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The Citizen Recommends: Urban Innovation in the Age of Trump

The inaugural Drexel Dialogues will introduce three problem-solving visionaries working to make their communities better

Next Wednesday’s Drexel Dialogues, a new discussion series hosted by the university’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, will confront a question paramount to the success of cities in the years of the Trump administration: How can we face our urban challenges in a way that creates an equitable and inclusive future for all?

Answering that question will be thinkers local, national and global who are approaching the issue of cities from a variety of perspectives. The talk show-like format will feature a conversation with Brookings Institution Centennial Scholar Bruce Katz and Citizen Chairman Jeremy Nowak, a Lindy Institute Distinguished Fellow; their forthcoming book The New Localism, looks at how cities can innovate when state and federal governments are divesting. It will also feature professors from Drexel and abroad who will discuss their work in public health, disaster planning and economic development.

The evening is the culmination of three days of working sessions for Lindy’s new “Urban Innovation Fellows,” local, on-the-ground leaders working with Lindy for the next three to six months on projects to solve problems in their communities. The three were selected from 107 applicants from around the city and region, all answering a call to present ideas that are implementable and that touch real people where they live.

This is the first year of the fellowship, which is part of Drexel President John Fry’s mission to make the university the most civically-engaged college in the country. The three fellows will work with Drexel professors, students, Lindy scholars and community members to develop a plan for enacting their ideas and then present the results of their planning at a public event in the spring.

At Wednesday’s Drexel Dialogues, they will speak about what they hope to create and how, in conversation with Harris Steinberg, Executive Director of the Lindy Institute.

This year’s fellows are:

  • Priya Mammen, Director of Public Health Programs and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson, who will how address how urban emergency departments can better position themselves to be a true community center, acting not only as part of a community  health system, but as a tool for social justice and strengthening community fabric.
  • Michael O’Bryan, Director of Youth and Young Adult Programs at The Village of Arts and Humanities, who is developing a trauma-sensitive work force development practices and tools for marginalized youth by focusing on “soft skills” like creativity and emotional intelligence, increasingly valued in the labor market.
  • Christopher Spahr, Executive Director of the Centennial Parkside CDC, who is developing an energy investment district in the East Parkside neighborhood to ultimately generate solar energy for cultural institutions such as the Please Touch Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo, and create a sustainable revenue stream for the community, with plans to create a model that can be replicated nationwide.

Wednesday November 1, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., free but registration required, The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Header Photo: Pixabay

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