanguard Conference in Your City

Is your city on the verge of something awesome? Do you want to share this excitement and energy with the next generation of urban leaders? Next City is now seeking cities to host its 7th and 8th annual Vanguard conferences in spring/early summer of 2016 & 2017.

Vanguard is an annual gathering of 40 under 40 urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors, including urban planning, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation, sustainability, design, art and media. Serving as a host and sponsor is a unique opportunity to show off your latest urban development projects to a leading media organization, share innovations with the country’s smartest emerging leaders and get ideas for the future of your city.

Vanguard is hosted by a different city each year. Past conferences have been held in Reno, Chattanooga, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, St. Louis and Cleveland. If you think your city is a fit, check out Next City’s RFP. Please submit proposals to sara@nextcity.org no later than Monday, August 17th.

City Consultant Wants to Create an MBA in Civic Innovation

Jeremy Goldberg and Fuse Corps Fellowship alumni at the White House Forum on Cross-sector Leadership

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Jeremy M. Goldberg

Current Occupation: Director of Civic Innovation, Civic Consulting USA

Hometown: Lorain, Ohio

Current City: San Francisco

Twitter Tag: @JeremyMGoldberg

I drink: Stumptown coffee

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Muni, plane, train, Lyft and Uber

The area I grew up in is: A small Rust Belt city (population 64,000), 25 minutes west of Cleveland. Birthplace of Toni Morrison, Jim “Bubbles” Harris and Ernest J. King.

What was your first job? Golf caddy at Elyria Country Club and playing ping-pong for quarters in the caddy shack.

What is your favorite city and why? Buenos Aires. World-class food, the tango, Porteño Spanish and, of course, the passion for soccer.

What do you do when you are not working? Spending time with family, exploring S.F.‘s parks and playgrounds with my two-year-old son, writing, and enjoying the centerfield bleachers at S.F. Giants games.

Did you always want to be a civic innovator? I’ve always been motivated by civic engagement, but didn’t know that would be at the intersection of public, private and government. I’ve always pursued projects and programs focused on impact and improving quality of life in communities local and global.

What do you like most about your current job? Exposure to the big challenges; working with great people in city government, business and philanthropy in cities such as New Orleans. Also, engaging with our national network of Civic Consulting USA cities that are developing pro-bono partnerships to tackle procurement reform, attracting and hiring top talent into government, improving the customer experience within the hospital system and looking at ways to expand access to the Internet.

Iconic Lincoln statue at City Hall in San Francisco (Photo by Jeremy Goldberg)

What is the coolest project you worked on? In a city, it’s the work that started as a Fuse Corps Fellow based in Mayor Chuck Reed’s Office in San Jose. I was asked to design and develop the Silicon Valley Talent Partnership with partners such as Silicon Valley Leadership Group, HBS Community Partners, Knight Foundation and companies from across Silicon Valley. Following the year, I was able to continue to build it as deputy chief of staff, civic innovation.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? It’s about fixing the fiscal issues, namely the employee benefits/pension issues. This is the issue for this generation that could very well be the canary in the coal mine.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? One that comes to mind is helping to create an MBA in civic innovation for up-and-coming leaders and mid-career executives in local government.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Heed Abe Lincoln’s famous quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Context is critical in every setting. When in committee or board meetings it’s a great time to actively listen, take diligent notes, assess and interject at a moment you have real value to add in — stay clear of the fluff.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Work in local government — get a fellowship, get an internship, but go and work in government and learn what’s happening from the inside out. A year is good, but a few years is even better.

Next City’s Seeking Talented Journalists of Color for Equitable Cities Fellowship

(Credit: Fairmount Park Conservancy)

Next City seeks two talented journalists of color for a one-year freelance reporting fellowship. Ideal candidates for the Equitable Cities Fellowship will have a demonstrated interest in urban development, as well as journalistic experience covering economic development, economic policy and social mobility. The Equitable Cities Fellowship is funded by the Surdna Foundation’s Strong Local Economies Program. The fellowships will begin in August.

Next City has chosen to limit the fellowship to people of color in an effort to bring underrepresented voices to the forefront of the conversation about cities and their future. Although minorities represent more than half the population of the 10 largest U.S. cities, they are vastly underrepresented in the media and in many conversations about urban trends and growth.

“When you’re reporting on issues related to job quality, equitable economic development and sustainability — all of which have an important impact on communities of color — it’s critical that you have a diversity of perspectives in the newsroom,” says Shawn Escoffery, director of the Surdna Foundation’s Strong Local Economies program. “How a publication covers an issue — and even if it covers an issue — is often determined by who is doing the reporting. Next City is committed to diversifying its newsroom and thus creating an environment in which different views lead to even better journalism.”

The Equitable Cities Fellowship is an opportunity for expressive, engaging writers who can weave together human interest stories with data and reporting. Fellows should be motivated to uncover promising strategies for building economic mobility and investigate those that are contributing to inequality. They will be expected to report on topics ranging from innovative programs for building wealth in marginalized communities, to ineffective subsidies for development, to wage law reform. Our fellows will be writing two to three articles a week, covering some of the most pressing economic issues affecting urban communities. There will be opportunities for funded travel and participation in all Next City events, including our annual Vanguard urban leadership conference.

Qualifications include:

— Bachelor’s degree

— Previous journalism experience

— Strong and demonstrated interest in cities, economic development and related public policy

— Outstanding research, writing and fact-checking skills

— Ability to independently develop story ideas and sources on a weekly basis

— Efficient and deadline-oriented approach to tasks

— Knowledge of CMS publishing and basic HTML

The fellowship is for one year, and there’s strong potential for the right candidates to continue a freelancer relationship with Next City after that period.

To apply, go to our Submittable link. Deadline for applications is Monday, July 6, 2015.

This Risk-Taker Says Silos Are the Enemy of Urban Resilience

Charles Rath

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together top young urban leaders. This week’s profile is of Charles Rath, a member of our 2015 Vanguard class.

Name: Charles R. Rath

Current Occupation: President & CEO, Resilient Solutions 21

Hometown: Harrisburg, Illinois

Current City: Albuquerque

Twitter Tag: @rath_resilience

I drink: Coffee in the morning … and occasionally a nice Manhattan at night

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: i3, BMW’s electric car

The area I grew up in is: A struggling little coal-mining town in rural Illinois. Best people in the world. I’m a city guy now though.

What is your favorite city and why? Albuquerque, New Mexico. The weather in the high desert is gorgeous. The people are open-minded and peaceful — the cultural influence from Native Americans is profound. Viewing the watermelon-colored Sandia Mountains at sunset will change your life. You can get anywhere in the city in 20 minutes.

What do you do when you are not working? I love airplanes. I can’t get enough of new places and learning from people that are different than me. There’s so much cool stuff going on in the world. Right now, real people are creating ideas that transcend boundaries and will change our lives. Crazy-brilliant people are doing big things. In fact, I had the honor of meeting many of them during Next City’s Vanguard Conference in Reno. Don’t think for a second that all innovation starts within your country. Our world is connected; people are struggling with many of the same things. I want to know what works.

Rath and 2015 Next City Vanguard colleagues prepare for the Big Idea Challenge at the Reno conference. (Photo by Chris Holloman)

What do you like most about your current job? My company gives me the flexibility to be imaginative and take risks. To solve our toughest challenges, we need off-the-wall ideas, passion and the willingness to shake things up.

