Future Ready Nashville

A DesignShop Event | December 17-19, 2014

America has reached a point where almost all problems can be solved, especially at the local level. Nashville has everything it needs to be Future Ready. This program invites selected activists to experience the DesignShop process, while launching our intentional process of making Nashville Future Ready.


Day 3 : Module 14 : Final Action Groups

Final Action Groups

... in which we shared our intentions, next steps, and strategies for success.  

Final Report Out

After refining their vision, each team’s spokesman had five minutes to tell us what is new, what’s been accomplished in this final round of work to make Nashville future ready.


As we came together we found the most important thing we could do is create a process and system that creates action going forward. We decided we didn’t know the goal of inclusive urbanization, but we wanted to find out, so we focused our efforts on making a system that you all could buy into as a process.

We decided there should be a central hub, where we would define IU model standards, vet projects the subcommittees would bring together, assimilate and disseminate knowledge and information, and coordinate bringing that back out into the groups. As we identify new problems to tackle, a subcommittee would be formed. We feel it’s very important to establish the mission and branding of inclusive urbanization.

We are asking that the hub consist of members from each of the different buckets so we have representatives from each of the initiatives coming together. We’re asking that each subcommittee be in charge of specific standards and they report back to the hub.

So individuals have responsibilities, subcommittees have responsibilities, hubs have responsibilities and then we are all ambassadors of this concept.

The subcommittees are going to be in charge of defining standards at their level and bringing those back up to the hub. That will be our first taste of what the organization looks like. You will also be responsible for testing ideas, defining goals and how to reach them, and then the hub helps you reach them. You are also in charge of metrics development and how targets were met.

Our ultimate goal is that once we have started the hub process and figured out who we are, we can create the model where we are the standards center for inclusive urbanization, so companies come to us and asking how can we hit it, then we can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. (comment: then we would be able to award an IU certification.)

We outlined next steps if people are agreeable to buying into this model. These include a timeline with the ultimate goal of presenting this for the next mayoral election in August. Backtracking to that we are looking to writing a white paper about who we are and what we are doing, and having a related press release. Also forming the subcommittees identifying group ambassadors and then establishing what you all feel like is a meaningful time line that you can get behind.

To add to that a prime example would be like being LEEDS certified, a business could be an IU certified business that has been vetted through this process and that our process or project fits with inclusiveness. That is how it would offer branding and how we would sell to the future. As technology grows the standard grows.

The point of the mayoral race it is not so much that we present to who becomes the mayor but that we have an aggressive timeline. We want to have a white paper by February that elucidates some clear standards that if not exhaustive is a beginning on what IU means for housing, education, transportation, etc. We would be engaging in every forum for the mayoral candidates. We would ask that this is part of the aspiration for Nashville so we begin with the conversation with the mayoral candidates and candidates for council so that by the time we get to the new mayor then we keep that mayor accountability to this vision we have already been talking about for six months.

So it is a grass roots effort that all parts of Nashville are bringing up the IU standard.


[ click thumbnails to enlarge ]

We also peeled off housing affordability and equitable development because it is such a key component of this.

We modeled this based on what we’ve gone through here with the hub. We looked at impediments to housing affordability, and what tools are available for solving those issues.

We identified these players and processes that are currently underway (see poster) and actions we can take.

We want these different groups to get together and form a coalition. We identified a pilot project for the 10-minute neighborhood, and we feel that would be Edgehill. We can study and understand it and how the policies will work.


Our topic was civic engagement. We defined it broadly – engaged, energized and powerful.

[ click thumbnails to enlarge ]

As we think about civic engagement, it needs to go beyond government. Our idea is to have a civic card with a bar code, like the kind you put on your key ring. You would get points for voting, for being on a neighborhood board, for participating in certain activities. The best home for this might be the library, since they already do some of these ideas.

We also talked about the “I Voted” stickers, that you might be able to go to a retail store and because you voted you get something like a ticket to a civic event.

We would like to use existing structures. For instance we could text message people or phone people about topics candidates are talking about, or let them know about the timing of a rally. You can use the bar code to print a receipt showing what activities you’ve done, for which you get a day off work, like the library prints a receipt to show when your books are due.

