In this episode Dane speaks with Jim Eldridge.
Jim grew up wanting to be an anthropologist, or a city planner. Instead, he puts both of those skillsets to use as an economic developer in Ada, Oklahoma.
- Ada Jobs Foundation
- James Eldridge, CEcD | LinkedIn
- Portraits of a community: Ada - Center on Rural Innovation
- A fresh approach to growth in Ada
- James Eldridge Professional Website
- Center on Rural Innovation
- In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences, Series Number 10)
- Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice (Volume 1998) (Morality and Society Series)
In our pre-interview, we asked Jim:
What's been your most influential book and why?
In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio by Philippe Bourgois. This is an ethnography of two crack dealers in East Harlem in the late 1980's.
It inspired my professional track to better understand and advocate for cities, large and small. It is also is one of the best accounts of the "negative space" of urban economies and how economic systems are rooted in cultural contexts. If we want to understand how a community can be successful, this book makes the case that we should begin with a better understanding of the diverse cultural logic and assumptions within our neighborhoods and cities.
I'll add a second book: Rationality and Power by Brent Flyvbjerg. This is an account of a local transit project in Denmark. The book is important because it helps answer the question of why local government and politics seems to make poor decisions in the long run. The book argues that those in power define what is rational for a given context, and this leads to weird, poor, and often frustrating outcomes for those of us as experienced professionals on the ground who expect the logical outcome of our work to be rational.
What is your favorite productivity tool or resource?
Sleep seems too obvious, so I'd say having 3+ monitors/extra screen real estate while working. It's amazing how helpful it is to have full spreadsheets, multiple pages of a report, and all of my other software in front of me and laid out clearly. If I needed another laptop, I would seriously consider the old Thinkpad model from a decade ago with a slide-out second screen.
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