I came across this really good interview with my city’s mayor (click on the February 8th Smart City radio interview under the Broadcasts section), talking about the history of Youngstown and the current situation here, as the community attempts to restructure and revitalize after decades of economic and political disintegration. It’s a very different story here than what the traditional narrative of American cities tells, but it’s not that unheard of either. Cities that have suffered disaster, both man-made and natural, are dealing with this same scenario: Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans. Despite the economic condition of a city like Youngstown being so bad, though, right now I’ve never lived anywhere before surrounded by so many creatively stimulate and stimulating people. It’s a beginning, but that’s better than an end.
I came across this video of Bruce Sterling talking about civil engineering and economic development in his new home city of Belgrade. Sterling, for those readers of this journal that are not somehow interested in reading or in the reading of science fiction especially, should note that Bruce Sterling is a science fiction writer who is known for many of his novels written during the cyberpunk movement of the eighties. He’s been visionary in residence (yes, an actual title, which I think is really cool, as we forget sometimes, as a culture, how important it is to actually have visionaries and support them in some way to enable them to keep us focused on important things) at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, among many other things. His mind is really amazing when it comes to thinking about designing our future economies and the way that we will live as a species, whether we like to think about these things or not.
What I liked about this video is that, though he’s in Belgrade talking about its economy and the design of that city, there’s a lot to learn for those of us in and around Youngstown, Ohio who are part of the revitalization effort here. Take a look. Some of the ideas Sterling talks about in relation to Belgrade’s economic development would be applicable here as well as for a lot of other American cities attempting to halt urban decay and grow into the new century.
I love interesting statistics like the one in this video from Youtube, which as been making the rounds among blogs and sites concerned with economic development lately. I feel like I should be watching Braveheart or something when I watch it, but you’ll get the point. We’re, uh…a little behind, I think. The world’s moving faster than we are maybe.
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