Great Cities and the Shadow of Teotihuacan

Great cities have always had an influence beyond their borders.

This is true not only of contemporary cities like New York, Paris and Beijing but also of ancient cities. The influence of Rome can still be seen today in the form of ancient roadways and aqueducts.

Teotihuacan Pottery Mask

But whether exporting engineering or religion like ancient Rome, or artwork and pottery like the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan, it’s important to understand that cities have always been – and still are – vital centers of commerce, science, art and culture that have an impact far broader than their municipal footprints.

At a recent summit in Philadelphia sponsored by the Knight Foundation and Delaware Valley Grantmakers, and organized by TechnicallyPhilly’s Chris Wink, participants discussed the social and urban challenges facing Philadelphia, and considered the possibility that such challenges might present unexpected opportunities.

Wink’s thoughts on this subject are well worth the read, as evidenced by the impressive turnout at this recent event.

I had the pleasure of attending this summit, and one of the most profound realizations I took from it was sparked a comment made by one of my fellow participants.

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Civic Hacking and Unconference Events

This is a busy week in the world of civic hacking and unconferences, with events going on from the Mid-Atlantic to the South Pacific.

This Saturday in the Washington DC – Baltimore area, there is Transportation Camp (put on by the good folks at OpenPlans) and CreateBaltimore 2 (put on by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council).

In New York City, the Hackathon for Social Good will take place this Thursday, and the CleanWeb Hackathon will take place on Saturday.

And in Honolulu, a hacking event sponsored by CityCamp starts this Friday.

Keep your eyes on the events page for new event listings so that you can join in a civic hacking or unconference event near you.

Happy hacking!