Urbanism and sustainability as an element of US foreign policy: US Agency of International Development policies
Lynn Stevens of Chicago's Peopling Places blog points us to a post on the USAID website, "Help Shape USAID Policy on Sustainable Urban Living," that outlines a different way for USAID to shape its approach to how it does international development projects.
This is an important element of US foreign policy and it should be changed to be both pro-urban and pro-rural, and pro-sustainable, and pro-preservation, and at the same time, promote US "brand" objectives in terms of what is called public diplomacy.
Of course, mostly what the US has exported in terms of the conceptions of urbanism has to do with suburbanism, sprawl, shopping malls and the reshaping of mobility systems around the automobile.
It's not always the best change strategy to say "don't do what we did, learn from us" but when you think of the destruction of economic value that has resulted from sprawl, it would be great for USAID to refocus its city development efforts towards urbanity-appropriate approaches.
Historic preservation and heritage conservation as a key element in US foreign policy
I don't really write about this much anymore, but many years ago, maybe 10, historic preservation consultant and analyst Donovan Rypkema spoke at a National Trust for Historic Preservation conference about historic preservation and culture as a key element of the way that the US presents itself to the world and as an element then of what some call "public diplomacy." (This is my terming of his presentation, not his.) He's gone on to reshape much of his consulting efforts around international historic preservation matters.
It's a powerful argument.
This isn't the particular speech I am thinking about, but these pieces from 2008 extend the argument:
-- Historic Preservation and America in the World, Part 1
-- Historic Preservation and America in the World, Part 2
-- Historic Preservation and America in the World, Part 3
The flip side of this argument is what Simon Anholt calls nation branding. He is a prolific author and editor and his ouevre includes the books Brand America and Places: Identity, Reputation, Attitudes and this blog entry on nation branding.
I was first introduced to his work through a 2005 article in the Boston Globe, "Re-branding America."
Place Branding and Public Diplomacy which I make a point of checking out from time to time. (I can't remember if the Library of Congress gets it online, but I am pretty sure the online journals titles at most large universities have a master subscription to Palgrave Macmillan journals which include it--most DC area college libraries have it, including the Catholic University of America--conveniently located on the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the WMATA red line subway.)
Of course, tourism and visitation in the US has declined significantly since 9/11 because it has become harder for "foreigners" to get visas to visit the US, it's a pain to go through customs and immigration at airports, etc.
The fall off in tourism is why the US federal government is finally marketing the US as a place to visit, despite opposition by conservatives who believe that this is a private sector function. See "Brand USA, a campaign to lure back foreign tourists — and their money" from the Washington Post.