What is the coolest project you worked on? I started a new program at Sandia National Laboratories that supports Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge. I met with leaders from all over the world … India, Thailand, Australia, Peru, and several major cities within the U.S. and Canada. I learned so much. It was a life-changing experience.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? We often see cities treating symptoms, not root causes. This is an outdated way of thinking … both inefficient and counterproductive. Silos are the enemy. Traditional organizational structures in cities usually result in myopic solutions and suffocate innovation. We’ve learned that issues related to the economy, education, infrastructure, health, crime, community cohesion and resilience are interwoven. The good news is that breakthroughs in systems thinking and technology are allowing us to understand how to make these connections work in our favor. We’re creating new and imaginative solutions that work. It’s incredible.

What makes a successful leader? Vision for something bigger than ourselves. Compassion for people. Desire to step up when things get tough. Humility.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Hire well and manage less. That advice has served me well. I love watching people destroy mental roadblocks and chase dreams.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Be humble, be respectful, be a team player, and be compassionate. But most of all, never be afraid to rock the boat.

This CEO Wants to Change the Real Estate Game for Low-Income Neighborhoods

Greg Heller

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network. This week’s profile is of Gregory Heller, a 2015 Next City Vanguard.

Name: Gregory Heller

Current Occupation: CEO, American Communities Trust

Hometown: Philadelphia

Current City: Philadelphia

Twitter Tag: @gregimpact

I drink: Coffee. Definitely coffee.

I get to work by: Either walking to our Philly office or Amtrak to our Baltimore office. One of the first things I did when I started working at ACT was to move our Baltimore office within a few blocks of the train station.

The area I grew up in is: I grew up in Connecticut suburbs till I was 7, then suburbs outside of Philly. For a little while we lived in a stone farmhouse with horses in the backyard. But I think I was always a city boy at heart. When I got a little older I used to take SEPTA into Philadelphia for no reason, just so I could walk around and take photos of skyscrapers and absorb the urban energy.

What was your first job? Well, my first job ever was a summer gig working at Montgomery Newspapers. Back then I thought I wanted to be a journalist. I spent another summer working at Janney Montgomery Scott — an investment bank in Center City. I got that job from my friend’s dad and it was great. I blew all my summer earnings on laser tag at the Jersey Shore. I worked my way through college at a deli. I enjoyed challenging myself to see if I could remember multiple sandwich orders without writing anything down. Then I took a year off from college at Wesleyan to work full-time with Philadelphia’s former city planning director, Ed Bacon. That was an interesting year … I don’t have space to describe it here, though. Check out this story if you want to read about that.

So anyway those were all candidates for first job, but my first job after college was working for a community developer named James L. Brown IV. He spent over 40 years restoring a row of historic mansions in West Philadelphia into hundreds of units of affordable housing. I learned a ton from him that guided my future career in social impact real estate and community development.

What is your favorite city and why? That’s tough. I love Philly. I love New York. I love Paris. I love Lisbon. I love elements of so many other places. I have come to really appreciate the quirky, gritty Baltimore vibe, the authenticity of its neighborhoods. New Orleans is an amazing, special place.

What do you do when you are not working? I’m trying to learn Spanish, but I’m not being very successful at finding the time so far. Other than that, hanging out with my amazing wife, going for runs along the Schuylkill River, and trying out new restaurants.

Did you always want to be a social impact real estate developer? When I was in high school I knew I wanted to do something in the urbanism space — to improve our cities, but I didn’t know what yet. I didn’t realize that community development was a thing really until college and then it wasn’t until my work with Brown that I learned what it took to make community projects happen.

What do you like most about your current job? I love working with people who are so committed to making their communities better. It’s energizing and inspiring. I get to travel around the country and meet with community and nonprofit leaders with amazing passion, incredible ideas, dedicating their lives to bettering the places where they live. Every day is a refreshing learning experience.

What is the coolest project you worked on? Oh man, so many! We’re working with incredible people in Louisville, Kentucky, on the West Louisville FoodPort that is going to transform a vacant 24-acre piece of land into a cluster of facilities focused around growing the regional food economy. We’re working with a free public health clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, that provides care to over 2,500 uninsured people a year. We’re creating a fashion and textiles incubator for a low-income community in south Texas. We’re turning an abandoned historic school building in St. Louis into a hub of workforce training and entrepreneurship. I can keep going …

Seed Capital KY, a Louisville-based nonprofit, engaged ACT to help develop a 24-acre, $30M project to provide facilities and resources for growing the local food economy.

What are the hard parts about your job? The low-income communities we work in have a lot of challenges, and the projects we build are complicated to plan and finance. I like a good challenge, but I think the whole system for financing and building real estate in low-income neighborhoods is broken. I could say more, but that’s actually what I’m giving my TEDx talk about (on June 11th in Philadelphia).

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Poverty and inequality. We have incredible disparity today between communities that have resources and those that don’t, and we haven’t made a lot of progress at leveling the playing field.

What makes a successful leader? A good mix of being empathetic and being inspirational.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? I want to change the system for how we build community projects in low-income neighborhoods. So many urban neighborhoods suffer from poverty, blight, and abandonment, and lack basic services like a grocery store. The system for how we build and finance real estate is failing these areas. The system doesn’t work, and so we need a new one that values community outcomes rather than profit as the measure of success.

ACT has supported Clinica Esperanza — a public health clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, that provides free, high-quality medical care to uninsured adults — for a number of years with grants and technical assistance.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? “A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head. If no one gets to see it, it’s as good as dead. It has to come to life.” Also slow down. Be a good listener. And have a good accountant.

Finding Promise in the Future Los Angeles

(Photo by Hannah Arista)

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Mark Anthony Thomas

Current Occupation: Fuse Corps Executive Fellow in Los Angeles, serving as the Senior Adviser, Livability for City Administrative Office

Desired Outcomes: The permanent elimination of blight and uncleanliness across all Los Angeles communities and fostering greater collaboration with the public to improve livability across the city.

Hometown: Atlanta

Current City: Los Angeles

Twitter Tag: @workandprogress

I drink: Coffee

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Walking

The area I grew up in is: City

What was your first job? In high school, I served as a restaurant busboy — washing tables, floors, wrapping silverware, icing the salad bar and cleaning the restaurant. I remember being a tad hesitant about the work, but the experience contributed to a discipline and humility that I continue to pull from.

What do you like most about your current job? The complexity and the urgency of it. The Fuse Corps executive fellows have just 12 months to deliver high-level outcomes. It can be intimidating, but it really takes a certain level of curiosity and action-oriented competency to be attracted to this type of challenge. In regards to my specific project — improving livability in Los Angeles — there was a strong commitment from the city’s leadership and an overwhelming interest from the general public. I’ve learned Los Angeles better than any place I’ve lived by being a pedestrian and an inquisitive stranger. I also listened to anyone and everyone who had a shared vision to strengthen the city and an optimistic outlook. Coming off of a rigorous academic experience, I was fired up and ready to work across the city to identify, vet and build a broad case of support for new ideas.

I really believed this work would aid the current transformation of the city and allow the city’s many great neighborhoods to be more accessible and the city’s urban assets to be more evident. My year coincides with a tremendous interest in the future of Los Angeles, which is much more promising then the city’s car-driven, siloed neighborhood past.

Launching the Clean Streets Initiative (Credit: City of Los Angeles)

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Good governance. I grew up in the 1980s during a unique American era where people practically gave up on cities. I didn’t learn, until later in life, that blight, drugs, crime, burned-out buildings and poverty were not the norm for the urban environment. Collectively, we’ve learned that cities are too important to fail and how we manage them is important to the future of our nation’s economy and social progress.

People can now get access to information and research, organize, and easily challenge failed systems and policies. The intense push for accountability and attention to detail, that has traditionally targeted the federal level, is moving toward cities and local jurisdictions. At the same time, it has never been easier for local policymakers to share and study best practices, collaborate, and crowdsource the ideas to successfully manage the issues that are important to their citizens.

