The Private Side of Public Work | Exploring How to Make Cities Happier, Government More Innovative, & Science More Accessible
Summary: Urban planning, government, policy, art, science, architecture, design. These are all things that exist in the public realm. They impact the way our cities look, the way we live our lives. We are used to hearing about the public side of public work. We hear about "best practices" that showcase the most successful programs or policies. We see finished products, polished and shined. We're not doing that here. On this show we pull back the curtain and delve into the Private Side of Public Work. We ask the questions that people may be afraid to answer, but that need to be brought into the open to make our cities, our companies, buildings, our governments, and ultimately our lives, run better.
Water is in every cell of our body. Factories, cities, and forests all depend on it. Practically invisible when we have it, yet catastrophic when we don’t. We humans have a long history of fighting over water. Joe Whitworth sees a better way than idealism and finger pointing. His approach - quantified conservation - blends environmental and economic metrics to produce transaction-based strategies to realize environmental, social, and economic gains.
Hip-hop architecture. Is it a paradox? Or is it inevitable? On the one side: structured formality by necessity. On the other: a powerful counterculture defying formality. Sekou Cooke puts hip-hop within the historical context of other cultural movements and their influence on architecture. He suggests that as a dominant cultural movement of our generation, hip-hop is poised to produce its own architecture.
Collaborative Innovation. I know I know I know. You’ve heard it all before. The words are used and abused. Like so many important concepts, they have earned a plot in the graveyard of ubiquity. Eli MacLaren of The Business Innovation Factory is here to resurrect collaboration and innovation and to discuss why they are indispensable and inseparable.
Let’s call this the career episode. Today’s episode is special and different. My intern, Lyric Crocker turns the mic around and interviews me. I give you the inside scoop on my mid-life career transition and my take on the Private Side of Public Work. And, we give you an inside peak into our own conversations about the purpose of the show, the distinction between relying on people and collaborating with them, and the difference between urban planning and gentrification and why that is a real question.
What is the end-goal of all of university research? Academic journal articles are great as a record of scientific achievement, but if those articles are the last stop, what is the point? How can research move from the ivory tower into the real world? As the Director of Business Development in the Office of Industry Engagement and Commercial Venturing at Brown University, Brian Demers works at the sweet spot between scientific invention and commercial viability.
Today’s Private Side Challenge is keeping your wits about you when confronted with a Public Private Partnership deal. Last week we discussed issues that arises with private financing of public infrastructure. One of the things that struck me was that the in the worst of these deals, governments are throwing away their best capabilities – the ability to do strategic and long term planning in favor of a pseudo wall-street hack….
Aaron Renn discusses ways that public commons are constrained through private investment. Private infusions of capital can completely derail innovation within city planning. If this sounds counterintuitive or antithetical to popular rhetoric, it is because Aaron Renn pays attention to the nuance behind these public-private partnerships. Aaron gives incredible advice on what to pay attention to when it comes to financing public infrastructure.
You may be aware of bottlenecks in your work environment, but did you know that even plants have bottlenecks? What if there was a productivity coach for plants? Someone who could give them all of the secrets to being faster, greener and more productive? Someone who could whisper secrets into plant DNA so that they could transform sunlight into a bigger, better plant self…to be eaten by humans of course...
The impact of the big environmental acts passed in the 1970's is enormous…and almost invisible to the average person because we tend to take things like clean air and clean water and forests and beaches for granted. But if it weren’t for those four pieces of legislation passed in the early seventies, we would be living in a very different world. Brian Mooney Rick Engineering provides a fascinating retrospective on environmental planning in California.
What if there was a book that you could hand to a developer that would help them understand how to activate community spaces before dropping millions or billions of dollars into a project? And what if there were a book that you could hand to community leaders that could help them infuse vibrancy into their neighborhoods to attract resources and capital investment? And, what if those two books were one in the same?
What does a bitter refreshing drink from Barbados have in common with the field of urban planning? The answer is Tamika Gauvin and a vision for social justice. She is part planner and part founder for Looen Teas. But trust me when I say that those parts add up to more than the whole.
Rhode Island is a hot bed of creativity. DESIGNxRI fuels that creativity through and drives economic development in the process of Rhode Island. This requires persistent collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sector. Today’s Profit Side Challenge: Communicating Value
What do you think of when you hear the words “food hall?” Does it bring up memories of college dorm food? Or do you imagine an inspiring array of local cuisine, edgy entrepreneurship, and innovative urban planning? Today we are going to talk about the latter (though you are free to reminisce about college days after the show). And I dig into the private and personal side of food hall design and development with my guest Nicolia Robinson from Cooper Carry.
Homelessness is one of those problems that can feel hopelessly intractable at times. Those of us that live in cities see it on a daily basis, but feel at a loss for what to do beyond spare change. Site Lab Urban Studio Guneet Anand and Eri Suzuki of Site Lab Studio were inspired to offer good design, rather than just spare change, when they crossed paths with Lavae Mae.
Continuing the conversation on online citizen engagement, but this time with a twist. Karin Brandt of CoUrbanize has a soft spot in her heart for the folks that everyone loves to hate at public meetings – real estate developers. She has developed a platform for bringing broad audiences of community members together with developers to envision successful projects. In today's Profit Side Challenge I talk about how to make competition irrelevant by developing a blue ocean strategy.