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Beauty is a challenge.
When it comes to our cities, we rarely speakof beauty. Our urban aspirations tend to be framed in more quotidianlanguage – efciency, safety, function, economy. But beauty silentlydrives our decisions. Where will we go for lunch? Is there time to stop atthe park? Have you see that performance? Where should we live? And indriving those decisions it enriches our lives.
Cities that are attentive to beauty understand thatit is an economic engine – an engine that attractsand retains talent and an engine that stabilizes andraises property values. Cities that are committedto beauty understand that it enriches and ennoblesits citizens.The citizens of Indianapolis have made a tremendous commitment to beauty. They’ve builta world class Cultural Trail, invested in one of thepremier public art collections (at the airport),and nine thousand of them volunteered to turnan interstate highway into a thriving arts andnature corridor. When the citizens of Indianapolisencounter the beautiful – in good design, in artand in nature – they are not encountering isolatedmoments or objects, they are encountering theproduct of their concerted eorts and committedchoices.But for Indianapolis (or for any city in America) tobe a model of a beautiful, twenty-rst century city it will have to go further. It will have to redenepublic art, it will have to reimagine the role of public infrastructure and it will have to reconnectto the land. These are some of the Big Ideas thatwere identied at the Livability Challenge inIndianapolis in October 2010. Together the Big Ideas identied in Indianapolis show what it willtake for any city in America to make beauty, in theform of art, good design and nature, available to allof its citizens every day. What was striking in Indianapolis was how simplethose Big Ideas seemed once they were voiced. Butsimple ideas, even inevitable ideas, are not easy tomake true. It was not until those Big Ideas wererooted in projects in Indianapolis that they beganto demonstrate what a beautiful, livable city wouldbe. A city where investments in infrastructureclean the air and uplift the spirit, a city whereartists and designers solve problems, a city that isat once a park and an economic powerhouse. We wouldn’t have caught a glimpse of that city without the willingness of the Indianapolis teamto hear new ideas or without the ability of thenational guests to recognize what was happening in Indianapolis. But now that we have caught a glimpse we know where we could go.Charlie Cannon