Gary Lawrence presentation Good morning. It's a great pleasure to be here, this on my first visit to Belfast, I can tell you for certain it won't be my last, I sent pictures home yesterday to my wife who is still back in Seattle and she made clear also that this will be not our last visit to Belfast, extraordinary city. I have to admit upfront that I am not in any way, shape or form an expert in Belfast, the staff from the City Council and others have done, I think, a great job of trying to show me both the great bits that are happening, some of the warts that remain, some of the process issues that are difficult, the relationships between Belfast and the British government and the devolution of power kinds of questions that go on. All of those are critically important and may have some consequence for what I'm about to say and if I miss the nuances, that sort of thing, I hope you'll forgive me and educate me. The challenges, I understand it, for the centre city, Belfast, and I think this is probably true for the entire region, is you have to come up with a politically valid, technically viable, economically successful and coherently adaptable policy, land use and capital investment strategy to shape the future of the city. Now we could spend hours on each of those elements. What constitutes a politically viable, politically valid statement? Well, in my terms, politically valid has to do with, in making the policy, are you expanding the constituency for the change, does the public own it as well as the institutions own it, and will they continue it in the future even if, God forbid, administrations may change in terms of the governments? I'll take you back to my days as the director of planning for the city of Seattle. In Seattle planning is what's referred to as a full contact sport, every neighbourhood has their own attorney and the planning process is considered to be just preparation for trial, in order to create political validity there we had to think of the plan not just as a technical exercise toward allocating land and ensuring that the basic infrastructure necessary to support the land, given the types of uses we are predicting were going to be there. We had to reach a conclusion that the people actually felt like that was in the best interest of the future of their community and people often ask me whether my reign as planning director in the city of Seattle was successful. Well, the Mayor I worked for ran for re-election based upon the city's comprehensive plan and his plurality increased from 52% to 76%. Every member of the city council who voted for the plan was re-elected with a larger plurality, every member of the city council who voted against it was defeated, that plan became politically valid at that point and was owned by the neighbourhoods and I'm not going to belabour each of these points, but a planning process, whether it's a strategic plan for a downtown, whether it's a metropolitan plan, whatever it is, is among the most political things a society does because it's deciding who it wants to become, what it's willing to invest to do that and who the winners and losers are going to be. To start these you have to get some clarity about some key questions. The question, "Who are you today?" is probably the most important question to ask yourselves and get clarity about when you're starting on these processes and almost every community I've worked in and worked with lies to themselves at this point. They work on issues like quality of life as though there is a uniform quality of life rather than the vastly different qualities of lives that exist within any community. The "who you are today" may not relate in any way to who other people are in the community who have needs that need to be addressed, those sorts of things. So part of the process is actually getting clarity about all the things that are good and bad because if you're not bringing both with you into the discussion about the future you're going to end up putting frosting on a cake that has some ingredients that are going to make you a little ill once you start to eat it. The next hard bit is, "Who do you want to become?" People, myself included, always struggle with a question of the future, they want to know, "What can we become?" rather than choosing what we want to become. In a number of communities again I work with, and I have the great fortune to work for a company that allows me to work with cities on every continent and I currently am working on projects in China, in Australia, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, this question, "Who do you want to become?" is the biggest stumbling block to success in almost every instance primarily cause it's taken over by the power elite who determine the answer to this question and there's a loss of transparency and the public at large is left out of this determination. So any planning process that's going to work over time, any strategic plan for the downtown is going to have to be inclusive of every stakeholder, not the stakeholders who already have seats at the table. And the third question is, "How do you stay on course…?" assuming you answer 1 and 2 as well as can be answered, "How do you stay on course when the winds of change and the tides buffet you around?" because there is no straight line to anywhere, almost every community that sets forth a plan for itself fails to recognise that the majority of the decisions that will determine your fate are not being made within your community. They're being made by global market forces, they're being made by financial institutions in other parts of the world, and your job is to take those forces and nudge them in ways that keep you headed toward the Belfast you're trying to become, but you can't take them on directly because they are too powerful. So figuring out how to position yourself to recognise when these forces are changing so you can get in your nudging strategy so you keep heading in the direction you want to go is an art form and it requires a