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Jul 21
2014

New Commons Seeking New Client & Office Coordinator

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Ron Barron
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New Commons is a consultancy firm

New Commons researches, creates, and applies the next generation of thinking and processes to accelerate the evolution of next generation organizations, economies, communities, and networks. We work with groups & teams; entrepreneurs & business leaders; organizations & communities—world wide. Our principal has a unique approach in his consulting know-how as well as the network we use to match solutions to a community, organizational or business challenge. We host a variety of events and forums to help people think, link and do using a fresh lens. Visit: www.newcommons.com

We want a Client and Office Coordinator that wants to make a difference in the world and to grow.  This is not a JOB. This is an opportunity! The Client & Office Coordinator is responsible for implementation of all logistics, media outreach and documentation of our client projects and other initiatives. The position requires extreme attention to detail and anticipating logistical needs as well as troubleshooting unexpected needs. 

Professional experience required: three to five years of office or logistical experience with exceptional level of producing documents and planning, promoting and executing events. You must be able to manage your time and complete multiple tasks at the same time. You can easily anticipate needs even without having all of the information up front. The right person will be mature in his or her presentation and meeting of client needs. We expect the coordinator to teach us something about executing an event with efficiency and effectiveness.  This position is also a great experience to learn first-hand about the workings of a consultant practice and managing a small business.

The job requires someone to be dependable and capable of initiating action with little or no supervision in an extremely fast-paced office as well as be flexible with client demands: we are all associates in this firm.  From a culture perspective, he or she must be able to work with high level executives, co-workers, and contractors with equal attentiveness. You must have a professional and friendly manner in interacting with clients. As a consulting firm, we juggle multiple tasks daily and want individuals who are present and responsive in their job and able to work with BOTH client and co-worker needs. 

This position will report directly to the CEO and Senior Consultant of our firm.

Duties

  1. Produce documents – editing and proof reading skills necessary.
  2. Execute client contracts, invoice clients on a regular basis, pay bills as needed, and track project billable time and expenses reporting to client lead against budget.
  3. Understand and execute on-site and off-site workshop logistics.
  4. Maintain and track the registration/membership lists and/or payments for our initiatives and workshops.
  5. Produce emails that promote events, products, or initiatives as needed.
  6. Perform day-to-day office maintenance duties such as inventory supplies, ordering, and stocking supplies.
  7. Maintain and update office filing systems and customer contact database.
  8. Answer and route phone calls from the main line and messages from the general email.
  9. Maintain and ensure the aesthetics and cleanliness of our studio with vendors and others as needed.
  10. Responsible for functionality and maintenance of office equipment.
  11. Handle and trouble shoot with firm’s technology technician.
  12. Manage the relationship with the studio’s cleaning company.
  13. Perform other coordinator duties as requested. 

Requirements

  • Bachelors degree (or equivalent years of background and experience to equal degree)
  • 3-5 years experience working in coordination, research, or business setting
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, especially in ability to create documents that are well written and formatted
  • Strong customer service orientation
  • Strong organizing skills: ability to problem solve and work independently
  • Accountable for results
  • Strong collaborative skills and teamwork values
  •  Facile with website tools such as content management systems (for updating the website), online flight/ booking programs, HTML e-mail programs, and or registration tools, as well as the Microsoft office products: Outlook, Word and Excel. You will know how to use Adobe Acrobat and PhotoShop.
  • Strong time management skills (you will be tracking billable time)
  • Ability to keep accurate records
  • Flexible schedule including some evenings and early mornings
  • Fun loving

Terms and Compensation: Full-time, non-exempt position with a salary range of $25,040 – $29,000 year commensurate with proven effectiveness at this kind of work. 10 paid holidays, 2 weeks of personal time of (PTO) accrued by month. PTO includes: sick, vacation and personal time.  It is expected that an employee will wait at least 1 month before using the time for vacation, sick, or other personal need. The first three months are a trial period to assess the fit and task execution capability. Office hours are 8:30am to 5:00pm with some late evenings and early mornings required for meetings in the studio.

New Commons is committed to elegantly transforming organizations, cities, communities—and especially the people who make them work—to meet the challenges of a dynamic environment in the new century.

Please: no phone calls or unsolicited visits. If you do so it will reflect poorly on your application.

Email your cover letter, writing sample, and your resume and any other supporting materials to:

 

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . In your cover letter write something that will intrigue us – tell us about who you are and what matters to you – and please do not summarize your resume. Deadline is July 25, 2014.

