Peter Kageyama, the author of "For the Love of Cities," compared the Quad-Cities to a family with its closeness, its individual identities and sibling rivalries.
Recruited by the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce to speak at Quad-Cities Week events, the Akron, Ohio, native said "I found you to be a family of cities. You don't see that kind of thing (among cities)."
"At the heart of the Quad-Cities and the region, you recognize you have more in common than what separates you," he said in an interview at the chamber's Davenport office.
Like a traditional family, he added, there might be fighting or competition between the cities, but there also is an overwhelming feeling that "you better not mess with my family."
Kageyama was the keynote speaker at the Young Professionals (YP) Community Impact Awards, held at The Establishment Theatre in downtown Rock Island.
Kageyama, 49, now of St. Petersburg, Fla., wrote "For the Love of Cities" three years ago after recognizing the value of emotional engagement to a community. He said the book looks at "why it's a good thing when people fall in love with places."
Even cities that have suffered economic blows, disasters and other crises can be lovable cities if their residents are engaged emotionally, he said. There are "cool places in challenged places, like Detroit," his research found.
On a visit to the Motor City in 2007, he found "Detroit was tough." "There was a lot of bad stuff, but people showed me amazing things," he said. "I thought 'Wow, this is Detroit?' This is why cities like Detroit keep going; there are people that love that city."
Likewise, he said Hurricane Katrina did not break New Orleans' spirit and closer to the Quad-Cities, Cedar Rapids exhibited the same love of city after floods devastated it in 2008. Kageyama said when people "feel like you could lose something, you're reminded of how precious it is."
A disaster and all the money that flows in during recovery, he added, "is a crisis you cannot afford to waste. A friend in Joplin, Mo., told me that." The city was devastated by a tornado three years ago this month.
He is a co-founder of the Creative Cities Summits, which has been held in St. Petersburg, Detroit and in Lexington, Ky.
Cities that are loved will enjoy more economic growth, he said. A 2009 Gallup study found that just 24 percent of people were "engaged" with their community. "When more people love their city, people feel that. When more do fall in love with a place, you can create a virtuous cycle."
Having met Quad-City business and community leaders, Kageyama said, "I met lots of people that love this place."