Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cities on the Prowl

The Urban Age Institute 
Cities in the modern world are beginning to share some features with the city-states of millennia past — communicating, trading, competing. But they're two differences: Today it's nation states, not city-states, that occasionally go to war. And unlike the walled cities that harbored flourishing trade in Medieval Europe, today there are literally thousands of cities on the rise, and looking outward in search not of silk and spices, but rather sources of finance, global talent, and most of all, good ideas. But the search for knowledge isn't always easy. And there can be resistance — for example the short-sightededness of journalistic watchdogs who see in mayoral travel only junkets, not fruit-bearing study of better and smarter practices elsewhere. But here's the big news that really counts. It's that the 500 largest cities on the planet are sending delegations to visit each other, repeatedly and consistently every year, on the order of thousands of study trips annually. The cities are selected carefully, so that visitors may acquire valuable knowledge to speed improvements back home.

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