Group CEOs for Cities to explore metro Phoenix as a living lab for city of the future


Ted Simons: Phoenix is hosting an event next week in which leaders from 75-cities across North America will explore the phoenix area as a laboratory in urban development. The meetings are titled, "Everything's Going to be Different: Creating the Future City." Wellington "Duke" Reiter, senior adviser to the president of ASU and the executive director of ASU’s University City exchange, is here to tell us more. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Ted Simons: Phoenix as a laboratory and urban environment. Do tell.

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: Well, CEP's for cities is coming to phoenix. This is an organization that was started by Paul and David from the Boston foundation. It was basically designed to bring public and private sector interest together to create a gray, vibrant public realm mostly because they were working in established cities they were doing this to sort of revitalize those cities. They often didn't come west of the Mississippi river. They have seen what has been happening here in phoenix. They have seen an unprecedented relationship between the city and university and they said we should come out and visit this place. Most other cities were established on major waterfronts, oceans, and lakes. We have created a city where it isn't obvious to do that but it is thriving so they are interested.

Ted Simons: They figure it can shape phoenix and it can shape other parts of the world.

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: The world is urbanizing. What can be learn in a desert environment can be applied to one third of the world which is in similar environments but what we are doing in an experimental way around urbanism can be applied to other cities here.

Ted Simons: If one looks for a quick recap of what happened in phoenix and why this is worthy -- because a lot of folks are critical of phoenix. They say the water is a concern. They look downtown and say it isn't vibrant. You have heard the criticisms here. Why phoenix?

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: Not only have I heard them, I can explain why I think they are real. Think about how people know us. On the evening news they see our three-digit temperatures, they see what appears to be apocalyptic dust storms or see how we are struggling with gyration and water comes up always even though me manage the water well. People are coming here and have perceptions and they find out we are living in the desert and taking care of water resources. We created shadeable areas and hopefully generate energy from that. Those are things that have to do with innovation.

Ted Simons: I noticed one of the conferences entitled cities, antidote to flawed democracies. That is interesting.

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: There are speakers who believe in that. A lot of the cities in this country are blue if you want to think in political terms. They find themselves in red states. When you see what is happening in cities, it is abreast to the actual people. There is a lot of innovation taking place.

Ted Simons: I noticed Richard Florida is the speaker. I had this book.

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: Good?

Ted Simons: I can't make it. It is a tough read. He really gets deep in the what makes the creative class and how they attract them and the whole nine yards. I thought he was dismissive of phoenix back in the day. Is he not so much anymore?

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: Back in the day, he might have come here 2004. I remember that meeting. It was packed. People really want to know could we become a creative class city. I saw Richard two days in Las Angeles. I think what he would say is what we lunched or people believe he launched with the rise of the creative class. That results in folks like the new urban crisis discusses. We have to brave that gap.

Ted Simons: You were responsibility for the revitalization of downtown? What is phoenix still not doing or getting that can make things move forward even better?

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: I think we are working on a project that deals with the central ideas because it is on Central Avenue but because I think it could be a project central to the region. Imagine if you saw the floor purposely a designed shade that made this place more walkable and comfortable even the most hostile months of the year and people came saying you have to go to that place. They are spending money on weather removal the same way people do in Chicago. They are getting rid of snow and we are getting rid of other things coming down. We need to demonstrate we are aware of how we are and how to deal with it in a thoughtful way.

Ted Simons: Is there the political will to do that?

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: I think there is the political will. It comes with a price tag as well. Other cities invest in that. I think you need to see it as an economic driver. I would love it if we were the south by southwest sustain ability. Look what that did for the mayor of Austin. When the mayor of Austin travels the first thing people say to him is south by southwest.

Ted Simons: October 30th through November 1st? Where is it held?

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: Down at facilities at ASU and the renaissance hotel.

Ted Simons: We will see how we do as far as a laboratory for urban development. Good to see you.

Wellington “Duke” Reiter: Thank you for inviting me.

Funding chasing the dream is funded by the JP foundation and the board foundation.

Phoenix will host an event that will included 350 leaders from 75 cities across North America who will explore the Phoenix area as a laboratory in urban development.

Mayors, other elected and appointed officials, business and civic leaders, college and university presidents, entrepreneurs and others will take part in the multi-day meeting, titled “Everything’s Going to Be Different: Creating the Future City.”

Hear more from Wellington “Duke” Reiter, the senior adviser to the president of Arizona State University and executive director of ASU’s University City Exchange.

Reiter says the group is interested in seeing how Phoenix has created a vibrant city in the desert.

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Wellington "Duke" Reiter: Executive Director of ASU’s University City Exchange

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