100 influential urbanists you probably don’t know about, but might-should

I don’t think I’ve heard the hyphenate “might-should” since I last hung out with my high school boyfriend’s Florida-born, Lynyrd Skynyrd-listening parents in their motor home—which was definitely a while ago! But sometimes it just fits the bill.

Case in point: last week, my beloved client-friends at ioby asked if I could help them with a project. They had recently come across Planetizen’s “100 Most Influential Urbanists” article and wanted to put together their own list of 100 more influential urbanists who also happen to be ioby Leaders (their honorific for residents who step up to make their neighborhood better in some way, and raise awareness and money on ioby to do it).

Naturally, I didn’t even need to think, “Might-should I do this?” I totally leapt at the chance to mine five-plus years’ worth of inspiriting ioby blog posts, videos, and giving reports for 100 awesome people who demonstrate the range of just who ioby Leaders are and just what they can do. Summarizing their stories into bite-sized pieces was also fun, though a taller order.

It’s so hard to have favorites when everyone is a knockout, but here are a few who stick with me:

  • Lucille White of Cleveland, crossing guard and grandmother of 19 (!), who lost two nieces to hit-and-runs. “Miss Lucille” convened a dozen middle and high school students in her neighborhood to help design and implement desperately needed traffic calming interventions where they live.

  • When the city of Highland Park, Michigan repossessed over 1,000 street lights from Jackson Koeppel‘s already underserved neighborhood, he co-founded Soulardarity: a membership-based, community-owned solar power nonprofit that’s installing its own new solar street lamps to light the way for his neighbors.

  • A poet and musician from Black Hills, South Dakota, Lyla June Johnston leads a team of 50-plus volunteers to organize the annual Black Hills Unity Concert, an event that joins native and non-native people alike in prayers for reconciliation, celebrations of unity, protests against injustice, and songs of hope.

Jeez, if I keep going, I’ll start tearing up again! Just too much greatness here for one blog post. Good thing you can check out 97 more excellent people and stories on ioby’s blog any time you want. They might-should help you remember that—despite Donald Trump’s best efforts—there’s still a lot of good going on out there these days.

Cops, doughnuts, and the evolving streets of L.A.

If you haven’t watched Locavesting founder Amy Cortese’s 2012 TEDxMaui talk, you might want to check it out. Amy is a longtime and award-winning journalist, book author, public speaker, and all-around very cool person, these days mostly focused on the topics of crowdfunding and community.

Locavesting

In 2011, she published Locavesting: The Revolution In Local Investing And How To Profit From It, which chronicles the local investing movement and explains how even small investment shifts away from multinational companies and toward locally-owned enterprises could reap enormous economic and social benefits for individuals, their communities, and the country.

Oh, and at around the five-minute mark of her TED talk, Amy tells the story of “the cops in Clare, Michigan that saved their town’s 111-year-old bakery—and revitalized their downtown in the process.” I’ll let her deliver most of the rich details, but can’t help letting you know that these guys renamed the place “Cops & Doughnuts” and started selling “Don’t Glaze Me, Bro!” t-shirts!

All of the above made me feel honored to write a story for the Locavesting website recently, about how Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is partnering with national nonprofits like ioby and local orgs like the Ride On! Bike Coop to plan and fabricate L.A.’s next generation of more human-friendly city streets, using a fiscally-viable, community-led process. It’s inspiring stuff!

I invite you to read up, watch at your leisure, and invest locally. See you at the doughnut shop!

Cops and Donuts