In this week's #GoodReads, we reflect on the events of September 11th and how cities are working to create a spirit of unity around the country.

September 11th will forever stand out in the hearts and minds of many Americans. On this day, we remember 9/11, the many lives lost when our nation came under attack in 2001, and the brave first responders who came to their aid. We also remember how people came together – that day and beyond – to support one another and stand together, resilient in the face of an adversary.

On this September 11th, our #GoodReads reflect on this spirit of Unity in America. From a reflection on the Public-Private Partnership that rebuilt Ground-Zero, to an examination of Networks, to a movement to end neighborhood segregation, this weekly round-up illuminates how, in the spirit of collaboration, Americans can come together and move the needle for the good of the whole.


Remembering September 11th

Jon Stewart on 9/11 - The Daily Show

Recommended by Jeff Raderstrong, Program Associate, Collective Impact

Every year on 9/11, I watch Jon Stewart’s monologue from his first show back after September 11th, 2001. It helps me remember what it was like to live through that time as an American, and the significance of that day in our nation’s history. Stewart’s emotional speech not only reminds us of those we lost, but also how we as a country can come together to persevere in trying times. He quotes Dr. King to say that through the tragedy of 9/11, people were able to come together, if only momentarily, and judge either other not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. This moment of Dr. King’s dream realized helped us begin to heal.

Fourteen years later, that healing continues, and Stewart’s words make me reflect on how much further we have to go to truly become unified as a country and as a people. This speech’s themes–truth, liberty, equality, justice–are qualities that have gotten America through its most trying times, and will continue to help us persevere. As we seek to overcome the challenges within our communities and cities, it’s important to remember the many sacrifices made on the path towards unity in this country, and how vital it is for the journey to continue.

Cross-Sector Partnerships

Matching Private Investors to Infrastructure Projects - Bipartisan Policy Center

Recommended by Ellen Ward, Senior Investment Associate, Capital Innovation

The Bipartisan Policy Center hosted an event in New York City this week to discuss the current status of infrastructure investment in the US with a specific focus on opportunities for matching private capital to infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships. For me, public-private partnerships (P3s) represent the “new way of working” we talk about in the New Urban Practice because they allow the public sector to leverage private capital and foster innovation. They also require an enormous amount of collaboration between the private, public, and service sectors to deliver a quality product that can support economic opportunities and economic growth in America’s cities.

The location of the event (the Financial District) was timely given the 9/11 anniversary and highlighted how the NJ NY Port Authority worked with the private development community to rebuild the World Trade Center site.

Capital Innovation

Alternative Lending through the Eyes of “Mom-and-Pop” Small-Business Owners - Cleveland Fed

Recommended by Brian Nagendra, Senior Investment Associate, Capital Innovation

It’s called alternative lending, fintech, or online marketplace lending and I’ve heard it called the “wild west” of the lending marketplace today. These lenders are helping folks who couldn’t access financing for their small business get funds fast but costs are high, information isn’t transparent, and current incentives do not align lenders with borrowers long term best interests for all lenders in the market. But we can’t generalize; as with any marketplace, particularly an increasingly competitive one, there’s a wide diversity of all types of actors, from the best in class to the less scrupulous.

In a growth phase of a new marketplace with new products, what we need is better information and the opportunity to engage with lenders, their backers, borrowers, researchers, consumer advocates and government regulators on issues we find in that research. Long term confidence in the marketplace depends on it. Few organizations do this better than the Federal Reserve, who’s been adding important public intel on the marketplace. In its most recent study, the Fed Reserve Board and Fed Cleveland used focus groups to gain insights on small business owners and decision-makers on what’s valuable and what raises concern in the marketplace today.

Public Sector Innovation

Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation - The City of Pittsburgh

Recommended by Steven Bosacker, Director, Public Sector Innovation

On September 8th, the City of Pittsburgh launched the Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation. The Roadmap details over 100 planned city actions to orient Pittsburgh to the digital age, including actions that will help bridge the digital divide, improve city operations, foster open data initiatives, and better serve low-income communities.

At first glance, the Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation appears nothing short of extraordinary. Their scan of best practices and creative ideas that cities across the world have found success with is a unique element of the Roadmap that helps set the plan apart as a truly visionary set of goals and practices. As Living Cities works to identify innovative approaches to dramatically improve the public sector in cities across the United States, we plan to follow the Roadmap and Pittsburgh’s impressive efforts closely.

The Network Effect

ENGAGE: How Funders Can Support and Leverage Networks for Social Impact - The Rockefeller Foundation

Recommended by Elizabeth Vargas, Associate, Strategic Communications and Engagement

Last week, The Rockefeller foundation launched Engage, an online guide which offers a series of frameworks, tools, insights, and stories aimed at strengthening the capacity of grant-makers to support and leverage networks in service of their social impact goals.

In Living Cities work, we find that networks are critical to refining our understanding of challenges, building upon what works, and accelerating the uptake of promising practices. But maintaining and leveraging networks take work! I’m optimistic that Rockefeller’s Engage can de-mystify “critical questions around using networks” to accelerate impact.

Read more about Engage and see for yourself:

Racial Equity and Inclusion

2015 National Fair Housing Conference, Residential Segregation - From C-Span

Recommended by Tracey Turner, Program Associate, The Integration Initiative

I came across this video from HUD’s 2015 National Fair Housing Conference a few days ago, in which Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director of NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund discusses the intersection of systems, structures, policies and racism that led to stories like that of Freddie Gray. In addition to the structural policies often discussed around federal housing and highway system construction, I learned that Baltimore played a pivotal and pioneer role in introduction of residential segregation in this country when its council passed first municipal ordinance requiring segregation in 1910.

Ifill argues that we as a nation, have an obligation to make every community a community of opportunity; all of these systems (housing, policing, transportation, etc) are all connected; and we all play a role in ending segregation.