Mar 31
2014

Resilient Cities at the BE14 Conference

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This year is second year in a row that New Commons was able to help organize the Resilient Cities Track at the Building Energy Conference, sponsored by the North East Sustainability Association (NESEA). The track was designed to integrate the built environment composed of buildings, infrastructure (water, energy and waste) and mobility, including formal and informal transportation, by calling together a diverse range of professionals over 6 sessions. These included...

  1. From Building Systems to Cities: Setting the Stage

  2.  Benchmarking and Measuring Resilience...What are the meaningful “hard” measures? 

  3.  Community Scale Energy Systems...Under what conditions do utilities accept community scale energy systems? 

  4.  Prepare for the Next Disruption: Resilient Buildings 

  5.  Rebuild or Retreat: Coastal Resilience 

  6.  Awesome Ideas About The future of Cities 

If you'd like to learn more about the topics covered in this year's Resilient Cities Track, you can download a copy of BE14: Extracted Cities Material here. This document is not a transcript, but rather extracts some of the "nuggets" and most interesting provocations from the six sessions. 

Oct 16
2013

A Private Financing Tool for Public Infrastructure Projects

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An innovative public investment tool has been born in Chicago with the creation of a public infrastructure trust. (download article by Forefront here) The city has established the framework for private investment in the building or retrofitting of public infrastructure. And the private investor can get a return. This is a very different approach than what Chicago did years ago with its controversial leasing of parking meters to a private company.

Chicago is going the route of the trust because federal grants, bond money and the gas tax are no longer enough to get the job done of fixing or replacing aging infrastructure.

An infrastructure trust is different than an infrastructure bank. The infrastructure bank works by raising the money first and then finding the projects. The trust does the opposite and does it with agility by first bundling the projects and then raising the money. Chicago is spending millions of dollars on professional fees to do this and other states and municipalities will be able to replicate it.

The trust allows the city to bundle lots of small projects and call for private investors. The marketplace is the arbiter of what gets funded because an investor won’t invest in something he or she doesn’t believe in.

The first Chicago project is retrofitting city-owned buildings to make them more energy efficient. This is a 101 million dollar private investment. There is no guaranteed return to the investor like there is a with a general obligation bond. The investor takes the risk assuming he or she will be paid back from energy savings. The second project will be to retrofit a pumping station to make it more energy efficient.

In Chicago the trust is organized like this: the city council sets up a non-profit trust, which is controlled by the city. The trust determines which projects to pursue. The city does not sell or lease the infrastructure to be invested in. Rather the city remains the owner.

This can work in to do infrastructure projects for our cities and states.

What needs doing?
• Retrofit for energy efficiency, city and state buildings
• Increase food security by organizing a system for regional food production and distribution
• Develop community or regional energy systems for the production and distribution of renewable energy
• Provide public access to the Internet through a community-owned technology facility – this is especially needed on Aquidneck Island in RI (which has lower Internet coverage and speed than the rest of the state)
• Mobilize community capital to invest in urban businesses

And I am sure other people will have needs as well. For example, in Chicago, 4 out of 10 rail cars are beyond their useful life and 675 of the 1624 bridges in Cook County are structurally deficient or obsolete.

Aug 28
2013

New Commons Featured Clients

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ADVANCING CITIES AND PLACES

 

City-making and place-making are the vital context for building healthy organizations, communities and growing the economy.

  • Albuquerque City Council/Economic Development, Albuquerque, NM
  • Blackstone Valley Convention and Visitor's Center, Pawtucket RI
  • Center for Community Learning and Public Service, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
  • City of Providence – Office of Arts, Culture and Tourism
  • City of Providence – Office of the Mayor and Department of Planning and Development
  • Congress for New Urbanism XIV, Providence, RI June 2006
  • Cornish Associates, a development company, Providence, RI
  • Danbury Public Library, Danbury, CT
  • Destination Newport, Newport RI
  • East Greenwich Public Schools, East Greenwich, RI
  • Gates Foundation, Seattle WA
  • Housing and Urban Development, Region I, Boston, MA
  • Leadership RI, Providence RI
  • Local Initiative for Sustainable Communities(LISC), Providence, RI
  • Martha’s Vineyard Commission, Oak Bluffs, MA
  • Providence Housing Authority, Providence, RI
  • Providence/Warwick Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Providence, RI
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Providence, RI
  • Rhode Island Department of Planning, Providence, RI
  • Rhode Island Foundation, Providence, RI
  • Rhode Island Housing Corporation, Providence, RI
  • School Committee of South Kingstown, RI

 

SHAPING THE NEXT ECONOMY


These projects focus on building of the next economy through organizations or entrepreneurship

