Episode Archive

SCP E186 Leadership and Changemakers in Smart Communities, with Deke Copenhaver

In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I have a great chat with Deke Copenhaver, the author of  “The Changemaker: the Art of Building Better Leaders”. Deke was Mayor of Augusta, Georgia for 9 years, and is currently the principal of Copenhaver Consulting. Deke and I met when I visited the US in January 2020 and we were introduced by our good friend Kerry Grace. Deke tells us about his background in business, real estate and land conservation, and how that sparked his interest in Smart Communities, which only deepened in his time as Mayor of Augusta. Deke shares what both Smart Community and leadership means to him and why long-term thinking is key to both, plus why he thinks Millennials will be the next great generation of leaders. Deke and I discuss some of his favourite community projects while in office, including the Laney Walker Bethlehem Revitalisation Project, and how the community engagement aspects worked in that project. We talk a bit about COVID and how Deke has been moving through this time, and the emerging trends of the mental health aspects of the pandemic, as well as the virtual work and digital divide aspects too. We finish our chat discussing some of Deke’s favourite Smart Community resources. As always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Deke’s background in business, land conservation and local government
  • What sparked Deke’s interest in Smart Communities, and how that deepened during his time as Mayor of Augusta 
  • What Smart Community and leadership means to Deke and why long-term thinking is the key to both
  • About Deke’s book “The Changemaker: the Art of Building Better Leaders” 
  • Why he thinks Millennials will be the next great generation of leaders 
  • Some of Deke’s favourite community projects from his time in office
  • How the community engagement aspects worked on the Laney Walker Bethlehem Revitalisation Project 
  • What the impact of COVID has been for Deke and how he’s been approaching the shifts occurring 
  • The importance of nuanced, respectful conversations about difficult, complicated issues 
  • The emerging trends of the mental health aspects of the pandemic, plus the virtual work and digital divide aspects too
  • How we can not only adjust to change but look for the opportunities within the challenges
  • Some of Deke’s favourite Smart Community resources 

Quotes:

“Cities are where all things connect. We should view cities or communities or regions as organisms, and if one part is not healthy, then the entire organism is not healthy.”

“We really have to focus on that connectivity from a transportation standpoint, from an education standpoint, from every standpoint, and I believe that Smart Communities are inclusive communities, where everybody has access to resources, jobs and the ability to educate themselves and further themselves. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to that connectivity to resources.”

“Sadly, most politicians don’t think 20 to 30 years in advance. From a leadership position, politically or otherwise, we need to be focused on the big picture and the long term.”

“You plant the seeds and they’ll come to fruition after you’ve left the leadership position that you’re in, but it’s still worth it to plant the seeds and to turn it over to [the next] generation.”

“I think the best thing about leadership is it works best when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

“How are you going to grow as a person if you only hang around people that look like you and act like you and think like you? The only way you’re going to grow as a person throughout your life is if you’re around people who may have differing viewpoints or were socialized in different ways. And that…does not make their worldview bad or wrong. They were just socialized differently.”

“Since this whole thing hit, I’ll admit, I’ve been on my phone more than I should be, because you almost become an information junkie. And the difficult part about it is I’m always trying to see good information. But you don’t know what information to trust. So I think that intentional unplugging whether you do it for a certain period of every day, or you do it on a weekend or whatever, that’s important for us all now too.”

Links:

Laney Walker Bethlehem Revitalisation Project https://www.augustatomorrow.com/laney-walkerbethlehem/ 

Land Trust Alliance

Trust for Public Land

Nature Conservancy and Georgia Conservancy 

Deke’s book: The ChangeMaker: The Art of Building Better Leaders 

Connect 

Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community 

Connect with Deke on LinkedIn or @dekecopenhaver on Twitter and Instagram

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

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

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.

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