America is in the grips of increased polarization, social isolation and economic inequality. We are more segregated by income than ever before. We spend less time with our neighbors. Loneliness is a public health crisis. And trust between Americans is in free fall. While these trends have advanced, we have neglected to invest in our shared public spaces that have the potential to bring us together: our parks, libraries, community centers and trails.
In five cities, cross-sector partnerships and neighborhood residents are working together to reimagine public places to foster civic engagement, socioeconomic mixing, environmental sustainability and value creation.
On March 27-29, 2019, the Civic Commons Learning Network hosted Civic Commons Studio #5: Lessons for the Field in Memphis. The gathering focused on how to sustain and scale these efforts that put civic assets at the heart of bridging socioeconomic divides, fostering resilience and cultivating trust.
We explored what the civic commons looks like in practice on the ground in the demonstration cities of Akron, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia, and considered how these efforts are redefining the future of their cities.
With the Memphis demonstration as a backdrop, we experienced the work and shared learning across cities through team presentations, tours, explorations of the Fourth Bluff, a provocation from thought leader E.J. Dionne, panel conversations, breakout discussions and city-to-city interviews.
Image credit: Erin Mosher.