Our Approach

Complex challenges demand comprehensive solutions. Thriving Cities Group applies civic design, a human-centered, multi-disciplinary approach that engages thought leadership, community engagement, data, technology, and research to tackle 3 fundamental challenges facing cities today. Each of our proprietary approaches corresponds to a key challenge, or problem, that we pose as a core question: 

CIVIC CHALLENGE:
MAn OR Machine? 

The cities we know today were built to meet the needs of an industrial age. They are designed, like machines, to reward economic efficiency and specialization. But that assembly-line ethos has also created silos of activity that artificially divide and dissect city life.

CIVIC CHALLENGE:
Chicken or Egg?

Over the past 50 years America has seen a steady and alarming decline in civil society and civic engagement. Today, less than 15% of urban residents vote in local elections and more than 33% of Americans confess to having never met their neighbors.

Civic Challenge:
Which Golden rule?
 

"Treat others how you want to be treated” is the golden rule cities are wise to follow. Unfortunately, too often, cities misapply this truth and instead function with the understanding that “whoever has the gold makes the rules.”  
 

Civic Challenge: Man or Machine

The cities we know today were built to meet the needs of an industrial age. They are designed, like machines, to reward economic efficiency and specialization. But that assembly-line ethos has also created silos of activity that artificially divide and dissect city life.

We believe cities are more than just machines. They work best when they are able -- like the vibrant, diverse, and complex people who live in them -- to grow in ways that are increasingly integrated, cooperative, responsive, and healthy.

 
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A New Civic Paradigm: The Human Ecology

That is why Thriving Cities Group developed the Human Ecology Framework, a new civic paradigm for understanding and assessing urban thriving for the 21st century. Our civic paradigm is comprised of six fundamental community endowments.

Want to learn more about the six endowments? Download our PDF.

Human Ecology at Work:

Civic Challenge: Chicken or Egg?

Over the past 50 years America has seen a steady and alarming decline in civil society and civic engagement. Today, less than 15% of urban residents vote in local elections and more than 33% of Americans confess to having never met their neighbors.

But Democracy can’t function in the absence of community engagement and community trust. So how does a community build the trust and engagement it needs if it is lacking the trust and engagement needed to build it? That is the chicken-or-egg challenge American cities are facing today.

 

A New Civic Process

The Civic Design Cycle is a method of community engagement that seeks to build the will and ability of city residents to be decision-makers in their community’s renewal and thriving.

Its four-step process aims to create investable opportunities, especially in divested areas, and to do so in a way that empowers local residents to lead and sustain change in their communities.

Civic Design Cycle at Work:

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Civic Challenge: The Golden Rule

"Treat others how you want to be treated” is the golden rule cities are wise to follow. Unfortunately, too often, cities misapply this truth and instead function with the understanding that “whoever has the gold makes the rules.”  

In an increasingly pluralistic and diverse urban landscape finding structural and systemic ways to engage long-neglected voices and perspectives is crucial for cities to foster and sustain communities that thrive.

 
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A New Civic Practice

The City Voice Ensemble is a proprietary method for generating better community intelligence by drawing into conversation four key stakeholders:

  • Philanthropic Investors who want to see their resources well-used for good.
  • Non-profit Innovators working to bring change to their communities.
  • Community Residents who know their communities best.
  • Scholarly and Practitioner Researchers who know what strategies are proven to work.

City Voice Ensemble at Work: