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The Charter Cities Podcast guides listeners through the process of building a charter city. Each episode features a guest with expertise in institutions, cities, real estate, international development, and more to offer listeners an inside view into the world of charter cities.

Latest Podcasts

Charter Cities Podcast Episode 66: Leander Moons on Mass Timber Construction in Africa

Discover how Africa’s embrace of sustainable infrastructure, led by innovators like Leander Moons of Studio OMT Architects, is shaping a greener future. In this episode, we delve into the rising trend of mass timber construction, its potential impact on global sustainability, and the collaborative efforts with local communities. From Fumba Town Zanzibar to Africa’s tallest timber tower, explore the promising projects and discussions driving eco-conscious development. Tune in for an inspiring dialogue on Africa’s role in influencing green choices worldwide.

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 65: Mark Lutter on the Charter Cities Ecosystem, Zanzibar, and the Caribbean

How do you take the positive aspects of Silicon Valley, and apply it to a radically different context like developing charter cities? Today, Jeffrey Mason, Head of Research at the Charter Cities Institute (CCI), is joined by Mark Lutter, Founder of CCI, and CEO of Braavos Cities, to discuss how the charter cities ecosystem has evolved over the past few years and what he’s learned about building successful coalitions. Mark tells us about the circumstances that motivated him to found CCI, and what it’s been like combining key features of Silicon Valley, (like entrepreneurial spirit, disruption, and innovation) with the challenging work of creating a coalition of different stakeholders — some of whom are likely to be relatively conservative. We discuss the broader ecosystem that CCI has been building, and how it can act as a force multiplier for other cities, before learning more about CCI’s most recent projects, including their endeavors in Zanzibar and how they are contributing to development there. Mark also expands on his new company, Braavos Cities, their long-term goals, and the work that they are doing in the Caribbean. We wrap up our conversation with an overview of exciting developments to pay attention to in the charter cities space, from Zanzibar to California, and how to gain momentum in politically challenging environments. Be sure to tune in for a deep dive into the evolution of charter cities and their broader ecosystem!

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 13: A Look Behind the Charter Cities Movement with Mark Lutter and Kurtis Lockhart

Hello and welcome to The Charter Cities Podcast. I’m your host, Mark Lutter, the Founder and Executive Director of The Charter Cities Institute. On The Charter Cities Podcast, we illuminate the various aspects of building a charter city, from governance to urban planning, politics to finance, we hope listeners to The Charter Cities Podcast will come away with a deep understanding of charter cities, as well as the steps necessary to build them…

All Podcast Episodes

Charter Cities Podcast Episode 66: Leander Moons on Mass Timber Construction in Africa

Discover how Africa’s embrace of sustainable infrastructure, led by innovators like Leander Moons of Studio OMT Architects, is shaping a greener future. In this episode, we delve into the rising trend of mass timber construction, its potential impact on global sustainability, and the collaborative efforts with local communities. From Fumba Town Zanzibar to Africa’s tallest timber tower, explore the promising projects and discussions driving eco-conscious development. Tune in for an inspiring dialogue on Africa’s role in influencing green choices worldwide.

Listen Here »

Charter Cities Podcast Episode 65: Mark Lutter on the Charter Cities Ecosystem, Zanzibar, and the Caribbean

How do you take the positive aspects of Silicon Valley, and apply it to a radically different context like developing charter cities? Today, Jeffrey Mason, Head of Research at the Charter Cities Institute (CCI), is joined by Mark Lutter, Founder of CCI, and CEO of Braavos Cities, to discuss how the charter cities ecosystem has evolved over the past few years and what he’s learned about building successful coalitions. Mark tells us about the circumstances that motivated him to found CCI, and what it’s been like combining key features of Silicon Valley, (like entrepreneurial spirit, disruption, and innovation) with the challenging work of creating a coalition of different stakeholders — some of whom are likely to be relatively conservative. We discuss the broader ecosystem that CCI has been building, and how it can act as a force multiplier for other cities, before learning more about CCI’s most recent projects, including their endeavors in Zanzibar and how they are contributing to development there. Mark also expands on his new company, Braavos Cities, their long-term goals, and the work that they are doing in the Caribbean. We wrap up our conversation with an overview of exciting developments to pay attention to in the charter cities space, from Zanzibar to California, and how to gain momentum in politically challenging environments. Be sure to tune in for a deep dive into the evolution of charter cities and their broader ecosystem!

