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Singapore & Medellín: A Tale of Two Different Cities

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Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
5/30/2014 2:59:11 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Two cities, two cultures...
This was a great read, Boyd. It got me thinking, as did Kim's post on scale in NYC, about he extent to which the built world and the natural world paved the way for Medellin's and Singapore's reinventions of themselves. Yes, there were the civic and political initiatives you detail here, but having visited both places, can you comment on the extent to which the built world or natural landscape contributed to the turnarounds?

CitySolver
CitySolver  
5/21/2014 8:38:36 AM
User Rank Blogger
Medellin
I like the fact that over 90% of Medellin think that becoming an Entrepeneur is a good idea. It shows that when you have nothing you have nothing to lose. That hunger for independence needs to be harnessed, it could transform communities.

Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney  
5/4/2014 9:52:05 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Medellin
Thanks for pointing to education, Resurgent. Boyd Cohen doesn't ignore the role of education in this tale of two cities, but I think he does step over the critical element of education in the equation of economic development, tolerance for failure, and the sort of social stability required for local economies to flourish. Government policies might be useful; grass-roots campaign may take root. A clear commitment to education has been shown to deliver clear dividends consistently.

Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
5/1/2014 7:30:08 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Medellin
I find the story of Medellin very interesting. One of the main themes in the linked article on Medellin was education and jobs for stopping criminal activity. This thought brings thought of Mallows hierarchy of needs. Many people in criminal activity just want to survive and prefer to survive legally. The cooperation is impressive and I hope it continues to improve in Medellin.

boydcohen
boydcohen  
5/1/2014 12:01:47 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Re: Two cities, two cultures...
Thanks to you both for your positive comments about this post.  I am lucky enough to have visited both cities in recent years and you are correct that Singapore is a much more controlled environment in all ways.  It is a beautiful, high-tech city that has been transformed remarkably in such a short timespan.

Yet Medellin has a more chaotic feeling (in a positive way).  As I wrote in the article, it is a much more entrepreneurial cutlure and city, and has clearly decided to focus on social inclusion and addressing inequality as a key part of its development strategy.

 

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
4/30/2014 2:25:36 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Two cities, two cultures...
@NewDream, actually I was just using Boyd's terminology: "decidedly top-down economic strategy."

But i have seen bits and pieces here and there that suggest Singapore is quite tightly run. Just doing an internet search now, this came up: Singapore Tightens Grip on Internet News Sites

Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding your point...

NewDream
NewDream  
4/30/2014 1:50:25 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Two cities, two cultures...
I would so love to visit either or both of these cities. Thanks, Boyd, for the article, which truly is just as fascinating as Susan suggests.

Susan, I think the cultural differences must have strongly influenced the approaches taken. It's interesting that you think of top-down vs bottom-up, which are concepts in system design, as corresponding to 'controlled' vs 'inclusive'. I'm going to have to think that one over a bit.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
4/30/2014 7:09:47 AM
User Rank Blogger
Two cities, two cultures...
Thanks, Boyd, for a really fascinating comparison. It would be interesting to know how much culture itself played into the choice of approaches.

Some years ago, I was passing through Singapore and remember having the sense that it was a very controlled place -- everything immaculate and lots of signs telling you not to spit and to be nice to your neighbor etc. So top-down was perhaps a natural fit.

I've never visited Medellín, but your description of their inclusive approach seems very 21st century, plus it encourages civic engagement and gets people invested in their own communities. In the long run, that has to be the way to go.

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