Today’s the day! In partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’re launching The Creative City, a report we’ve been working on for the past six months. Through the eyes of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 Mayors Challenge Champion Cities, the report tells the stories of hundreds of civic innovators across the US, all simultaneously using design to address some of the most pressing urban challenges of our time — from homelessness to the opioid epidemic.

Read the full report here, and some of our reflections on the process of writing it below.

In March of 2018, we joined Bloomberg Philanthropies at their annual Ideas Camp in New York. The 2-day event brought together civic innovators from across the US to collaboratively start prototyping and testing the bold ideas they’d proposed as part of their Mayors Challenge applications.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Ideas Camp — New York, March 2018, a table with people brainstorming.

Over 48 hours, these 35 ‘Champion Cities’ started to creatively work through some of the most knotty and complex urban challenges. The room was full of optimism and openness in finding new ways of addressing these collective civic challenges. Ideas Camp marked the beginning of one of the world’s biggest public sector prototyping experiments, and standing in the room you could feel a new creative community building.

Over the next 6 months these city teams, with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, would spend time in their communities engaging residents, co-designing new solutions and iterating them as they went. For many, working in new ways was challenging, but a necessity. It meant letting go of their assumptions and collaborating with new teams across city hall and beyond. But despite the challenges, the process was eye-opening and gave many the space and permission to try something new and develop the creative skills needed for addressing these big, urban challenges.

New Rochelle’s Mayors Challenge Storyboard.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with these 35 cities to capture and tell their stories. Through interviews, surveys and site visits, we’ve documented the learnings and challenges of applying design-led approaches in city halls across the US. At scale, we’ve been capturing what works, and what doesn’t.

Today marks the launch of The Creative City, the report capturing these stories and learnings. Through city interviews, open letters, deep dive stories, top tips, photography and film, Creative Cities provides a colourful snapshot of how design is being using within US City Halls; and how teams are using it to drive change in their cities and communities.

It’s not another prototyping toolkit, but more of a curation of opinions, stories and lessons-a bit like a digital magazine you can dip and dive into. Whether you’re a city innovator, designer interested in public sector innovation or a foundation working with cities, there’s something in here for you.

A huge thanks to everyone involved-the 100s of city innovators, the sector leaders and the design coaches-who have all contributed their time and energy to Creative Cities.

We hope you enjoy reading it!

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