Originally posted on www.fastcompany.com.
When James Anderson arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel, in October 2014, the city was in the midst of an immigration crisis. Tens of thousands of Africans, having fled the poverty and conflict of their native countries, now resided in the southern neighborhood of Neve Sha’anan. In less than a decade, the area’s population had grown fourfold, resulting in overcrowding, unemployment, and cultural rifts between some members of the migrant community and native Israelis. “It was the opposite of vibrant city life,” Anderson, Bloomberg Philanthropies‘ head of government innovation programs, says tactfully, recalling a flea market set up inside a former bus depot as a particular bright spot of the trip.
City officials had ramped up trash collection and were maintaining the overloaded sewage system, but these kinds of measures only treated the symptoms. A couple of months later, Anderson invited Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai to join the new “i-team” program he had launched in 2012: Bloomberg Philanthropies would fund and coach a cross-disciplinary innovation squad (project manager, analysts, designer, etc.) for three years to help local officials address systemic issues.
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