  • Cape Cod Economic Development Corporation, Sandwich, MA
  • Chafee Center at Bryant University
  • Entrepreneurship Forum of New England
  • Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Providence, RI
  • Jewelers of America, New York, NY
  • Jewelers’ Board of Trade, Warwick, RI
  • Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, Providence, RI
  • Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), Greenfield, MA
  • Town of Narragansett, RI
  • Providence Foundation, Providence, RI
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Providence, RI
  • Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, Providence, RI
  • Rhode Island Black Business Association – Urban Summit, Providence RI

FOSTERING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

  • Broadband Rhode Island, Providence, RI
  • Connecticut Education Network, Hartford, CT
  • HELIN, Kingston, RI
  • OSHEAN, North Kingstown, RI
  • MAGPI, Philadelphia, PA
  • NJEdge, Newark, NJ
  • Providence College, Providence, RI
  • The Quilt, Seattle, WA
  • Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY
  • University of Rhode Island Office of Information Systems, Kingston, RI

BUSINESS

  • ADE, Dedham, MA
  • Aidance Skin Care, Providence, RI
  • Autocrat Coffee, Lincoln, RI
  • Bank Newport, Newport, RI
  • Beacon Mutual Insurance
  • Corporate Software and Technology, Norwood, MA
  • Goetz Marine Technology, Bristol, RI
  • Philips Electronics, RI & MA
  • Powercor, Victoria, Australia
  • Providence Washington Insurance Group, Providence, RI
  • Shipley Ronal, Freeport, NY
  • South Mountain Company, Martha’s Vineyard, MA

CIVIC OR NON-PROFIT

  • Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Tahlequah, OK
  • Coastal Resources Center: School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
  • Family Service, Inc., Providence, RI
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Boston, MA
  • Learning Center for the Deaf, Framingham, MA
  • Lifespan Development Office, Providence, RI
  • Lincoln School, Providence, RI
  • National Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago, Illinois
  • New England Institute for Technology, Warwick, RI
  • Rhode Island Hospital, Cardiology Foundation, Providence, RI
  • Roger Williams Institute for Teaching and Learning, Bristol, RI
  • Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, RI
  • Saint Vincent’s Home, Fall River, MA
  • YWCA’s in Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA and Pittsburgh, PA

Jun 17
2013

Regional Resiliency

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Robert J. Leaver
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(From a presentation by Robert Leaver for Metro-Pool on 05/29/2013)

Sustainability is no longer enough to get us where we need to go to heal the planet and take a better shot to help the species survive. We need resiliency and resilient practices, which, as you will see later in this post, can be in conflict with sustainable practices.


The Drivers of Resiliency

The pressure of three drivers are increasing...

  • Frequency of extreme weather conditions with storms involving water and wind
  • Population: by 2050 the world will exceed 10 billion people
  • Need for more psychological security in the post 9-11 and the rash of killings of young kids

The presence of two drivers is decreasing...

  • Natural resource limitations...check out the “Crash Course,” by Chris Martenson to see where every natural resource the economy has historically depended on is becoming less and less available
  • There are fewer cars on the streets in some places. London has band cars in the core of the city and in America young people are opting out of owning cars preferring car sharing and public transit

A Shift is Occurring in the Builders of the Economy

In building the economy there is a shift from the use of land, labor, capital, which were the three resources in the industrial economy. Replacing land, labor and capital, in supremacy as economic builders are digital technology, know-how – especially local know-how that is geographically specific – and a sense of place where people and culture thrive.

There are four building blocks of our economy and nothing more:

  • Growing food
  • Making stuff
  • Serving people
  • Creating experience

These four building blocks are now converging with no one element in charge or supreme. It is becoming an integrated economy that mixes and matches the four elements in compelling combinations. Further, there is no such thing as a sustainable economy, creative economy or knowledge economy. Yes, the practices of ecological sustainability, creativity and knowledge will be used and blended to produce the four basic elements. One term like the creative economy no longer does the job because in Providence designers are counted as workers in both the creative and knowledge economies. This is double dipping.

Interestingly, today there is a renaissance in both growing food and making stuff.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute observed that the recent economic downturn occurred because we over-relied on housing construction, retail and finance to carry the weight of creating economic growth. Katz sees that actual economic growth and wealth creation comes from manufacturing, innovation and exporting – the three areas the US failed to attend to enough in the last 15 years.


Here Forward, We Need More Resiliency and not Just Sustainability

Our zeitgeist is being shaped by two forces: sustainability and resiliency. They are not easy partners.

On one hand sustainability is about holding the planet together to support future generations. We become sustainable by reducing the use of natural resources and using resources more efficiently.

On the other hand resilience is what happens in the face of a shock to the system like a super storm Sandy. Resiliency means basic systems keep functioning and bounce back from the shock. Further the system learns from the shock and gets better.

