About the TCI Pilot Project

Three women sitting at a table and sketching
Project background, purpose, steps and timeline.
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"How can our city be a home to thriving people, in a thriving place, while respecting the wellbeing of all people, and the health of the whole planet?"

- Thriving Cities Initiative

Project background

In our increasingly globalized, connected, and urban world, cities hold a unique role and responsibility to ensure that people and nature alike can thrive, both locally and globally. Now, more than ever, the way that residents in cities live has a far-reaching influence on people and the planet. What is needed is an approach that opens up new insights and possibilities for transformation, to build actual models of thriving, sustainable communities.

Project purpose

The Thriving Cities Initiative (TCI) is a city-led collaboration with C40, Doughnut Economics Action Lab, and Circle Economy. Portland, Philadelphia, and Amsterdam are participating in a 2-year pilot program, which began in 2019. C40 has secured additional funding to extend the pilot program for two more years.

The Thriving Cities Initiative (TCI) is a journey for cities to explore and embrace a vision for a thriving city that appreciates what makes cities unique while understanding its global influence and responsibility. Together with diverse city representatives, we will embark on a journey to understand how cities can be home to thriving people, in this thriving place, while respecting the wellbeing of all people and the whole planet.

Project steps

The journey consists of three phases:

Phase A

diagram with an arrow moving from City Portrait, to Systemic Drivers, to Thriving Vision
Steps in Phase A of Thriving Cities Initiative's Journey of Inspiration.

TCI hosts a workshop for stakeholders to examine the city through the four lenses of the City Portrait: social, ecological, local, and global impacts. After analyzing the current state of the city, stakeholders are asked to identify the systemic drivers that hide behind the challenges the city currently faces. From there, alternative visions for the future of the city are created.

Phase B

diagram with an arrow moving from Collect local initiatives, to Global best practices, to Transformational strategies
Steps in Phase B of TCI's Journey of Inspiration.

This phase includes two workstreams, which are developed in tandem:

1. City staff follow up with workshop participants and stakeholders to better understand the drivers discovered in Phase A. Staff then identify organizations and existing initiatives that are already working to address the drivers and/or are working to achieve the visions from Phase A. They will also identify additional stakeholders to attend the second workshop.

2. On a parallel track, the TCI team will collect global examples of city policies and programs that address the deep drivers and contribute to the visions developed by the participants. The best practices will be analyzed to identify their key outcomes and success factors, and will subsequently be used as an inspiration for developing local strategies.

Phase C

diagram with an arrow moving from Strategic partnerships to Action pathways
Steps in Phase C of TCI's Journey of Inspiration.

The final phase focuses on bringing the selected strategies into action. TCI and city stakeholders will identify strategic partnerships to establish with businesses, government, and community. From this, we will develop clear action plans for the practical implementation of these strategies.

Project timeline

Phase A of TCI for Portland was completed in 2019. The first Thriving Cities Workshop with Kate Raworth was held on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, and explored Portland’s City Portrait, identifying the deep drivers and starting to form a thriving vision for Portland.

An additional workshop – Portland's Thriving Recovery from COVID-19 – was held on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, to address the pandemic’s effect on thriving cities.

Diagram showing the second workshop added into the project process, including the COVD-recovery workshop and incorporating the outcomes into the process
Updated journey map including the COVID recovery workshop.

Phases B and C have been delayed as a result of the pandemic. Future workshop dates will be determined, continuing the TCI pilot program through 2022, pending continued restrictions of public gatherings.

During these challenging times, the holistic approach of the City Portrait can support cross-bureau discussions around a green and just recovery. Portland will continue to convene and engage city changemakers to build a movement that can adopt the tools and concepts from the TCI program to make Portland a more resilient, sustainable, equitable and prosperous place to live. In 2021, Portland is exploring partnership with TCI to advance the City of Portland/Prosper Portland Economic Recovery Strategy.

Find more information and updates on the Thriving Cities Initiative Pilot Project homepage.