City Limits event (Photo by Adi Talwar)

What’s the best professional advice you have received? That most successful people accumulate their life’s wealth after age 40, so don’t prioritize that in your decision-making just yet. Focus more so on gaining a wide ranging, unchallengeable set of management skills.

What do you look for when hiring someone? A person that has a history of adapting their talent to changing dynamics. My time working in New York City during the Great Recession and in the news business — during a time of widespread creative destruction — helped me get a real sense of what characteristics are important to a successful operation. I’ve traditionally sought people with strong skills that complement the team effort. It’s also important for me to have a team of people I really enjoy interacting and brainstorming with.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Get to know the full ecosystem of an urban environment. There’s a role that everyone serves: government, philanthropy, activism, businesses and associations, nonprofit entities, etc. Each has benefits and limitations and a specific lens of how they tackle problems and contribute to solutions. Having real-life exposure and a network that’s encompassing will strengthen how you approach your work and how to assess where there’s an opportunity.

“Datascaper” Mixes Digital Mapping With Landscape Design

Nadia Amoroso

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Nadia Amoroso

Current Occupation: Adjunct Professor in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph; Urban Designer; Author; Consultant, Nadia Amoroso Studio

Hometown: Toronto

Current City: Toronto

Twitter Tag: @AmorosoStudio

I drink: Coffee

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Subway or car

The area I grew up in is: City

What was your first job? I was juror planner for a local planning consulting firm. I really enjoyed it, and since we were a small group, I worked on some interesting projects, like assisting with a large park design competition and meeting the short-listed teams. That was a great experience.

What is your favorite city and why? It’s hard to pin down. I really enjoy Rome, being part of its rich history, its fine art, its architecture of the past and present, the piazzas, the overall density of the core, and of course the cafes, food and culture. I also enjoy Miami (South Beach area), the beautiful beach, its overall energy, and the craziness of Las Vegas.

What do you do when you are not working? I enjoy working out, biking or meeting up with friends over coffee.

Did you always want to be a professor in the field of urban design/landscape architecture? Yes, academia gives me the freedom to research innovative topics in the field and apply them to the classroom. Within my research work, I developed a great interest in creative mapping, digital applications and datascaping (stemming from my background in landscape architecture.) This stream of landscape architecture has allowed me to focus on data visualization and the graphic representation of landscapes and designed spaces for effective communications.

What do you like most about your current job? I enjoy the diversity of projects, and the blending between research/theory and professional practice. I also enjoy speaking at conferences or participating on design juries at various universities; this allows me to travel to different cities. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues at the various architecture/landscape architecture programs across the globe and seeing the works of their students and faculty. I also enjoy exploring new places as part of these travels.

Nadia’s latest publication, published by Routledge.

What is the coolest project you worked on? A couple of my coolest projects would be my books, like The Exposed City: Mapping the Urban Invisibles, which mainly stemmed from my Ph.D. research on mapping and re-imaging the city. I was very pleased to have the founder of the TED conferences, Richard Saul Wurman, compose the foreword for this book. My latest book, Representing Landscapes: Digital, also was a great project. I had a chance to collaborate with a number of colleagues across the globe. Their essays and student work (images) were part of this publication. I was honored to have award-winning landscape architect James Corner of Field Operations write the foreword for this publication.

What are the hard parts about your job? Trying to convince clients of the concepts presented, the benefits of the decisions made on a project, and making them buy into the project.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? There are many, but what quickly pops into my head are population growth, changing climate, effective public transit and designing resilient cities for the future.

What makes a successful leader? Listening carefully, following useful advice, providing inspiration and motivation, and encouraging others to do their best.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Being recognized as a subject matter expert in the graphic communication and representation in the field of landscape architecture, urban design and information; publishing more on this topic of visual communication and creative cartography.

Nadia facilitates a mapping workshop in Miami.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Work in a field that your enjoy, try to specialize in something unique that you can offer, develop your talents and skills, market yourself well, and publish your work.

Who do you most admire? I really admire designers who have taken their passion in life and turned it into a successful global entity, which has made a positive impact in various industries. For example, I admire Jack Dangermond, the founder and president of Esri, an international mapping and GIS company. He studied landscape architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He took his passion for design, geographic data, mapping, and technology, and transformed his passion into a multibillion-dollar global company, recognized as a leader in the mapping and GIS space. The Esri software has helped many industries understand their data and make better decisions, and it has helped with many environmental issues. More recently, Esri’s GeoDesign Solutions Platform helps planning and design industries transform their environmental data to create smart 3D models and city designs.

I also admire the creative works and landscapes of celebrity landscape architect James Corner of Field Operations, most notable for his High Line project in NYC. Corner has designed many creative and beautiful outdoors spaces globally, and has also contributed extensively in landscape theory. Also, Charles Waldheim who is the chair of the landscape architecture department at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He’s a motivating speaker, great academic and businessman. He set the way for a new discipline in landscape architecture called Landscape Urbanism. And lastly, I admire Roberto Rovira who is the chair of the landscape architecture department at Florida International University. Studio Roberto Rovira was named an emerging voice for 2015 by the Architectural League NY.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Be creative, be humble, find a mentor, listen to your mentors/professors/boss and learn from them, offer more than asked from you, develop your skill sets and talent, brand your work intelligently, and publish your work.

Yelp Manager Connects People, Celebrates Community in Reno

Michael Tragash

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Next City’s annual Vanguard conference for urban leaders age 40 and under was in Reno this year, May 6-8. We’re pleased to have worked with many talented locals to make the event a success, and we’re using the Network to introduce people from our great team of “on-the-ground supporters” in Nevada. Reno Yelp Community Manager Michael Tragash helped with social media around the event and was one of the judges for the conference’s Big Idea Challenge.

Name: Michael Tragash

Current Occupation: Senior Community Manager, Yelp

Hometown: Miami

Current City: Reno

Twitter Tag: @YelpReno

I drink: Coffee, more specifically espresso

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Car

The area I grew up in is: Burbs, but I wish I could say rural, which is why I love Reno so much. Ten minutes in any direction and you’ve got wide-open spaces!

What was your first job? Working with Stan Harris, the copywriter who penned “Magically Delicious” for Lucky Charms.

What is your favorite city and why? Right now I’m in love with San Luis Obispo, California, or SLO. There’s such a spirit of independence there, along with some natural beauty and a vibrant local business scene.

What do you do when you are not working? I’m a city boy that loves the country, and living in Nevada has given me opportunities to hike, fish, hunt and camp. More typically though, you’ll find me out and about supporting our great food scene and local events.

Did you always want to be a community manager? I didn’t even know such a job existed! I found it fortuitously on Craigslist, and some days I still can’t believe my job is to help connect the great people of Reno to the amazing local business owners and entrepreneurs that are driving our city forward. Now that I’ve found it, I can’t imagine a better gig on the planet!

What do you like most about your current job? Every morning I wake up deciding how to shine a big ol’ spotlight on the best local businesses and great things happening in our community. Whether I’m planning a happy hour or massive community promotion, everything I do connects people to our great local businesses, and gives the business owners an opportunity to share their passion and stories with Yelpers who in turn will tell them to others.

Tragash connects Yelpers to great local businesses in Reno like Dorinda’s Chocolates.

