Episode Archive

SCP E129 Smart Communities that help people thrive, with Katherine Loflin

In this episode I had a brilliant chat with Dr. Katherine Loflin, an award-winning, internationally-recognized trailblazer in place science, earning her the moniker of The City Doctor. Katherine tells us about her background in social work and why that’s so powerful in the place making space. Katherine and I discuss the idea of Smart Community as a deliberate community, and why it’s important to be aware when there may be a tale of two cities happening, where one part of the community is thriving while others are just surviving. We explore how fundamental place is to human existence and wellbeing, and the interconnection between place and work. Katherine then tells us about some of the work she does as the Place Doctor, including with cities charting attachment to place, with corporations to help them attract and retain talent, and with Amazing Place Productions, which tells the stories of places. Katherine explains how work-life balance has become more of a focus for citizens and why we need an alternative to the needs-based or social argument when it comes to getting governments and organisations on board with Smart Community concepts. We finish our conversation discussing the need for values-based and common-ground-based conversations around difficult and divisive community issues. As always I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Smart Community as a Deliberate Community, and the power of awareness
  • The tale of two cities, and the scale of surviving to thriving
  • Why place is fundamental to human existence and wellbeing
  • How the US is currently embracing Smart concepts
  • The interconnection between place and work, between place and talent attraction/retention
  • Projects Katherine is currently working on as the City Doctor and the systemic power of the Place Doctor model
  • How the digital layer has changed our perception of place and flexible work options
  • The work life balance switch that has occurred from live to work to work to live
  • Why the needs-based or social argument doesn’t work and what we need to be doing instead to get government and organisations on board
  • The emerging trend of talking about our failures and getting scientific and transparent
  • The need for values-based and common-ground-based conversations around difficult and divisive community issues


“For me, the Smart Community is the deliberate community, the community that really understands the dynamics that affect how optimized they are as as a place and how well people are thriving within it…How can communities be very forward facing and understanding the power of their community in a very Smart way, as far as design but also, how it can be the place for humans to thrive?”

“When I talk to communities, I talk about a scale of surviving to thriving, and [is] there A Tale of Two Cities, if you will, where if you’re in this certain category, demographically, you’re experiencing the city in a [very] different way than somebody who’s [in another] category.”

“We don’t really realise that everything about our lives, from the moment we wake up till the time we go to sleep to how well we sleep overnight, is affected by where we live. I mean, it is a fundamental concept to the human existence”

“I do research and practice in actually helping cities start to track how attached residents are to their place. I am delighted and to see that so many mayors…are starting to look at attachment-based metrics as part of their report card that they study about themselves that they deliver to their communities every year. So, as much as economic growth is charted, attachment is starting to be charted.”

“For the first time in our country, young people will choose place over job. And that one simple change in the way that people are looking for jobs, going to jobs…It has really changed the corporate conversation a lot to understand that the lines between workplace and actual place are very blurred, and they have to dig in around those issues [to attract and retain talent].”

“People still identify and attach to a geography now…Even though technology plays a completely different role than it used to, it hasn’t replaced the need for people to still be human, and be able to interact with other humans in such a way that actually helps them grow and be better humans themselves.”

“You can’t guilt a local government into joining a place-based movement by saying this community is being left behind and this community is being left behind. What you can do that I think is powerful is that you show them why it’s in their best interest to behave this way.”

“[Something] We’re not talking about as much as we should is our failures. I think that we are so excited and motivated to show a track record of progress around place-based initiatives that we hide when something didn’t work the way we thought it would, and implementation didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”


Soul of the Community, by Knight Foundation

Amazing Place Productions


Connect with Katherine on LinkedIn or at City-Doctor.com

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

Podcast Production by Perk Digital



  1. SCP E131 Where to next for Smart Cities and Communities? (Part 3) – The Smart Community Podcast - […] Dr. Katherine Loflin from Episode 129 […]

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