Tag Archives | Innovation

News & Notes


Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo (cc) Dave Lawrence.

CityLab: Why Housing Is Key to Chattanooga’s Tech-Hub Ambitions

Chattanooga is aiming to build on the reputation it’s earned from its world-class broadband service. The goal is to make the city a sustainable innovation hub, showing that it’s a well-rounded city rather than a one-trick pony. Evidence of this forward-thinking strategy can be seen in an ambitious expansion of housing downtown—known locally as the City Center—which is aimed at attracting young professionals that value walkable urban cores.

The latest downtown housing effort began in 2013, three years after the city’s gigabit Internet was first introduced. The community was of course enthused by the changes they were seeing in the city. But to local policymakers, the level of housing density in downtown Chattanooga was far from ideal. Over 50,000 people showed up to work there each day, but a dearth of adequate housing prevented many of them from moving there. Over the course of several months, more than 70 local stakeholders came together to identify 22 downtown buildings that needed to be remodeled (some razed) to make room for new housing.

The Boston Globe: A new age for an old town

There have been three great ages of development in modern Boston. The first began after the Back Bay was filled in the late 19th century, a radical change that triggered a historic construction boom. The second came in the 1960s and ’70s, when a “high spine” of office towers — stretching from the financial district to the Pru — began to rise over an old town.

The third is now.

Its businesses and population on the rise, Boston is in the midst of a building spree whose enormity, pace, and geographic sweep are redefining the skyline faster than any period since the early Industrial Age.

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Upcoming events at The Providence Athenaeum


Photo from The Providence Athenaeum

Fri 4/12, 5-7pm, The Providence Athenaeum presents the weekly SALON: RI Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg in conversation with Kipp Bradford, Senior Design Engineer and Lecturer, School of Engineering, Brown University; the final Salon in Bradford’s 5-part series, “The Innovation Way of Life: Stories about Community, Culture, and Commerce,” looking at how RI can cultivate a sustainable ecology of innovation.

In 2012 the RI Foundation awarded its first annual RI Innovation Fellowships, designed to stimulate RI residents to create solutions to RI challenges by providing seed funding for social impact. Innovation Fellows receive up to $300,000 for up to 3 years to develop and implement ideas that aim to dramatically improve any area of life in RI. Winning ideas must have potential for big impact, and in the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, “risk-taking is essential.” Also in 2012, the Foundation hosted a two-day summit, “Making It Happen in RI,” an economic convening of over 300 Rhode Islanders to brainstorm ways to improve the state’s economy. Join series curator and 2012 Innovation Fellowship Finalist Bradford in conversation with RI Foundation President and CEO Steinberg to learn why the Foundation has chosen to invest in innovation in these ways, what the results have been so far, and how the Foundation can best enhance the innovation potential of RI in the future. Sponsors: Michael, Anne, and Amelia Spalter.

The Salon takes place at the Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street in Providence; entrance is at ground floor-level door at the corner of Benefit and College Streets. Free and open to the public. More at

Tues 4/16, 5:30 – 7:30pm (5:30pm reception, 6pm program), RI Public Radio and the Providence Athenaeum present: Policy & Pinot, a timely conversation series on vital issues facing our state – “Bicycling Toward Urban Renewal.”

Providence is striving to become a city where young people want to live and work. For many, having a green way to commute is vital. Join panelists Providence Mayor Angel Taveras; Cornish Associates Architect Steve Durkee; Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Director of Bicycle Transportation Planning & Design Bill DeSantis; and RI Bicycle Coalition Board President Matt Moritz, along with RIPR Environmental Reporter Bradley Campbell for a lively discussion about how making the city an attractive place to live and bike could boost the capital city’s bottom line.

Free and open to the public, reservations required: email or phone at 351-2800 to reserve seats. Policy & Pinot takes place at the Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street in Providence; entrance is at ground floor-level door at the corner of Benefit and College Streets. More at


News & Notes

The Hill: Obama urges House GOP to ‘follow the Senate’s lead’ on $109B highway bill

The White House on Monday continued to pressure the House to accept the $109 billion transportation bill that was passed last week by the Senate, saying that President Obama was ready to sign the measure into law.

The administration has long signaled it supported the Senate’s version of the federal highway bill over the five-year, $260 billion that had been under consideration in the House. The pressure has been amplified since the Senate approved its version of the measure with 74 votes.

Next American City: Can the Arts Save Struggling Cities?

Advocates of creative placemaking are careful not to present their work as a panacea. But they firmly believe that art has a central role in reviving urban economies and communities. As examples, Coletta offers the Design District in Miami; the ArtPrize festival in Grand Rapids, Mich.; WaterFire, which lights up the rivers in downtown Providence, R.I., with dozens of bonfires; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, which is credited with helping to fuel the resurgence there.

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Providence Foundation 2030 Vision

Over the last six months or so, The Providence Foundation has been convening a group of what are being called Young Leaders (or Next Generation Leaders or New Leaders) to come up with the foundation’s mission statement for 2030. I have been among that group.

At the Foundation’s Annual Meeting at the end of last month, they introduced the resulting document, Providence 2030: A Vision for Downtown.

The key points of the vision are as follows:

  • We continue to grow a vibrant economy.
  • We support our world renowned culture.
  • We care for our engaging civic realm.
  • We celebrate our mobility.
  • We value and educate our youth.
  • We are a leader in sustainable practices.

The key principles guiding the vision are:

  • Inspiration – Our city should always be remarkable and inspire. Downtown Providence is a place of natural and human made beauty. We are inspired to continually create a place for which we feel proud.
  • Connectivity – Providence’s small size is an advantage. Big ideas and bold plans can achieve great impact at this scale. We benefit from strong physical connections between downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, and strong social connections between our citizens.
  • Adaptability – Our world is dynamic and evolving and our plans must be as well. We create innovative solutions, adopt best practices from other places, and learn from the past in order to inform our future.
  • Local Economy – The economy of a healthy city is supplied by local resources, served by local commerce and shaped by local citizens. This is the root of sustainability.
  • Global Identity – Our ideas and innovations can help shape the future of a successful, global society. We make every effort to share our experiences with the world. We must market ourselves to continue to attract and retain smart and talented young people.
  • Innovation – We foster an environment for new technologies, creative industries, green design and entrepreneurship. We work together to provide the physical infrastructure and social systems that responsibly support our growth.
  • Creativity – We are committed to creating conditions for creative work to thrive. We are a vibrant economy of knowledgeable innovators. We make things by hand and we honor the traditions of those crafts.
  • Diverse Culture – We embrace and engage diversity. Our interdependence is our strength. Providence must remain a place rich in culture and history that inspires its population.
  • Accountability – We set short and long term benchmarks that are targeted, quantifiable, and aggressive. We monitor our progress rigorously. We celebrate our successes and learn from our failures.

Read the full Vision document here.