Living Cities: Collaboration is Key

Living Cities works to link private capital with innovation in cities. Photo by Evan Leeson.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its establishment, Living Cities hosted panel discussions on Tuesday on leadership, innovation and problem-solving mechanisms in urban areas.

Living Cities was established in 1991 by philanthropists and corporate leaders who believed that real change in cities can only come from “intentional and sustained collaboration between the private, public and philanthropic sectors.” Living Cities is comprised of the 22 largest foundations and financial institutions in the world.

Initiated under the auspices of such leadership and initially called the National Community Development Initiative (NCDI), the organization has since catalyzed $16 billion in urban investments. The group works to connect private funding to ensure metropolitan prosperity and provide opportunities for underprivileged communities.

Part of its work consists of initiating transit-oriented developments in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Living Cities worked with officials in 12 regions hit the hardest by the housing crisis to implement transit-oriented developments that can stabilize neighborhoods.

The organization also works on issues covering green jobs, housing, education and neighborhood stabilization. Learn more about its work here.

Yesterday’s panel was streamed online and the following panel discussions were shown:

Living Cities Today & Tomorrow: A Conversation with the Living Cities Board: Our economy, our government, our country are undergoing enormous and disruptive changes. Living Cities Board Members – the leadership from some of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions – will discuss how the organization has evolved to meet the changing needs of low-income people and why a more collaborative approach, coupled with innovative investment models, has the potential to re-engineer America’s cities.

Interview with Stephen Johnson, Author, Where Good Ideas Come From: Steven Johnson has introduced concepts such as the “adjacent possible” and written extensively on cities as the perfect petri dish for innovation. Paula Ellis, Living Cities Board Member and VP of Strategic Initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will interview Mr. Johnson, challenging him and us to think about and invest in urban innovation differently.

Integrating People, Place and Opportunity: An Inside Look at the Integration Initiative: In October 2010, Living Cities launched The Integration Initiative, an $85 million effort which supports cities that are harnessing existing momentum and leadership for change, overhauling long obsolete systems and fundamentally reshaping their communities and policies to meet the needs of low-income residents. One year into this initiative, hear from leaders driving the work on the ground and national funders about results to-date, early lessons-learned, and next steps both locally and nationally.

Dynamic Collaboration, Cities & the Future: A Moderated Conversation: A keynote speech by the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, will be followed by a roundtable discussion bringing together an unexpected mix of leaders to identify and discuss the emerging trends and innovations that will be crucial for cities over the next 20 years, the new problem-solving mechanisms that are needed, and the respective (and evolving) roles various sectors must play.

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