We believe that information is power, and you empower people by breaking down the walls and building transparency to get information on your schools to make the decisions, you can look at information about your district so you can plan your campaign.

Our BHAG – is that all the technology comes down to being the first city in America where you can vote on line. The focus is that all six  - actually seven – mayoral candidates will think this is an idea that is worth studying. Among other things, this can be used by the Chamber to promote economic development recruitment.


[ click thumbnails to enlarge ]

We answered the call to get on the bus – by getting on the bus! We had the smallest team, just four people, and none of us are transportation experts.

We are building our idea to make the system in Nashville responsive to capacity, highly efficient and focused on the core of the city.

There should be no more than a ten-minute wait for a bus; this is key.

This diagram represents a six-mile radius around the core of Nashville, using 13 arterial routes that go into the city. Those 13 arterials will be the main commuter routes.

Because we don’t have many resources we would convert the existing fleet to a smart system. There would be only half mile between stops; there would be special lanes for buses and possibly a responsive traffic light system.

Within the city there are connector buses around the core, only half mile between stops.

To make the system more user friendly we would put Wi-Fi on all buses so you can be productive as you commute. We see smart buses, which can see the demand of riders and match the supply of buses with people waiting; it would enable rerouting on demand.

We talked about the riders being able to track where the buses are so you know when one is coming. Customized service, sort of an on demand service.

We talked about with your bus pass perhaps you get access to zip car or an upgraded buss pass that gives you access other forms of transportation. That is the idea of getting people to give up their cars, you pay for these other add on services that make it really easy to get increased levels of service.

Another point is to upgrade sidewalks, as well as the bike infrastructure.

We talked about over time adding to the fleet as soon as we get the funding resources, including adding linkable buses – adding smaller buses that link up, to match the supply with the demand. These would be solar powered and highly efficient and environmentally friendly. Also sharing a fleet between two bus systems, perhaps we could do some integration. High schoolers are already allowed to ride the bus for free so perhaps we could eliminate those buses and have a joint system.

Phase 2 is dedicated lanes for buses, so not just an HOV lane but actually dedicated lanes for the buses. And then phase 3 is light rail or bus rapid transit on the most used arterials.

Throughout the process is building public support and input, identifying and convening the stakeholders, building public support, seeking out funders like businesses that would benefit from an improved and safe system.

He did an analysis that during the 90 minute rush hour period we can move 100,000 people in and out of the city with this system.


[ click thumbnails to enlarge ]

Imagine it is 2030 and Nashville is known all across the country as the healthiest city in America. That might sound crazy, but I want to remind you that when our CVB first started using the Music City brand, that didn’t feel like us either. Our group’s premise is that health is something that we can sell to this city, and something that is core to our identity, and that we can turn it into a very different place to live, and that it is inclusive for all of our population.

We have a number of principles that go along with this:

Healthy living has to become core to our civic identity.

We want to be the health innovation capital not just a place where the health care industry has figured out to make its money but we are the health innovation capital.

We want to eliminate the health disparities that exist in Nashville today between age, race, income and neighborhoods – demographics of any sort.

We want for no Nashvillians to go bankrupt as a result of attempting to pay for health care

We want to be in a place where our seniors no longer rank 50th in the country for fitness.

We want our children who want to play sports to be able to do that.

We want these things to be so core that that is how we make decisions in the future.

This effort needs a champion to work with businesses, neighborhood associations, civic and policy leaders to own this idea. We want the mayor to create a super hero of health. This person is not responsible for enrolling everyone in health insurance, but rather work with the people already doing that to ensure we are coordinating that and that it is central to our identity. They would not be responsible for creating health innovation but working with entrepreneurs and universities and hospitals to figure out the opportunities for innovation and what support is needed to encourage innovation. They might be the place we go for zoning and policy support on many of these issues.

We think it is possible that 100% of Nashvillians could have health insurance and access to affordable care, and that we could become one of the healthiest cities in the country.


Education is probably the most complex issue the city is going to face.

Close your eyes for just a second and listen to what I’m going to read and imagine what it is going to look like:

The Nashville community owns the success of every child that lives here. We believe as a community that no child is expendable.

