By Cyndee Miller
I’m a city person—no ifs, ands or buts. I may have been stuck in the suburbs growing up, but I literally packed up and moved out the day I got a part-time job. I’m not alone, of course. The U.N. predicts 68 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cites by 2050.
In an era of massive urbanization, a question arises: Who belongs in a city? Especially when it’s one of those shiny new megacities—only possible with a megadisplacement of existing residents.
For OluTimehin Adegbeye, the answer is simple: “We’re all already here. That answers the question of whether or not we belong,” she said in her Ted Talk at Global Conference.
A native of Lagos, Nigeria, she called on the audience to consider the human cost of progress. Case in point: the former inhabitants of Otodo Gbame, a coastal Lagos fishing community demolished to make way for a prime beachfront development.
It’s part of a push for Lagos to become “the next Dubai.” But, as Ms. Adegbeye says, “You don’t need to be the new Dubai when you’re already Lagos.”
The reality is that in cities from Lagos to Philadelphia (where conference was held), it’s often the residents of the so-called poor neighborhoods that give a location its personality, its culture. They’re also usually at the forefront of innovating solutions. They have to be.
And yet they’re losing this battle. Ms. Adegbeye encouraged people to push past their “but what can I do” mentality and recognize their power.
“We must hold our governments and ourselves accountable for keeping our shared cities safe for everyone in them, because the only cities worth building—indeed, the only futures worth dreaming of—are those that include all of us, no matter who we are or how we make homes for ourselves,” she said.
Project managers heard the message loud and clear—and gave her a standing ovation.
The four other Ted Talk speakers offered their own powerful takes on the theme of possibility: Jess Kutch on building an economy that works for everyone; Janet Stovall on the role of business in creating intentional inclusion; Anna Piperal on the promise of e-government; and Sandeep Jauhar, on the parallels of the emotional and biological heart.
For those who covet an opportunity to stand in the magical red circle, PMI announced a TedX program that will put a few select members up on stage next year. Stay tuned.
What story would you tell?