collaboration between your elected leadership, your other institutions and the public, that is based upon a shared interest as opposed to a blame strategy, and where I see most cities getting into real difficult trouble is when they start to pretend like they're in control of what's actually going on because then they face the full requirement to fix it when in most cases no city is actually in full control of what's going on. Let's get in then to some issues around constituencies and you might tell by now that I'm going to get a little technical but it's going to come a little later. Richard [indistinct] the physicist, used to talk about how the human mind has troubles and it's polluted by its own superstitions and it confuses itself. Urban regeneration is, as I said, one of the most political things a society does. Requiring an understanding of human nature and emotions as well as technical matters, and I want to run through some of these things that are always in the background of your planning and change processes, but for the most part, because we're planning professionals, we ignore them and try to substitute technique for them. Nostalgia, fear, aspiration, self-interest, community belief and sources of collaborative action all are as important or more important than planning statutes in terms of if you're ever going to get the Belfast you want. Nostalgia, there is a woman named [indistinct] who wrote a, I think, a magnificent book called 'The Future of Nostalgia' and in it she describes two different kinds of nostalgia. One she refers to is 'restorative nostalgia' and the other is 'reflective nostalgia'. Restorative nostalgia, probably the worst example in recent times of restorative nostalgia is Serbian nationalism where the government of Serbia was able to pick symbols out of their past going back to the battle of Kosevo and re-deify those people who were perceived to have destroyed greater Serbia and used that in an attempt to change the face of the Balkans around these kinds of issues, they wanted to restore Serbia back to the pre battle of Kosevo days in an actual sort of way. There are other, you know, less severe examples of people trying to restore things back to the way they were. There's a fella named Michael Tracey who is an information theorist and he talks about the three kinds of knowledge that shape how we react in any situation and the smallest kernel of knowledge he describes as what we know we know, and what happens in these kind of political things is that the leadership tries to change what you know you know to some sort of historical reference that will empower you to change. Just to finish on Tracey, the second kernel of knowledge, by the way, my wife tells me that almost everything I know I know is wrong, but I cling to it nevertheless cause I just can't go through life without anything to hang onto, the other kind of, the next kind of knowledge is the stuff we know we don't know. The stuff we know we don't know is really relevant to strategic planning for cities, those sorts of things, because once you know you don't know it, it creates an obligation for you to find out somebody who does know it so they can be included in the mix, it's not something you can leave out, and I'll use my household again as an example. My wife is a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, and she's a PhD in Molecular Biologist and with an emphasis on infectious disease. She has stuff in her freezer for which there is no known cure which inspires even further obligations toward fidelity in the household. Over our thirty years of marriage I have developed a Pavlovian response to dinner conversation, she'll talk about a specific enzyme and, you know, and I'll nod and she'll mention an organism and I'll nod and I haven't got a clue what she's talking about, but I know that if I ever need a molecular biologist, there's one close by I can, I could get her. Those two are the smallest kernels of knowledge that actually matter for the creation of cities of the future, the stuff we know and the stuff we don't know, because both of those [indistinct] you in [indistinct] wisdom. The kind of knowledge that matters is the stuff we don't know that we don't know. In the hi- tech industry they spend up to 10% of their gross receipts on basic research, horizon scans, because for them the first time something passes from the barrier of the unknowable to the knowable whether as in discreet event or in combination with something else, they have four months to gain competitive advantage before the rest of the industry catches up, and that four months of competitive advantage might make their brand preference last for decades, just because they saw it first. Municipal processes move much more slowly than that, but it still is a relevant sort of concept, as you are thinking about the future of the city of Belfast and its core, the stuff you don't know you don't know is constantly going to be popping up, and that's why we talk in ARAP about sustainable urban centres as being ones that are focused on a direction, but are designed for adaptation, because it is impossible to know today what the needs of society are going to be within the spaces you're creating tomorrow. Fear is another thing that is really relevant to this discussion of urban centres. The Minister before talked about safety. Any police force around the world, except during those periods where there before a council asking for budget increases, will tell you that it is impossible for the police to make the streets safe. No society would allow for or could afford the police state that is necessary to make sure the streets are safe, the only thing that makes streets safe in free society is more people on the streets and you are most at risk when you're the only person on the street. As I have heard the discussions this morning with the word 'retail' used more than any other word, what I think about is all of the places that I have worked around the world and seen where a focused retail strategy in