Gems of innovation in Fast Cities 2011

Each year Fast Company magazine introduces their pick for Fast Cities City of the Year, and while that may be quite subjective, this year they also included an innovator/innovation in each state. Here are the ones most relevant to this urban living:

Places for working creatives
– Washington DC. Affinity Lab. Arguably the first coworking space in the U.S marketed as such., founded in 2001.
– Indiana, Indianapolis. The National Design District. Redevelopment of an old auto factory into a neighborhood-wide incubator and live-work spaces for those in the design industry.
– Michigan, Detroit. TechTown. TechTown, a tech incubator started in 2004 by Wayne State University hosts 220 firms in Detroit, home of the fastest-growing tech-job market in the U.S. over the past year.
– Tennessee, Knoxville. Knoxville Overground. The city’s first coworking space serving as a nonprofit to support social entrepreneurs.

Places for creatives to live
– Missouri, St. Louis. Schlafly Bottleworks. A microbrewery serving as a community hub, hosting live music, lectures, foodie gatherings, and Washington University classes.
– New Mexico, Albuquerque. Infill Solutions/Calott + Gifford Architecture. Award-winning city-revitalizing infill and brownfields projects.
РRhode Island, Providence. AS220. A nonprofit studio space, artist housing, and caf̩/bar doing what places for creatives do best, revitalizing a once-seedy area and raising property values.
– North Dakota, Fargo. Hotel Donaldson (pictured above). A hotel for creatives (each room was designed by an area artist), and “driven by a desire to create memorable experiences for guests by celebrating the community’s visual, culinary, literary and performing arts.
Texas, Houston. Project Row Houses. Invested in 40 artist homes and meeting space in a poor part of Houston.

Places for creatives to play
– Virginia, Norfolk. Art Everywhere. Uses empty Norfolk storefronts for a two-month-long art fair celebrating local creativity. Sounds like an ideal partner to use the Better Block Project as a crowdsourced placemaking kickoff.
– Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Milwaukee Public Market. The downtown Public Market anchors the Third Ward, Milwaukee’s rejuvenated creative district.

Innovative Transportation
– Hawaii, Kauai. GreenCar Hawaii. Car sharing for hotel guests.
– Minnesota, Minneapolis. Metro Transit Ride to Rewards. The nation’s first public-transit frequent-rider program.

– Binghamton, New York. The Design Your Own Park Competition. Binghamton’s contest allows residents to plan renovations of vacant lots and neglected spaces, the first of which will be done in 2011.
– Connecticut, New Haven. SeeClickFix allows citizens to crowdsource the fixing of problems city officials may be overlooking.

Social change, environment
– Alaska, Anchorage. Seeds of Change teaches youth in the juvenile-justice system to create a social enterprise by growing and selling produce from community gardens.
– Utah, Salt Lake City. Clear the Air Challenge. Teams formed to telecommute and carpool, cut pollution, and illuminate bad habits and conservation possibilities, saving $735,000 in vehicle costs.
– West Virginia, Huntington. Huntington’s Kitchen, formerly Jamie’s Kitchen. Popularized by a reality series in 2009 to change the eating habits of “the unhealthiest town in the country”, the community kitchen is a catalyst for healthy living, sparking a new farmers’ market.

Photo of Hotel Donaldson, Fargo, North Dakota.

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