woman on bikePhoto: because.philips.com“Livability” is the buzzword favored by those seeking a standard of success for communities that’s broader than “green,” or “prosperous.” It’s a more holistic term that includes environmental, health, economic, educational, and social successes.

How’s that for a vague and boring definition? I’m not the only one who struggles for a way to describe livability that isn’t lame. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tried to define it this way:

Communities where people have access to many different forms of transportation and affordable housing and the ability to really have access to all of the things that are important to them, whether it’s a grocery store, drug store access. . . . These are communities and neighborhoods where people want to live where they have access to all the things that they want.

That’s a little better. On Thursday the electronics giant Philips offers a webcast on that aims to sketch out more of what livability means. It’s got some interesting guests, including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Creative Class theorist Richard Florida:

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Topics of debate will include…


Keeping my city moving

Former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and Director for the Philips Center for Health and Well-being, Katy Hartley, will be debating the role of both government and the individual in helping people to keep healthy. Where does ultimate responsibility lie and, when necessary, how can we motivate people to change their behaviors and ensure communities stay fit?

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I am my city

Building a city into a successful brand is viewed by many as a modern ‘must-have’ and key to making a city livable. Ismael Fernández Mejía, Urban Planner, and Richard Florida, Urban Theorist, will debate how a city’s residents can define its evolution as a brand, and the associated benefits of such a transformation.

Generations of my city

With older generations increasingly seeking to take advantage of the benefits only a city can provide, what impact is this having on our cityscapes? Everette Dennis, Educator and Institution Builder, Sir Ken Robinson, Innovation and Creativity Expert, and Katy Hartley, debate the role innovation and technology can play in addressing the needs of older people, and how they’re transforming the community dynamic.

The webcast, a companion piece to the Philips Livable Cities Award, runs Thursday at 11 a.m. Eastern/8 Pacific.

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