Building Inclusive and Livable Cities

Dancing towards Revolution in Kyiv

Dec 15, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble

The rhythmic hip-hop-like chants of protest exploded just as the final curtain came down on the flower-laden ballet dancers and the musicians who had performed with them.

“Beauty and the Beast:” A Tale of Entrepreneurship and Community

Dec 15, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble

     Synetic Theater has another hit on its hands with its new production of Beauty and the Beast.  “It gives you goosebumps,” writes the website Broadway World; “A lush, almost feverish theatrical experience, impressive to see and satisfying,” gushes Talkin’ Broadway blog; “fresh and frightening,” declares the Washington City Paper; and “graphically clever” as well as “bewitchingly ideal conveyance,” notes the doyen of Washington critics Peter Marks in the Washington Post.  

Making Community Work: the Importance of the Performing Arts

Dec 05, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble
Making Community Work: the Importance of the Performing Arts

More than two decades ago, in 1993, Harvard Government Professor Robert Putnam published his now classic study Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy.  Trying to answer the question why northern Italian cities developed vibrant civic traditions which came to support the growth of democratic institutions and southern Italian cities did not, Putnam was surprised to find a strong correlation between civic health and choral societies.  Putnam masterfully argued that choral societies emerged fro

Fight not Flight: Lessons from Detroit

Oct 31, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble

Several of the speakers at the recent Meeting of the Minds in Detroit – including Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, together with several foundation and community leaders from Detroit itself — echoed one simple sentiment:  “We aren’t going to lose our community on our watch.”  This sense of identification with and responsibility for community constitutes an important component of urban resilience. Significantly, speakers underscored how “not losing” one’s community is not just about keeping things as they are.

Performance and Power from Kabuki to Go Go

Sep 29, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble
Performance and Power from Kabuki to Go Go

Just eight years after establishing a powerful military regime that would last 26 decades, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu became so disturbed by a troupe of itinerate actors that he expelled them from his Suruga military base.  The group performed in a popular new style known as “kabuki.” To critical observers such as Ieyasu and his coterie of military strong-men, kabuki dancing consisted of women of ill-repute showing themselves off to potential customers.  While an overly simplistic characterization, early kabuki performance seemed to many to be primarily about sell

The Sound of Music Is The Sound of Community Resilience

Jul 29, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble

On a recent pleasant summer evening, my wife and I found ourselves at Washington’s Southwest Waterfront listening to a free sunset concert by one of the fabulous jazz divas of our times, Washington’s Sharón Clark.  Sharón, who packs important clubs from Broadway to Irkutsk and is frequently compared by critics to Sarah Vaughn, was performing before people who know and appreciate what a special singer she is.

Acting Out Gentrification: Theater as Community Engagement

Jul 08, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble
Acting Out Gentrification: Theater as Community Engagement

Communities undergoing gentrification often fail to find ways to talk across the fault lines running among newcomers and old-timers.

Topics: Urban Studies

D.C. Jazz History

May 27, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble and Maurice Jackson
Topics: Urban Studies

The Devil is a Local Call Away: Cities, the Arts, and Misunderstanding “Decay”

May 27, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble

At the height of the Cold War, Soviet wags loved to tell ironic tales about their political leaders.  Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev inspired a number of particularly endearing stories which always somehow related to his being slightly at sea in the middle of world events swirling around him.  One such anikdot pitted the witless Brezhnev against a wily Richard Nixon.

Topics: Urban Studies

Innovation through Inclusion: Lessons from Medellín and Barcelona

May 27, 2014
// By Blair A. Ruble

For more than a century, Medellín has been known world-wide.  For Spanish-speaking members of the “Greatest Generation,” Medellín is where Argentine tango great Carlos Gardel, probably the most popular Latin singer of his generation, was martyred in a fiery crash at the local airport in 1935.  For “Boomers,” the city’s name is synonymous with the world’s most notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.  For so-called “Millenn

Topics: Urban Studies

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