For the first time in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas, with two-thirds of the global population – more than six billion people – projected to live in cities by 2050. Cities are both the engines of global innovation and the drivers of planetary environmental change: how can cities be more livable for more people?
In light of the enormous importance of cities, the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) and ULI Minnesota began developing the Cities Initiative – a major national traveling exhibit with complementary programming and stakeholder engagements – connecting content and transformative experiences – to expand knowledge and catalyze actions around vital urban issues. Great Cities will premiere in Minneapolis/Saint Paul (MSP) and then begin a multi-year national tour, with the potential to connect museums hosting the exhibit with ULI’s district council network. ULI Minnesota and SMM’s goal with Great Cities is to inspire an expanded public/private citizenship that will advance healthy, resilient, thriving communities that are more nimble and adaptable in a world of accelerating change.
ULI Minnesota and SMM began modeling Great Cities programming in spring 2015 with a kick-off that explored the urban planning and design implications of autonomous vehicles (The Future is NOW! Designing a Driverless World). In July 2015, ULI Minnesota was awarded a grant from the Pohlad Family Foundation to develop a Great Cities implementation strategy that will engage local and national leadership in its design and foster a series of engagements among stakeholders, influencers and champions.
A key strength of Great Cities is the bringing together of the talents and assets of ULI MN and the SMM, two entities that are leaders in their respective fields, to create a series of engagements, programs and the exhibit itself to inspire more people to advance healthy, thriving communities. ULI Minnesota is a trusted and expert convener of public and private leaders, bringing them together to catalyze the sharing of knowledge and the exchange of ideas to create and accelerate opportunities for collaborative action (e.g., Regional Council of Mayors, Advisory Services, Housing Initiative, Building Healthy Communities Initiative). As one of the nation’s leading producers of science-based exhibitions, SMM elevates and broadens civic conversations by framing topics for public understanding, catalyzing public attention, and convening cross sections of the populace in a shared, dynamic public space where learning can be amplified with opportunities for inter-activity and transformative experiences.