I have written extensively in my Challenge Detroit blog on the five common themes that make great cities. The extent to which Detroit is able to execute these five concepts will determine whether it fully realizes its potential. Great cities need a framework for understanding city systems, a vision for the future, a mindset for greatness, assets for strength, and an approach for success.

So how is Challenge Detroit making this happen in each of those categories? We are impacting the city in so many ways. I’ll touch on a few of them:

A Framework for Understanding Cities: By this I mean the successful meshing together of the 4 ingredients of cities – social, economic, political and physical (both natural and built) systems. Challenge Detroit takes great pride in being a multidisciplinary set of professionals, working at a wide array of host companies, and using the Challenges on Fridays to creatively engage Detroit on a broad spectrum of major issues.

A Vision for the Future: The community based Challenges that are so pivotal to our program are inherently visionary by their nature. We are problem solvers, change agents, innovation consultants for each non-profit we serve. We serve with our energy, dedication, and a giving spirit. We aspire to push the envelope; we inspire Detroit on what is possible. Challenge Detroit is about creating and introducing Detroit’s next great visionaries, and also putting them to work making intentional impact.

A Mindset for Greatness: A vision for the future, although a necessary precondition for greatness, is not enough. The greatest cities, states and nations have also had a mindset that propelled their vision forward. A mindset is about what more than one group or individual accomplishes in isolation, it is about what they accomplish together, in the public realm and for the public interest, when others say it cannot be done. With a few key people and organizations, plus an influx of new citizens with energy, creativity, optimism, and entrepreneurialism, all of who see potential in Detroit, (and the commitment from many who stayed and never gave up), Detroit will again have a mindset for greatness. Challenge Detroit is one of those organizations, and all 30 Fellows are those people.

Assets for Strength: A city’s strength is only as good as inherent and created assets. The 30 of us in Challenge Detroit are using our intellectual capital to strengthen some of Detroit’s most important assets through our challenges. We are also here as 30 entrepreneurial people ready to create new assets that will strengthen Detroit for decades to come.

An Approach for Success: All of these 4 elements are required for great cities, but they are only as good as our approach to implementation. That is the wonderful part about Detroit – there is not a singular overriding approach to success here, rather there are many people and organizations that all have the room and freedom to experiment. Challenge Detroit is just one of those organizations with a unique never-been-done-before approach to urban revitalization.