What is the coolest project you worked on? Toss up between Molecular Yelpstronomy and Yelp’s On Tap. Molecular Yelpstronomy, Reno’s first Yelper Party, invited more than 400 attendees to eat, drink and explore the concepts of molecular gastronomy, the science of food, and how it’s made through interactive tastings and demonstrations offered by 15 great local businesses at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum. For Yelp’s On Tap, Yelp Reno and Under the Rose Brewing Co. crowdsourced the flavor profile of Nevada, turned it into a beer and put it on tap at local bars with 10 one-of-a-kind tap handles created by an artist from The Generator, and donated $1 of each pint to help Volunteers of America and The Generator with their missions in the community.

What are the hard parts about your job? There are so many great local businesses in Reno, and I wish I could connect and work with all of them! There are also a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about Yelp, and I wish I could address them all in one shot. Yelp also has a boatload of free data we could be utilizing to create apps and interventions that will improve Reno and help propel it to the place of greatness we all see it in. Yelp is a huge opportunity for our local businesses, but also for our community and city as well. Everything Yelpers do promotes our community and the local business scene to residents and visitors in the U.S. and 30 countries internationally, and I’m excited to help the Reno community maximize this opportunity and put our city on the map!

Tragash holds a Yelp Elite Event at Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club in Reno.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Accessibility. In my role as a community manager, I’ve seen first hand the way my accessibility has translated to growth, excitement and support from Yelpers, business owners and the general public. Mayor Schieve is a great example of this in action, and a reason why I think Reno is able to be so nimble and progressive. In other cities, it appears local officials and leaders are too far removed at times, and when they need the help of the citizens, it’s hard to garner that support.

Who do you most admire? My wife, Ashley Greenwald Tragash. She’s incredibly impressive in many ways, but her time management and work ethic are something that can’t go unrecognized. Somehow she manages to direct the activities of a statewide grant-funded agency, work part-time as a doula bringing the next generation into the world, and puts up with my antics and social schedule, all while working toward completing her PhD in behavior analysis and the university.

Also Clint Jolly, owner of Great Thyme Catering. Clint is one of the most generous, caring and committed people in our community, and an original proponent of the vibrant local food scene we are all enjoying today. Willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice or give of himself to help out in any situation, Clint loves this place we call home, and he has taught me a lot about life, business and all things in between. My favorite part about Clint is the time and energy he devotes to cultivating future generations of culinarians through mentorship roles in ProStart and AACT programs.

“This Place Matters” Campaign Brings Historic Preservation to Twitter, Instagram

(Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Sponsored content from National Trust for Historic Preservation. Saving Places website to download and print a sign. Take photos with the sign at the places that matter most to you, and share the photos with others online with the hashtag #ThisPlaceMatters.

Got our signs printed so we can participate in #ThisPlaceMatters for #PresMonth #preservemd http://t.co/shjRZed1PF pic.twitter.com/HydVz90mpw

— Kiri Carini (@tomatopurl) May 4, 2015

The virtual preservation project offers people opportunities to add their personal narratives to the history of places that are meaningful to them, whether those places are community churches, elementary schools, a barn on an old family farm or the old corner store where kids would gather after school to buy sticks of gum.

“To date, thousands of photos have been snapped and shared. But beyond all the smiling faces, what I find most endearing is how three simple words, ‘This Places Matters,’ have become ubiquitous in preservation, often serving as a rallying cry for communities when a beloved place is threatened,” says Clement, who has worked with the National Trust for six years. “People really connect with it.”

Kicking off #PreservationMonth announcing Natl Register designation for the Main St Historic Dist! #ThisPlaceMatters pic.twitter.com/TQS4F8qvVk

— Historic Columbia (@HistColumbia) May 4, 2015

The project has a very DIY feel to it and has no long-term political or high-cost agenda, yet it encourages people to reignite those connections to places that have and continue to be important to them. Clement says that “This Place Matters” will soon get an interactive web experience that allows users to explore places that matter across the country. There will also be “This Place Matters” toolkits available upon request so that preservation fans can take their photos to the next level. The full relaunch will happen in Fall 2015.

“What I love about this campaign is that it’s preservation through the eye of the beholder. Everyone has at least one place that makes their heart beat a little faster — a place where their own personal history happened,” says Clement. “And now, with a photo and a smile, they can tell the whole world a simple but powerful message: This place matters to me.”

In honor of Preservation Month and Next City’s 2015 Vanguard conference, going on in Reno this week, the National Trust will host a #ThisPlaceMatters-themed photo walk on Wednesday in downtown Reno. Vanguards will get a chance to turn their cameras, “or I guess more appropriately, their phones, on Reno,” says Clement. “We can’t wait to see what they discover.”

Every person out there has a place that means a lot to them, and “This Place Matters” provides a platform — adapted to our changing world of social media and selfie sticks — to preserve, remember and share that love of these places.

And as for a place that is near and dear to Clement, “Hands down, it’s the Houston Astrodome, a place the National Trust is currently working to save for future generations. But it’s not just about work,” he says. “The eighth Wonder of the World was an enormous part of my life growing up. My fondest memories of my dad were created there. It’s also where I learned the rules of football and heard George Strait play live. It’s an important place that has a gravitational pull on my heart — always has, and thanks to our efforts, always will.”

What places matter to you?

Picture Reno: The Man Behind the Camera at 2015 Vanguard

Chris Holloman

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Next City’s annual Vanguard conference for urban leaders age 40 and under is in Reno this year, May 6-8. We’re pleased to be working with many talented locals to make the event a success, and we’re using the Network to introduce people from our great “on-the-ground supporters” in Nevada. Chris Holloman is our 2015 Vanguard photographer. You’ll see his work in our conference coverage on the site.

Name: Chris Holloman

Current Occupation: Self-employed photographer

Hometown: Born in Decatur, Georgia but raised in Christchurch, New Zealand

Current City: Reno

I drink: Coffee, cream and sugar

Introvert or extrovert: I’m a turtle peeking his head outta his shell.

I get to work by: I saddle up my horse and I ride into the city … I make a lot o’ noise, coz the girls, they are so prett-yyyy … ”

The area I grew up in is: City, but flanked by beautiful rural areas

What was your first job? I worked at a farmers’ market in Athens, Georgia.

What is your favorite city and why? Eugene, Oregon. Known as “Tracktown USA” and embedded among some of the country’s most spectacular forest.

What do you do when you are not working? I typically take my dog, Murray, on hikes and roadtrips.

Did you always want to be a photographer? I actually wanted to work for National Geographic magazine as an illustrator. Photography was an accidental gift many years later.

What do you like most about your current job? I have found a personal connection to photography. It fits. Prior to my years behind the lens, I had no sense of identity and struggled to satisfy my hunger for a craft that required perfection. Now I feel as though the pride I take in my work has bled into how I feel about myself personally … I never want to stop improving.

Reno skyline shot by Chris Holloman

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? I think, and this is only my opinion … but I see a huge void when developing cultural connections between areas that thrive and areas that don’t. There’s segregation simply by how some districts are positioned in relation to surrounding areas. Transportation isn’t the cause. I feel there’s an infrastructure issue that doesn’t allow for communities to expand into one another … I see it quite clearly as I travel in and around my own city.

What makes a successful leader?

1. Vision … and the ability to break that down into manageable parts.

2. Flexibility … and the knowledge to know when to compromise or stand your ground.

3. Quality … the one aspect where there is no compromise.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? To create a photograph that lands the cover of National Geographic. (OK … now that’s out there.)

Who do you most admire? Have you seen that guy sitting on the street corner with a cardboard sign, tattered American flag and wearing a worn, faded patch that reads “Veteran”? Yeah, those guys. With no guarantee they’d ever step foot on American soil again or return to see their loved ones, they went, without hesitation, they served and they have provided us the ability to call ourselves “free.” I personally have no military background. I feared the thought of losing my life, but I value those who risk theirs and choose to protect us.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? I’d suggest that they never forget those who helped them reach their goals.

