Florida

The Reinvention of Sanford, Florida

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Sanford, Florida was in the midst of reinventing itself. Then the calamity of Trayvon Martin’s violent death turned this sleepy Florida town into a poster child for everything that's wrong with the state. Now that the media frenzy has moved on to other troughs, the residents must sweep up the mess. As is often the case, compassion and healing have been operating quietly in the background.  read more »

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The Private Business of Public Art

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Like many cities coming out of the downturn, Orlando is jonesing for a recovery. To promote a sense of new prosperity, City Hall leaders recently added eight works of art to its downtown core, amidst much fanfare. Before we start whistling “Happy Days Are Here Again,” however, we would do well to examine the circumstances of this renewed interest in public art. Its surprising return was trumpeted as a new way to enrich the city and benefit its residents; many, including this author, applauded the effort. This has certainly happened. But has the result been a barrier, as much as a connection, to its citizenry?  read more »

Orlando, Florida: East End Market & the New Localism

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Getting meat and potatoes from the farm to the table depends upon a smooth, even flow. The smaller farmers' markets are mostly absent in the city these days, with a few vestigial exceptions: Reading Market in Philadelphia, Pike Place in Seattle, and Greenmarket in Manhattan, to name a few. Now, East End Market on Corrine Drive in Orlando has taken its place alongside these venerable exchanges.  read more »

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Why Trayvon Martin Defines Sanford, Florida

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For other rural cities in America, Sanford, Florida, home of the George Zimmerman trial, is useful as a cautionary tale: Define yourself now, before an incident like the shooting of Trayvon Martin defines you.

All of Florida is once again in an uncomfortable position, this time with the Zimmerman verdict. The state has by now earned a solid last-place position in its contribution to America’s culture. Its poor history was topped by its performance in the 2000 presidential election, but it includes lurid crimes going back well over a century. Most Florida residents quickly change  read more »

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Florida's Pinellas County: Growth Gone Wild

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In the seventeen years since my last visit, Florida's Pinellas County hasn't much changed. It's still a low-grade carpet of commercial junk space from coast to coast, and the edges - where the value really lies - aren't very different than they were in the 1990s. There's more, but not better. A county that has consistently avoided growth regulation, Pinellas could have been a model for cooperative public/private real estate development, unimpeded by pesky government regulations. Instead, it is a living example of the atrocious results when leaders focus on quantity, not quality.  read more »

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How We Should Navigate the Florida Archipelago

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Leafy, timeless rural routes and monotonous, flat highways have characterized Florida’s network of state roads since the early 20th century. Vacationers in the Sunshine State either stick to the interstates – often a hot, frustrating parking lot – or consign themselves to the stop-and-go, confusing local roads. Future Corridors, the state’s vision of a future, integrated road network, is set to finish its conceptual phase this year, and promises to radically revamp the state’s road system.  read more »

Urban Housing: A Master Plan for the Few

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How we, as a nation, find bounty and beauty in the future depends upon how we react to two trends emerging from the recent difficult period in American urbanism. The first of these trends is the increasing lack of affordability in mainstream urban America, with the costs of maintaining a middle-class lifestyle at a level where distinct have/have-not lines are now drawn. The second is the increasing authoritarianism in mainstream urban America, where decisions about how our cities function are guided by a new array of authority figures that represent the common good.  read more »

Angry Gran: Mobile Game or Demographic Game-Change?

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“Angry Gran” was one of the top mobile app games of 2012 globally. In it, the gamer assumes the persona of a grandmother gone rogue: Angry Gran is angry and needs money! Whack your enemies like piñatas until the cash comes flying out... The objective? Support Gran’s ‘active’ and ‘financially savvy’ retirement by assaulting unsuspecting passers-by with various weapons. If the assault succeeds, Gran steals their money and the gamer’s score rises; if the assault fails, Gran sprains her back and the gamer’s progress is delayed. Given the aging global demographic, one wonders if this sense of humour is best categorized as fiction, or as paradoxical truth?  read more »

Petraeus's Turf: The South Tampa Scene

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Bimbo eruptions are never fortunate occurrences, least of all for the bimbos involved. When they occur in South Tampa, they carry the sordid spectacles to new frontiers. A gentle but feisty cultural mix of blue-collar, white-collar, and varied ethnicities stretches between Old Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay on a peninsula tipped with MacDill Air Force Base.  read more »

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The Rise of the Third Coast

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In the wilds of Louisiana’s St. James Parish, amid the alligators and sugar plantations, Lester Hart is building the $750 million steel plant of his dreams. Over the past decade, Hart has constructed plants for steel producer Nucor everywhere from Trinidad to North Carolina. Today, he says, Nucor sees its big opportunities here, along the banks of the Mississippi River, roughly an hour west of New Orleans by car.  read more »