'City Guy' Peter Kageyama Urges Boise to Make a Love Connection

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Peter Kageyama is a self-proclaimed "city guy."

"I think CG should be a new acronym," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. "Whether the term "CG" sweeps around remains to be seen, but I kind of like it."

Bieter introduced Kageyama the morning of April 30 to a packed ballroom at the Boise Centre, as hundreds of early-risers came to hear the Downtown Boise Association's annual State of Downtown address.

"I've been hearing good things about your city for awhile," Kageyama told the gathering, which included all of the community's elected officials from the City of Boise, Greater Boise Auditorium District and Ada County Commission. "There's something going on with what we call 'New West' cities and you guys don't disappoint."

Kageyama's core message was about love.

"Do you love your city?" the author of For the Love of Cities asked repeatedly. "People are universally consistent with what they hate; traffic, parking, potholes, bad weather. But love matters."

And when the elected officials are in what Kageyama called "god-awful meetings" he challenged the public officials to ask "Where's the fun in this?"

"Change the dynamic when you're considering problems," he said.

Kageyama pointed to a series of fun solutions that cities, big and small, have attempted in their love for their downtowns: Millenium Park in Chicago, closing New York City's Times Square to traffic, Raleigh, North Carolina's Walk Your City initiative and even Boise's Freak Alley.

"Take Brattleboro, Vermont. It's a small city, not much money. They asked themselves, 'What do we have?' Well, their answer was, 'Cows. A lot of cows," said Kageyama. 'So they have their own version of the Running of the Bulls. They call their event the Strolling of the Heifers."

Kageyama's recurring theme was for public officials to encourage citizens to come up with untested ideas.

"I know how you work. You ask if an idea has been tested. You ask about the imperical data. You should be engaging with more residents," he told more than a dozen elected officials.

But twenty minutes prior to Kegayama's caution, all three Ada County Commissioners stood up and walked out of the meeting, presumably heading to a prior commitment.

"Why do I preach to the choir? Because sometimes they sing back," Kegayama said in his conclusion.

At that moment, a woman stood up and sang in a beautiful voice. It was Michele Detwiler from Opera Idaho. She began singing a sultry passage from Bizet's Carmen, stopping for a moment to serenade the Mayor.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ballroom, her husband Jason Detwiler stood to join her in a duet. The musical stunt was met with generous applause.

The Ada County Commissioners would need to hear about it later.