Challenge:

How might we restore vibrancy in cities and regions facing economic decline?

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OpenIDEO has partnered with Steelcase to explore the topic of revitalising struggling cities around the world. Together we’re looking to design solutions – from entrepreneurship and education to community mobilisation and campaigns – that reinvigorate and help restore areas facing economic decline, population loss, unemployment and erosion of social/civic services or other critical issues. As our global economies become more intertwined and interconnected, we have a unique opportunity to consider ways that we can each bring vibrancy and prosperity to our own neighborhoods, towns and cities.

This year our global population reached the 7 billion mark – an historic milestone that brings with it new questions of economic, social and environmental sustainability. With over 50% of that 7 billion now living in cities, unprecedented strain is being placed on our urban centers to adapt and innovate, to absorb newcomers or redefine their boundaries, and to continue to support and enable opportunities for their residents.
 
 

The Scale of the Problem

Many communities around the world, including Detroit, Michigan; Madrid, Spain; Athens, Greece; and others, currently find themselves struggling with issues like loss of industry, rising unemployment, increased cost of living and decreased access to city services. For example, after a precipitous decline from prosperity in the 1970s and 80s, revitalisation efforts in Detroit have faced an uphill battle. Despite encouraging signs, the latest city census revealed a 25% population loss to surrounding suburbs, which has had severe economic, cultural and sociological consequences.
 
 

The Potential for Revitalisation

Nonetheless, for all of their struggles, these regions and communities are brimming with potential. In fact, many efforts – some of them grassroots, some more formalised – are currently underway to mobilise residents, reconnect communities, identify entrepreneurial opportunities, and infuse new economic growth in cities and areas around the world.
 
Now’s our chance to identify the economic, cultural, social or environmental levers we can pull to usher in the vibrancy and prosperity these areas need to thrive. Steelcase and OpenIDEO are excited to tackle this question with our global community because we believe that the concepts we create together will be relevant to engaged citizens everywhere who want to bring vibrancy to their own areas. So whether we’re in Detroit or Dublin or Dubai, let’s put our heads together to create solutions that bring renewed energy and resources to our own communities.
 
 

About Steelcase

Steelcase was founded in 1912 with a strong commitment to integrity and doing the right thing for our customers, employees, business partners, associates and neighbors. Steelcase has a global initiative to benefit the communities in which we live in. Since its founding, they've made community support efforts an integral part of their operations. Read more. 

 

Community & Social Media Manager:

  Meena Kadri
 

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I love in Richland, Washington, which along with the nearby communities, Pasco and Kennewick,, is usually referred to as the Tri-Cities.. According to a recent study of the state's education and completion rates, at the K-12 levels, based on a combination of information and statistics, nearly 75% of our local teens are not completing high school. These children, come from families whose incomes cover the entire spectrum, from no income to State aid and from low all the way to high income levels, every ethnic group, whether distinct or blended, some born in USA and others are immigrants, legal and illegal, or naturaljzed citizens. They are fairly evenly split between both genders, a small number are parents, and many of them are single-parents, some guys but mostly girls, with one or more children. Our area is growing steadily, as new businesses and established businesses see the market place, income and growth potential, locally and regionally, that has been ignored by major corporations and innovative start-ups.

Local employers, even fast-food outlets, are expecting their potential new-hires to have, at least, attained their GE'D. There are online high school courses, but not all students are eligible to enroll, alternative schools and a trade school program, but they can't apply unless they are going to high school and havr earned and maintained, a minimal GPA level,, over several terms.

There has to be a way to get these kids to get their education back on track and the work skills that will make them employable, I think local businesses need to become more involved.. But, they to see profits,, they lose to help fund this program, not as today's loss, but a future profits.. Future employees and consumers. They carry tools to spearhead change, a network of. buisness associates and other types of associates, from suppliers to salespeople, reorienting other companies, and people in local, county and state government offices and locally elected officials, combine that with ties to local print and news media in radio and television broadcasting - they could get the ball rolling and that might bring more members of the community, with fresh ideas and new networks, to the table.

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