Civic Strategies
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Civic Strategies
Readings for civic leaders, updated every Friday afternoon.
Curated by Otis White
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Mayoral Platform Preview: Some of This Old City's Policy Positions We'd Like Our Candidates to Commit To

Mayoral Platform Preview: Some of This Old City's Policy Positions We'd Like Our Candidates to Commit To | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

If the mayor’s office is coming open in your city in the next few years, what would you like a candidate to run on? That is, what improvements or policies would you like her to champion—as a candidate and, later, as mayor? A website in Philadelphia has given that some thought (its mayor’s race will be next year) and arrived at a full-blown platform. Among the ideas: “free” transit passes for college students (with the passes actually being purchased through student fees), more efficient ways of getting public spaces approved, and better city branding, including a new city flag. Some of these ideas wouldn’t be right for your city, of course, but this "model platform" does raise a good question: What should your next mayor run on?

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Clean Trains

Clean Trains | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

The revival of our big cities, which in the main are cleaner, safer, and more prosperous than any time in living memory, is nothing short of miraculous. And if you want to see just how much things have changed you don’t have to go much further than New York’s subway system. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was a dirty, dangerous, breakdown-prone, and graffiti-covered mess. And today? Well, it’s certainly cleaner and safer. So how DID New York get all that graffiti off its trains and keep it off? This is the question 99 Percent Invisible, a radio show about design, looked into recently, and it found its answer in one person, David Gunn, who took over the system in 1984. How Gunn went about cleaning up the trains while improving the system’s reliability ought to be inspiring to urban reformers everywhere. Is there a major issue in your city that someone like David Gunn could make better?

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What to Do If Your Team Is in a Rut

What to Do If Your Team Is in a Rut | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

Maybe the most fun you’ll ever have as a civic leader is working with a team of people on solving a big, difficult problem—one where there’s no obvious answer. The key in these situations is to welcome all kinds of creative ideas. But what if your team runs out of ideas or just isn’t working very creatively anymore? This article offers a few ways to get a creative team back on track, including welcoming new perspectives into the group, refocusing on immediate concerns, and paying attention to the group’s dynamics and culture.

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How to Involve Corporations in Cities

How to Involve Corporations in Cities | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

On this month's Civic Strategies Podcast: A pioneer in corporate citizenship explains why businesses should care about communities and what local leaders can do to encourage it.

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Great Leadership Quotes

Great Leadership Quotes | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

Here's one: ". . . I have long ago learned that the most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions." Peter Drucker

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10 best city art districts around the USA

10 best city art districts around the USA | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

Where are the most innovative and vibrant urban arts districts in the U.S.? If you were thinking New York or San Francisco, be prepared for a surprise. There are some great arts districts in places like Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. In fact, there may be one close to you. As you tour these districts, try to figure out why they work so well, and how they might be duplicated in your city. You might even take along an artist and an architect to help you think about these things.

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How to turn small talk into smart conversation

How to turn small talk into smart conversation | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

Some people hate “small talk,” those brief conversations we have at events or in passing with people we do not know or know well. Is there a way to turn these pleasantries into something helpful to a civic leader, like learning about a community issue or beginning a relationship with another civic leader? The secret lies not so much in what you say, these TED Talks suggest, as in the questions you ask. So try asking open-ended questions that challenge people to think . . . something way better than “how are you?”

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Christine Mondor on Bruce Willis, urban imagination and being too provincial

Christine Mondor on Bruce Willis, urban imagination and being too provincial | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

As we work on improving our cities, it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, don’t let the needs of your city or region overwhelm its assets in your mind. Second, know that every place could be improved, and there are people just like you trying to do so. This brief Q&A with an architect in Pittsburgh is a nice introduction to just such a person. And while she is asked about Pittsburgh’s needs, you can sense from her comments that she knows her city’s assets as well. That balance between seeing needs and recognizing strengths will be important to you as a civic leader.

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Vision and Demographics

Vision and Demographics | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

Fifth in a series for reporters about covering city hall: To understand where cities are headed, you have to understand demographics. Here’s how to make the connection between a local government’s vision and actions and the results that reveal themselves in population changes.

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The Great Project

The Great Project | Civic Strategies | Scoop.it

Otis White of Civic Strategies has created a mutimedia book about how a civic project changed a city. It's the story of a performing arts center that united the city's leaders, turned around a troubled downtown, brought the local university to new prominence, and raised citizens' sights of what was possible in their city.

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