One of the things we currently do is we try to fix a system that is embedded in history. One hundred years of the agrarian system is embedded in our educational system – the whole idea of the school schedule following the planting and harvesting schedule is no longer valid. We have outlived our history. We have to change our perspective. We are currently embroiled in a game where we blame the institutions of schools for the failures of our children without ever really looking at the fact that they are individual lives we’re talking about.

We propose a system that develops a new unit of measurement – we will no longer talk about failing schools; we will talk about children who are not reaching their potential in this city, and that it will be unacceptable to have any.

We propose defining success differently – the new metrics will be about the individual child: we will develop a personalized educational model for every child built on the premise that safety and health, intellectual development, uniquely defined gifts/talents for each child, and character and socialization and creating the model of community being responsible for creating good people.

We will do periodic surveys – are our children safe physically and safe emotionally? We will put those community health centers in the highest need schools first then extend them to all schools, not just for the children going to school there but also for their families. We believe as a community we should be responsible for both of those.

Intellectual development will be measured under the standards we use now. In addition to that portfolio assessments – looking at different ways for children to demonstrate the talents and gifts that they have. It will take into account the different learning styles, whether is child is an auditory or kinesthetic learner.

It is critical that no child leaves school without some definable talent that they own. Everybody is good at something, and they need to be rewarded and praised for that.

Character and socialization – what does it mean to be a good person? Am I involved in service, or embrace the diversity of my community? I need to learn those skills as I grow up so I can pass those on later on.

How will we do this? Individualized student funding that follows the child. No longer will we give simply money to schools based on this entity or that entity. The factor that tags the child goes with the child. Local autonomy is expanded greatly to all models of schools. What the research tells us is no individual delivery model is any better than any other model. It is the relationship between the learner and their environment teacher that makes the difference.

Every school can aspire to having high quality environments like that. We will say organize any way you want but we will hold you accountable. We will hold you accountability for what you deliver to that child, as a community for supporting that school for being there for those children We are going to embrace corporations being involved, we’re going to step out and ask any entity that wants to do it.

We are going to ask any entity that wants to do this and then we are going to look at the individual special needs of children and design, based on what research tells us, programs that ensure the success of the child. And it doesn’t matter whether the entity we create is 20 kids or 2,000 kids.

Factors like building utilization and things that that we’ve used in the past are not going to be the key drivers of what we do develop our children. – it will be student guided funding. The next conversation after that is do we get into weighted funding. We are not going to get into that right now but it will be the next step. When can we do that? You tell me. Do we hire a superintendent that embraces that? Or are they going to get here and tell us it won’t work? I know what I vote for. I want somebody that embraces it and listens.

How do we know we’ve been successful? We will bench mark along the whole journey. The first big indicator in the shorter run is the post secondary experience and completion rates for our graduates. The second will be the intergenerational social economic mobility that we have created. How many of the young people that started in our schools in poverty ended up one, two, three steps higher up the social ladder in better jobs. We want to increase not just first time college goers but also first time professionals who are making more of a living wage. That will be the longitudinal measure of the quality of our system.


Matt – thank you all. This is what we call a circle up. I would like to hear comments about what you are thinking and feeling, and what you personally are going to do differently on Monday as a result of the experience we have had together.

Participant comments:

I want to express my gratitude for my group members. I was really inspired, sometimes frustrated, but my group members helped me understand things that I didn’t understand.

I will be recruiting – I would like people who are interested in seeing us become the first city with on line voting to join me.

I want people to think about how we engage afterwards, how we move this ahead. We need to think about really doing the action steps so the conversation doesn’t end here.

I didn’t realize we are the fist group doing this, and we need to build to the other groups we work with. I will be taking this to a planning group I’m meeting with on Monday. We need to make sure we are part of these other groups. Thank you to all of those who financed this!

I’m really curious to figure out if this is supposed to continue organically. We have all invested a lot of time, the week before Christmas. There is a lot of intellectual capital here. Looking at housing affordability does that mean that just Gary and I are going to address the impediments? We have some solid action steps. I feel there is another page on my to do list – which isn’t a terrible thing – as long as it yields a great outcome. If it doesn’t then it is frustrating.