the central business district has caused the city to fail, because you invest so much in fixed assets to make the shopping experience good during the day, that you don't get any return on those investments in the evenings, and they tend to not provide the kind of leverage you need. Every successful urban centre I see these days is taking the position that if we can get the housing to work the markets will come, but just putting the retail markets in place does not mean that the residential community is going to come. A lot of people have got the cart before the horse there. All over the world people are focusing 90% of their infill energy in downtowns on housing because you need higher sales per square foot for your retailers without requiring driving because the cost of parking is making it untenable for many retailers, particularly the smaller retailers, to continue to exist in downtown. So getting the foot traffic downtown that can help the smaller retailers and also serve the larger retailers during the evening, creating eighteen hour cities as opposed to eight hour cities, those sorts of things, is a critical function. And in places like Seattle for instance almost every class B office tower that has been sort of replaced by a class A office tower is being converted to condominiums and apartments, and you see that in other places all over Europe that was old office space that no longer is competitive with new office space can have a dramatic and important new use as housing in the downtowns. In Germany, particularly in North Rhine Westphalia, when they're putting in parking garages they require 12' to 13' ceilings, makes for very expensive structured parking because in parking you want to keep the ceilings as low as possible so you can get more decks. Why are they doing that? Because they know over time they're going to create a much more robust walking environment, they have this fixed cost, this embodied energy recognised in these parking structures, and they're designed to be converted to office and residential as parking demand goes down. There are all sorts of strategies you can undertake there, but in order to deal with the issues of fear you have to increase population in the downtown. A quick aside on this, cause I'm babbling on too long, in my planning director days in Seattle, one of the things we did by accident that turned out to be incredibly helpful was, I had a friend of mine who was a psychologist, and I asked her to organise a number of her friends who were in practice in the city of Seattle and I would host a dinner for them once a quarter, and ask, and put questions to them like, "When we say these words we get these behaviours in response, what's actually going on here?" or "When we create these images we get these reactions in response, they look like passive images to us, they inspire action and anger that we would never have expected, what's, what's going on?" You know, planners didn't have a clue. And we found things like in the winter months when it's dark in Seattle before 5.00pm transit ridership fell off among women very dramatically, which made it much more congested in downtown, and we were making assumptions about weather and these sorts of things, but it turned out that the walk from the bus stop to the home on streets without good lighting created a sense of fear powerful enough that they felt like they had to drive in order to reduce their anxieties. I mean, there's all sorts of things that the psychological community can tell you about how people are trying to live their lives on the stage set you're creating, the physical forms, the buildings, the roads, they're the stage and they're not the object of the play, the object of the play is what kind of lives are actually possible within the context of these things going on, and in order to understand that you have to get into questions like fear. Aspiration, this is an ad from the Superbowl where this robot and this thing made it and produced a little monster which was a Humber 3. In the US we've had, we've spent about $4billion since 1980 through our environmental protection agency on advertising campaigns, trying to get people to reduce their single occupant driving, and almost all of the ad campaigns had been based upon the health consequences, particulate matter and congestion. The automobile industry has never wavered, what they're selling is the concept of more and better sex, and in our market at least parts per billion versus more and better sex don't stand up very well, if you're trying to get behavioural change. We don't play fair with the markets particularly in those areas where they're trying to force growth outside of the city centre because we don't sell city centre as an exciting place, we sell it as a place, well, if you're brave and you want to be an urban homesteader, this is the place to come and it tends to be less expensive. Finding ways to link retail with residential so you're creating the same excitement with a single brand for the downtown is something that you need to be thinking about. Governments' primary tools have always been facts and guilt as a way to change behaviour. Again I don't know how it is in Northern Ireland, in the US the third time somebody tries to make us feel guilty we have a perfectly good way to rationalise away that guilt that why it's not our fault. It is only aspiration that leads people to permanent change and figuring out how the, whether the aspirational elements of the revitalisation of the core of Belfast, I think, is one of the key issues that you're going to have to address. There's the issues of avarice and self-interest come into this a lot. One of the things, when I teach, I tell my students is that the key to sustainability is finding ways to harness avarice in the public interest. There is a desire and it is built within our, we're all hardwired toward trying to improve ourselves for ourselves and for our families, there is no doubt about that and there is no shame in that. The question is, can we