Earlier this year, I visited New York City for the first time.  It was for work, but the day of landing at the airport my coworker and I checked out a few tourist areas.

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This was Central park, I saw the financial district later that night, as well as the Times Square, below.

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New Yorkians have always caught me a bit off guard.  They tend to reference their city often, “I’m from New York, it’s different there…” and generally I find that the East and West Coasts have very differing perspectives from my midwest.  I could actually spend a long time explaining some of the differences, they really are fascinating, but that’s for another time.  That ideology that people from New York are different always seems a little arrogant.  I also really dislike the Yankees, as a Twins fan.  Despite these things, for some reason people from the East Coast tend to get along with me quickly due to me being pretty straight forward.  When you actually break bread with people from the East Coast they are actually pretty similar to most other

folks, just have a different outlook due to the urban economies they’re brought up in.

Anyway, that initial high brow perspective on New York always bugged me.  It just seemed like everyone must be overrating the city.  So when I went there for the first time, mentally I expected to be a unimpressed.  Or at least not in awe of another city.  I’ve been to many cities and what could be that different here?

Well, I was wrong.  New York City is one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever been to.  There’s a vibrant aspect of the people there that is really entrancing and fun.  The food was amazing, the people and places in the city don’t really stop.  “The city that doesn’t sleep” is an apt description.  I was enamored.  Central Park was a gem, the city was clean and had a lot of great places to visit.  For what it’s worth, other cities that I’ve visited recently haven’t been nearly as interesting.  For instance, Philadelphia and Boston didn’t have the same charm; though they were interesting as well.

ClimateofHope_HI-RES_3quarterbook-1While in town, the Bloomberg New Energy Finance gathering was happening.  During that a free book was given to me, Climate of Hope.   The book is written by Mike Bloomberg and Carl Pope–a former governor of New York City and a former director of the Sierra Club (founded by John Muir–a West Coast icon) respectively.  The narrative is specifically set up to juxtapose the two protagonists who are attempting to address climate change while having seemingly far different ideologies and backgrounds.

It works.  It’s clear they aren’t really the same person, but have a similar goal.  A goal we all need to consider and attempt to solve.

The premise of the book is that of independence, particularly in the role of cities and smaller organizational groups of people taking the reins to solve issues as opposed to waiting for the larger oversight of federal government to lead.  They provide a great deal of examples where this has already happened previously and advocate for more efforts throughout the US and beyond.  And that’s what has to happen.  The federal government has all but washed it’s hand of the science showing what a dire future we’re facing.  They’ve put leaders in place who deny not only that science but the very efficacy of the people and departments which they’ve been sworn to oversee!   It’s a strange time to be certain.

The importance of local governance and self directed efforts are perhaps never more important than here and now.  If you’re interested in how cities and citizens can take charge now, this is a good start.  Bloomberg in particular seems like someone who could get things done.  I’ll be watching to see if he has higher aspirations in regard to office–seems like someone I could vote for.