Citymart Posted on May 12, 2016 by Grounded Strategies Share this post Citymart was not a real store – I knew that much. But I didn’t really understand the name until I dug a little deeper. Browse around the organization’s website and you may come across this passage: “Citymart partners with cities to rethink their spending habits so they focus on what problems they need to solve instead of what things they want to buy. Cities will spend money in better ways, create new opportunities for local businesses, and find the best solutions to local problems.” And suddenly the name makes sense. Citymart: an organization that accumulates and sells innovative solutions to cities across the world. Of course, cities, really, are the world’s biggest consumers – of money, of energy, of water, of countless goods and services. But unlike a traditional store, “shopping” at City Mart means identifying problems and needs, then studying and ultimately “purchasing” innovative solutions to those problems from groups around the world. And so we’re proud to say that GTECH’s Ambassador Model was available to select Citymart customers—Da Nang, Vietnam and Bristol, England —for a limited time only. Da Nang The People’s Committee of Vietnam went shopping for ideas to help bring Da Nang communities together and revitalize public space in its city center. The problem: low-income residents live in a high-density environment lacking in public recreational opportunities. They solicited proposals to restore an existing but underutilized space and, most importantly, to strengthen social cohesion in the process. With minor adjustments, we felt our Ambassador model would be a perfect fit: While GTECH ambassadors attend trainings together, they typically each work on their own site. Since the request for proposals asked that we consider one site, and given their explicit goal of increased social cohesion, we thought that we might include all of the Da Nang ambassadors in the single project, allowing each to focus on a different aspect of the site – from hardscape, to native plantings, to programming events. Ultimately, the People’s Committee didn’t pull us off the Citymart shelf. But packaging the Ambassador model to suit slightly different needs in a country on the other side of the planet helped us see the program and its applications with more clarity. Bristol In recent years Bristol has become increasingly diverse and is now home to “at least 45 religions, 180 countries of birth represented and 91 main languages.” The city wants to maintain and celebrate its growing diversity, but needs to address the tension and fragmentation associated with such growth. So Bristol went shopping at Citymart: “to strengthen residents’ shared sense of belonging and community resilience.” “to increase trust within communities so that residents come to behave in a neighbourly way and gain a shared sense of place” “to embrace difference and diversity, identify shared values, and strengthen mutual respect.” Unlike Da Nang, Bristol wasn’t necessarily searching for a space-based solution to their problem. Of course, at GTECH we believe that people are a product of their environment and that changing an environment changes the people in it. Finally, and this is key – when you involve the people in that environment in the process, that change becomes Growth (Through Energy and Community Health). We were excited to tackle the social cohesion challenges Bristol has been confronting by working with a diverse Bristol Ambassador cohort to reshape public space and public opinion in the communities struggling most with inclusion. Bristol was enticed by the prospect – they selected GTECH as one of 5 finalists to interview with the Strategic Resilience Officer and other members of city government. We had a thrilling cross-Atlantic conversation, learning about Bristol’s challenges and teasing out the shape of a Bristol Ambassador program. While we didn’t make the final, final cut, the process was an exciting and enlightening experience that we hope to build from as we look to improve and expand our programming. 100 Resilient Cities Da Nang and Bristol and, in fact, all of Citymart’s partners are part 100 Resilient Cities, a network of 100 cities (including Pittsburgh!) attempting to address the most challenging concerns facing urban areas and the world as a whole in the coming years, decades, and centuries. At GTECH, we’re eager to contribute to this conversation, and happy to offer our wares at Citymart as we all work toward resilient Growth. This blog was authored by Gavin White.