Trump And The City, Part 1

Let’s begin with the obvious: From the perspective of rewarding his base, Donald Trump owes little to cities. After all, his winning electoral numbers were overwhelmingly rural, small town industrial belt, and exurban.

But while the majority of hand-wringing these past two weeks has been from Democrats wondering how they lost the Midwest, there is another subtext to the election that warrants introspection: The cities and metropolitan regions that voted Democratic are increasingly the major generators of economic value and population in America. So if Republicans want to convert 2016 into a longer-term triumph they too have lots of work to do. Read More

Mayor Kenney, Speak Up!

In 2011 there were several violent flash mobs in Philadelphia: young people in large groups attacked random pedestrians. In reaction, Mayor Nutter took to the stage  from City Hall to the church pulpit.  He spoke directly to those that participated in the mob violence and to their parents. His words were tough and firm. And he hammered away over a period of time.

There were two recent violent flash mobs in Philadelphia: one on Broad Street at Temple University and the most recent one at 16th and Walnut in Center City. In reaction to the first incident at Temple, Mayor Kenney was silent. After the second incident last weekend, I wondered if the silence would continue. Read More

The Day After

In this most unsettling presidential election, our real problem begins November 9th, the day someone wins. On the day after, millions will be alienated and angry, no matter the result. That makes governance difficult and national purpose elusive. Read More

The Philanthropic Election

When the 12th century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides detailed his hierarchy of charitable giving he placed anonymity toward the top of the list. Anonymity, thought Maimonides, made it clear the gift was about the recipient, not the giver.

Today’s philanthropy eschews anonymity because it seeks the public leverage of names and relationships. And it wants the gift to be strategic, something that leads to long-term solutions. Charity may be a gift, but philanthropy is a civic enterprise. And in an age when the president of the Ford Foundation is featured in People Magazine, quiet giving is largely a thing of the past. Read More

The Breed To Kill Pet Economy

I recently came across a firm that is in the business of affordable leasing for pet lovers. At first I thought it was a joke. Why lease a pet? But it is on the level. Wagslending is now in 40 states and is one of many consumer finance agencies extending credit to purchase pets. Retail pet stores partner with pet lenders to move inventory in an increasingly competitive business.

Pets are a huge business in America, estimated at $60 billion last year. Think of the scope of the industry: breeding, supplies, food, veterinary care, temporary care kennels, even psychologists, insurers, and funeral homes. And this does not include the cost of nonprofit shelters or publicly-funded animal control systems; let alone America’s burgeoning economy of paid pet walkers and caretakers. Read More

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Stories are the lifeblood of politics. Not just stories about candidates, but stories that sit at the intersection of candidates and the historical moment. To succeed on the national stage, your story has to connect with how voters view their own personal stories at this moment in time and how they view their future. Read More

The Catalyst

On Thursday, an alliance of organizations, investors and entrepreneurs will launch ImpactPHL, an initiative to strengthen and grow the local impact economy. At the event, held at the offices of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the new coalition will unveil a study by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia on the local impact economy. [Full Disclosure: Ajay Raju, a board member at The Philadelphia Citizen, helped fund the study.]

ImpactPHL builds on the significant work of investors, intermediaries, and small businesses throughout the region. This is a welcome effort promoted by capable institutions. Read More

The Impact Investment Revolution

The term impact investing became fashionable ten years ago as a way to describe the intentional focus on the social outcomes of financial investments. While the term is new, the practices it covers are not. There is a history of social investment and grassroots institution building that is an important part of the nation’s DNA. Read More