The Smart Money’s on City Parks

Brooklyn Bridge Park (Photo by Etienne Frossard)

Sponsored content from City Parks Alliance. City Parks Alliance, the health savings from parks in the largest 85 U.S. cities is $3 billion-plus, and in just Washington, D.C., the value of residential properties within 500 feet of a park is almost $24 billion, with $1.2 billion of that figure credited to parks. Such resonating returns, of course, require smart investing — and smart investing requires entrepreneurial ideas.

Those ideas were there for the mining last month at City Parks Alliance’s Greater & Greener Conference in San Francisco. At a session called “Earning Income With the Entrepreneurial Park,” moderated by Jesse Brackenbury, executive director of Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, panelists presented inspiration about sustainable funding, public-private partnerships and more.

Community Engagement Is Priceless
In any search for viable funding for public parks, community plays a big support role. Ask neighbors what features they want and will use — and, essentially, you end up with a list of things they think are worth spending money on (not to mention a popular, well-loved public space).

A bike lane project in Memphis, Tennessee, is a perfect example. Erin Barnes, co-founder and executive director of neighborhood crowdfunding platform Ioby, said that when developing the lanes to connect Memphis and Overton Park, roughly 700 local community members donated an average of $50 each for the project’s park improvements — because there was a high level of community support and involvement. Barnes said the impact had a ripple affect.

“People felt more connected to their neighbors,” she said. “And this often builds long-term stewardship of parks.”

Pool Private and Public Funds
Chicago’s Millennium Park is the third most-visited park in the country — and a notable urban investment. While its $470 million price tag was high, property values adjacent to Millennium have increased and at least seven new hotels have been built with easy access to the park.

Edward Uhlir, executive director of the Millennium Park Foundation, said the project relied on about $270 million in private donations. While all panelists acknowledged that not every city has residents with such deep pockets, many highlighted the need to pull funding together from a variety of sources.

Take Shelby Farms in Memphis. Supporters formed a conservancy that operates the 4,500-acre urban park as a nonprofit. Because portions of the park are public land, the small staff works in a public-private partnership with local county government. Therefore, funding comes from donations, grants and government resources.

Creative Programming Keeps Earning
“Absence of philanthropy or public funding shouldn’t stop you,” said panelist Elissa Hoagland Izmailyan, director at national consulting firm HR&A Advisors, of the initial revenue needed to start or enhance a new park project. In fact, she said, the more creative the approach to funding, the better. Hosting pop-up restaurants or art exhibits can not only draw the community together but also provide renewable income for park programming.

According to Uhlir, in addition to a fee-based underground parking garage, one of Millennium Park’s reliable sources of income is winter ice-skate rentals at the park’s free rink. Millennium also hosts 60 major concerts each year, regular movie nights and a summer program for families, and rents out event tents and houses a restaurant — all of which bring funds to the park. Uhlir said that the park is partially underwritten by the local electric company, as the park’s use of alternative energy actually supplies the city with some of its electricity.

Beyond charging for services, Barnes noted there’s also social capital, in-kind donations, volunteer time and advocacy. Though not every city has access to the same types of spaces or resources, Hoagland Izmailyan emphasized staying positive, focusing on opportunities, and positioning in the community for successful planning outcomes. Rethinking landscape, community, local organizations and government as potential partners ensure that parks big and small are able to succeed.

Although they can be expensive to build and maintain, parks are crucial to the vibrancy of communities. Funding large projects like Chicago’s Millennium Park is complicated — but completely possible with innovative thinking.

Mixing Music and Marketing for a Successful Reno Recipe

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Next City’s annual Vanguard conference for urban leaders age 40 and under will be held in Reno this year, May 6-8. We’re pleased to be working with many talented locals to make the event a success, and for the next several weeks, we’ll be using the Network to introduce people from our great “on-the-ground supporters” in Nevada. Cecil McCumber will be performing at a conference event, and he’s the creator of the fantastic keepsake credentials that all Vanguards will get.

Name: Cecil McCumber

Current Occupation: Director of Marketing and Business Development at ACCESS Event Solutions; lead singer/songwriter for The Pretty Unknown

Hometown: Reno

Current City: Reno

Twitter Tag: @cecilmccumber

I drink: Coffee

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Car

The area I grew up in is: Suburbs

What was your first job? Working event setup/merchandise for one of Reno’s largest events: Hot August Nights. It was a summer job, and we’d rack up 60- or 70-hour weeks, for about two weeks. Definitely a challenge, but it gave me a good sense of urgency and work ethic.

What is your favorite city and why? New York. There’s something invigorating about so many people packed into such a centralized location. I always have energy when I’m there. Culturally, it has so much to offer — so much history next to the cutting edge of brand new. I’ve seen some fantastic shows at Barclays and Madison Square Garden, but I’m just as happy walking the streets with music in my ear.

What do you do when you are not working? Write and perform music with my band, The Pretty Unknown. Might as well be a second job, especially if one aspires to “do it right.” It’s amazing how much a band is a brand, as much as an artistic expression. Additionally, I write a blog called Chuck’s Lamp (my middle name is Charles) — in which I examine our experience and try to make some sense of it (falling short of course).

Cecil recording vocals for The Pretty Unknown.

Did you always want to be in marketing? No. And that’s ok. After coming back from teaching English in Japan in my mid-20s, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went back to school to get my MBA, and began gravitating toward marketing. The challenge of expressing a salient message about a worthwhile brand or product always seemed like more of a fun puzzle than work. I think it encourages career happiness when one focuses on finding a job or challenge that incorporates one’s skill sets and passions, and being less focused on the actual job itself. Enjoy what you do.

What do you like most about your current job? It’s a fast-paced but casual environment, where we work with the world’s biggest events, brands, sports teams and entertainers. As an entertainer myself, I enjoy getting to work for artists who I respect and sports teams for whom I root. Additionally, we’ve dived into software development, creating mobile apps that integrate with our passes to better manage live events — this is exciting and new and allows me to be very creative (working with our tech developers) to create solutions that haven’t been made before.

What is the coolest project you worked on? I helped design, deploy and document our RFID-enabled credential management system for a big EDM festival down in L.A. called HARD Summer 2014. Getting to be part of that — taking marketing photos on a stage, looking out at a crowd of 40,000 — was one of the most unique experiences in my life.

2015 Next City Vanguards will be getting these keepsake credentials.

What are the hard parts about your job? We’re a small company, so we all wear lots of hats. While it keeps life interesting, it’s difficult to make real progress on any one project sometimes, without major expenses to others. Additionally, we’re taking major strides toward implementing key management infrastructure tools that will help us grow our business more efficiently. However, implementing those tools for the first time requires a sharp learning curve. No complaints though — I’m learning every day!

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? From how I see it, there’s difficulty in identifying measurable factors and indicators that truly lead to the creation of sustainable businesses, beneficial culture and the revitalization of key urban locations. Cities take big gambles on public projects and policy and give tax breaks to big businesses considering relocation, all in hopes that each decision will drive toward influencing those factors. However, politics and general disagreement about what’s “good” for a city can hamper progress in any one direction, and any progress often takes longer than the voters expect (or than their attention spans will allow). That said, a healthy, growing city is a wonderful thing, and I’ve seen some major improvements in Reno in the last 15 years, and I’m excited to better understand why, so that we can encourage more.

