Progress comes two ways to cities: by inches or in great leaps. Both are needed, but they follow different paths.
Behind many great civic projects is a mixture of unlikely relationships and creativity. You can do some things to make the magic happen. But you also need a little luck.
Seeing the opportunity for change is the genius of leadership and often involves finding paths that are hidden to everyone else. Herding people through those passages is the practice of leadership. Here’s how to be better at the genius parts of leadership.
Forget about the NIMBYs vs. greedy developers showdowns. The real stories in local government are about efforts to create more interesting and attractive urban environments, and the people involved in these efforts. Some are elected officials or city workers, but many aren’t. They’re people in neighborhoods doing things that are slightly unusual, such as walking, biking, or taking buses to work . . . or restoring old homes.
Some of the changes we see in cities just make old processes more efficient. But some will have a much deeper impact, and places that apply old ways of thinking to completely new challenges will be making a big mistake.