Sustainability and resiliency is a creative tension to handle. For example, implicit in resilience is redundancy such as using generators to keep business technology functions going at places like Google, which is not the resource reduction or efficiency required in a sustainable approach.

In the aftermath of super storm Sandy, NYC defined a resilience framework and is implementing practices within it:
“The report's recommendations were based on five characteristics of resiliency: spare capacity (e.g. establishing backup systems, such as alternative transportation routes), flexibility (favoring "soft" solutions that can be modified over time, like improved hazard maps and evacuation plans), limited failure (designing infrastructure networks, especially power grids, to shutdown in pieces instead of wholes), rapid rebounds (initiating preemptive response strategies, like creating fleets of portable generators), and constantly learning.”


What does it mean to Think and Work Resiliently?

Remember John Naisbitt’s Megatrend of:”high tech, high touch”, where the more technology there is in place, the more we need the touch of others. The touch of others it what most makes communities resilient.

In the aftermath of extreme weather and too many young people getting innocently killed – as a species we are beginning to think differently.

Being Resilient requires a whole system in action using three kinds of resilience at the same time:

  • Resilient structures like buildings; take a look at Alex Wilson’s passive survivability, where in the face of no energy available for heat, cooling or water, a building can support life inside it based on its design
  • Resilient systems of energy, waste and information; check out urban metabolism where the waste of one system becomes the food for another
  • Resilient communities of people and culture. In the Chicago heat wave several decades ago, and in super-storm Sandy, the people that survived had tight communal ties with each other. And the tight ties had nothing to do with class or income or race.


The Next Economy is Local and Global at the Same Time

The economy has evolved into a more complex array of production levels. Until the rise of the global economy the US the economy was mostly local and national. The global economy will still be viable, but regions and mega-regions and more local economies are on the rise. The once mighty national US economy is a pale comparison of its former self.

Today, we have an economy that operates on six levels of economic activity and production:

  1. What is made or sold at the micro level? Think of your home garden and your neighbor’s where you barter across the backyard fence as to who does the tomatoes and who does the lettuce and then you supply each other with what you need. Or the tool shed on the island on Martha’s Vineyard that provides residents access to community tools to borrow.
  2. What is made or sold locally?
  3. What is made or sold regionally?
  4. What is made or sold at the mega-region?
  5. What is made or sold nationally?
  6. What is made or sold globally?


Using a variety of factors like raw materials, labor costs unique local knowledge or shipping costs, it can be determined what products and services can efficiently be sold at which of the six levels.

Historically, producing economic activity was mostly place-based. Products were made locally and often exported. The increase use of digital technology has changed the game. Here are five examples where place and the sole use of local resources are not required in the production:

  • Additive manufacturing with 3-D printing where one person in one place designs it, one person somewhere else “prints it as a made-thing and the third person buys it
  • The physical college campus and the model of continuous tuition increases are unsustainable. Many colleges such as MIT, Harvard, Stanford and Brown are offering their courses online for free. This movement is called MOCC’s or massive open online courses.
  • Over a decade ago, P&G abolished its in-house R&D and instead sources innovative product ideas online globally \
  • The presence of big data, and global pipes to move the data, now allow university researchers to work collaboratively anywhere in the world 
  • Kick-Starter is an online source of capital funding for artisan projects. Un the US in 2012 the amount of capital raised exceed the entire budget of the National Endowment of the Arts


The Presence of Regionalism

Regionalism is not new. Historically there have been governments like the Martha’ Vineyard Planning Commission that governed certain planning functions among the six towns on the island. Or with public transit like the MBTA trains that bring passengers back and forth across state borders into RI or the Connecticut trains that go into NYC.

Regional collaboration is on the rise

  • HUD’s Sustainable Communities program crosses state borders by working from the Pioneer Valley to Springfield MA and then down to Hartford CT
  • Tourists visiting southern NE are more often traveling across state lines to experience the coast and the tourism organizations are working together so the tourist has a great regional experience
  • Thirty plus regional technology networks exist in the US. These networks provide access to the Internet for colleges, hospitals, public schools, libraries and community anchor institutions. These networks often cross state lines and sell services to each other.
  • Pawtucket and Central Falls RI are working together across municipal boundaries to become “Digitally Connected Cities”

To have more regional resiliency two things have to emerge on a regional basis: food production and distribution and, renewable energy production and distribution.

 

Apr 04
2013

Retrofitting for Resilience: Cities

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We just finished writing up the highlights from this year's 2013 Building Engery Conference in Boston. Check them out by downloading the summary below. 


icon BE13 Highlights

Mar 28
2013

Next Economy: Going Regional

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The next economy knows no boundaries. You will read this again and again in the excerpts below from 7 of my favorite papers on the power of regions. Of the folks quoted, Jane Jacobs is the earliest thinker about regional economies – early 80’s. The links to the full papers are provided. There will be a cost for downloading “Mastering the Metro” paper; others are free.

