Recently I had a chance to speak with the fellow panelists and I am looking forward to meeting them and continuing the dialogue. Some themes quickly emerged from our quick phone chat. Jenga Mwendo started Backyard Gardeners Network Her comments about not wanting to wait for government agencies to address food justice in her community resonated instantly. As a citizen-led initiative we started popuphood with the same sentiment. Another comment Jenga made rang true for all of us: that people create a sense of place. This deceptively simple statement underscores a radicle shift in urban design as we move forward in the 21st century. I like how Edward Glaeser articulates this notion in his book, Triumph of the City. When talking about Detroit:
“For centuries leaders have used new buildings to present an image of success...instead of trying to attract smart, wealthy entrepreneurial people, mistaking the built city for the real city...people not structures really determine a city's success."
Dominic also shared his work at CenterState and I had so many questions for him that I know our panel is going to be just the beginning of a long dialogue. This will be my first time to New Orleans and I am looking forward to learning about the challenges, ideas, and innovative solutions that are taking shape. I will keep you posted here, of course!
Here are the details of the panel as they appear on the site:
Friday, June 22 • 10:45am – 12:15pm
Young community advocates are organizing and engaging their generation to create more equitable and sustainable cities. What are their tactics? Who are their partners? And how have they empowered people outside the establishment? By sharing first-hand experiences and individual objectives, this panel will discuss how cities can benefit from the energy and ideas of the next generation of local leaders.
Speakers: Ariella Cohen, Next American City; Sara Filley, Popuphood; Jenga Mwendo, Backyard Gardeners Network; Dominic Robinson, CenterState CEO