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Made in Lower East Side: The Beginning

In OpenIDEO’s Vibrant Cities Challenge, our global community tackled the topic of urban revitalisation for struggling cities. Feeling inspired by our challenge efforts, community member Eric Ho wanted to bring some vibrancy to NYC.

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In OpenIDEO’s Vibrant Cities Challenge, our global community tackled the topic of urban revitalisation for struggling cities. We started by learning about what makes our cities tick and what vibrancy means to each of us. Then, we collaboratively designed and refined concepts to celebrate local pride, activate communities, and encourage new avenues for revitalisation.
This Realisation phase is an opportunity to tell an ongoing story of how our collective challenge efforts are being carried forward – in the case of this story, by OpenIDEO community members.
Feeling inspired by our challenge efforts, community member Eric Ho wanted to bring some vibrancy to a neighborhood that he cares about: the Lower East Side (LES) in New York City. A diverse area with a rich culture and history, the LES was traditionally a working-class, immigrant neighborhood that has undergone extensive gentrification and development in recent years. However, as Eric learned when he started researching the neighborhood, vibrancy is still a concern in LES; in fact in just one section of town, Eric counted 212 vacant or unused lots and stores: 
“Vacant lots and stores are everywhere in the Lower East Side of New York,” says Eric. “When I read through the many well thought-out and diverse ideas that came out of OpenIDEO’s Vibrant Cities Challenge, it was natural to make the connection and take the first step towards realis ing these ideas.”
On OpenIDEO we often invite community members to consider how they might take forward one or more of our challenge concepts – but implementation can be more complex and challenging than we might anticipate. In Eric's case, he knew he wanted to get involved, but wasn’t sure exactly how. So, he started by contacting other community members who had authored concepts he was excited about, including Sarah Fathallah, Matthew Rouser, Matthew Goble, and Rebekah Emanuel. Over the course of a number of video chats and emails, they decided to collaborate more deeply to bring renewed vibrancy to the Lower East Side.
Months of planning and strategising later, Eric, Sarah, Matthew and Matthew have been joined by three other core team members: Chloe Tseung, Rick Lam, and Tamara Greenfield of the local community group Fourth Arts Block. Together they’ve formed an initiative called Made in Lower East Side (MiLES), a multidisciplinary, 12-month design research project to co-create solutions for vibrancy – specifically in ways that best meet the needs and aspirations of local community stakeholders.
As Eric puts it: “For MiLES to be successful we have to engage organizations and residents who truly know the neighborhood and understand the issues at stake, and also ensure that diverse voices are heard throughout this process. Only by enabling local communities to take ownership of the process can this project have a long term impact.”
To kickstart their efforts, the team have just applied for a City 2.0 grant as part of the 2012 TED Prize and they are actively looking for other funding opportunities as well. Regardless of the outcome of the grant, the team are committed to bringing renewed vibrancy to this stretch of the LES, and hope that their pilot can be scaled and brought to other cities.
Eric is also keen to note the role that our OpenIDEO community has played in this project: “We are very lucky to have a team of dedicated and talented individuals working on MiLES in their spare time – but we wouldn’t be working on this without our fellow OpenIDEO community members who inspired this project!”
Good luck Eric and team! We’ll be eagerly awaiting news about the grant decision, as well as your efforts to bring vibrancy and revitalisation to your community.
Are you making plans to implement a Vibrant Cities concept in your local area? Let us know at so we can help share your story.

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The most important thing to do now is to bring manufacturing back to America again. Just like Japan used to be the leading manufacturer for consumer electronics and cars, South Korea has already taken over them in all aspects. Right down to soap operas, k-pop stars, pop song writing, song arrangement, image/make up, k-pop dance choreography, they have the whole package, right down to fashion.

South Korea has totally overwhelmed Japan and has overtaken them by leaps and bounds. Kia, the second largest car manufacturer in South Korea has increased car production by more than 200% in 2013 and beat all car manufacturers on the globe. What many people ignore as something small is indeed something really big.

Forget about the baby boomers. They are not the real big money spenders. It's the children of the baby boomers that are splurging big money like there's no tomorrow. All this seemed like a well planned strategy from the Government down to all sectors including the Ministry of Arts.

The Government on one hand protects the livelihoods of all South Koreans by having a tough migration policy. South Koreans are very nationalistic people who believe they only eat, sleep, see and buy Korean products. The Government don't believe that they should accommodate non Koreans by writing English Songs or making a compulsory study of the English language. If you want to listen to their songs you better start learning Korean. There's no sign of weakness and you have to admire their gut and how firm they are. Just out of sudden, Korean sounds so SEXY!

K-Pop is like South Korea's other largest export as K-Pop groups perform to sell-out crowds everywhere they visit. Look at Gangnam Style, that has garnered more than 1.818 billion views! The South Koreans has truly arrived. The success of K-Pop has ensured that the whole world sees brands like Samsung truly differently. That also triggered increased demand of the fashion industry. Everything is shooting up and that includes cosmetic surgery and investment into their Eco City along with the tourism industry hitting record arrivals.

Now, let's focused on America. Once a strong industrialized nation, and manufacturer of high end IT products, the nation has lost it's USP(Unique Selling Proposition). For Germany most people still hold them in high regard for their engineering precision, tough machinery and really reliable and performance driven cars. So the main focus for America is to find it's true USP once and again.

US needs to go back into it's manufacturing roots like the Henry Ford days. It seems only the US Armed Forces are the only organization that is really constantly innovating. Therefore it comes as great news that Apple is finally going back to the States to manufacture their new range of high end Macbook Pro running on the much anticipated sapphire glass technology.

Apple has now taken the lead and it's about time companies bring back jobs and stop their call centre operations in India and Philippines. While they are really cheap, the outsourcing has on a whole tarnish the US branding. Everybody is being affected by that and it goes right down to those who lost their jobs to the cheap alternative labour.

Americans are hard working people and definitely deserve a second bite at the cherry. On one hand, I hope America can turn things around but we jolly well know that the decline was all planned and triggered in a systematic process to ruin the country the moment US removed the Gold standard in 1971 known as the "Nixon Shock".

US right now has probably one of the least cash reserves available around the world and this is a really worrying sign as any crisis could just trigger the country into martial law and they will start operating the Fema Camps that they have been secretly planning all this time. There's a Chinese saying 物极必反 which means when situations reached it's extremity, it will turn in opposite directions. We will probably need to see the country collapse before it can change for the better. God Bless America.

Edmund Ng

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