Fantastic article about Minneapolis that echoes what +Jennifer Pahlka of @codeforamerica said in her recent TedX Philly talk [video not posted yet] about the importance of cities in dealing with the problems that actually face most citizens:

“City governments are the last standing functional form of government in the United States and possibly the world,” says [Minneapolis Mayor] Rybak, who was 13 when he decided he wanted to be mayor.

I particularly loved this bit in the article:

"there is no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage. And because you have to be able to perform. When somebody calls 911 and needs a police officer, you have to send a police officer. If a water line breaks in front of somebody’s house, it has to be fixed. It isn’t policy, it is doing the work. And that’s what city government is all about."

Of course, city government is not without its problems. Unions, outdated procurement rules, and ignorance of the new possibilities of technology often leave cities behind the curve when it comes to 21st century services. And that's what is all about: getting smart technologists to give a year of service to help build 21st century services in cities that just want to do the job that their citizens need.

A big part of that is building services that help the people to help themselves. As Mayor Rybak says in the article:

“It would have been a lot of fun to be a mayor during the Great Society, where you could write a big fat check and make something happen,” Rybak says. “Now you have to bring your resources to the table. Very few mayors can solve any major problems on their own. You must bring what the city has to offer and inspire people from other levels of government, the private sector, business and residents to come together. There are close to 400,000 people living in 60 square miles here, and my job is to figure out a way to get them to do as much of the work together as possible.”

via +Andrew McLaughlin
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