I’m getting ready to work on a project about affordable housing. After these last few days this gives me solid information to talk with the team about; I can make a good case with what we’ve created here. I think it would be really simple to continue engaging, I think we’re going to do that. Things that seemed complex an hour ago no longer do. We’ve found ways to do things. We have a blueprint to change the entire educational system here in Nashville.

My hope is that we didn’t just invest our time and then we let it fall away. We have a responsibility to continue this work and move it forward. We are all here because we love this city. I will commit to making this all happen over the next year. We are electing a new mayor next year; we have the opportunity to take this to the candidates. It will require us getting together in January to take this to the next stage, and probably every month until the August elections.

I can see taking a lot of this home to my organization and incorporating how we are thinking about things. If Edgehill is a pilot project I would be involved in that. Giving it services that are useful to all incomes.

There are a couple projects I’ve heard about that I want to get involved with, and there are others I’m not as engaged with. I am taking away the desire to be engaged in some of these.

I’m in a similar situation to many – a highly demanding job. I also have found ways to serve outside of that job, and I have a family. For me I am counting the costs (of investing time). I feel a strong burden to take my gifts and serve the community, like a lot of you. I am asking myself where would I be most effective, where would my diversity and skills be best put to use? Where can I see myself plugging in? Finally I have gotten to know many of you in this room and seen your hearts – not just your causes, but also your hearts So, I will punch myself Monday morning to reach out.

I am reminded of the importance and preciousness of good conversation. A lot of times what makes headlines is revolutionary – the flash and pow. I am reminded of a Stevie Wonder song ‘It’s not in the loudness it’s in the quiet”. Everything we engage in – these conversations and connections – are of great value. Lots of love and sharing, that is the core of the big things that happen.

I would ask if we do another event like this, that we need to include people who are affected by these issues. We need to hear what they really want and need. We need to be intentional. We need to be talking to people who are affected by the housing problem – everyone affected by these different issues need to be represented.

We talk about myths. Everyone comes with his or her own pre-diagnosis of who is sitting next to you. With that this was the opportunity to either bust or affirm a myth. For me personally I look at the openness. Every single person I’ve talked to, everyone wanting to know more and be more resourceful. I wish it were a larger group; I wish Nashville could be doing that. How do we share this outside of this room? We all know others who should have been here. We have a lot of moving parts, we need to move ahead. We need to get all the right people on the right bus to tackle each of these systems and meet and exceed our expectations. I am honored to be a part of this.

I think it is real important that we know the progress as we move along, so we don’t go back to silos when we go home. Just to find out even about the small progress.

I would like to know what you guys think about the housing situation?

The status quo is not going to work and hasn’t been. If we can somehow be a hub, coordinate the conversation; do outreach to overcome the resource challenges. The web of us needs to expand in a way that is not just fighting for limited resources. Rather that it is creating generational improvement.

At the very least we all have to prophesize when we go back to our organizations. What is our bandwidth as leaders so we don’t burn out.

This is why partnerships are so vital to the plan. As we talk about inclusive urbanization, I see it as a mosaic. There are all these issues that have splinter conversations and those don’t meet up with each other. We have shown here that there is nothing fragmented, you cannot isolate one issue from another, they all need a master plan for the mosaic rather than just picking up things and hoping they fit together.

I am really indebted to the facilitators and the support staff. We have gone from good to great, and I think that the next iteration will take us to…

The system that we are proposing has multiple fail-safes and invites some failures. The hub idea means one person can drop the ball but we don’t fail.

Aaron is great at formalizing white papers; he really is good at it.

Aren’t you supposed to talk to me about this before it goes to the group? (laughter)

Thank you to those who organized this. I found that different groups regardless of the sector you come from, everyone echoes the same sentiments about the various problems. How can we collaborate now as community leaders to bring our ideas to fruition? We are struggling on these things every day in our organizations. We can help create and push the city to find the solutions. The biggest problem we face is how we can collaborate and keep these ideas going and push them forward.

