This paper is about concepts – place, power, leadership, inclusion and public innovation. These topics are not always centre-stage in discussions of grassroots activism. It will be suggested that they deserve to be given more attention by those wishing to strengthen community empowerment and promote justice in the city. The starting point for the analysis is global. It is suggested that place-less leaders, meaning people who are not expected to care about the consequences of their decisions for particular places and communities, have seen their power increase dramatically in the last thirty years or so. The paper argues that the growth of place-less power in modern society is leading to an increase in social and economic inequality. Research for a forthcoming book on Leading the Inclusive City (2015) suggests that place-based power can be tapped to map out a different future for cities and localities than the one derived from neo-liberal ideology. The paper outlines a way of conceptualising the political space available for place-based initiatives, introduces the idea of realms of civic leadership, and suggests that the areas of overlap between these realms can be thought of as innovation zones – spaces in which people with different backgrounds can be brought together to create new possibilities.