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Ideas We Should Steal Festival 2023

On Friday, November 17, The Philadelphia Citizen is holding our 6th Annual Ideas We Should Steal Festival presented by Comcast NBCUniversal. Meet changemakers and icons sharing ideas and solutions to help Philadelphia thrive. Get your tickets here:


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One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

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Ideas We Should Steal Festival 2023: The Ultimate Citizen Reading List

Catch up on the books written by this year’s Ideas We Should Steal Festival speakers — along with some of our all-time favorite tomes for anyone who lives in, or simply loves, cities

Ideas We Should Steal Festival 2023: The Ultimate Citizen Reading List

Catch up on the books written by this year’s Ideas We Should Steal Festival speakers — along with some of our all-time favorite tomes for anyone who lives in, or simply loves, cities

The Citizen’s 6th annual Ideas We Should Steal Festival presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, is Friday — and we can’t wait.

To prepare — and to keep the inspiration going long after the Festival concludes — we are partnering with local independent bookstore Head House Books to sell titles by our speakers, along with some classics for anyone interested in how cities work, and could work better.

Links to all the books below go to Head House, which is sharing 20 percent of all proceeds with The Citizen (just write “Ideas We Should Steal” at online checkout).

And if you haven’t already secured your seat to the Festival, get it here.


Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One

By Majora Carter

Pick up Majora Carter’s touching book and you may do a double-take — but, yes, it’s that Lin Manuel Miranda (could there be any other?) singing its praises on the cover. And with good reason: Like the beloved playwright, Carter — a real estate developer and Princeton professor — is an advocate for folks leaning back into the communities they came from — and of communities doing what they can to retain talent. Relatable and vulnerable, it’s a decidedly unique lens on poverty, development, and growth.


Solving Public Problems: A Practical Guide to Fix Our Government and Change Our World

By Beth Simone Noveck

Despite the increasingly spooky refrain, technology isn’t all evil – it holds incredible potential to transform communities for good. But too often, the best of tech is siloed into the private sector, cut off from the public good. In Solving Public Problems, Beth Simone Noveck, director of the Burnes Center for Social Change at Northeastern University, offers a vision of how – and why – we can work to close that divide.



Mayor: The Best Job In Politics

By Michael Nutter

A true son of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter spent nearly 15 years on City Council before becoming our city’s 98th Mayor — and from day one on the job until this very day, he has never wavered from his belief that the most meaningful jobs are the ones that serve the people. This book is a testament to his dedication. And if his book leaves you wanting more of Nutter’s signature wit and warmth, be sure to check him out on How to Really Run a City, the acclaimed Citizen podcast he co-hosts with former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Citizen co-founder Larry Platt.


The Trump Indictments

By Ali Velshi

As a Citizen board member and Chief Correspondent for MSNBC, Ali Velshi is forever opening our eyes to new perspectives — as he does with his shows Velshi Banned Book Club and Velshi Across America. In The Trump Indictments, Velshi creates an arresting narrative through timely primary sources: the charging documents brought by the Department of Justice and the Fulton County and Manhattan district attorneys against our nation’s 45th President. Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.


In Black and White: Race and Sports in America

By Kenneth L. Shropshire

From the Negro Leagues in baseball to present day collegiate and professional sports, race has always played a role in sports in our country. Here, Kenneth L. Shropshire provides a comprehensive history of the challenges plaguing sports — and proposes a more equitable, just, prosperous path forward.



The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism

By Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak

Bruce Katz, founding director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University and a regular Citizen contributor, and the late Jeremy Nowak, co-founding chairman of The Citizen, argue that there’s vast power in city, state, and regional policies and players. At a time when Washington, D.C., is a bona fide mess, it’s a more heartening and encouraging argument than ever.


The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us

By Joel Kotkin
Joel Kotkin — called “America’s uber-geographer” by David Brooks of The New York Times — argues that it’s time to rethink how we design cities, and not just default to the way it’s always been done. If we want robust cities, he argues, we need to listen to what people actually want — even if that means less density and a total re-thinking of what cities have been and can be.


Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step At A Time

By Jeff Speck

If you ask Jeff Speck, the key to thriving cities isn’t overly complicated: It comes down to making them walkable. And he’s done his homework: From 2003 to 2007, he served as Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts and oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and created the Governors’ Institute on Community Design.


A Prayer for the City

By Buzz Bissinger

If you only know Buzz Bissinger as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Friday Night Lights, prepare to be brought to your knees in an entirely different way with A Prayer for the City. A moving chronicle of former Philly Mayor Ed Rendell’s fierce devotion to our city, it’s a must-read for any Philadelphian, and a story that best captures what Citizen co-founder Larry Platt says he loves best about Philadelphia: “its character — and its characters.”


The Death and Life of Great American Cities

By Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs first published The Death and Life of Great American Cities in 1961 – more than six decades later, it’s still the gold standard when it comes to understanding urban planning, its potential and its pitfalls.


Recoding America: Why Government is Failing in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better

By Jennifer Pahlka

In her brilliant exploration of why local and Federal government struggles to maximize the benefits of technology, Jennifer Pahlka makes an impassioned case for the fact that the best technology in the world is only as good as its implementation and user-friendliness for the people it’s meant to serve. There’s a reason Ezra Klein touted it in The New York Times as “the book I wish every policymaker would read.” And if you want more Pahlka, you’re in luck: She recently joined The Citizen for a riveting episode of our podcast, How to Really Run a City — listen here.


Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation

By Edward Glaeser and David Cutler

Cities may be the greatest human “invention,” but the pandemic laid bare their weak spots – in particular, the chilling divides in education and healthcare. In Survival of the City, Edward Glaeser and David Cutler explore where post-pandemic cities are failing, and how they can rise again.



Photo by Hümâ H. Yardım on Unsplash

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