The Creative City Project Incubator Reflection
Last weekend was spent in Tucson, Arizona kicking off the first session of the Urban Dynamics Training as part of The Creative City Project (CCP). CCP is a start-up incubator that we're working / collaborating with to see new start-ups in the city of Tucson seeking the good of this Southwest desert city. This is the first cohort going through the incubator comprised of entrepreneurial Millennials.
It was an exciting time together as we explored questions like What is a city? What is a good or great city? Is Tucson a good city? What does God think of the city? The good news is that we're hardly the first to ask these questions. Even this morning as I was reading through the book Cities and Development right off the bat in the first chapter those same kinds of questions are asked:
What is a city? Most people recognize a city when they see one, and implicitly or explicitly recognise a difference between rural and urban ways of living, but under closer scrutiny these categories can be problematic. What is the fundamental difference between a large village and a small town, or a large town and a small city? Social scientists have been pondering these questions for more than a century.
While probing these questions was a fun exercise, the tenor of the conversation turned when we began discussing related questions like Who has the right to the city? Who has the power to make the city into their own image? Tucson is distinctly bi-racial with close to an even number of Whites and Hispanics. Does the vision of Tucson as a good or great city encompass both ethnicities as well as others groups who live in the city? What role do these start-ups in The Creative City Project play in creating an inclusive and equitable city?
Towards the end of our time together I had the participants set out on foot throughout downtown Tucson with the assignment to snap a picture of something that communicates what makes Tucson great. Afterwards we regathered back at the co-working space where we had been meeting all morning and projected the photos up on the screen. Each member of the cohort shared why they took the picture they did and how it shows Tucson is a great city. The conversation was rich.
Through our Urban Dynamics Training over the next year we'll continue to explore these themes as we look at such topics as urban economics, transportation and mobility, the built environment, vulnerable populations, and more. It was an invigorating kick-off to our year together. I'm excited about heading back in April for the next session of training and exploring the city on foot.