Leaders from cities all around the world are making concentrated efforts to improve the quality of life for their citizens and make urban developments more people-friendly. Last week, I spoke via Zoom to a group of Russian mayors about “Change Leadership” and how to create and fund new developments.
The topic is fresh on my mind. In January, I traveled (…remember when people traveled?) to Moscow to speak about the ever-changing efforts to increase walkability in cities around the world. At the time, it had been more than ten years since I had traveled to Russia’s capitol and I was amazed at the changes that had taken place. Massive efforts (and money) had been spent to create walkable infrastructure. Even traffic seemed less intense as thousands of young people were on the move walking to work or to restaurants. Moscow proved how much of an urban success story it really is.
The Zoom call with Russian mayors was about helping to create development that can complement the infrastructural changes. City budgets are tight around the world. People have begun asking me questions like, “How do we pay for it?” and “What challenges did you face in Oklahoma City when you proposed significant changes to the fabric of the city?” There are, of course, answers to these questions but not necessarily easy answers. In fact, a lot of the answers involve partnerships between the public and private sectors.
When I wrote The Next American City, it was to chronicle the success stories that Oklahoma City and other mid-sized American cities were making to attract highly-educated young people. Now it is becoming more and more clear to me that it’s not just an American success story, but a world success story.