Regional economies will be vital for growing food, creating manufacturing supply chains, producing and distributing renewable energy, sharing tourists as well as many other economic elements.



From "The New, New Urbanism,"
http://helmofthepublicrealm.com/2013/01/27/the-new-new-urbanism/

Perhaps Peter Calthorpe and William Fulton’s Regionalism is the next step for New Urbanism. To wit, if New Urbanism is the mixed-use philosophy for planning singular district economies, regionalism is the planning philosophy for tying together many districts within a metropolitan region. Rather than master plan a few large districts typically in central cities that may meet a perceived market demand, entire metropolitan regions contain many more small cities, townships and commercial districts needing more small-scale infill development projects to complement the glaring lack of mixed-uses that produces an intractable amount of cross-county commuting…It can be said there are 5 scales of economy, small to large: local, regional, state, national and global. A bell curve depicts “regional” economies at the top of the curve as most efficient. A backyard local economy is too small to serve a large population and the further we travel and transport goods to construct state, national and global economies, the more waste incurs.


From "The Regional City" by Peter Calthorpe and William Fulton, as featured in "The Interactive Megalopolis and The Regional City: Embracing Regionalism"
http://www.magplane.com/html/pdf/mar12.pdf

…Whether national or local, these "economies" might be important to the politicians who preside over them, but it has become increasingly clear that they don't really exist. Economic activity does not come to a halt when it reaches a jurisdictional line, whether the jurisdiction is a local, state, or national government. Political boundaries are artificial—and they don't reflect the way the global economy operates.

The global economy operates best at the regional scale for two reasons. First, much to everyone's surprise, despite our advances in telecommunications technology, proximity still matters a great deal. And, second, because of the decentralized nature of the economy, networking among a large number of highly specialized people and businesses matters more than ever.


From "The Economy of Regions" By Jane Jacobs
http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/publications/lectures/jacobs/jane/the-economy-of-regions

…Five different kinds of forces from distant cities [in the region] jerked [the small French town of] Bardou about, although never all at the same time. Those forces were the power of city markets, the power of city jobs, the power of city technology, the power of city work transplanted out of cities, and the power of city capital. These are the five forces that shape and reshape all regional economies, except those for which cities have no use, as happened in Bardou when it was a place of subsistence life only. These five great forces arise within cities, primarily as a consequence of city import- replacing, a process that shifts and enlarges city markets, rapidly increases city jobs, spurs development and use of rural labor-saving technology, multiplies and diversifies city enterprises, and generates capital—all simultaneously. Because these five forces are consequences of one and the same process, are in fact different facets of the process, within a city they are inextricably intertwined.

Such city regions are different from all other regions, having the richest, densest, and most intricate economies to be found, except for those of cities themselves. City regions are not defined by natural boundaries, because they are wholly the artifacts of the cities at their nuclei. The boundaries move outward or halt, only as city economic energy dictates.


From "Mysteries of the Region: Knowledge Dyamics In Silicon Valley," by John Seely Brown
http://www.johnseelybrown.com/mystery.html

...Networks of practice are made up of people that engage in the same or very similar practice, but unlike a community of practice, these people don’t necessarily work together…Consequently, its members share a great deal of insight and implicit understanding. And in these conditions, new ideas can circulate…on the back of similar practice (people doing similar things but independently) and indirect communications (professional newsletters, listservs, journals, or conferences, for example).

...In all, it seems more useful to switch, as others have, to an ecological metaphor for the region. Seeing the region as an ecology that plays home to multiple species but whose growth is ultimately a collective process does much more justice both to Marshall’s insight and the richness of regions like Silicon Valley. For the ecological view provides a systemic perspective. What is good for the ecosystem as a whole is not necessarily good for individual species or firms. Indeed, some of these may have to die for the region as a whole to survive. (Deaths in Silicon Valley get much less attention than births... Conversely, protecting individual species, as many working to build a region try to do, may be counterproductive.

...From the ecological perspective, the means of communication are only a small part of the overall complexity of the knowledge dynamics of the region. Ecological robustness is built—mysteries are put in the air—through shared practice, face-to-face contacts, reciprocity, and swift trust, all generated within networks of practice and communities of practice. New communications technologies can certainly reinforce these. It is more doubtful that they can readily replace them.