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 64: Building Vibrant Communities with Brooke Bowman and Mark Lutter

Can a city hold the key to unlocking economic prosperity on a grand scale? In this episode, we sit down with Brooke Bowman and Mark Lutter to discuss charter cities and their role in addressing economic development challenges. Mark is a visionary thinker invested in progress, governance, social dynamics, and the concept of new cities. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Charter Cities Institute and CEO of Braavos Cities, a pioneering charter city development company. Brooke is the founder of Vibecamp, a community that aims to foster connections and personal growth. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of community-building, economic development, and cultural influence. We unpack the concept of charter cities as a way to address economic development challenges and the importance of facilitating genuine connections with people through city developments and fostering community and co-living without excessive overhead. Tuning in, you’ll discover the value of creating spaces where like-minded individuals can gather and interact and how the intersection of co-creation and play drives culture and innovation. To learn how to unlock the potential of charter cities and create vibrant, sustainable communities with a focus on culture, innovation, and positive societal impact, don’t miss this conversation!

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 63: Luqman Edu on Itana, Nigeria’s First Digital Free Zone

What would it take to create the ideal jurisdiction for global tech companies to be able to grow and scale in Africa? Joining us today to unpack this question is Luqman Edu, co-founder and CEO of Itana, Nigeria’s first Digital Free Zone. Through their partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, Itana is creating an opportunity for global businesses to operate and provide services remotely, without being physically present in Nigeria. We use today’s conversation to delve into the ins and outs of building a Digital Free Zone, Itana’s ambition to become the Delaware of Africa, how this will help companies connect with untapped African talent, and what it will take to realize these goals. We discuss the key challenges startups and companies typically face when trying to do business in Nigeria or Africa, how Itana is solving these problems, the unique benefits they are offering to the first 100 companies to partner with them, and much more. You won’t want to miss out on this thought-provoking conversation with Luqman Edu on Itana, the innovative work that they’re doing, and why success for Itana means success for Africa!

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 62: Kartik Akileswaran and Jonathan Mazumdar on Growth Teams and Structural Transformation

Many countries need radical structural transformation, specifically in more developing nations, and Growth Teams have made it part of their mission to empower developing countries to create jobs and grow their economies. Today, we are in conversation with the co-founders of Growth Teams, Kartik Akileswaran and Jonathan Mazumdar. The pair are here to discuss how their business is playing its part in creating economic stability in countries around the world. Our conversation begins with a breakdown of Growth Teams, how the company works, and why Kartik and Jonathan chose to build it. After taking a look at our guests’ professional backgrounds, we dive into the definition of structural transformation, assess its importance, discover why it’s so difficult to facilitate and brainstorm ways for governments to stand true to their promises of transformation. We also learn how Growth Teams get involved in government outreaches, how it’s doing things differently to achieve better results, the countries it is working with, and everything the business has planned moving forward.

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 61: Jon Vandenheuvel on Small Farm Cities

Affordable housing and economic development challenges in Africa are multifaceted and interconnected, but what is the solution? In today’s conversation, we sit down with Jon Vandenheuvel, the founder of Small Farm Cities Africa and senior advisor for the Charter Cities Institute. Small Farm Cities integrates horticulture, aquaculture, infrastructure, and residential housing for ownership and wealth creation throughout Africa. Jon is a visionary leader in agribusiness, municipal infrastructure development, and applied technology systems. His impactful work spans multiple African nations, where he has spearheaded infrastructure, agribusiness, and e-commerce initiatives to help foster economic growth. In our conversation, we unpack his hyper-affordable agribusiness concept, the importance of systems solutions to systems problems like poverty, and how Jon came to be building new cities in Africa. Discover his definition of affordable housing, what is stunting the development of African countries, and why formal ownership of housing and land is so crucial for Africa. We delve into why building and storing wealth is a core value of Small Farm Cities, how the company plans to scale, leveraging the industrial sector for development, realizing Africa’s economic potential, and much more! Jon also shares details about the success of their pilot project in Malawi and how the concept is resulting in larger projects he is currently working on. To find out how Jon is driving housing accessibility and development in Africa, tune in now!

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 60: Tom Lavers on Ethiopia’s Developmental State

Ethiopia’s Developmental State model has garnered attention for its ambitious goals and efforts to transform the economy, but has it been successful? Joining us today is Tom Lavers, Senior lecturer in Politics and Development at The University of Manchester, to help navigate this complex topic. Tom is a dedicated researcher whose passion lies in exploring the intricate interplay between social and political dynamics amid structural shifts. His research is characterized by a nuanced investigation into the changing socio-political landscapes and the evolving relationships between states and societies. In our conversation, we delve into Ethiopia’s political coalition shifts and explore the government’s achievements and setbacks in fostering development. We discuss Ethiopia’s complex historical roots, how statehood has significantly shaped Ethiopia’s development trajectory, the distributive crisis in Ethiopia, and the factors contributing to Ethiopia’s current challenges. Gain valuable insights into the country’s industrial landscape, developmental strategies, geographical equity hurdles, urbanization shifts, and much more. Tune in for a comprehensive exploration of Ethiopia’s developmental journey with expert Tom Lavers!

