Placeless power, meaning the exercise of power by decision-makers who are unconcerned about the impact of their decisions on communities living in particular places, has grown significantly in the last thirty years. A consequence is that societies are becoming more unequal. Even in the wealthy global cities modern capitalism is increasing inequality at a formidable rate. In a new book the author provides an international, comparative analysis of the efforts being made by place-based leaders to create inclusive, sustainable cities. This article draws on the evidence presented in the book to suggest that place-based leaders can play a significant role in advancing social justice, promoting care for the environment and bolstering community empowerment. An opening section introduces the idea of place-based power, providing a context for the subsequent discussion. A second section sets out a new way of conceptualising the roles of place-based leaders in any given context, a framework described as the New Civic Leadership. This distinguishes five different realms of civic leadership. The third section provides an example of place-based leadership in action. It outlines the way local leadership has brought about a remarkable transformation of the central area of Melbourne, Australia. A final section presents a comparative discussion of three themes relating to place-based leadership and local collaboration: (i) the changing possibilities for place-based leadership in our rapidly globalising world, (ii) the need for outward-facing local government leadership given the changing nature of public policy challenges and (iii) the role of place-based leadership in bringing about radical public innovation.
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