From "Mastering the Metro," by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley
http://nextcity.org/forefront/view/mastering-the-metro

…When you look at global economic performance you’ll see that the top 30 metro performers today are almost exclusively located in Asia and Latin America. The 30 worst metro performers are nearly all located in Europe, the United States and earthquake-ravaged Japan. In 2009, Brazil, India and China (the BICs) accounted for about a fifth of global GDP, surpassing the U.S. for the first time. By 2015, the BIC share will grow to more than 25 percent. These nations are growing because they are urbanizing and industrializing. The locus of economic power in the world is shifting. How will communities in the United States compete — not just for rankings, but for the jobs, people and resources that make them good places to live?

…The Great Recession was a wake-up call to American metro leadership. At its onset, many U.S. cities and metropolitan areas found themselves engaged in low-road economic growth, pursuing mall developers and condo builders, as if housing and retail were drivers of the economy rather than derivative of the sectors that truly generate wealth: Manufacturing, innovation and the tradeable export industries.

This consumption economy was mostly zero-sum. A dollar spent (and taxed) or a house built (and taxed), or a business located (and taxed) in one jurisdiction was lost to any other. So, in metropolis after metropolis, jurisdictions competed against each other for sources of tax revenue — usually commercial development and big employers — wasting scarce dollars on enticing businesses to move literally a few miles across artificial political borders. The result: Metros prioritized short-term speculation over long-term growth and sustainable development. They did this until the bubble popped.

The post-recession period presents a historic opportunity to change how we measure growth and prosperity in metropolitan America and, by doing so, how we alter the trajectory of that growth. By measuring and gaining a more thorough understanding of their most important economic assets — through an analysis of export orientation, migration patterns, industry clusters, innovative capacity and human capital — metros will be better able to build on their strengths and compete in the global economy.


From "How to Make a Region Innovative," by Ernest J. Wilson III
http://www.strategy-business.com/article/12103?gko=ee74a

...[Individual innovations], no matter how appealing, don’t make a difference unless they can add up to sustainable serial innovation. To generate one groundbreaking technological development after another, innovation must be embedded within long-lived social institutions and networks. Four different sectors must be linked together: government, business, civil society, and academia. This is what I call “the quad.” In such an environment, creativity needn’t wait for the unpredictable “aha” moment. It is continually nurtured. The decisions made at every level — investment funds, corporate engineering teams, regional planning boards, philanthropic councils, academic faculty reviews, and many more — are naturally aligned.

...To bring these four sectors together, a quad cluster needs to nourish a high level of mutual trust.


From "Local Knowledge: Innovation in the Networked Age," by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid
http://www.johnseelybrown.com/LocalKnowledge(6_02).pdf

...So, unlike digital information, the sort of knowledge that has fuelled growth and wealth in the modern economy neither spreads nor scales very easily at its most productive stage. Consequently, innovative knowledge and knowledge-based growth, like industrial growth, still cluster.

...innovation still has geography. And that geography still has consequences.

 

 

Mar 28
2013

Next Economy: Going Regional

Posted by Robert J. Leaver in Untagged 

Robert J. Leaver
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The next economy knows no boundaries. You will read this again and again in the excerpts below from 7 of my favorite papers on the power of regions. Of the folks quoted, Jane Jacobs is the earliest thinker about regional economies – early 80’s. The links to the full papers are provided. There will be a cost for downloading “Mastering the Metro” paper; others are free.

Regional economies will be vital for growing food, creating manufacturing supply chains, producing and distributing renewable energy, sharing tourists as well as many other economic elements.



From "The New, New Urbanism,"
http://helmofthepublicrealm.com/2013/01/27/the-new-new-urbanism/

Perhaps Peter Calthorpe and William Fulton’s Regionalism is the next step for New Urbanism. To wit, if New Urbanism is the mixed-use philosophy for planning singular district economies, regionalism is the planning philosophy for tying together many districts within a metropolitan region. Rather than master plan a few large districts typically in central cities that may meet a perceived market demand, entire metropolitan regions contain many more small cities, townships and commercial districts needing more small-scale infill development projects to complement the glaring lack of mixed-uses that produces an intractable amount of cross-county commuting…It can be said there are 5 scales of economy, small to large: local, regional, state, national and global. A bell curve depicts “regional” economies at the top of the curve as most efficient. A backyard local economy is too small to serve a large population and the further we travel and transport goods to construct state, national and global economies, the more waste incurs.


From "The Regional City" by Peter Calthorpe and William Fulton, as featured in "The Interactive Megalopolis and The Regional City: Embracing Regionalism"
http://www.magplane.com/html/pdf/mar12.pdf

…Whether national or local, these "economies" might be important to the politicians who preside over them, but it has become increasingly clear that they don't really exist. Economic activity does not come to a halt when it reaches a jurisdictional line, whether the jurisdiction is a local, state, or national government. Political boundaries are artificial—and they don't reflect the way the global economy operates.

