A collection of four of my reviews of books about cities is available in this week’s New York Times Book Review. The first paragraph of my review of The New Localism by Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowack is missing online, so while we’re waiting for the technical fix, I’ll include that review as my excerpt here:
Billed as a response to populism, this book acknowledges the validity of some populist complaints, like the challenges from economic restructuring and rising income inequality. It argues for addressing such concerns principally through cities, developing new capabilities to solve problems locally. Katz and Nowak say that cities need to create new governance frameworks, develop new techniques for mobilizing their citizens and find innovative ways to finance themselves.
They cite the example of Pittsburgh, which promoted the transition from steel to knowledge-economy specialties like robotics. Indianapolis is praised for its Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, an entity set up by business, university and foundation leaders to tackle economic development initiatives in a way that would transcend political boundaries and electoral cycles. And from Europe, Copenhagen’s City and Port Development Corporation is offered as a shining example of how to use municipal real estate assets to finance infrastructure, notably Copenhagen’s subway system.
The challenge is that these solutions are of necessity particular to each city, requiring a careful assessment of local assets, politics, etc. And some level of leadership capability must already be in place to pull them off. Still, with the federal government missing in action, there’s little alternative to cities having to do the difficult and time-consuming work. Whether they can succeed in time to fend off populist insurgency remains an open question.
Click through to read the whole thing.