do it in such a way that the external cost, the pollution that gets spun off of that and all those other things, can somehow be captured and recognised in the cost of the transaction so that it isn't a zero sum game, the private sector gains and the society loses, and this goes way beyond job creation, this goes to public health, it goes to educational opportunity, it goes to a variety of other things. And self-interest in terms of motivating staff is also a key thing, in many places, and I have no idea how it works in Belfast, but in many cases governments are shifting their pay systems to a modified version of gain share so that if, and gain share related to reduction of poverty, gain share related to overcoming some of the negative parts of society as opposed to gain share in terms of increasing income. Customary belief is a difficult problem, you know, to a hammer everything looks like a nail, to a profession every problem that comes up looks like it has to be solved within that profession, to a planner every problem is a planning problem, to an economist every problem is an economics problem, those sorts of things. And none of that is possibly true. ARAP is a firm that was created to deny the existence that every problem is found in a single sector. ARAP exists solely for the purpose of integrating our approaches so that whatever the tool, that needs to be brought together to understand and solve a problem is at the table at the same time. We often times as institutions, and I think this is going to go back to your sessions about governance and public administration reform, those sorts of things, just moving the boxes around does not solve the problem of integrated approaches to problem solving. Shared interest in problem solving is the key and community expectations about who is going to be there is the key. Again back in my planning director days I wouldn't ever let a planner go to the community without having an engineer by his or her side because most of the physical changes had to do with interface between planning and engineering. And often times we lose credibility because we feel like we have to know the answer, the world is random and chaotic, the future is not determined. When we do plans we're trying to essentially bound possibilities rather than saying, "This is what is going to be" and the world might be dramatically different the day after you adopt a plan or a strategy than it was the day before. The adaptation capacity and creating an environment where elected officials can actually say, "Well, based on what we knew then this was the right approach, we know more now and we have to go a different direction and help protect the elected leadership from the risks associated with necessary change", is a key part of surviving any downtown area because it will keep changing and again in the rest of Europe, in North America, in China, the political risks of saying, "I was wrong", have driven politicians to never admitting they were wrong, and we maintain policy far beyond its useful life because the world has changed. It's critically important you create an environment so that honesty and transparency both in terms of what's going right and what's going wrong can occur and it's not enough to praise elected officials when they're doing right, you also have to step in there and protect them when things have gone a little wrong if the mistake was well intended. Sources of collaborative action. You talked earlier about some of my close friends and people I admire greatly, Michael Parkinson who can provide data sets that help you really understand what's going on, Bruce Katz, another close friend. Almost everything we need to do has to be rooted in some case in science, but there is a phrase that I rail against continuously and that is, "If it can't be measured then it doesn't matter". There are huge number of things that matter to the future of your community that right now we don't know how to measure. Happiness, contentment, hopefulness, all these sorts of things are as important as units per thousand and means of production and earnings per square metre. Finding ways to blend social science research with the research of business is going to be a key. Communication strategies are a key. I have a slide I sometimes use that has a person standing on a podium giving an address to a community, but the community has a parade that's going by perpendicular to the platform. We seem to think if we communicate to that subset of the parade we've communicated to the rest of the parade. When society keeps going by and continuous communication is a critical part of making this change. You have to say it over and over and over and you have to practise the first rule of communications and that it is never the audience's obligation to understand you, it is always your obligation to make yourself understood. Any time you say, "I told them but they just didn't get it", it's you that have failed, not them, and you have to find a variety of different ways to reach out to people. In Seattle we had live call-in television shows, we did all sorts of things like that. Message proxies. There are people in your community that will politely listen to you but cannot hear you with what you have to say, you know, traditional rivalries, whatever. In those cases you have to find a proxy to send your message. Never get so stubborn that you think you have to be the deliverer of the message. If the message matters you have to find a person who they can hear. And the decision model, I think, in pluralistic societies, the only decision model that makes any sense is informed consent, consensus is impossible. Informed consent has to do with a three step series. One is that you ask people what they think, provide them education so maybe they can make an informed position and you take in what they said, and then you go back to them after you've considered it and say, "Here's what I heard you say, I, or we don't agree with this and we're going to do something different, but we want