Ep. 014: Nurturing A Tribe - Urban Futures, The Global Movement


Welcome back to invisible city. We've missed you but so many of you have reached out on twitter and email that you have never felt too far away. We knew we would be back but we didn't know when the good news is the time is now and we have more episodes in the hopper. Then ever we will be ramping up over the next weeks and months and we're brimming with ideas stories and content that we can't wait to share so many people continue to cross our paths. And we want you to be a part of our learning we continue to seek to untangle the complexities of of what makes cities tick to make the visible invisible in our cities. All we've been away. The reprieve is over a few cool. Things have happened that would like to update you on the first is our Webby Award. That's right you heard that rate we won a Webby Award for best sound design into original music in a podcast Bryden Ryan from Las Vegas creative made the trek to New York City to walk the red carpet and Bask in the glory and damned. They look good if I do say so myself. We also have a refreshed website. WWW dot invisible zabol city podcast DOT COM. Take a look. We've tried to make it really easy to navigate so check it out. I've also successfully transitioned from my five year stint as chief planner at the city of Toronto into another life. I loved every minute of it and no for those of you who are asking. I do not miss it is it. I am relishing getting to know my family again but more importantly I've taken on a whole new adventure as the CEO of creative housing. It's true I've become a developer and I'm having the time of my life collaborating with great people and pushing new approaches to ensuring that everyone in our are cities has access to beautiful housing incomplete communities. We have a whole series upcoming on affordable housing and this the question of how to house everyone in the twenty first century so stay posted for that in February of two thousand eighteen. The invisible city team Set up an impromptu shop in Vienna in partnership with the Urban Future Global Conference as Europe's largest event for sustainable cities. It's the place place to meet the most passionate and inspiring city changers from all over the world. We've pulled together a series of five episodes that will be released released over the upcoming weeks. That came out of that conference and the conversations we had there it pretty much features some of the most interesting people from across across the globe. Who are truly driving change? I'm Jennifer keys Mac and this is invisible city Have you ever had a different vision of the future than the people around you. It can be tough seeing something that others don't yet see in the seventies. My Dad had this crazy idea that we should keep all all of our food scraps in a bucket under the sink later to be thrown into a small heap in the backyard with grass clippings and later turned into our modest suburban garden. My friends thought he was a little nuts off his rocker. who held onto stinky food scraps and turn them back into the cycle cycle of life? My Dad was convinced that everyone should be doing this. That it just didn't make sense to through food. Waste into a plastic bag again to carted away in a truck to a land fill site miles and miles and miles away but alas he was ahead of his time it would be many years before municipalities on mass would embrace composting and recycling programs hanging around the halls of an urban futures. This conference is a bit like hanging. Out With my composting dad. Seventies people with ideas people thinking about how to do things Zan's differently how to live better more lately more sustainably in our cities according to Josephine lay. Oh it's like a place where all the Freaks reeks of Urbanism Gather. Of course. I felt right at home. This is the first part of our five part Vienna series. Listen in so here. I am in Vienna with Josephine at the Urban Futures Conference and have to say that a little bit Giddy. Because it's so exciting for me to be here at this conference conference I have wanted to be here in the past and circumstances have made it very complicated and here. I find myself at this conference with global leaders from around the world. Who who all really care about the same thing which is changing cities making cities better seeing cities as a space for adaptation? You are a CO founder of this conference. Let's start right at the very beginning. Where did this idea come from? And why does it matter. Thank you Jennifer for is really great to have you here. Finally we couldn't make it last time and this time you did really great talks and adding Arrow as inspired yeah. I didn't pair to say that that one really completely unsolicited has well. We started Three or four years ago having actually manny started since maybe is trying to think about about how to make life better as architects as just as citizens and in the early nineties and early two thousand. It was not the very popular kind of a topic. People your totally out of your mind the word but luckily regression years because at no if his lag or not but because of all this climate crisis are these resource crisis even political kind of instability. Really made people forced most people do start looking at the problem and realizing that okay we have to solve those problems and so we were kind of writing a a rising wave yes yes. Rising awareness of this problem is and we really want to do it and we really my own to uh-huh create something that could facilitate people to to to to to leverage their impacts in their own cities in their own environmental industry whatsoever but they need some some some Some facilitator some platform to to to to get help in in the sense that we're talk about status city business. There's this very complicated as you know much about any now. I love where you started with this piece. which was that when you first started thinking about this that no one was really very interested interested because I kind of feel that has happened over the course of my career? I used to say to people that I was a city planner and people would look at me and go whatever people I didn't really care. They weren't really interested now when I say city. Pr People say. Oh let's talk about bike lanes let's talk about urban agriculture. And so I feel like I'm kind of in in the center of this thing that happened and it's funny because when I was trying to decide what to do with my life I was I I wanted. I need to do something that mattered. That was sort of my criteria. And I want to do something that really matter. I somewhat apply my passion and feel like I was making the difference in the world and I read Sask assassin and her world city theory and she basically argued the future will be cities absolutely the future will lot be nations. The future will not be state to state. The future will be city to city. And I read this when I was