Peter Kageyama: “For the Love of Cities” and the small things that increase civic engagement

In my City Talk column today, I talk about how inordinately happy I was to be able to buy beer last Sunday — even though I didn’t actually buy beer and will hardly ever take advantage of the newly legalized Sunday package sales.

In my column I call the legalization a “small gift” and note the work of Peter Kageyama, author of For the Love of Cities.

Kageyama uses the term “love notes”, which I tried to incorporate into my 450 words but seemed to need a little too much explanation.

I’ve been perusing Kageyama’s book since meeting (re-meeting actually; we had chatted when Charles Landry spoke here years ago) him earlier this fall. You can find a lot more about him, his work, and For the Love of Cities on his website.

From Kageyama’s website:

A 2009 Gallup study that looked at the levels of emotional engagement people have with their communities, found that just 24% of people were “engaged” with their community. Gallup also found a significant relationship between how passionate and loyal people are to their communities and local economic growth. The most “attached” communities had the highest local GDP growth. Despite this, it feels as though our places and our leadership have forgotten how to connect with us emotionally and our cities have suffered because of it.

This mutual love affair between people and their place is one of the most powerful influences in our lives, yet we rarely think of it in terms of a relationship. If cities begin thinking of themselves as engaged in a relationship with their citizens, and if we as citizens begin to consider our emotional connections with our places, we open up new possibilities in community, social and economic development by including the most powerful of motivators—the human heart—in our toolkit of city-making.

Here’s 18 minutes of Kageyama at TEDx Iowa City. It’s well worth a watch. It’s filled with examples, narratives, and visuals about the small things — like the zombie walk in Pittsburgh that is my featured image with this post on the homepage — that increase civic engagement. The video is highly recommended: