Take a walk in a city. What do you see?

The Guardian is publishing a series on people walking in cities. What do they see? How do they feel? Does the experience open the mind?

Their first installment was Six of the best city walks from readers around the world and they were kind enough to use my own experience of walking along the Detroit waterfront toward the entrance to the downtown. The article also covers walks in London, Portland, Dublin, Istanbul and Plovdiv.

From the Guardian and AP

From the Guardian and AP

Walking is a great way to experience any city. You can drive through cities your whole life and not see what’s right in front of you, or what lies just beyond the road. So park the car, get off the bus and wander for a bit. See the buildings. Smell the flowers. Talk with the people. It feeds the soul.


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Patriotic Quotes for City Leaders

As we approach the country’s annual birthday celebration on July 4, I offer you the words of some of America’s greatest leaders. I’m sharing these ones because they are poignant for city builders of all walks of life- elected, appointed, volunteer or otherwise. Whether you’re embarking on a massive development project, engaging citizens about the future of their neighborhoods or trying to breathe new life into a tired, historic building these quotes are offered as inspiration for your work.

Uncle SamCreating great places is difficult. The work is hard. And thankless. But, it is important for everyone in the community- the resident, the entrepreneur, the elderly and the children.

So whether you attend a party this coming weekend, or watch fireworks, or cheer at a parade, save a moment to celebrate your own efforts on behalf of the place you love. You deserve it!

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”  Benjamin Franklin

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”  Theodore Roosevelt

“Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”  Alexander Hamilton

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”  Abraham Lincoln

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The Prosperity Agenda: The Evolution of Placemaking

prosperity-agenda-thumbWe kicked off the first Prosperity Agenda radio show at News/Talk 760 WJR in January 2010, and we’ve seen placemaking come a long way since then. We know the importance of creating places where people want to live, work and enjoy, enabling people to build communities they love. The Michigan Municipal League has been instrumental in helping Michigan communities become engaged in placemaking, working with many partners over the years.

On this month’s radio show, we’re bringing together state and international experts in placemaking who have worked with us at the League and used their ideas to turn around cities such as Detroit.

It’s an ongoing project, and there is always another community that can benefit from placemaking. So there is a lot to talk about. My co-host for this month’s show is Natalie Burg, writer and owner of Vail Half Full Communications in Ann Arbor. Our guests are placemaking author Peter Kageyama; Fred Kent, founder and president of Project for Public Spaces; and placemaking innovator Josh McManus, of Rock Ventures.

The Michigan Prosperity Agenda is a monthly radio show that challenges listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play by creating vibrant and prosperous local communities. It has aired on News/Talk 760 WJR since 2010. The hour-long radio program is hosted by me, Dan Gilmartin, CEO of the League. The show is sponsored by the League and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The show airs 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, 2016, on News/Talk 760 WJR, but you can listen anytime at the League’s website or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. Learn more about the League’s placemaking work here on this blog.

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Failing Infrastructure Takes a Toll on Communities

I write on infrastructure. I have highlighted its importance to creating and maintaining great cities. And I have bemoaned the job that the state of Michigan does as the main steward of roads, bridges, transit and airports in my state.

Today ain’t gonna change that. Except that I am substituting another person’s work for my own.

A recent post in Bridge Magazine titled, “Michigan’s record on infrastructure: Ignore everything” goes in depth on the subject and details just how bad things are. Roads, bridges, dams, airport, cities- you name it.

It is worth a read. Kudos to Bridge Magazine and author Lindsay VanHulle for the work. If you are looking to find time to read the piece, I suggest the following opportunities:

  • While you’re waiting in a car dealership to have your tire rods replaced from hitting too many pot holes
  • While you’re waiting for a public bus that always comes late
  • When you’re sitting in an airport waiting for “mechanical problems” to be fixed
  • When you’re at a public beach, but unable to swim because outdated stormwater drains contaminated the water
  • While you’re waiting for your computer to load from a poor wireless connection in your downtown

This is kind of fun in a cathartic sort of way. I could do this all day…

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