Civic News

City of Philadelphia is sending its employees to innovation school

It's the first cohort of the city's "Innovation Academy," a partnership with Philadelphia University. The seven-week course aims to teach staffers the principles of innovation, like design thinking and problem-solving with analytics.

Coliving gets the Styles treatment.

The New York Times gave coliving the Styles treatment in an article published yesterday, but left out the biggest player in the market, Brooklyn's Common. Writer Penelope Green stayed at several coliving spaces in Manhattan, New Jersey and at Node Brooklyn for her piece "In the '90s, We Had 'Friends.' Now They Call It Co-Living." At each location she did crafts, ate, did yoga and more. At Node Brooklyn, Green went to a crafts night: "On this night, nearly all of the building’s 13 tenants had gathered to paint pots for tiny succulents, an activity led by Paivi Kankaro, 34, whose company, CraftJam, runs D.I.Y. events around New York City," she wrote. "'Craft is yoga for your brain,' Ms. Kankaro said." The omission of Common was noteworthy if only because it is, with eight locations and $23 million in funding, the best established coliving company in the city. The reason, Green writes, is that founder Brad Hargreaves did not allow her to stay overnight. "There are still co-living evangelists, like Brad Hargreaves of Common, who has promised that 'the genuine and organic relationships our members build with each other,' as he wrote in a post for Medium, would not be tainted by allowing journalists to sleep over at Common properties," Green writes. The whole piece is worth a read, and does give a glimpse into an otherwise mostly unseen world. [link href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/23/style/what-is-co-living.html?mcubz=1" text="Read the full story"]

Nineteen City of Philadelphia employees are going back to school for innovation.

It’s the first cohort of the city’s “Innovation Academy,” a partnership with Philadelphia University. The seven-week course aims to teach staffers the principles of innovation, like design thinking and problem-solving with analytics, GovTech first reported.

The Academy course is based off the innovation-focused curriculum that the East Falls-based university teaches its undergraduates but is specifically tailored for the city government students, said Andrew Buss, the Office of Innovation and Technology staffer in charge of the city’s innovation efforts (and one of the Innovation Academy students).

Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid worked with Philadelphia University’s VP of Innovation D.R. Widder to develop the course, GovTech reported.

The Academy spans several different city agencies, with students from departments like the Office of Innovation and Technology, the Fleet Department, the Managing Director’s Office, the Commerce Department and Parks and Recreation.

The city hopes to hold an academy each year, so more and more employees can get the training, Buss said, adding that the city is paying about $40,000 to send the employees to the course, Buss said.

This is just one arm of the city’s innovation efforts, said Buss, which also include opening an innovation lab in the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall.

The move isn’t surprising, given the Nutter administration’s focus on efforts like The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, whose stated goal was to make City Hall more like a startup — fail fast, for example. Be nimble. This seems like a way to institutionalize that spirit and bring it into the different corners of city government.

Read more on GovTech

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