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 59: Lant Pritchett on Economic Growth, Charter Cities, and State Capability

In today’s episode of Charter Cities, we’re honored to welcome Lant Pritchett, a distinguished economist and a thought leader in development economics. Our deep-dive conversation will focus on the critical topic of growth diagnostics, exploring the complex challenges policymakers face in developing nations. Lant will illuminate the importance of identifying impactful actions for growth, emphasizing the need for rigorous debate and evidence-based decision-making. We’ll also scrutinize the limitations of traditional development metrics like the “dollar a day” measure and consider alternative, more effective approaches. We’ll also investigate innovative solutions like charter cities as a mechanism for fostering sustainable growth by addressing institutional challenges.

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 58: Heba Elhanafy and Matthew McCartney on Africa’s Bad Urban Laws

On today’s Charter Cities podcast episode, host Jeffrey Mason is joined by colleagues Heba Elhanafy and Matthew McCartney to unpack the New Africa’s Bad Urban Laws project. This initiative dissects laws in African cities hindering growth and community well-being. Additionally, Jeffrey reminds listeners of the upcoming Africa’s New City Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The team dives deep, discussing the reasons for and effects of detrimental urban laws, using instances like Zambia’s land ownership as an example. Tune in for an insightful discussion on urban policies in Africa.

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 57: International Hubs and the Future of Living with Vitalik Buterin

Coming up on today’s episode of Charter Cities, we have a very special guest joining host Mark Lutter: Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum. In this episode, we delve into the fascinating world of community building and the importance of creating meaningful connections within cities and online communities. We explore the challenges and successes of building communities in different contexts, from crypto communities to health tribes. With insights from Vitalik’s own experiences and observations, we discuss the value of diversity, the impact of infrastructure on small towns, and the need for community filters. Stay tuned for an enriching conversation on the power of communities in shaping our lives and the future of cities.

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 56: Martin Rama and Yue Li on Private Cities

Hosted by Jeffrey Mason, in the company of esteemed guests Martin Rama and Yue Li, our most recent episode plunges into the enthralling domain of private cities. Tune in to explore this new frontier in urban development, the intricate dance between governance entities, and the triumphs and obstacles that confront private cities. Additionally, we’ll uncover the promising prospects that await on the horizon.

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 53: Emergent Tokyo

A lively conversation with Joe McReynolds, co-author of Emergent Tokyo: Designing the Spontaneous City about the characteristics of Tokyo urbanism, the role of policy in the city, lessons that may be applied to charter cities, and also some of Joe’s thoughts on China’s current military capabilities.

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Charter Cities Atlas: Venice with Thibault Serlet and Corey Tazzara

Today’s episode is a bonus episode, where we take a deep dive into the Italian Renaissance (with a focus on Venice) with world-renowned expert, Professor Corey Tazzara. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the formation of independent city-states, to the financial and political ramifications of the crusades, to the rise and fall of Venice as an economic powerhouse, this conversation has it all!

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 21: Founding a Pan-African University with Leonard Wantchekon

From fleeing Benin for his pro-democracy activism to becoming a renowned Princeton professor and founding one of Africa’s most prestigious universities, Leonard Wantchekon’s life is as impressive as his economic and political research. Today we speak with Leonard and explore his story, academic work, and how he founded the African School of Economics (ASE). After sharing details

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 18: Ancient Cities with Greg Woolf

Cities may have seemed more fragile during the global COVID-19 lockdowns but, as Greg Woolf’s impressive studies of early urbanism show, cities have been re-invented many times. In today’s episode, listeners hear from Greg, an historian and archaeologist specializing in the late Iron Age and the Roman Empire. Greg is currently the Director of the Institute of

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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 2: Gyude Moore on building governance from scratch, the importance of roads, and the challenges and opportunities in Africa

For our second episode of the Charter Cities Podcast, Mark is joined by Gyude Moore to discuss his experiences in and the history of Liberia, the challenges facing emerging markets and of charter cities. Gyude takes a brief look at the defining moments in Liberian history for this discussion, mentioning the population that arrived from America in

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