Sunday, January 24, 2016

How "dull" Des Moines got its groove

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.

I'm humbled at all the attention for the piece: 30,000 Facebook shares in the first 24 hours, media coverage in Iowa, and even this Des Moines Register article on its "takeaways."

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.

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