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Huffington Sees Cities as the Solution

By Elena Temple Webb
January 30, 2012

Arianna Huffington, President and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, addressed the nation's mayors for the first time during the 80th Winter Meeting.

Huffington's remarks focused on the fragile state of the national economy and underscored that solutions would come from cities. "2012 is the death of the illusion that America is going to be saved through the White House. Whether you're a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, we can all agree: we do not expect America to be changed from Washington (DC) … Change is more likely to happen at the local level."

In pointing out that Congress ended 2011 with a record low approval rating of 11 percent, she went on to say that mayors are often the source of what works in America explaining, "Trust in national institutions is eroding, and people are turning more and more to what is local, to what they can see and touch and feel. It's a great opportunity for you, as mayors."

Huffington also encouraged mayors to see local challenges through a new lens and stressed focusing on the positive. "Everybody is talking about our deficits. Our shortages. And I want us to start talking about our surpluses. We have an abundance of talent; we have an abundance of skills; we have an abundance of creativity; we have an abundance of resources. We need to use them more effectively."

Referring to Jon Bischke's comments in TechCrunch, Huffington challenged mayors to look at their cities as a startup, "The ingredients for a successful startup and a successful city are remarkably similar. You need to build stuff that people want. You need to attract quality talent. You have to have enough capital to get your fledgling ideas to a point of sustainability. And you need to create a world-class culture that not only attracts the best possible people, but encourages them to stick around even when things aren't going so great."

She discussed the importance of education and noted that higher education is becoming harder and harder to access. "We need to make sure that our children have the education necessary to be able to live the American dream. …We cannot continue to gut education, because education is the escalator. Education is the way to live the American dream and right now college, even public college, is becoming out of reach for millions of kids in this country."

Most importantly, she urged mayors to share their good news at, so that the Huffington Post could, "put the spotlight on what is good."