This Wednesday, 9,000 people are expected to hit Boston to learn whether everything’s up to date in Kansas City, Mo. — not to mention San Jose, Calif., Ann Arbor, Mich., Houston, Savannah, Ga., and Flagstaff, Ariz. They’ll go to workshops with endearingly earnest titles like “Moving Past the Smokestack: A Discussion on Business Attraction” and “Operational Efficiency — A Water Utility’s Best Friend.” They’ll quack on Duck tours. They’ll hear bragging about our urban planning gems: the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.
This is a big deal annual conference. Run by the National League of Cities, it’s called the Congress of Cities and Exposition, and it’s going on Wednesday through Saturday at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center. All this urbanity has inspired my reading this week, and I must say it’s been an uplifting, even giddy, experience. Toni Morrison said it best in her novel “Jazz,” when she wrote how small-towners feel when they choose city life: “There, in a city, they are not so much new as themselves: their stronger, riskier selves.”