According to last tally, we received 128 applications for one spot as a Next American City fellow. We were astounded by the quality of the applications — people from around the country who covered issues as vast as immigration, affordable housing, Rust Belt renewal and New Orleans’ recovery. By far, the most common topic was a broad look at sustainability. We are all concerned about how the planet is going to survive the threats of global warming, high gas prices, and a rising population — many applicants felt that cities hold the answers, a very heartening trend.
Because there was much overlap to the application topics, our selection committee, which included Paul Brophy of Brophy & Reilly and Abby Wilson, a co-founder of Great Lakes Urban Exchange, gravitated to some of the most unusual proposals that combined their uniqueness with strong writing samples and a history of following through on great ideas. I can’t fully express in a blog post the tremendous quality of applications. Next American City will be making use of these applications by reaching out to applicants for individual stories or for their help in next year’s Urbanexus event series (more on that soon).
I’d like to now make mention of the runners up for the Urban Leaders Fellowship:
Lionel Foster — prisoner re-integration in cities, Baltimore in particular.
Jori Lewis — southern Mississippi towns and their shared challenges.
Michael Freedman-Schnapp — “dirty jobs” behind the green economy.
We will be announcing the first Urban Leaders Fellow later this week (for those wondering if it’s you, I’m sorry to say that if you haven’t yet been contacted, you were not chosen).
Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.