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What could aliens and flying saucers mean to a community and its government? Like, for real. Whether you believe we've actually been visited by interplanetary travelers or whether simple, Earthly explanations cover the sightings and stories, no community has a stronger association with extra terrestrials and UFOs than Roswell, New Mexico. On this e…
 
Calling climate change an intimidating issue may be understating it. It's massive, right? Being so global and often pulled into intense debate, climate change may have us individuals feeling helpless against it. But there are local-level approaches for making a difference, and municipal governments are sharing best-practices with one another to tha…
 
Superheroes exist. Yes, in real life. Just like in the comics, they wear masks and uniforms, they nab bad guys, and they spread peace across the city. On this episode, we talk to a couple of them, and their stories are absolutely amazing. Thanks to Sgt. Clint Ferguson and Officer Damon Cole for making this happen. Sgt. Clint Ferguson and Deadpool h…
 
It's one of the biggest federal projects going, and it affects all of us. What do we need to know about the 2020 Census? It's different from any in the past. How private is the information being collected? What's it's used for? And how can we be sure it's accurate? We're joined by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National League of Cities, state governm…
 
After a little downtime, we're back -- and let's pick up with a fun one. On this episode, we continue our quest for ways to better connect with or figure out the city you're in -- whether it's your hometown or a place you've never been before. Here, we're documenting and learning the secrets of the city through street photography, as guided by nota…
 
The FCC's map of broadband availability in the U.S. is a basis for policymaking, funding decisions and planning to close service gaps for communities. But what if we told you that map, as many can testify, is pretty inaccurate? How? Why? What's the fallout, here? As fast internet service increasingly solidifies itself as necessary infrastructure, i…
 
A little while back, we began talking with police chiefs for a video series on what they're doing to tackle the surging opioid problem locally -- and sat upright at the different approaches of chiefs Tom Bashore in Nashville, N.C., and Bill Hollingsed in Waynesville, N.C. They're seeing results, even as one of the chiefs said this approach initiall…
 
We revisit the intersection of drones, local government and public need with a trip to Holly Springs, North Carolina, a small town innovating nationally with a pilot project to see commercial food delivery by way of drone. As you can imagine, it's stuffed with logistical and policy questions. Sushi delivery in Iceland Holly Springs press release Ti…
 
Here's an encore of a favorite: Games Over Gangs. Those dang video games. Can't pull the kids away from them. And there's one city using that to its advantage -- with an innovative partnership that's actually teaching video game development to local youths from a rough neighborhood (yes, they jumped at the offer to become game developers), affordin…
 
It's summer, and beach towns all along the coast are each receiving thousands and thousands of visitors from across the U.S. Take Atlantic Beach, N.C., for example. It has a year-round population of about 1,500, but in the summer months that number surges to roughly 50,000. How in the world does such a small community -- with limited staffing and r…
 
Muni Replay! Here's one of our most popular episodes. Meanwhile, we're headed to the coast to record a special live episode, which we'll bring you soon! When you think of downtown alleys, what comes to mind? Bad associations, maybe? The place to avoid at night? Ever since childhood, Americans have had the general impression that alleyways are dark,…
 
Let's catch up on driverless cars, shall we? Last year, we did a primer on autonomous vehicles and policy implications, but it seems like a lot can change in short time with this technology. What's the latest? How does the public feel about it? What are some example scenarios of how we as people might interact with autonomous vehicles in our day-to…
 
The local media landscape is pretty fluid right now: extinct or shrunken newspapers, online-only outlets, freshly grown media entities that may or may not be objective. What's all this mean for local government? Is a reliable, objective media purely about watchdog dynamics? What about when local government needs to get its messages out? What happen…
 
For our 50th episode, we're taking a break from the frequent talk of policy, economics and technology to tour the local dialects of the United States, the spoken identifiers of a city or region. Why do people in Chicago, or St. Louis, or the Outer Banks of North Carolina sound the way they do? What's in a voice? And what's happening that's changing…
 
***REBROADCAST with UPDATES*** We've all heard about the hard times that honeybees are going through and the huge implications for us all. But how do cities fit into all this? There's a surprising compatibility between cities and bees, and a role local governments can play. This episode comes just ahead of National Pollinator Week (June 19-25, thou…
 
Of all the political, economic and cultural concerns of today, the “urban-rural divide” is no slouch. But sometimes it’s oversimplified, devoid of nuance, or turned into an adversarial narrative (i.e. “urban vs. rural”), instead of carefully analyzed for greater-good fixes. On this episode, we delve into a recent report that pulls apart that narrat…
 