just an Undergrad and I thought that's where I WANNA be. I WANNA be in the future. I want to be in that spot. Where changes happening where decisions are being made? We're transformation can take place and and to your point. I sort of feel like I rode the wave a little bit. I rode the wave to you. Absolutely cities have always been had always been the the structure aww administrations since since hundreds of years and this nation sing well is kind of new invention but is par- is a little bit too complex for human capacity of dealing with complex system. Yes and it's impose more because The efficiency but however go back to the INISIA- initiation of our conference. We know that city is a complex business and you have so many different interests conflict in your Tannin's have investors. You have policymakers and a citizens have on this kind of a conflict of interest but to go forward to make any changes to initiate anything you have to bring them together. Gather make mutual agreement and therefore we started having this This this conference as a platform to bring the design the knowledge the politics and finance together to have common Sushi. So this is what has struck me about being so special about a about being here and having this conversation the first piece is that three thousand people talking about cities talk about building a momentum and yesterday I called it a movement I feel like I'm a part of a movement Being here the other is that you've literally brought people from across the globe this commitment to being global and thinking about city through a Global Noble Lens and what we share as global challenges in trying to be more sustainable in trying to be more innovative and forward thinking that two strikes me as as being very unique it does it does have that movement movement feeling where there's people on a mission to do something transformative and everyone one wants to help everyone else. In that was symbolized. I think today I went to the Canadian. Consulate here in Vienna and The city the Vancouver signed an agreement with the city of Vienna a memorandum of understanding to collaborate and mostly around net zero housing and architecture. And how we can design and really push the envelope around sustainable design and and those conversations are that collaboration in that sharing now in a very detailed way on specific projects in Calgary sorry in Vancouver and Vienna is in outcome of these kinds of conversations of getting people saying wait a minute. Where are you pushing the envelope where we where we pushing the envelope? How can we all contribute to being in transformational? You made the theme this year. A city changes and people who are walking around in T. shirts say I'm a city change and I really love this because I really think Urbanism and the Practice of Urbanism No matter. What the lenses that you come at it from is really about adapting and adaptations in the urban environment What was the driver? Why the language guage around around city changers? While that's a very good question well it might be that it just kind of fit with the ethos of the kind of people that you get to these events. Yes actually. That's that's really true. Because we're kind of nurturing tribe. Sometimes people have innovators. Sometimes people have Early adapters but for us is these people who are passionate really want to make change happen. And that's the that's the mutual kind of a shared passion. That's the trigger. Why people out here that this these people they they could be they could be freaks? They could be You know the loners in their own environment eighteen their own. CD's industry but here the each other. This all this like manage people who want to make change because to make change happen is tremendous tremendous tremendous Difficult will and you know because it's difficult this notion of nurturing a tribe Love that language. I think it's I often talk in the city of Toronto about building. Constituencies that we WANNA build constituencies for progressive ideas that when we come forward with a progressive idea like getting getting the cars off are a key transit corridor and dedicating that quarter transit. You need to have different groups within the city that have different tribes arrives to your point and those tribes need to be able to work together towards that shared interests. And we've seen that a little bit here over the past couple all days In the way information has been has been shared we attended a great session on a rethinking Paris and what was so powerful to me about the session about Paris. Wasn't the amazing things at Paris's doing which they were amazing but was also learning about the struggles realizing leising. It's been hard in Paris and there's been some really bad news out of Paris with respect to the suburban communities really pushing back against a UH of vision of a future. That's much more sustainable for for the core Can you talk about the the way you have seen outcomes beyond this this event to nurture that. Try because I think that's really what this is about. This isn't about this moment. It's actually about the change that's happening in cities is is on one hand as human nature. We really fear for Ano- really fear for uncertainty fear for change. That's deeply in our genes. This we cannot change but we have to be have to be reasonable. We'll have the rationalize have been able to see beyond our emotion Russian beyond our fears so one of the really key objectives of doing this. It wasn't just about getting really passionate people in the room. It was actually about. It was about change. How do we make change happen? So give me a sense of what happens next. What comes out of this? The innovation piece the labs piece right it on one hand. This conference healthy to learn from each other's success and failure to help them in their own domains but on the other hand we really feel feel like we need some more radical kind of acceleration because his they're being billed. Hundreds of cities have been building Asia in in America car and while we're discussing were debating we're talking about policy making this is not. This is not make sense so so we know that we need manny. That's the first thing and the second scenes and giving the understanding of our economy's changing challenging we want to we innovation so you mentioned the word acceleration and of course money's money's a big piece of it. It strikes me that really the debate were constantly having in our cities is about where the money should be spent. There's money in the debate about where that where that money should go. Go if we want. What can what can we do? What can change makers due to accelerate change in our cities in in light of the fact that most of us don't control? The purse strings is incredibly difficult. Cities cannot afford trial and error in terms of innovation. That's a fact and feedback loop is Tula anyways and on the other hand is it's like selling any