Fast IS the New Big

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As we continue the ongoing crossroads discussion of old and new and what’s next for Lexington, Ace keeps coming back to “Fast is the New Big.” (It was Kakie Urch’s headline on her Amazon story last issue, page 14.)

It’s even a fairly simple thing to tie to Lexington’s brand identity already in development (“fast horses” anyone?)

This morning’s first ReTweet was from Susan Gardner, editor of Municipal World Magazine (on Twitter, she is @MWEditor.)

ReTweet @MWEditor, “Is your city on the list?! Fast Company names the Fast Cities for 2009.”

The link is FastCompany.com/cities/2009.

And no, Lexington is not on the List.

Fast Company writes:

In a year like this, we need a city upon a hill. Seattle, Fast Company’s City of the Year, not only sprawls across seven hills but also boasts the ingredients that we believe will bring our communities — and country — back to prosperity: smarts, foresight, social consciousness, creative ferment. There’s nothing we need more right now than brilliant initiatives that can help our communities go greener, be safer, live smarter, and invest for the future. This year, singular bright ideas have earned 12 other cities — Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Malmö, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Taipei, Tucson, and Vancouver — places on our honor roll. Their exemplary initiatives are improving neighborhoods, transforming lives, and helping build better, faster cities for the future.

Forget for a moment all the ridiculous discussions from the City Elders about Austin and Madison. And of course, Lexington doesn’t share a lot in common with Seattle either. But Lexington could be on this list. Look at the primary requirements Fast Company cites:

  • smarts
  • foresight
  • social consciousness
  • creative ferment

Lexington has been particularly strong on 1, 3, and 4 during the last year of discussion, dissent, and transition. And the lack of foresight that came from the developers and Mayor Newberry are part of what inspired 1, 3, and 4. (So….uh… thanks?)

Fast Company adds:

This is home to some of the world’s top medical brain trusts: the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, the University of Washington Medical Center, and the Bastyr University Research Institute, a global pioneer in science-based natural medicine. Seattle, the rare city that boosted its municipal arts budget as the economy stalled in 2008, radiates cultural inspiration. There’s the Intiman Theatre, directed by the genius Bartlett Sher, and the art-glass scene, led by Dale Chihuly… And for three of the past five years, we have been ranked America’s most literate city, based on criteria including education level and the number of bookstores. (We placed a dismal second in the other two.) We are home to a plethora of fine writers, from National Book Award winners Timothy Egan and Sherman Alexie to best sellers such as Tom Robbins and…Garth Stein.”

How does Lexington step up?

Health?
Markey Cancer Center for Cancer Research; St. Joseph for cardiac care; Kentucky Children’s Hospital within UK; Cardinal Hill’s model Side by Side arts/health pairing (p12 of the April 16 issue); and St. Joe East on the 100TopHospitals.com ranked by Reuters.

Literate?
Lexington is home to Gurney Norman, author of Divine Rights Trip, who’ll be “inaugurated” Friday as Kentucky’s poet laureate. Natural Man Ed McClanahan lives right around the corner. Guy Davenport taught at UK and went on to become a MacArthur fellow (the much-lauded genius grant). These are just a few of the luminaries who’ve written for Ace along the way. (Just don’t forget Richard Hell is FROM Lexington.)

Bookstores?
You can’t swing a cat without hitting one in this town (Joseph Beth spawned a regional empire, and then there’s Morris Bookstore, Morgan Adams, Sqecial Media to name a few).

Art Glass Scene?
Please. It’d be hard for anybody to hold a candle to Stephen Rolfe Powell on that one, who makes his home right down the road at Centre College in Danville. (Google him.)

Ace Contributing Writer Andrew Wyllie (@Wyllie) promptly chimed in, “Just think, I left Seattle to come here. What does that say about Lexington?”

Ace Reader/Writer Rob Morris (@RobMorris2)from his office at Lowell’s over on Mechanic Street immediately posted a video to the discussion on Survival of the Fastest.

youtube.com/user/survivalofthefastest.

Another ReTweet from @MWEditor today: Urban #agriculture could feed #cities RT @landscapingdad: High Rise Farms? The New Model for Sustainable Cities. An excerpt reads, “Food production could transform a city’s character. Whether leafy towers or front-yard gardens, ‘when the designs are visible, they attract attention and change the experience of walking down the street,’ says Ryerson architecture professor Mark Gorgolewski.”

That describes exactly what Jim Embry outlined in his April 9 Earth Month/Green Ace issue, and dovetails with David Mohney’s slide show of Rotterdam last Thursday (blogged here).

And today’s entire #creativecities discussion took place in the amount of time it took to drive from the Post Office on High Street to the Ace office on Jefferson.

Pretty fast.



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