The people say it's time to close the broadband gap, and really find a way to make internet speeds adequate for the modern age, for everyone, from areas in cities where the service isn't enough, to rural areas that lack access altogether. A new report shows us how to get there. On this episode, we hear from the report's authors along with state- an…
 
How do dogs figure into economic development? It's no joke. Ask the analysts who take economic vitals from man's best friend. Ask the industries that profit majorly from pet ownership. Or ask the Town of Benson, which em-barked on a dog-focused project to fetch economic bone-efits. Quartz piece connecting dogs and economic development - Dog elected…
 
We'll be back with a new episode next week, but I'm also working on a a lot of other episodes and new ideas. I want to hear from you on what should be different about this podcast, as we've been doing it for a couple years now and it's time to solicit comment. Feel free to keep sharing ideas for episodes while you're at it. Thanks. -Ben…
 
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looks into the ailments of a particular community, it’s safe to assume the concern is infection or some similar local threat to human bodily health. So when the CDC started investigating the youth violence plaguing Wilmington, Del. -- a first-of-its-kind study -- it was different. But not in…
 
There's a lot of exploration on part of local government for better community engagement. With such a diversity of communication and preference out there, it seems pretty complex. But what if it isn't? What if the simplest idea -- even one that hasn't been tried before -- is the key? On this episode we check out Detroit, Mich., and its novel creati…
 
It's an age of big dreams and cool feats in the space of smart cities -- tech-forward, super-efficient places of living and business, with advanced data-gathering, analytics and automation that save time and money and make life and government good. But the rise of smart-cities too is giving rise to conversations about ethics, inclusion, consent, an…
 
Is government wrong in the way it attempts to reach out to young people? Does it work against its own interest when it tries to "have a talk" or come to terms with millennials? Is "millennials" maybe a bad or condescending word? Increasingly, people are saying yes to all three, and that it's high time we overhaul the conversation. On this episode w…
 
Did you take an Uber or a Lyft home on New Year's Eve? Did you wonder on your way back what that ride meant for city policy? Probably not as such, sure, but you've likely heard the conversation about regulating the elements of the sharing economy, like ridesharing (Uber; Lyft) or homesharing (Airbnb; VRBO). That's just one corner of the conversatio…
 
It's time to meet your maker -- your talented, independent, local creator of tangible goods, like art, clothing, instruments, toys, knick-knacks, tech tools, anything. Your city or town might even have its own, motivated maker community that experts are increasingly calling a missing link in the local economic development strategy. On this episode …
 
It's a nationwide issue weighing on police departments of all sizes: the lack of good, qualified applicants when police chiefs seek to hire officers. Salary concerns, public scrutiny, the inherent dangers, long hours and the need for wholehearted commitment are just a few factors stressing the profession. And there's more. To get a handle on it, we…
 
Appropriate to the age of exponential innovation, the smart-cities conversation is moving quickly. Should we it slow down? Explore additional ethical questions? Evaluate our best practices and ideas? More and more people think so. On this episode, we meet a town that's built a "simulated smart city" so they can try it before they buy it and experim…
 
Typically, it would be time for the off-week preview. But since it falls on Halloween, we figured "why not?" and did a silly episode in tribute. But we keep our focus. We talk with a municipal official in Wisconsin whose town is like many these days in that its local government leadership actually schedules, by ordinance, when trick or treating tak…
 
For as often as we hear the phrase "urban versus rural" -- like it's an irreconcilable competition between two oppositely distinct regions -- there are loads of examples of urban and rural communities working together to learn from one another, obliterate stereotypes on each end and team up on common goals. It's also fallacious to think "urban" and…
 
Women are the majority of the United States, but only a slice of government leadership. On this episode, we talk with women working to turn the dial with research, myth-busting, confidence-building and a business case. (Tai chi, too.) We hear from the heads of the League of Women in Government, the president of N.C. Women in Municipal Government, a…
 
"Beer is the beverage of community," says Sean Lilly Wilson, a brewer who played a role in changes that brought exponential growth in the number of breweries in his state -- with happy extras for their surroundings. On this episode -- recorded live from CityVision 2017 -- we hear Sean discuss how breweries have played major roles in downtown and wa…
 
A majorly successful social engagement program with a yearlong waiting list. Pianos left in the urban outdoors for any random person to play. And a totally mysterious city data collector. We plunge into their mutual concepts -- creative or playful ways of connecting people and their town -- and how they might work where you live. There's a lot of h…
 
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