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Municipal Equation Podcast


Municipal Equation is a podcast about cities and towns in changing times. Created by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Producer/host/music Ben Brown.


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Municipal Equation is a podcast about cities and towns in changing times. Created by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Producer/host/music Ben Brown.






EP 79: How Sister Cities Work

Recently, during a visit to North Carolina by municipal officials from the country of Moldova, they and fellow municipal officials from around Wake County discussed possible "sister city" arrangements, to learn from one another and possibly create mutual resource opportunties. But sister-city arrangements can form for a number of reasons. On this episode we look at the impacts of sister city arrangements in North Carolina and beyond, and how it all works.


EP 78: Ideas from the Alley

When you think of downtown alleys, what comes to mind? Bad associations, maybe? The place to avoid at night? Ever since childhood, Americans have had the general impression that alleyways are dark, dirty, dangerous -- the right setting for noir crime stories. And that might sometimes be the case. But some U.S. cities are starting to embrace their alleys like assets -- as places to be -- with art, lighting, planters, seating and cleanliness. This is a classic episode of Municipal Equation from 2017, loaded with interesting voices and ideas.


EP 77: So You Want to Commission a Mural

Welcome to a special LIVE episode of Municpial Equation, NCLM's podcast about cities and towns adapting to change, recorded in December with a panelists about HOW public art is achieved, with expert voices from the realm of local government. This episode was recorded at the N.C. Local Government Budget Association's winter conference. Special thanks to them. 2017 episode: Previous live episode with NCLGBA:


Episode 76: Town of Cary A Best Place to Work, Nationally

The Town of Cary was recently recognized as one of the top three places to work, nationally, in terms of local government. What does that mean? How is something like that achieved? We speak with Cary Manager Sean Stegall to learn what they're doing differently. Municipal Equation is the podcast about cities and towns adapting to change, from the North Carolina League of Municipalities.


Ep 75: Digital Service Teams at City Hall

As various public and private services adapt to evolved consumer expectations, local governments around the country are themselves adapting with in-house "digital service teams" to deliver in a modern, convenient way. In fact, these teams are becoming ubiquitous. But let's back up. What is a digital service team in the context of local government? What do they do? How are they assembled? And are they feasible for towns of all sizes? Joshua Pine of the National League of Cities joins us to discuss digital service teams, which some observers say aren't just a trend, but are here to stay. Related reading:


EP 74: Preparing for the Future of Work

We talk with Lena Geraghty of the National League of Cities about in our cities and towns, and how municipal leaders can play a role in making it as good and inclusive as possible.


Episode 73: ARP in Action

Let's take a tour around this state we love so much. On this episode of Municipal Equation, NCLM's podcast about cities and towns adapting to change, we explore how municipalities from the mountains to the coast are programming their American Rescue Plan allocations -- federal funds with transformative potential, and recipient cities are acting in that regard. Our guest on this episode is NCLM's Jack Cassidy, who has been covering ARP from its inception and likes to point out that when municipalities get support, they get the job done. Plenty of examples to celebrate and inspire, here. Listen now.


EP 72: Dreaming Big in Small Towns

Cities and towns so good that vacations become permanent stays. On this episode of Municipal Equation, we talk with VisitNC, the state's promotional and tourism outfit, about its Dream Big in Small Town NC initiative, which aims to connect travelers with the state's alluring small towns -- places so great they're hard to leave, and that's the idea.


EP 71: Flexing the River (with Weldon, NC)

On this episode of Municipal Equation, the podcast about cities adapting to change, we talk with Mayor Hugh Credle of Weldon, N.C., to learn how his small town is thinking big with the help of the river -- the Roanoke -- running just alongside its limits.


EP 70: President Neisler Speaks

In April, during his acceptance speech as the new president of the N.C. League of Municipalities, Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler emphasized that public service can be fun, that we can enjoy ourselves in working together, knowing our communities and their histories, charting how they've changed over time and what the future calls for. On this episode, we hear the affable president's perspective on service and his priorities ahead, in addition to some of the ways he's stepped forward to make positive change where he lives.


Episode 69: Vision Zero

In 2017, the City of Greensboro logged more than 40 vehicle crash fatalities, at the time a high mark that rattled officials enough to explore ways toward safer travels. This led city officials to a global movement in the form of a scalable initiative called Vision Zero. On this episode, City of Greensboro Transportation Planning Engineer Lydia McIntyre explains what Vision Zero is, how it seeks to reduce traffic fatalities and serious accidents, and what the city has learned (with surprises) since embarking. Related material:


EP 68: Recruitment and Retention, Challenges and Ideas

It seems inconsistent: pandemic-related, record-level job losses while employers report their own hardships in finding workers. But that’s the nature of what analysts have called one of the strangest labor shortages in memory. Nationally, employers have reported too-tight talent pools or general hard times retaining staff. While much of the labor-shortage news spotlight is usually either broad-talking or sector-specific, municipalities far and wide indeed have felt the effect. On this episode, we hear from a few on their unique challenges and ideas to improve their situations. And we've love to hear about yours.


