The Power of Cities

Some of what we’ll be talking about next week is how to use a city as the canvas for our research and teaching. Cities present many social needs and bureaucratic obstacles, but they are also rich in diversity and creativity.

In every room of The Ogden there is a copy of Ed Glaeser’s book Triumph of the City. Here is the abbreviated version of Glaeser’s argument:

And you might also watch this series of talks about why mayors are best equipped to effect real change in our urban landscape, including talks by seven global mayors:


Rethinking Urban Healthcare

Did we mention it might be hot? Las Vegas had its first 100+ degree day last week:  For the Iowans in our group, this will definitely be a game of acclimatization!

This recent Chronicle of Higher Education article about technology, social entrepreneurship, and higher ed caught my eye:

7756565-2-4Please take a look at these TedMed talks by Zubin “ZDoggMD” Damania. Zubin will be presenting to our group next week. During a 10-year career as a hospitalist at Stanford University, Zubin developed stand-up routines and online videos that served to both educate (here is one about testicular cancer). Seeking a new model for urban healthcare, Zubin is now the director of Turntable Healthcare, the healthcare anchor for The Downtown Project.





Brian Knudsen – Big Picture of Las Vegas Issues, Suggested Readings

Brian_Knudsen-web_photo High-school-dropout-rates_full_600

On Thursday of the Faculty Institute, Brian Knudsen, Community Resources Manager for the City of Las Vegas, will be meeting with the group to provide the ‘big picture’ vantage point of the myriad of issues affecting Las Vegas. Brian has asked that you take a look at the Downtown Achieves web site, which includes a video about Clark County School District. It is the fifth largest district in the U.S., and has a more than 50% dropout rate.

Brian also asked us to review a series of articles from Community Investments (Vol. 21, Issue 1). 

He would appreciate knowing any questions or areas of interest ahead of time, so please email him at bknudsen@LasVegasNevada.GOV. He’s also happy to have Facebook and Twitter communication.







Welcome & Suggested Readings

Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas Sign #1Hi friends. We want to start this blog by suggesting a few readings that might whet your curiosity about the Las Vegas and the Downtown Project. We have asked some of our presenters to suggest readings, too, and we’ll pass those along as soon as we have them. I’ll also add here YOUR wonderful reading suggestions that came via Eli’s questions to the group.

We’ll be adding to this list in the next few weeks. If you see a great TED Talk, read an interesting article, or hear something on NPR — just for starters — that you’d like to share with the group, please send it to Jennifer or Dave and we’ll post it.

We also wanted to share with you the  very compelling readings that you suggested to Eli based on his initial question:  What 1-3 texts (films/stories/novels/magazine article/essay/photograph) speak to your connection to your community? (Note: These are in no particular order.)

Pyramid of Success – John Wooden

Architecture of Happiness – Alain de Botton

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals – Michael Pollan

String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132 by Beethoven, Third Movement, “Heiliger Dankgesang”  – Tokyo String Quartet Performance –

Death and Life of Great American Cities – Jane Jacobs

Saul Alinsky and the Democratic Tradition,

Hollowing out the Middle:  The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America  – Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas

Dakota: A Spiritual Geography – Kathleen Norris

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan

A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf

“The Subject and Power” – Michel Foucault

The Long Haul: An Autobiography – Myles Horton,

Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde

October Sky (film)

Immigrants Raising Citizens:  Undocumented Parents and Their Children – HIROKAZU YOSHIKAWA

Yoga and the Quest for the True Self – Stephen Cope

A Second Wind in Life: Eve Ensler on Inhabiting the Body After Cancer,

The Everyday Art of Listening: David Isay, Founder of Storycorps,

The Practice of Everyday Life – Michel de Certeau

The Poetics of Space – Gaston Bachelard

Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson

Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin


Make the Impossible Possible – William Strickland

– “Dérive” – operating principle of “Our Las Vegas,” the cultural animation project I [Jon Winet] collaborate on in Las Vegas. Excerpt: “In psychogeography, a dérive is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, on which the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct the travellers, with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience. Situationist theorist Guy Debord defines the dérive as “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.”

– Nicolas Bourriaud’s entry for “Art” in the glossary of his seminal text “Relational Aesthetics,” included below. Also a driving force in my research and practice:  “Art” – General term describing a set of objects presented as part of a narrative known as art history. This narrative draws up the critical genealogy and discusses the issues raised by these objects, by way of three sub-sets: painting, sculpture, architecture.

“Nowadays, the word ‘art’ seems to be no more than a semantic leftover of this narrative, whose more accurate definition would read as follows: Art is an activity consisting in producing relationships with the world with the help of signs, forms, actions and objects.”

– Geoff Carter of Seven Magazine | DTLV