I appreciated the selection of the participants, such a wonderful group, and the expertise that is present. This week I have met parts of Nashville that I had not met in 14 years here. I am grateful people were authentic, nobody held back, which was awesome. At the same time everyone was very respectful. I have a whole room of new friends. Inclusive urbanization is revolutionary – it is like the Peace Corps – something that could change the standards. It is more than a Nashville issue; everyone around the country is frustrated with the inequality. I can commit to getting that part of it done within the IU model. I am blown away by the DesignShop process; it is really an incredible experience.

The words leap of faith come to mind. We took a leap of faith to be here and now it is time to take that next leap to dig in, step in, see these things come to fruition, and I am in.

In about a month we are going to do a convening relative to post secondary education. All of these elements will be discussed with the mayors of the 14 surrounding counties. I want to have those conversations with the grass roots but also the grass tops – those who have the resources to do this. If we position it well they will have the appetite to do this. Otherwise it will just live in this room. Great thoughts, great ideas but the notion of memorializing it – I’m glad you’re going to do that Aaron.

(Aaron) I will commit to doing that.

If you don’t, we will forget what we said. We will have about 25 people in a month, superintendents, and others. We can talk about all these points.

(Ashford) I will commit to the economic development hub and civic engagement hub.

The next step after memorializing and internalizing it, everyone needs to step up to actions groups. Identify key stakeholders for IU and come up with a marketing plan, to distribute the idea and get people on board with it. Creating thought leadership in these areas. That is what I see. Set dates.

If there is a pen/paper to be the first to get that rolling. Someone be the owner of the coordination and communication. We need accountability.

Matt – there is something to sign going out the door.

The existing web site is an incredible resource.

I thought I knew everyone in Nashville coming in here, but NOW I do. I can’t wait to see you guys again. I know a lot of you have been in Leadership Nashville or have heard about it. If you haven’t been in it, it is incredible. About 1,400 people have gone through it and they have created huge changes in Nashville. It took me about 17 years to get invited. We are going to come out of here and see each other and work together – those kinds of bonds are priceless.

The connections we’re making and the things that are going to happen beyond these major initiatives. The smaller things we’re going to work on, the small fires, are going to be equally as important as these major things we’re going to work on. Being a product of prayer, my commitment is to pray for each of you all.


Carter Andrews, Executive Director of The Nelson Andrews Leadership Lodge – nothing that has gone on in the last three days has been accidental. Cal Turner said three years ago “we have to have this place”. Then Matt and Gail came to us as artists in residence.

A number of years ago we stopped being a backwater city, and we started Leadership Nashville and started the next generation of growth. But we’ve hit a point where the complexity, change and growth are going to outstrip the ability of the current institutions to deal with.

Our thought process was you have to have a process to deal with that kind of complexity and change. We looked all around the world and this is clearly the most proven process to do this work.

Just look at the facilitators we’ve attracted, Mac Pirkle devoted the entire week. Shannon Lambert. Ben and Lucas came all the way from Australia because they understand the power of this process. Angela, Brent and Kate – everyone who pulled together because they felt the process is a really important part of what our community can become.

This is our first baby. We don’t know where it is going to take us. We are just as emergent as you guys are. 

This practice should become a really important part of our city going forward. Our dream is that when the UI model comes together we get 60-70 people here and we will come up with a lot of things.

Our dream is we can focus on this for 8-10 years and really shift where Nashville is going. We can’t just push harder, we have to come together in a different way.

Over the last few days we were at a tactical level, then a strategic level and then today we were focused on a systemic level.

Because you are the first who have done this here, you have a lot of responsibility to help make this come true. You also have a responsibility to bring people into this practice and help grow it.

Thank you all for being here. One of the things that Matt has done for many years is the Rebuild the Future course, and we will be offering that deep dive. Matt and Gail are some of the most outstanding futurists on the planet. Building the knowledge base of the state of the art around the world and where the future will be is a huge part of where our city will adapt and be. It is the art of the possible and we hope you will join us.

Matt – this organization is going to get very busy but we do have marginal capability. We will help you, and you can come in and work with us.

Aaron – I can see the next six iterations.

Carter – we want to make that happen for all of us.

And now we have refreshments and party favors.

Matt – there is the board by the door to sign if you want to stay engaged.

Ben – thanks to the entire team. You are the best group I’ve ever worked with. You love your city and this has been a great event!