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Insecure cities

Miami city by night by beatrice preve on 500px.com

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I am back in Toronto and ready to resume my normal routines. I am definitely a creature of habit.

But boy is Miami an incredible city.

The interesting thing that I noticed about Miami though is that – despite its reputation as a global capital of glam – it still shares the same kinds of insecurities that many other cities experience.

I was reading the December 2015 / January 2016 issue of Surface this past weekend and there was an interview with billionaire real estate developer Jorge Pérez. He’s the CEO of The Related Companies and worth somewhere over $3 billion. In the interview he said that his biggest focus these days is on “Miami becoming a world-class city.”

I love that. Cities need strong proponents. And he is doing a lot. To give one example, he donated $40 million (half in cash and half in art) to create the new Pérez Art Museum Miami.

But for the Torontonians reading this post, how many times have you also heard the words world-class? At this point it makes me cringe when I hear someone say it. Usually it accompanies a sentence such as: “If we do (insert thing here), we will then be world-class.”

I also attended a talk at Design Miami, where some of the panelists were going on about how Miami’s restaurant scene was pretty pitiful about 10 years ago, but how that’s not the case today. Now, it is finally becoming remarkable.

That struck home for me because I’ve said similar things about Toronto: “10 years ago Toronto was like that, but now we are like this.” Makes me think that I’ll be saying the same thing about Toronto 10 years from today.

So it seems like many, or perhaps most, cities have an insecure side to them. And that can be a powerful motivator for driving growth and change. Cities, like people, need that fire in the belly.

But at the same time, there’s something nice about being grateful for what you have. And Miami certainly has a lot going for it. See you soon, Miami.

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