Geography

Kevin Starr, chronicler of the California dream

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“From the Beginning, California promised much. While yet barely a name on the map, it entered American awareness as a symbol of renewal. It was a final frontier: of geography and of expectation.”

— Kevin Starr, “Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915” (1973)

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The Demographics of Poverty in Santa Clara County

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Tucked away in the bottom corner of the San Francisco Bay, tech royalty make themselves at home in their silicon castles. Santa Clara County is the wealthiest county in California, and 14th in the nation, boasting an average median household income of $96,310. However, where there are kings, there must be subjects. Despite its affluence, Santa Clara remains one of the most unequal counties in the United States.  read more »

How Post-Familialism Will Shape the New Asia

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Surprisingly, the modern focal point for postfamilial urbanism comes from eastern Asia, where family traditionally exercised a powerful, even dominant influence over society. The shift toward post-familialism arose first in Japan, the region’s most economically and technologically advanced country. As early as the 1990s sociologist Muriel Jolivet unearthed a trend of growing hostility toward motherhood in her book Japan: The Childless Society? –a trend that stemmed in part from male reluctance to take responsibility for raising children.  read more »

Advancing the Texan City-Building Model

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Reading the recent report “The Texas Way of Urbanism” promptly reminded me of my status – twice a migrant; from small town to big city (Athens) and from big city to another country. These moves were propelled by a singular motivation: seeking opportunity to better my lot. I knew next to nothing about the cities I moved to: their shape and history, their culture, their social divisions and even language were absent from my viewfinder. All that mattered was the chance for a new start.  read more »

The Future of Racial Politics

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From its inception, the American experiment has been dogged by racial issues. Sadly, this was even truer this year. Eight years after electing the first African-American president, not only are race relations getting worse, according to surveys, but the electorate remains as ethnically divided as in any time of recent history.     read more »

Houston, City of Opportunity

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism titled "The Texas Way of Urbanism". Download the entire report here.

Creative friction – unchaperoned and unprescribed – is Houston’s secret sauce.

At a time when Americans’ confidence in all major U.S. institutions – minus the military and small business – has sunk below the historic average, and only about 20 percent of Americans say they spend time with their neighbors, one would expect pessimism to be universal. But come to the concrete sprawl just north of the Gulf and you’ll find a different vibe, one that other cities would do well to emulate.  read more »

The Emergence of Texas Urbanism; The Triangle Takes Off

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism titled "The Texas Way of Urbanism". Download the entire report here.

Throughout the history of the United States, much of the nation’s economic vitality can be traced to specific regions and their mastery of the productive sectors which propelled the country forward. Today we see this most evident in the remarkable emergence of the “Texas Triangle” encompassing Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Austin-San Antonio.  read more »

Three Steps to Fix America's Election Process

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Almost everyone agrees that we just finished the most painful election season in anyone’s living memory, an agony made worse by the fact that it was nearly two years long. Fortunately, we aren’t doomed to repeat it, as we know many other countries have shorter and more civil election campaigns. Three changes to our method of electing presidents could reduce costs, save time, and make the process less divisive and more welcoming to voters.  read more »

Five Ideas to Make America Greater

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Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was based on the notion that he could “Make America Great Again.” But beyond the rhetoric — sometimes lurching into demagoguery — the newly elected president comes to office, as one commentator suggests, “the least policy-savvy president in history.”  read more »

San Francisco Observations

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I made quite a few trips to San Francisco during the late 90s into the early 2000s, but hadn’t been back in a very long time – probably close to 15 years.

Recently I was there for a conference and a long weekend and got to spend some time exploring the city. I won’t claim a comprehensive review, but I did have a few takeaways to share.  read more »