you to know we didn't ignore you", and what we find in almost every political environment with regard, without regard to the system, that if you follow an informed consent model, if you close the loop, people will not punish you for doing something different than they wanted, but if you don't close the loop then people will assume that the whole public process was a charade and you're treating them cynically and you're going to either create anger or absence from every next process you need to have them in. Now that ends up being expensive. Let me give you a range from the early 1990s. In the city of Seattle it cost us $8.5million to do a citywide comprehensive plan. Of that $8.5million we had to construct transportation models and all that sort of stuff and Seattle is a very rich city. That $8.5million constituted two-tenths of 1% of the total city budget, but the most critical thing was of that $8.5million $3.5million was spent on public involvement because we knew that if our plan was not politically valid at its end then it wasn't worth the paper it was written on. We're closing here. Tale of Two Cities. Seattle lost over 100,000 jobs in 1969 and there was a famous billboard on one of the interstates saying, "Will the last person leaving this city please turn out the lights". Seattle, that ended up being economically the best thing that ever happened to the city because our quality of life was such that those 100,000 highly trained engineers at Boeing had to find a new way to make a living cause they didn't want to leave the community and those engineers in part created the information technology industry, Microsoft, Real networks, all those other companies that are now the foundation of Seattle's economy, plus Boeing is back. The quality of the life that's possible can be an attractive factor in helping educated people be entrepreneurial and keep your community going. Essen in Germany is a different kind of an example. I spent six months in Essen. Essen has a quarter just outside the city that was the entry point to the Kroch steel mills. Essen is desperately in need of redevelopment but because they can't get past the historic meaning of Kroch who was the creator of all the wealth in Essen, paid for the synagogues, paid for the, all of the religious institutions, those sorts of stuff, because of the linkage to the Second World War, they cannot come to terms with trying to recreate this idea of what we should do with Kroch's land. Now from a North American perspective, you know, that was yesterday, let's get on with it, but from a German perspective it's such a torturous thing in terms of their history, they can't do anything with it. The questions here about the troubles and the different divisions and all that sort of stuff come back to this question of nostalgia and whether you can do what Seattle did which used restorative nostalgia, or reflective nostalgia, and used that bad thing as a launching point, or restorative nostalgia and get stuck in the past. What everything I've seen so far suggests that you're moving very much forward to being successful in the future. Here are some key lessons I learned from all over the world. Education and optimism combined is the only insurance policy you have against the fates of change. If you do not have an educated workforce, a workforce that has the ability to retrain itself and the ability to adapt to new markets, then you will not be successful over time. Every other major metropolitan market in the world is pouring every conceivable dollar into educating their populous so that they can be adapted to change. Every bit of energy you spend competing among yourselves creates competitive advantage for those other metropolitan areas who would rather get your business. This idea of collegiality, whether it's the central city versus the surrounding counties and, you know, investment here is a zero something because you invested in the downtown you didn't invest over here and therefore we're losers, all of that is bunk because metropolitan economies succeed or fail together and your competitors are not within the, within Ulster, your competitors are in Manchester or in Liverpool or in Glasgow, and in other parts of the world, and unless you can change your competitive posture so you focus on who you're really trying to gain market share against, it's very unlikely that you're going to be successful because the other places, and I actually work in all those other places, have figured it out and have aligned themselves. And the last thing there is you really need to avoid getting caught up in fads and trends, so many communities decide things like, "Well, we're down so we must need a casino or we're down so we must need a convention centre". Well, those are nice and very helpful in the tourism industry but they don't actually replace investment in basic infrastructure so your water systems work, those sorts of things, and the education system that will be the source of your wealth in the future. Finally, let me just say that what we recommend is this idea of sustainability which isn't just a green agenda, we say that it's a focus on value creation which is what this downtown strategy is about, coupled with values amplification. Who are you? Who are you trying to become? Those two things together can be dedicated toward the only valid reason to do sustainability which is to optimise conditions for human development over time. It's the most robust of all possible risk management frameworks if it's used as an analytical tool and it can be the rudder that keeps you on course. So as you're undertaking this discussion about sustainability don't divorce it from the meeting that's happened here and all the other meetings you're going to be having in the community about the future of Belfast, it could be the intellectual framework that allows you to create the kind of cohesion across communities, across sectors and across interest to make you the successful community that you need and will become. Thank you very much.