Who Are the Brave Urban Thinkers?

The Atlantic just published a list of 27 brave thinkers. (Just 27?) And it seems that none of them are directly working on urban policy issues. Who are the brave urban thinkers that should be nominated?

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I’ll be honest: I hate lists that include superlatives. Think of anything on Forbes.com, or the Wall Street Journal’s recent tally of the best cities for young people, or Travel + Leisure’s sexiest Caribbean sunsets. I know these kinds of lists are catchy, but I take them seriously and then am disappointed. (I’ve been to some of those Caribbean sunsets and I’d say they’ve got nothing on the view west toward the Schyukill looking down Pine Street.)

So I was mildly pleased to see the cover of the Atlantic has a story called “Brave Thinkers” and there were 27 of them and they weren’t the bravest necessarily, they were just brave. But when I realized that none of the people are directly in urban affairs, I grew more critical. For starters, why include Barack Obama? Wasn’t the Nobel enough?!

But seriously, how come no one is seeing the connection between the innovation things that are happening in life and the fact that they’re urban. Even the MacArthur Foundation (which essentially rounds up the smartest, most interesting people each year for its fellowship program) has started to catch on, with recent picks such as Rebecca Onie, the founder of Project HEALTH, and Will Allen, founder of Growing Power in Milwaukee. As far as brave thinkers go, let me list a couple that will be featured in our next issue (Issue No. 25) because I happen to think these people and organizations are amazing.

-The Blues Project

Robin Chase, the founder of Zipcar

-John Hickenlooper
-Ed Mazria
-Bill Mitchell
-Philadelphia Fresh Food Financing Initiative

Roland Ries, the mayor of Strasbourg
-Rebecca Solnit

Those are just a few of the many that are in the issue. Who would you add?

You can nominate brave thinkers on the Atlantic’s site — or better yet, do it here and I’ll accumulate your ideas and send it over to them.

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Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.

Tags: new york city

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