VOL. 132 | NO. 63 | Wednesday, March 29, 2017
RegionSmart Gets City Lover Peter Kageyama
By Patrick Lantrip
Renowned author and lover of cities Peter Kageyama will be speak at this year’s RegionSmart Summit, which is the second annual gathering of Mid-South mayors and civic leaders to discuss future workforce development, transportation and land use in the area.
The event, which will be held April 27 at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education, features a strong lineup of nationally recognized speakers, including Kageyama, Ellen Dunham-Jones, Paulo Nunes-Ueno and Mitchell J. Silver.
“Part of my job is to give folks a different perspective on their cities and communities,” Kageyama said. “This is why we go to events like this RegionSmart Summit.”
Kageyama most notably is the author of “For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places” and the follow up, “Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places.”
In his books, Kageyama explores love and emotional engagement with places and why it’s a good thing for people to fall in love with their cities.
Originally from northeastern Ohio, Kageyama has lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, for nearly 25 years.
“I still have a lot of love for northeast Ohio and Akron, I go back there pretty regularly,” he said. “You can love more than one place – one of the things I say about city love it that it’s not monogamous.”
Kageyama, former president of Creative Tampa Bay, a grassroots community-change organization, and a senior fellow with the national Alliance for Innovation, has been to Memphis several times, but it’s been about four or five years since his last visit.
“I’m coming in the day before the summit and will hopefully get a tour, because cities change quite a bit in just five years,” he said.
Kageyama said he is very excited to see other growth the city has experienced in the last five years outside of its most recognizable-landmark.
“Everything focuses on Beale Street for you guys, and Beale Street is great, but Memphis is not just Beale Street,” he said.
One such development he mentioned was the Crosstown Concourse, which he likened to the Ponce City Market – a sister facility Sears built in Atlanta around the same time that has also been saved from obscurity by creative, mixed-use development.
“The Crosstown center for you guys will not only have an economic impact, but I think it will have an emotional impact on the way you feel about your city,” he said. “These former Sears distribution centers are huge. It sat empty for years, and when something sits fallow like that – unused, unloved – people start thinking, ‘we’ve lost this and we’re never going to get anything back.’”
Which Kageyama said can have a negative emotional impact on the community.
“So having something like this come back reimagined and reenergized that is obviously economically important, but psychologically and emotionally important as well,” he said, “I think that will be a real catalyst for you guys moving forward.”
Kageyama also likened the love for cites to a medical phenomenon where abstract things like laughter and human touch can have an impact on a person’s health beyond the measurable effects of medicine and hard science.
“When pets, plants to objects are loved, they thrive,” Kageyama said. “So too with cities. We can argue about the degree, but I think people realize there is at least some value to that. Yes, things have a cost, but they also have a value beyond the purely financial. I’m trying to get people to recognize and be able to discuss that value beyond that.”