I'll be writing a bunch about urban innovations in U.S. cities for Politico this year as I help spearhead their What Works series. My first effort -- on how Des Moines, Iowa transformed itself from dull to cool -- posted Friday. Short answer: it took a generation, a lot of cooperation and a long-term vision, and the execution was more akin to setting up the conditions for a chemical reaction than working one's way through a checklist.
Whats next month's installment? Hint: it's Manchester, New Hampshire. (Yes, there's a certain geographic pattern to be detected here.)
Oddly enough, my last piece for Politico was also from Iowa, on what makes that state tick. It's something of a companion piece to the Des Moines article, as it explains the Midland ethos (as per American Nations) that's at the root of the Iowa advantage: an almost uncanny ability to cooperate, undercutting the need for strong government steering.
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.