Enterprising States 2014: Re-creating Equality of Opportunity


This is the executive summary for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's 5th Annual Enterprising States report, authored annually by Praxis Strategy Group. View the interactive map with state-by-state data and download the full report here.

The growing skills gap is one of the most persistent challenges affecting thriving and lagging state economies—the disparity between the skills companies need to drive growth and innovation versus the skills that actually exist within their organizations and in the labor market. This disconnect, expected to grow substantially as the boomer generation retires, causes workers and companies to miss out on realizing their full potential. A sizable skills gap impacts virtually every aspect of the economy, thereby affecting our national competitiveness and, in turn, causing the economy to fall short of its potential.  read more »

The Ugly City Beautiful: A Policy Analysis


When it comes to the future, Detroit and San Francisco act as poles in the continuum of American consciousness. Detroit is dead and will continue dying. San Francisco is the region sipping heartily from the fountain of youth. Such trajectories, according to experts, will go on indefinitely.

Harvard economist Ed Glaeser has a grim outlook for the Rust Belt. “[P]eople and firms are leaving Buffalo for the Sunbelt because the Sunbelt is a warmer, more pleasant, and more productive area to live,” he writes in City Journal.

Glaeser echoes this sentiment in a recent interview with International Business Times, saying “[s]mart people want to be around other smart people”, and the Rust Belt has a long slog ahead given that “post-industrial city migration is dominated by people moving to warmer climes”.

But is this true?  read more »

Ukraine Watch: Kiev in the Media Center Spotlight


This spring I traveled from St. Petersburg to Kiev, by way of southern Russian and eastern Ukraine. The newspapers were filled with reports of American policymakers gushing over how mobs in Kiev deserved the inalienable rights of freedom fighters and self-determination. Mobs of Russian mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine, who set up automobile tire and sandbag roadblocks, were condemned for threatening world peace.  read more »

Tambora vs. Krakatoa: Which was Worse?


An April 27 Wall Street Journal book review by Simon Winchester descends into a petty squabble about whether the volcanic eruptions on Mount Tambora (1815) and Krakatoa (1883), both located in Indonesia, was more significant.  read more »


The Geography of Cultural Attitudes


The cultural and political division of America, the gap between “red” and ”blue” with respect to economic and social liberalism or conservatism is a constant and dominant theme in American discourse. Here’s some narrowly specific measures of social liberalism based on actual votes by citizens or legislatures, not polls or broader indices available.     read more »

History, Landscape, Beauty on the American Freeway


Freeways, particularly urban freeways, have had a bad press for several decades now.  They are accused of despoiling scenery, destroying habitat and causing urban sprawl.  Many observers report with glee on the latest news of a small segment of urban freeway being dismantled.  read more »

Job Dispersion in Major US Metropolitan Areas: 1960-2010


The continuing dispersion of employment in the nation's major metropolitan areas has received attention in two recent reports. The Brookings Institution has published research showing that employment dispersion continued between 2000 and 2010, finding job growth was greater outside a three mile radius from central business districts between 2000 and 2010 in 100 metropolitan areas Note 1).  read more »

Tokyo Dust: The Geography of Pollen

Tokyo; Yellow Dust.jpg

TOKYO – The weather here is turning warmer, the cherry trees are blossoming and the waiting rooms in clinics that specialize in nose and eye problems are filling up with people suffering from runny noses, sneezing and bloodshot eyes.

Tokyo is known for many things: the Imperial Palace gardens, cherry trees in the springtime, super-crowded commuter trains. But it has a more dubious distinction. It is also the world capital for allergies, especially for hay fever, known to the Japanese as pollen sickness.  read more »


The Beauty of Urban Planning from the Ground


In a piece called The Beauty of Urban Planning from Space, the Sustainable Cities Collective highlights views from space of uniquely designed street pattern designs in various cities around the world. There are ten examples that illustrate the zenith of urban planning.

As attractive as the street patterns are, they highlight the inevitable inability of designers, or anyone else for that matter, to influence much more than small changes in the overall urban form.  read more »

Dispersion in the World's Largest Urban Areas


No decade in history has experienced such an increase in urban population as the last. From Tokyo-Yokohama, the world's largest urban area (population: 37 million) to Godegård, Sweden, which may be the smallest (population: 200), urban areas added 700 million people between 2000 and 2010.  read more »