EP 67: Boone Shifts to Renewables

The Town of Boone appears to be the first in North Carolina to have shifted from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy for its municipal facilities, and many years ahead of its own timeline for doing so. But how? On this episode of Municipal Equation, the League’s podcast about cities and towns adapting in the face of change, we talk with Boone Sustainability Manager George Santucci for an education on how the town and its leaders paired will with recognition of resources to achieve a big goal the town’s people can be proud of. Is there a story from your town that would make a great highlight for Municipal Equation? Email the show’s host/producer Ben Brown at to be featured.


Episode 66: The American Rescue Plan and Local Infrastructure

North Carolina cities and towns will receive $1.3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds in 2021 and 2022. That is a staggering number, and it encompasses just a small piece of the ARP. More funds will be sent to North Carolina counties. Still more is going to the state itself. Never before has money flowed directly to our cities and towns like it will through the ARP, and as such, it is a generational opportunity—to both recover from the pandemic and to prosper well into the future.


EP 65: DIRECT Talks on Race (and Equity vs. Equality)

A new program from the North Carolina League of Municipalities is convening frank talks with municipal officials about racial tensions and inequities in our communities. Learn how DIRECT (Diversity, Inclusion & Racial Equity for Cities & Towns) works for better lives through best practices and historical knowledge. Mark your calendars -- on Feb. 1, at 10 a.m., DIRECT will hold a webinar, which you'll have to register for. You can find it on the events calendar at This webinar will provide the basics city and town leaders need to advance discussions and local efforts on racial equity. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to learn valuable information and engage in meaningful conversations. The course includes: -Discussion of the importance of racial equity and its associated values -Review of historical events that have impacted racial equity at the national, state, and local level -Examination of relevant data that impacts racial equity -Strategies and tools for practical solutions at the local level -Participation in a racial wealth gap learning simulation The DIRECT webinar is available to members for $65 plus applicable taxes and $75 plus applicable taxes to nonmembers. Attendees who complete the course will earn 2.5 credit hours toward AML’s Order of Municipal Leadership. ​If your town wants to address racial inequities, but you’re not sure where to start, Introducing DIRECT: How Cities and Towns Can Engage in Racial Equity Conversations is the first step in learning more. .


NCLM Fiscal Year 2019-20 Report Audio Companion

Audio companion to the North Carolina League of Municipalities' fiscal year 2019-20 annual report. Produced by the League's Communications team.


EP 64: Sick and Tired of Flooding

Iowa Watershed Approach


EP 63: UFO Town

What could aliens and flying saucers mean to a community and its government? Like, for real. Whether you believe we've actually been visited by interplanetary travelers or whether simple, Earthly explanations cover the sightings and stories, no community has a stronger association with extra terrestrials and UFOs than Roswell, New Mexico. On this episode, we look at what that means from a community and economic-development angle. We're joined by a ufologist and one of the world's foremost experts on what's called "the Roswell Incident" and from a spokesperson of the local government itself. Ultimately it's about embracing your community's story and taking it to intergalatic levels. City of Roswell, N.M. Blog of Dr. Kevin Randle Randle's latest book on Roswell, "Roswell in the 21st Century" "Report of Air Force Research Regarding the 'Roswell Incident'" (July 1994) "The Roswell Report: Case Closed" Roswell tourism video


EP 62: Cities Initiative on Climate Change

Calling climate change an intimidating issue may be understating it. It's massive, right? Being so global and often pulled into intense debate, climate change may have us individuals feeling helpless against it. But there are local-level approaches for making a difference, and municipal governments are sharing best-practices with one another to that end. We travel to Chapel Hill -- the electric-vehicle capital of North Carolina -- to learn how they are others are leading the charge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing other environmental impacts as part of a program called the Cities Initiative, which seeks to remove the barriers to sensible policies and practices that could be exactly what the world needs right now. To join or pose questions about the Cities Initiative, email Zach Ambrose at . Cities Initiative overview and consensus action items Description of phases 1 and 2 Mayor Pam Hemminger, Chapel Hill, North Carolina


EP 61: Actual Mask-Wearing Superheroes

Superheroes exist. Yes, in real life. Just like in the comics, they wear masks and uniforms, they nab bad guys, and they spread peace across the city. On this episode, we talk to a couple of them, and their stories are absolutely amazing. Thanks to Sgt. Clint Ferguson and Officer Damon Cole for making this happen. Sgt. Clint Ferguson and Deadpool Officer Damon Cole 2020 Census news update