product as your how they look you cannot tell you have to show. And that's really the crucial part of our. Is this kind of a silently understand that we have to show for it believing something. That's trump tremendously. Different Than Patter. The will have to walk it out and this is these include new business models include new ways of looking at cities in relation waste citizens with business with environment and so that that's so we come to the conclusion that we have to our vision of the future. We have to convince the business. We need to come communes. The partners in technology panners investments. And so that if we can convince those innovative thinking kind of forward looking people depot and having a A group or a partnership and then we can show people how how much could be done and under the they would follow because as a much better way to make money to leave and two for basically for Arazi so you know our city building does end up in this. It's kind of Catch twenty two. Because on the one hand We want to innovate. We need to do things in different ways on the other hand. We want to see the change before will commit to it before we'll spend the money and it can take a long time to make that happen. There's been a lot of talk over the past several days as about the power of pilot projects about the power of just going out and trying things. There's even a session this evening on fuck ups. The things that have been tried. That have gone wrong that that you can bleep that out if you want. But that's really what the sessions called. It's actually about trying stuff that that failed. What's the risk on the one hand? We sort of can't move quickly enough on the other hand. We need to try staff in inevitably. We're going to get some stuff wrong. What's what's the risk that we face right now in kind of grasping at new tools for city building the the risk one of the biggest risk as you already talked about is the kind of one dimensional perspective looking at technology she like the good example of cars and the risk of forgetting what is essential waitress human is human humanism out harassing surrounding humor and the risk of Feo to look long term but in instead short-term and for example Lantern Development is that were really reaching that that tipping point already that Material kind of abandoned is making us to who who is much more valuable particularly young generations to meaning to social interaction to offending purpose in life. And that means our future. The lifestyle would be changed dramatically and that would require state is to have totally. Different are imitations and urban settings to fulfill that new knees and which seating could could could be a step ahead in this term this type of changes. These cities would success while. I'm so quite you've raised that because it always makes me nervous when people are talking about smart cities and it it. Sounds like it's about gadgets As opposed to being about about people and I do think that our cities did go a little a little bit sideways really over the past five years it was a ton of talk about technology. -nology in not enough talk about people and how we design how we designed for people. How do you keep that conversation really focused? How does that conversation? You should not get away from us when let's face it tech companies whether it's Google or Amazon or Cisco have a real real vested interest in cities that's the population is. That's where they can collect data. How do we kind of hang onto that conversation and not lose the vision? The cities are actually about people. And as you say that human interaction well I have to say I have no answer to that question. The Big One is a big one you have to. I think I'm not sure if it's a regulation or policy issues. I'm sure there are things that you will have to have to because this this this this this is raising of the power of technologies energies. Something new but we have a lot of news in our history that we had to then later anti-violence some kind of system to regulate that that that power at I personally think that could happen and that should should happen. I think this is the power of this. New Power is is is much much much much much bigger well. There's a lot of talk about this right now. In particular in relation to social media like twitter and facebook folk and the way that these entities have been able to operate in a completely unregulated way and there has been implications Some pretty significant ones with respect to democracy democracy and who gets elected where and who's doing the elected and that lack of regulation regulation has always existed to protect human interest. And I would suggest that this is the risk we face in our cities as well. That new technologies big new shiny thing. If we're not quick enough an an agile enough to ensure we have regulations in place to protect us. Shula's in no there's Gore is going to be challenges on the other hand. I was also there might be solutions. Using technology. For Example Status Security privacy issue might be quite easily software blockchain technology and for example. And also that so I sink may hopefully with the help of the technology that the the knees demands for human regulation would be Declined yeah hopefully. I'm I'm I'm kind of skeptical on that only because I think that one of the challenges we faces powerful powerful interests trysts that are not in the public interest and We're seeing this in our cities right now with respect to global capital and housing and the impact that's happening at ETA very tangible level on people's everyday lives and unless there's regulation and more regulation people won't have access to housing is pretty strays straightforward so. There's an opportunity to kind of capitalize on a growing interest in figuring this question out around. What are sustainable? Urban Urban Future looks like Josephine. This has been a fascinating conversation. Thank you for having us year in in Vienna and watching closely Every every every step as you move forward thank you so much Hughes my pleasure. I hope you enjoyed this podcast as as much as we enjoyed creating it. Thanks to Daniel. FUCA for being my Sherpa and lugging all of our equipment to Vienna and producing these episodes alongside me. Thank thank you to the team at Urban Futures Global Conference for their leadership and facilitating a global dialogue about change in our cities and for sponsoring this Vienna Vienna series. And also just the you know you can subscribe to invisible city podcast so that you don't miss out. All of our episodes are also on our website late in visible city. PODCAST DOT COM. If you like our work give us a rating on I tunes we would really appreciate. Invisible city is a product Arctic. Lhasa's creative a creative agency based in my beautiful city Toronto. Each episode of visible city features and original score by Loftus. Creative read

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