How To Quantify A Successful City

[Originally published by Forbes]


[Adapted from a speech I gave at the American Dream Coalition’s 2015 conference]


Austin, TX

As a traveling journalist, I visit many cities, and whenever arriving, the first thing I do is step right into their downtowns and try to figure out at street level whether they are “working.” And after several days in town, I’ve seen numerous clues that imply this about Austin. There are construction cranes, new roads, an energetic young population–this feels like a boomtown. At the same time, I’ve visited other cities and instantly determined that something is off. Go to downtown Detroit, and you’ll see trash, graffiti, vacant buildings, and street people staring into their liquor bottles. So visually, Austin and Detroit are a study in contrasts….[read the rest here]