Commentary

Madonna has even more to teach us

Just yesterday I noted how some economists are following Madonna’s lead when it comes to how much importance should be placed on boosting GDP. Now it’s more of the same, but in a different fieldââ?¬â??urban planning. We all know that planners are obsessed with downtown districts, but what’s the best way to get people to go downtown?

You need what consultants George E. Thomas and Susan Nigra Snyder call “the Madonna effect.” “It’s how Madonna reinvents herself every few years,” says Snyder, an architect and partner in the firm CivicVisions. Snyder explains that you can’t change what your town already is made of, particularly the brick and stone buildings. “You have to transform the way people see it and use it, so it gets connected to the contemporary buzz,” Snyder says.

And so we should rely on grand, top-down plans crafted by planners and city council members to get “connected to the contemporary buzz”?

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.