What makes a successful leader? Trust. A person’s word, and their ability to follow through on their promises is key to cultivating trust in others around a leader. Concurrently, balancing the confidence to make tough decisions with the humility to know when it may not be the leader’s decision to make, or even when to simply listen and communicate that no decision will be made at this time. Finally, showing one’s team that you care about them and value their contribution is tantamount. Being mid-level management, I try to remember that the appreciation I receive from above should be doubly displayed below. Being open to such improvement (and the struggles that go with it) helps remind one’s team that the leader is human too, and that’s an endearing quality.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? “If nothing else, hold on to your beliefs a little less.”

What do you look for when hiring someone? Humility balanced with confidence. Someone who sees the big picture but can dive into the details. Someone who has places to go, both career-wise and personally, and who sees the successful execution of their job as a key to getting there. Oh, and they should be qualified.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Pressing flesh is well and good, but be certain to cultivate authentic relationships as often as possible. It’s easy to be romanced by the status of a leadership position. Stay humble, care about people.

When Your Resume Includes a Parking Garage Worth Bragging About

Michael Kaufmann

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together top young urban leaders. This week’s profile is of Michael Kaufmann, a member of our 2014 Vanguard class.

Name: Michael Kaufmann

Current Occupation: Director of Special Projects and Civic Investment, Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County

Hometown: Escondido, California

Current City: Indianapolis

I drink: Green tea

I am an: Outgoing introvert

I get to work by: Bike and car

The area I grew up in is: Suburbs

What do you do when you are not working? I do more work, managing the musician/bands Son Lux, Oliver Blank, Hanna Benn and Olga Bell. But I also enjoy spending time with my beautiful family: my wife and two sons.

What do you like most about your current job? Hands down, I would have to say my two amazing bosses. I feel like I have learned a doctoral-level amount about leadership in my last four years of employment. They lead with incredible grace and humility, yet know when to exert their authority. One very concrete example of this was watching them walk down the long hallway of our previous public hospital facility, and each of them occasionally bending over to pick up a small article of trash. It left quite an impression on me as it both communicated that they demand excellence, and that no one is above helping maintain and keep our facility clean and welcoming.

What is the coolest project you worked on? This is a toss-up between our parking garage and our Sky Farm. I wouldn’t usually brag about a parking garage, but I had the opportunity to manage the installation of the largest piece of sculptural art in the state of Indiana. This was part of our larger public art program throughout our new public hospital campus. Our Sky Farm is on the roof of our six-story outpatient building and has 5,000 square feet of growing space, complete with a dedicated sky farmer, who not only grows food but also provides nutrition and gardening education.

The parking garage turned art installation at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis

What are the hard parts about your job? In addition to my work with the hospital, I am also working on our city’s bicentennial planning, an effort called Plan 2020, as well as working with our chamber and our community foundation to develop and attract talent to our city. Unfortunately, the recent RFRA legislation has dramatically set us back as far as an attractive city and state for creatives and progressive citizens. However, I have not lost hope and am reminded that I choose to live in Indy because I wanted to make a difference, and being progressive is far more impactful in cities with something at stake.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? We need to find a common language and strategy around the issue of equity and inclusion so that we can actually begin the work of including people! Cities also need to embrace “local” and regionalism in much deeper and profound ways to reduce their dependency on overstretched food and energy infrastructures. In other words, we need to become more self-reliant in our ability to feed and power our individual geographies.

Eskenazi’s “Sky Farm”

What makes a successful leader? The ability to relate to those different than you through finding a common starting point and language. The ability to translate between various constituencies and understanding the difference between effective democratic decision-making versus trying to make everyone happy.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? While this might not be game-changing, I have been working on a project to soundtrack our entire city through the commissioning of site-specific composition. The project, called Sound Expeditions, was recently launched in partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and our first contribution was from Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw. You can listen to the track here.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Not sure where or from whom I heard this, but my personal mantra as of late is “work smarter, not harder.” I also like the concept of doing three things well, as opposed to many things just OK.

Who do you most admire? Recently I have been very proud of our mayor, Greg Ballard, for his clear and bold stand on RFRA.

Nationally Recognized Urban Planner and Nonprofit Leader Tom Dallessio to Join Next City

The Philadelphia skyline. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Next City announced today that Tom Dallessio, a nationally recognized urban planner, nonprofit leader and educator with more than three decades of experience in city and regional planning, public policy, and nonprofit management, has been named its new executive director. He will join Next City’s staff in Philadelphia on May 1, 2015.

Tom Dallessio (Photo by Paul Gargagliano)

Tom brings to Next City a rich perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing cities around the globe as they move into an era of unprecedented growth. He will strengthen the organization’s commitment to informing, connecting and nurturing the next generation of urban leaders.

“I am very excited to lead Next City in its next phase of growth,” says Dallessio. “For the first time in a half-century, all forces are moving in the direction of cities, and I look forward to working with the board and staff to ride this incredible wave.”

Tom comes to Next City from the Center for Resilient Design at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he was the Center’s founder and director; he’ll continue to be an adjunct professor at NJIT, teaching land use and infrastructure planning. Established in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Center has engaged thousands of people affected by the storm, providing residents, business owners, design professionals and government officials with technical and design assistance as they recovered from the storm and rebuilt for a more resilient future.

Prior to establishing the Center for Resilient Design, Tom served as the executive director of Leadership New Jersey, a statewide program strengthening civic leadership through experiential learning. The experience is one that will help Next City further develop its successful Vanguard program.

Tom got his start in nonprofit management at Regional Plan Association, where he directed RPA’s New Jersey office and managed six New Jersey Mayors’ Institutes on Community Design, and promoted affordable housing and transportation finance and property tax reforms.

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Tom also brings to Next City key experiences in local, state and regional government. He served as a senior policy adviser to New Jersey governors Christine Todd Whitman and Donald T. DiFrancesco, drafting environmental preservation law and serving as the governor’s representative to the state’s planning commission. For more than a decade, Tom held a number of positions at the N.J. Office of State Planning, working to develop and implement New Jersey’s first statewide plan. These experiences will help guide Tom as he continues the work of building Next City into the most trusted resource for urban advocates and planners and city-dwellers.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tom to Next City,” says Jess Zimbabwe, Next City board president. “His experience in urban planning, government, academia and the nonprofit sector will be a boon for the organization as it continues into a groundbreaking second decade.”

Learn more about Tom and read his letter to Next City members and readers here.

Risk-Taking Philanthropy Work Can Make a Big Urban Impact

“L.A. neighborhoods are so diverse, and have so much potential,” says Shauna Nep.

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Shauna Nep

Current Occupation: Director of Community and Innovation, Goldhirsh Foundation and LA2050

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

Current City: Los Angeles

Twitter Tag: @shaunanep @GoldhirshFdn @LA2050

I drink: Coffee

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Biking when I’m in a rush, walking when I have time

The area I grew up in is: Suburbs

Shauna Nep bikes to work in Mid-City, which borders West Hollywood. The area has a walkscore of 95.

What was your first job? My first job was as a youth organizer in Los Angeles Unified School District. I worked directly with students to answer the question: How might we design a better lunchroom with the goal of encouraging healthier eating? Together with students, we used lessons in behavioral economics and human-centered design to increase the consumption of healthy foods — testing everything from ad campaigns to mobile applications that tell students the lunch menu ahead of time.

What is your favorite city and why? Despite having lived in some of the greatest cities in the world, I would have to say Los Angeles. L.A. is really having a moment right now with so much positive change underway. And unlike other cities, L.A. still has a sense of possibility. I feel lucky to be working on a project that is so entrenched in the region and invested in its future.