The global economy operates best at the regional scale for two reasons. First, much to everyone's surprise, despite our advances in telecommunications technology, proximity still matters a great deal. And, second, because of the decentralized nature of the economy, networking among a large number of highly specialized people and businesses matters more than ever.


From "The Economy of Regions" By Jane Jacobs
http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/publications/lectures/jacobs/jane/the-economy-of-regions

…Five different kinds of forces from distant cities [in the region] jerked [the small French town of] Bardou about, although never all at the same time. Those forces were the power of city markets, the power of city jobs, the power of city technology, the power of city work transplanted out of cities, and the power of city capital. These are the five forces that shape and reshape all regional economies, except those for which cities have no use, as happened in Bardou when it was a place of subsistence life only. These five great forces arise within cities, primarily as a consequence of city import- replacing, a process that shifts and enlarges city markets, rapidly increases city jobs, spurs development and use of rural labor-saving technology, multiplies and diversifies city enterprises, and generates capital—all simultaneously. Because these five forces are consequences of one and the same process, are in fact different facets of the process, within a city they are inextricably intertwined.

Such city regions are different from all other regions, having the richest, densest, and most intricate economies to be found, except for those of cities themselves. City regions are not defined by natural boundaries, because they are wholly the artifacts of the cities at their nuclei. The boundaries move outward or halt, only as city economic energy dictates.


From "Mysteries of the Region: Knowledge Dyamics In Silicon Valley," by John Seely Brown
http://www.johnseelybrown.com/mystery.html

...Networks of practice are made up of people that engage in the same or very similar practice, but unlike a community of practice, these people don’t necessarily work together…Consequently, its members share a great deal of insight and implicit understanding. And in these conditions, new ideas can circulate…on the back of similar practice (people doing similar things but independently) and indirect communications (professional newsletters, listservs, journals, or conferences, for example).

...In all, it seems more useful to switch, as others have, to an ecological metaphor for the region. Seeing the region as an ecology that plays home to multiple species but whose growth is ultimately a collective process does much more justice both to Marshall’s insight and the richness of regions like Silicon Valley. For the ecological view provides a systemic perspective. What is good for the ecosystem as a whole is not necessarily good for individual species or firms. Indeed, some of these may have to die for the region as a whole to survive. (Deaths in Silicon Valley get much less attention than births... Conversely, protecting individual species, as many working to build a region try to do, may be counterproductive.

...From the ecological perspective, the means of communication are only a small part of the overall complexity of the knowledge dynamics of the region. Ecological robustness is built—mysteries are put in the air—through shared practice, face-to-face contacts, reciprocity, and swift trust, all generated within networks of practice and communities of practice. New communications technologies can certainly reinforce these. It is more doubtful that they can readily replace them.


From "Mastering the Metro," by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley
http://nextcity.org/forefront/view/mastering-the-metro

…When you look at global economic performance you’ll see that the top 30 metro performers today are almost exclusively located in Asia and Latin America. The 30 worst metro performers are nearly all located in Europe, the United States and earthquake-ravaged Japan. In 2009, Brazil, India and China (the BICs) accounted for about a fifth of global GDP, surpassing the U.S. for the first time. By 2015, the BIC share will grow to more than 25 percent. These nations are growing because they are urbanizing and industrializing. The locus of economic power in the world is shifting. How will communities in the United States compete — not just for rankings, but for the jobs, people and resources that make them good places to live?

…The Great Recession was a wake-up call to American metro leadership. At its onset, many U.S. cities and metropolitan areas found themselves engaged in low-road economic growth, pursuing mall developers and condo builders, as if housing and retail were drivers of the economy rather than derivative of the sectors that truly generate wealth: Manufacturing, innovation and the tradeable export industries.

This consumption economy was mostly zero-sum. A dollar spent (and taxed) or a house built (and taxed), or a business located (and taxed) in one jurisdiction was lost to any other. So, in metropolis after metropolis, jurisdictions competed against each other for sources of tax revenue — usually commercial development and big employers — wasting scarce dollars on enticing businesses to move literally a few miles across artificial political borders. The result: Metros prioritized short-term speculation over long-term growth and sustainable development. They did this until the bubble popped.

The post-recession period presents a historic opportunity to change how we measure growth and prosperity in metropolitan America and, by doing so, how we alter the trajectory of that growth. By measuring and gaining a more thorough understanding of their most important economic assets — through an analysis of export orientation, migration patterns, industry clusters, innovative capacity and human capital — metros will be better able to build on their strengths and compete in the global economy.


