Some questions can be answered with a linear response. Some cannot. A city is an amalgamation of voices far more complex than a search engine. That’s why GOOD Ideas for Cities came to Cincinnati’s Contemprary Arts Center May 16, the fourth stop on a six-city tour. The event was organized by GOOD, a media platform which produces a website, magazine and video content whose mission is to “promote, connect and report on the individuals, businesses, and non-profits moving the world forward.”
GOOD Ideas for Cities has toured nationally since 2008 in hopes of promoting local creatives to spearhead dialogue on their city’s most pressing urban problems. The formula: GOOD seeks out urban leaders in each city and asks them to issue urban-centric “challenges.” Local creatives apply to be part of a “team” to create a presentation tapping into possible solutions.
Cincinnati’s event generated six teams, each addressing a unique issue.
“Cincinnati is really kind of on the brink,” says Alissa Walker, editor and host of GOOD Ideas for Cities. “There’s this post-industrial thing that cities (like Cincinnati) are trying to sort through — there’s a need for fresh ideas and a strong creative culture.”
She has a point — the Queen City is experiencing what has been touted as somewhat of a renaissance. While development and renovations continue to make Cincinnati’s urban core more attractive, the city still faces typical urban challenges in areas such as health, education and transportation.
Cincinnati’s event wasn’t a panacea to every civic hiccup, but each creative team that presented May 16 has established a digital platform to continue conversations in hopes of seeking community feedback and generating funding and implementation ideas. According to Walker, every city on the tour has historically executed at least one of the ideas presented.
Following is the gist of each of the six presentations. The questions were posed by local urban leaders and addressed by local creative teams in an “idea” format:
Question: How can the local arts scene serve as a catalyst for the local creative economy in a way that will attract talent, fuel innovation and build a stronger workforce?
Team: 20-Somethings Doing Something; Idea: Queen City Spectrum
Cincinnati’s segmented art community desperately needs a sense of unity.
“Queen City Spectrum” would harness what’s going on in creative communities across the city to create a “spectrum,” with a smartphone application that uses a specific color to represent a neighborhood and its events, acting as a database and social network of sorts for an all-encompassing creative community. Abandoned, blank walls would be used to add pops of color, projecting local artwork and crowd-sourced art to spark conversation and make the creative community feel more welcoming.
Q: How can we create a more user-focused transit experience around a bus rapid transit line that builds brand equity and consumer commitments with a unified, region-wide voice, creating rising public demand for a better regional system?
Team: Mission Possible; Idea: The HUB
Currently, the wealth and diversity of information available on public transit in Cincinnati is overwhelming and in need of centralization. A BRT system (Bus rapid transit) would improve the speed and efficiency in Cincinnati’s public transit and can be made successful by creating a user-focused platform that streamlines the wealth of information in hopes of making riding public transit an interactive, personalized and fun social experience using public kiosks, an interactive website and a streamlined smartphone app.
Q: How can we design, implement and evaluate a system of parental involvement within early education for Cincinnati families?
Team: Cincinnatives; Idea: Home Room Initiative
It’s imperative to get parents to realize that their level of parental involvement directly affects their children’s brian development. Speaking directly to the parent on a non-condescending level will engage and empower parents to be confident, effective educators. A deck of cards, for example, could be distributed throughout the community at doctor’s offices, grocery stores, etc., to suggest activities promoting simple ways for parents to interact with their children.
Q: How can we help our communities come together and make changes necessary to increase their local walkability?
Team: Scout Camp; Idea: On Foot Cincy
There’s the stereotype that people “graduate” from walking as soon as they get their driver’s license. People don’t want to walk because of poor infrastructure, and walking infrastructure hasn’t been improved because the demand isn’t there. To get people wanting to walk, target children who are still forming priorities. Exploit their thirst for social activity and empowerment with “discovery” walks rather than focusing on the traditional “healthy living” approach.
Q: With the goals of saving money, reducing emissions and putting local residents to work, how do we get more Cincinnati households to perform energy efficiency upgrades on their home?
Team: Hyperquake; Idea: CGEA Home Fitness Program
Achieving an energy-efficient home is a multistep process requiring several stages of sometimes confusing information delivery. Reframe the concept of home energy efficiency by holistically creating a “home fitness” campaign inpired by ’80s workout ads using playful, vibrant marketing techniques.
Q: How can we increase both availability of healthy foods and education about healthy eating in underserved neighborhoods?
Team: Design Cincy; Idea: Shoptions
In “food deserts” where supermarkets are scarce, create a network of healthy corner stores, which should reflect local values, invest in community programs and cater to the health of a community instead of solely profit. ©
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