Did you always want to do this work? I have always been passionate about creating impact, but I never thought of philanthropy as the approach. Truthfully, it wasn’t introduced to me as a career option. There is so much potential to create impact when you are able to be nimble, opportunistic and risk-taking in a small, private foundation like the Goldhirsh Foundation.

What do you like most about your current job? Finding smart, creative people doing incredible work to improve the region guarantees inspiration on the daily. And, there are always opportunities for learning, experimentation and growth. And of course, our small but mighty team.

What is the coolest project you worked on? I was brought on to the team at Goldhirsh Foundation to help launch LA2050 — which has continued to be the coolest project I’ve worked on. Through our crowdsourced grants challenges, we’ve awarded $2,000,000 to 20 incredible projects and more importantly, we’ve built a community of Angelenos who care about L.A.‘s future. I’m especially excited about the L.A. Street Vendors Campaign and Trust for Public Land’s network of Green Alleys.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? I think right now, the biggest challenge headed our way is keeping public transit competitive. Millennials are choosing transit over car ownership for a number of reasons, which is great, but Uber is already changing that. How will the autonomous vehicle change cities? Will we be ready? We are working with the Mayor’s Office and LADOT to help Los Angeles — and other cities — get ahead of and work alongside tech and innovation so we can embrace it and make sure emerging technologies also make our cities healthier, stronger and more equitable.

The L.A. Metro is breaking ground west, and “it’s an exciting time to be in L.A.,” says Nep.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Other major cities like New York City and San Francisco seem to have such a clear brand and narrative. Despite being an incredibly diverse region with rich culture, a tech scene bursting at the seems, a robust transportation system, and just about every industry you can imagine — L.A. has a reputation that reduces it to Hollywood and car culture, and it’s hard to compete with that narrative. And for a city filled with the best storytellers the world has to offer, somehow, we suck at telling our own story. This is something we’re passionate about — challenging that narrative and pervasive myths — and transforming the external facing brand of L.A.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Honestly? Ask permission before you make introductions. Always.

Who do you most admire? I am a big fan of leading by example, so I love how Alissa Walker has used social media to demonstrate that L.A. is walkable. When it comes to alternative transportation — policy changes and infrastructure are incredibly important — but so is changing the hearts and minds of Angelenos. Alissa has done an incredible job of telling an entirely different story of Los Angeles.

What do you look for when hiring someone? We look for someone who is passionate about refining his or her process and work. It’s always attractive to do something new, but there is also something really special about craftsmanship, and doing a few things really well.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? When you are passionate about an issue area like many urban leaders are, it is easy to lose sight of what you’re good at, and focus only on what needs to be done. Tools like Imperative and Kolbe have helped me transition from doing what I thought I was supposed to do, to finding what will bring me joy. My advice: Take the time to analyze your unique, intrinsic strengths and skills — and find a position that really allows you to use them.

Parks Can Be Beautiful and Save Water

To save water, San Francisco’s parks department has shut off non-recirculating features in parks. (Photo © Dietmar Rabich, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Sponsored content from City Parks Alliance. Greater & Greener Conference called “Deserts & Droughts: Working in Arid Regions.” Moderated by Landscape Architecture Magazine Editor Bradford McKee, the session featured innovative, practical and inspiring ideas for tackling the challenges of minimal water. Alvarez was joined by Mia Lehrer, president of Mia Lehrer and Associates, a Los Angeles-based landscape firm, and Rafael Payan, the general manager of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District.

Water-Saving Innovation Can Beat Drought

In remote parklands, visitors miss snow on mountains. In cities, reduction of irrigation affects sports grounds. Decorative fountains sit dry. But according to Payan, an Arizona native who spent several years working at public parks in Tucson and Phoenix, history shows that this isn’t the last of the dry eras. He said we’d be wise to not only work toward conserving water now, but to plan for the future.

Though that might seem bleak, Payan’s work in the dry Southwestern region of the country makes him optimistic. He has no shortage of ideas on how to manage parks in arid climates. He pointed to turf-reduction programs like Las Vegas, Nevada’s “Cash for Grass” program, in which homeowners received cash rebates for replacing their green lawns with landscaping that doesn’t require a lot of watering.

Other solutions he offered include replacing planters with native, climate-appropriate plants, utilizing organic or inorganic mulch surfacing instead of turf, and installing water-saving, timed devices for irrigation. In Phoenix, Payan worked on a project that saw communities replace wasteful swimming pools with more shallow “splash parks” for family use.

“This wisdom is transferable to places that are not drought-stricken too,” Payan said.

Water Conservation Can and Does Bring Big Results

In the City of San Francisco, which has 21 microclimates, more than 220 parks, and 3,400 acres of recreation and open space, water management is complicated. Still, Ana Alvarez has seen major positive impacts with the city’s municipal footprint since 2008. Park officials shifted gears and began responding to the drought six years ago, when the mayor required a 10 percent reduction in citywide water use (increasing the 18 percent reduction that the parks department had already implemented).

Alvarez pointed to the department’s long-term and short-term conservation strategies in working with California’s limited water supply. Among these strategies are a 2012 Clean & Safe Park Bond Water Conservation Program, the San Francisco Public Utilities Company’s large landscape retrofit program, a water recycling program, and water infrastructure renovations.

In 2014, the parks department also implemented programs like “Water Free Wednesdays” in the city, cut back irrigation time by 10 percent, shut off all non-recirculating features in parks, and halted power-washing of hard-scape at facilities except where there were safety concerns.

Luckily, San Francisco, said Alvarez, already has a very strong environmental ethos so getting the public — and the parks department — to be water-conscious was easy. Still, the department also put a strong focus on a public education campaign dubbed “Brown Is the New Green.” The result so far has been an overall 22.6 percent reduction in water use.

Changing How We See Beauty in Public Parks

In Mia Lehrer’s home base of Los Angles, Mayor Eric Garcetti hopes to make a 20 percent dent in water use by 2017 and 50 percent by 2024. The Mayor’s requirements will be a challenge, but Lehrer pointed out, “Water is irreplaceable. We must change how we value it.”

While reducing water use can have an aesthetic impact, according to all the panelists, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Lehrer said we should change how we think about beauty in our natural environments. Large institutions with abundant outdoor space “roll lawns out like carpet because they can’t think of anything else to do,” she said. One way to address this is to rethink spaces and utilize native, low-water plants for smart landscape design to replace existing lawns. Urban forests, water towers and catchment systems on buildings are other creative approaches.

Fittingly — as parks are about communities coming together — Lehrer said cooperation among city departments is key to meeting water conservation challenges. When transportation and utilities and recreation build alliances, they can work together on solutions. Now that’s a beautiful scene.

This Woman Wants You to Think About What’ll Happen to Your City When You Die

Katrina Spade

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Katrina Spade

Current Occupation: Founder and director of the Urban Death Project, which advocates for creating a meaningful, equitable and ecological alternative to existing options for the care of the dead.

Hometown: Plainfield, NH

Current City: Seattle, WA

Twitter Tag: @urbandeathproj

I drink: Coffee!

I am an: Outgoing introvert

I get to work by: Walking (to my living room)

The area I grew up in is: Rural

What was your first job? I became a server at a fancy French restaurant in my small rural town in New Hampshire when I was 12. I’m an excellent waiter!

What is your favorite city and why? I love Seattle for its amazing views of mountain ranges, sound, lake, its down-to-earth people, and the best food, beer, and coffee ever.

What do you do when you are not working? I hang out with my kids (7 and 10), my girlfriend, and my friends, playing tennis or soccer and doing house projects.

What do you like most about your current job? The Urban Death Project has so many different angles. On any one day I might be strategizing outreach, trying to raise money, thinking about engineering or working on legal obstacles. It’s never boring — it’s like a big design project.