From "How to Make a Region Innovative," by Ernest J. Wilson III
http://www.strategy-business.com/article/12103?gko=ee74a

...[Individual innovations], no matter how appealing, don’t make a difference unless they can add up to sustainable serial innovation. To generate one groundbreaking technological development after another, innovation must be embedded within long-lived social institutions and networks. Four different sectors must be linked together: government, business, civil society, and academia. This is what I call “the quad.” In such an environment, creativity needn’t wait for the unpredictable “aha” moment. It is continually nurtured. The decisions made at every level — investment funds, corporate engineering teams, regional planning boards, philanthropic councils, academic faculty reviews, and many more — are naturally aligned.

...To bring these four sectors together, a quad cluster needs to nourish a high level of mutual trust.


From "Local Knowledge: Innovation in the Networked Age," by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid
http://www.johnseelybrown.com/LocalKnowledge(6_02).pdf

...So, unlike digital information, the sort of knowledge that has fuelled growth and wealth in the modern economy neither spreads nor scales very easily at its most productive stage. Consequently, innovative knowledge and knowledge-based growth, like industrial growth, still cluster.

...innovation still has geography. And that geography still has consequences.

 

 

Jan 22
2013

The Case for Closing the Digital Divide

Posted by Robert J. Leaver in Untagged 

Robert J. Leaver
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change1 out of 3 adults are not online:

Thirty percent, or roughly one in three American adults is not a broadband user. This reality holds true for RI. The population of RI (based on the 2010 census) is 1,052,567 of which 224,000 people are under 18 (those over 18 are counted as adults). This means 828,567 residents are adults. Thus, there are approximately 250,000 residents who are non-broadband adopters in Rhode Island. Non adopters are mostly: disabled, elderly, low income and those with English as a Second Language. We estimate that 70% of Rhode Islanders who are non-adopters live in urban areas, like our targets: Central Falls, East Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket.

Why should Rhode Island close the digital divide?

According to the FCC chairman Mr. Genachowski:

"Broadband is our central platform in the 21st century for economic growth, information, and opportunity. Broadband can be the great equalizer - giving every American with an Internet connection access to a world of new opportunities that might previously have been beyond their reach...Offline Americans are missing out on education opportunities, health care opportunities - and, yes - job opportunities. In today's world, you need broadband to find a job, apply for a job, and you need digital skills to keep most of today's jobs...This is why closing the broadband adoption and digital literacy skills gap is critical to the future of our economy. We can't have millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide."

To close the digital divide requires a place-based approach:

Up to now, success in closing the digital divide in RI has been dependent on the strength of a network of volunteer community partners to build the ecosystem of instructors, training sites, and community outreach organizations. When the Digital Literacy program started, the focus was, for the most part, on recruiting separate people and organizations for each of the ecosystem roles. Recently, BBRI has found the most effective community partners are the ones that perform all four roles and focus on one place. For example, we have identified major nodes in our target areas of Central Falls and Pawtucket who are performing all of these roles such as housing authorities, libraries and comprehensive centers like the International Institute of RI. Now we want to build place-based ecosystems beginning with Central Falls and Pawtucket.

The Digital Literacy program has developed four community assets that can be used to help Central Falls and Pawtucket close the digital divide in these cities:

1 An online portal that houses resources for use by the community - the portal is "open access" and does not require a pass code

2 Framework and tools for delivering the basic classes including collateral promotional materials to recruit participants and qualifying assessments to use in qualifying outreach partners and training sites

3 Basic internet curriculum of 4 introductory modules

4 A one day Digital Literacy Instructors Workshop lead by a seasoned training team to train 8 instructors at a time

Jan 11
2013

Next Cities

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Robert J. Leaver
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nextcity logo


Subscribe to Next Cities...to gain insights about the city as business incubator

 

 

This 4 year old electronic magazine is provoking us to embrace the fact that cities are the natural incubator, accelerator and laboratory for the next economy. For $1.49 per month, you will be exposed to next edge of thinking and practice about what is being done differently to make cities better. When you subscribe, each week you will receive a long practice-based essay and some related stories.

But in 2012, after 4 years of subscribing to Next Cities, I received an unexpected gift: "The Next City Disruption Index of people, places and ideas that changed cities in 2012," (here, paywalled). There are 77 innovative disruptions (including the turnaround in Central Falls, RI.)

The disruptions are organized in 4 buckets: innovations in both new commercial and civic entities and existing ones.

  • Innovation in commerce such as crowd source funding for civic good in cites via Kick-Starter
  • Innovation in new civic organizations such as the use of restorative justice in Chicago
  • Innovation in established civic organizations such as university as accelerator of community building and economic development
  • Innovation in established civic organizations such as Cleveland Ohio creating business cooperatives (owned by employees) in depressed neighborhoods
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