It is hard to imagine a cooler political figure than Mr Fetterman in contemporary America, who appears totally focused on broken-down Braddock, and what can be done to make life better there.
Perhaps local efforts should stipulate their own criteria for success. At a recent public meeting sponsored by the Springfield Institute, more than 90 members of the community gathered to discuss and debate which municipal performance indicators mattered most to them.Commitments to places and to the people in them can be interpreted as substitutes for one another. My fellow Economix blogger Edward Glaeser, for instance, argues that the goal of compensating victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans would be better met by giving individual residents checks than by trying to rebuild the city.But the urban planners Randall Crane and Michael Manville emphasize the potentially complementary characteristics between investments in individuals and communities. Commitments to places often represent commitments to those who live in them, helping create confidence and trust, assets sometimes described as social capital.Some of our cities will probably lose the race to reinvent themselves. But some local economic development efforts could win big. That’s why I’m cheering for Springfield’s social entrepreneurs, who rank high among my local heroes.