Rendering of an Urban Death Project building/compost facility, where people can visit to connect with the deceased and with the cycles of nature.

What is the coolest project you worked on? I’m a tad biased, but I think that the Urban Death Project is the coolest project ever. It’s exciting to see the cultural shift that’s happening, where people are thinking about the impact that their own physical bodies will have on the earth after they’ve died. It’s also amazing to hear inspiring stories about death and dying from people all over the world.

What are the hard parts about your job? I work alone, and so the days when I am doubting this, that or the other thing are kind of rough.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Two of the biggest challenges facing cities today are the lack of burial space and the lack of meaningful ways to connect people to the cycles of life, (i.e. nature). The Urban Death Project is one solution to both of these problems.

What makes a successful leader? I am still working on figuring that out, but I know that listening plays a large part in it.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? To have Urban Death Project facilities — each designed for the community to which they belong — in every city in the world, and to make meaningful, beautiful death care available to all people regardless of their economic status.

In the core of Urban Death Project facilities, bodies are laid into woodchips at the top. Over a span of weeks, they turn into nutrient-rich soil. Each Urban Death Project building would be different, designed for the community in which it resides.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Be yourself.

Who do you most admire? I admire my mother for being a really effective environmental activist. She was often almost working under the radar, but she got so much done!

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Think broadly, don’t let go of the audacious goals, and try and look at your challenge like a puzzle. There are likely many pieces to figure out, and it’s handy if you know what they are early on.

From Pedestrian Campaigns to Pop-Ups, This “Civic Instigator” Makes His Mark

Matt Tomasulo

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Matt Tomasulo

Current Occupation: Founder and Chief Instigator, Walk [Your City]

Hometown: Hartford, CT

Current City: Raleigh, NC

Twitter Tag: @cityfabric + @walkyourcity

I drink: Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening (latest favorite brew tool – the Impress!)

I am an: Extrovert, but covet my personal “Matt time”

I get to work by: Bike (~7 min), sometimes walk (~20 min), and my little Tacoma lives at the office for as-needed errands.

The area I grew up in is: Suburbs, but haven’t gone back for 10 years. I highly value my choice to walk/bike places!

What was your first job? In high school, I was a driving range “specialist,” but all through college I worked at the on-campus pub. Paying my way through school via food service definitely laid the foundation for my nomadic stability while in between undergrad and grad school. My service experience and lean living allowed me to experience a variety of different places, always able to pick up short-term jobs and make enough cash to discover each new city (Copenhagen, D.C., Wyoming, Prague, Richmond, Chapel Hill).

What is your favorite city and why? Raleigh. I wouldn’t live here if it weren’t! I’ll always have a soft spot for Richmond and Copenhagen as well — both dramatically influenced my outlook on how we live. My wife and I definitely kick around the idea of taking off for a year to live and explore a larger city like Paris or Bangkok.

Matt installs one of the original Walk Your City signs in Raleigh

What do you do when you are not working? There is a fine line between life and work in Raleigh. The community here is really collaborative and supportive of each other so there are always fun events, art openings, food tastings or mezcal sippings to be had with friends. (Typically associated with plotting the next community project!)

Riding the Raleigh greenways and playing bocce in the nearby park are definitely the most frequent weekend activities.

Did you always want to be an urban designer/civic instigator? I’ve always gravitated toward the design realm, but didn’t know “design” (much less “urban design”) was really even a thing until I went off-curriculum in undergrad, and explored architecture through a study program in Copenhagen. It was there that I discovered my interest in “the space between buildings” — and how we influence and shape it.

What is the coolest project you worked on? The Wanderbox was a three-week sprint “side project” last summer that was a pop-up shipping container beer garden at CAM, Raleigh’s contemporary art museum, where 7,000 people enjoyed a beer at this little 4,000-square-foot event over 11 days. Growing 27 illegal plastic signs into a respected business/organization has been pretty cool too. [The Walk Your City toolkit started in Raleigh and is being exported to other cities.]

The Wanderbox beer garden in Raleigh

What are the hard parts about your job? Persistence in the unknown, not knowing the answer — every day on the job. Capacity: addressing recognized opportunities with a lean team, finances and time.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Human-scaled development — accommodating preference changes by providing more choices and more space for people, not cars. The critical components of human-scaled development are housing and transportation, two huge challenges with which rapidly growing cities like Raleigh are constantly wrestling. My utopic self is also pretty interested in cost-to-serve pricing models and funding for infrastructure. Uncovering new revenue streams will be critical for healthy growth.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Stay curious and always ask “what if?”

Who do you most admire? Many folks, but a fairly new hero is Antanas Mockus, the former mayor of Bogotá who used seemingly simple yet surprising stunts and social projects to drastically lower the city’s crime and congestion problems.

What do you look for when hiring someone? Curiosity, passion and openness.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Take as many “risks” while you can! If you go back to grad school, take the biggest when under the academic umbrella. School work is only so important.

How a Fitness Pro Is Spreading the Word About Philly’s New Bike-Share

Kiera Smalls (Photo by Darren Burton)

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to the interesting people who are part of our Next City Network.

Name: Kiera Smalls

Current Occupation: Co-Founder of City Fit Girls and marketing specialist at Bicycle Transit Systems for Philly’s new bike-share program, Indego.

Hometown: Philadelphia

Current City: Philadelphia

Twitter Tag: @KieraSmalls

I drink: Coffee and tea

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Bike and train

The area I grew up in is: City

What is your favorite city and why? Philadelphia! There’s so much happening here, and Philly is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Great public spaces, thriving communities, the Pope is coming, the DNC 2016 convention is coming, and of course Indego will be here to offer a convenient form of transportation!

What do you do when you are not working? I am working out.

Did you always want to be in marketing? No. I was actually studying to become a social worker during undergrad. I ended up landing a position as a recruitment and retention manager for a social service agency instead. During my employment I was asked to lead their social media and wellness efforts. Through these projects and while building City Fit Girls, I realized marketing was what I wanted to do.

Philly’s upcoming Indego Bike Share (Photo by Mitchell Leff)

What do you like most about your current job? I have great co-workers. We are all working extremely hard to make the Indego bike-share launch a success. I couldn’t think of a better team. Building relationships with community members and stakeholders regarding Indego has been a blast as well. With City Fit Girls, I really enjoy promoting fitness as something fun and adventurous for women of all fitness levels.

What is the coolest project you worked on? Creating FitRetreat, City Fit Girls’ annual fitness and wellness event here in Philly. We wanted to create a full day of workshops and sessions for women to learn about all of the awesome fitness classes and instructors in the city. This past August about 150 women joined us and chose between a fitness and wellness session each hour. For Indego, we are getting ready to launch our first social media campaign: “Where Will Indego Take You?” We’ll be encouraging people to ride Indego to their favorite spots in Philly and share stories via social media. We’ll be highlighting their responses on our new blog.

Kiera teaching City Fit Girls bootcamp (Photo by Darren Burton)

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Accessibility. While there has been great progress in and near Center City, there are still areas that are at a huge disadvantage, who do not get to enjoy the same level of walkability in their neighborhoods as other parts of the city. We need to continue to keep the entire city, including all of its neighborhoods, in mind in regards to expanding access to resources like healthy supermarkets, open green spaces and public safety.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? I had a coffee date with Desiree Peterkin Bell who leads communications and strategies for Mayor Michael Nutter. At the time we talked, I did not know what career path I wanted to pursue. She advised me to write down what I wanted to do and connect with people currently doing those things. And to pursue what I wanted to do for its purpose and not position. I think about our chat often. She’s very inspiring.