Idea City talks

This week I attended a few lectures which were part of a four day ‘conference’ called Idea City.  The lectures focused on our ‘Untapped Capital’ and how cities can prosper from this. Speakers included Joi Ito, (the keynote) who is the current director of MIT’s Media Lab, as well as Japan’s first internet service provider which started in his bathroom…

Unfortunately I have a job which demands that I be there during business hours, sometimes longer, so I was unable to make the day talks…but I caught two other panel discussions.  

The first was on ‘youth’ made of mostly people I would consider young who are doing great things like starting organizations for kids to volunteer (Do Something), or Youth Radio, or art programs.  After this discussion a young man stands up, responding to a statement made during the talk which questions why more youth don’t get ‘on board,’ and says, ‘it’s because we don’t trust you.’  (He actually went on a lot longer before dismissing himself to attend an art exhibit).  Everyone in the audience is holding their breath because it’s an open-minded group and you can’t be open-minded if you don’t let people say their piece.  But they aren’t sure how to take this honesty (which in another context might come off as offensive or disrespectful) so they applaud him.  I in turn realize how old I am because I had thought the most the panelists look young to be so successful; however, to this young man they are old…I guess the one thing that will remain the same is no matter how times change the younger generation will never trust the motives of the older generation…

The final discussion consisted of five mayors (former and current) from Austin, Nashville, Lexington, Miami and Paris who each spoke on their cities and how they have guided them into their current status as vibrant places people want to be.  Two thoughts I took away from this were from Austin’s mayor Will Wyn and Christophe Girard (Paris):

Will Wyn’s strategy with Austin was to attract people, if you attract bright young people the jobs will follow – and they have.  

Girard said, as only a French speaker can say, Culture shouldn’t be for weekends and nights only; which to me means that the our daily lives, from our commute to the places we work in, and everything around us should make a statement, should be enjoyable environments, beautiful even – we don’t have to wait to enjoy ‘culture’ at a show or an exhibit. 

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