Ed Carroll, a friend in Europe, sent me a query: "How come there was not one mayor in the USA that was prompted to submit an application to the Agenda 21 for culture? " The absence on the Map is quite extraordinary."
My reply? "What a good question!"
"The map" is a graphic on the international award page for cities and regional and local governments that have adopted cultural policies "linking the values of culture (heritage, diversity, creativity and transmission of knowledge) with democratic governance, citizen participation and sustainable development."
This time around, 83 cities and local governments submitted proposals. As you will see when you click on the map, not a single one came from the United States.
You could say this is unsurprising, since no U.S.-based local government association takes part in the sponsoring organization, the committee on culture of the world association of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), "the global platform of cities, organizations and networks to learn, to cooperate and to launch policies and programmes on the role of culture in sustainable development." Its mission is "to promote culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development through the international dissemination and the local implementation of Agenda 21 for culture."
(The other three pillars are economic, social, and environmental. So far as I know, my friend Jon Hawkes originated the notion of culture as the fourth pillar in his 2001 book, The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability: Culture's essential role in public planning, still well worth reading.)
"Agenda 21 for Culture" is UCLG's founding document; you can find the text here. It's pretty inspiring as a statement of operating principles and practices for cultural democracy. You'll find a great deal of resonance with the people-powered USDAC's Statement of Values.
Even more inspiring to me are the action items. For example, the Pilot Cities of the Culture in Sustainable Cities initiative, in which selected cities are supported in a two-year program to develop local cultural policies that are completely and effectively integrated with sustainable development.