Creating a new transportation future is one of my favorite themes. A variety of developments are making this possible, from autonomous driving possibilities to new tech like Hyperloop, to intelligent infrastructure and the desirability of denser more walkable cities. This Spring I had the opportunity to keynote and to facilitate participant discussion at the first Greater St. Cloud (MN) Development Corporation Transportation Summit 2017. They have produced a very nice video summary of the event, highlighting the key futuring philosophy that I encouraged.
St. Cloud, a city about an hour northwest of Minneapolis, is wrestling with transportation priorities between enhanced rail access to Minneapolis, better roads, and attracting passenger service to their regional airport. Interestingly at the summit interest in better air service came in as a high priority. We discussed the growing possibility that some kind of smaller personal air services may emerge, either with small electric planes or with hybrid air and ground vehicles such as this Airbus “PopUp” concept. As you will see in the summary video I encouraged community leaders to think as futuristically as they can – that is boldly and without being to0 wedded to transportation assumptions of today.
I also really encouraged them to stay tuned to developments with Hyperloop and to be ready to advocate for a Mid-West route if this technology proves to be viable in the next few years. A route from St. Cloud through the Twin Cities and beyond could make a lot of sense and enable the region to leap ahead into creating a new transportation future.
Finally, one of things I learned about the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation is that they have adopted a recently developed social innovation for public private partnerships in community development called the Collective Impact Model. Developed at Stanford, the process involves the familiar moves of creating a new vision for the future but then emphasizes a method for each involved community organization to leverage its unique strengths and priorities to enable collective progress toward the vision.