Small Cities

Re-inhabitation of Small Town America

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My friend Kirsten Dirksen at faircompanies.com recently posted a new video about Water Valley, Mississippi. It demonstrates that there are plenty of great compact mixed use walkable neighborhoods out there that can be re-inhabited. Building anything of this kind from scratch is theoretically possible, but it almost never happens due to endless zoning regulations, building codes, and cultural inertia. Water Valley is lucky in the sense that it’s just down the road from a prestigious university.  read more »

Caterpillar’s HQ Move to Chicago Shows America’s Double Divide

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Earlier today Caterpillar announced that it was moving its corporate headquarters from Peoria to Chicago. The move affects about 300 top-level executives. The company will retain a large presence in Peoria.  read more »

Babes In Trumpland: The Coming Rise Of The Heartland Cities

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Contrary to the media notion that Donald Trump's surprising electoral victory represented merely the actions of unwashed “deplorables," his winning margin was the outcome of rational thinking in those parts of the country whose economies revolve around the production of tangible goods.

And their economies stand to gather more steam in the years ahead.  read more »

How the Left and Right Can Learn to Love Localism: The Constitutional Cure for polarization

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The ever worsening polarization of American politics—demonstrated and accentuated by the Trump victory—is now an undeniable fact of our daily life. Yet rather than allowing the guilty national parties to continue indulging political brinkmanship, we should embrace a  strong, constitutional solution to accommodating our growing divide: a return to local control.  read more »

It Wasn't Rural 'Hicks' Who Elected Trump: The Suburbs Were -- And Will Remain -- The Real Battleground

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Much of the New York and Washington press corps has concluded that Donald Trump’s surprising journey to the Oval Office was powered by country bumpkins expressing their inner racist misogyny. However, the real foundations for his victory lie not in the countryside and small towns, but in key suburban counties.  read more »

A Better Way

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My recent post at Granola Shotgun described how a town in Georgia spent an enormous amount of public money on a new civic center and road expansions, but somehow managed to devalue nearby private property in the process. Here’s an example of a neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee that took a different approach that cost a lot less and achieved a radically better set of outcomes.  read more »

Local Govt. Control: The Ignored Campaign Issue

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In an election cycle full of spittle and bile, arguably the greatest issue --- the nature of governance and the role of citizens --- has been all but ignored. Neither candidate for president has much feel for the old American notion of dispersed power. Instead each has his or her own plans for ever greater centralization: Trump by the force of his enormous narcissistic self-regard; Hillary Clintonthrough the expansion of the powers increasingly invested in the federal regulatory apparatus.  read more »

Our Town: Restoring Localism

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This is an introduction to a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, "Our Town: Restoring Localism." Download the full report here.

America is facing a critical moment in its evolution, one that threatens both its future prosperity and the integrity of its institutions. Over the past several decades, government has become increasingly centralized, with power shifting from local communities to the federal level. This has been accompanied by a decline in non-governmental institutions, a matter of concern to thinkers on both the right and the left.  read more »

A Window Into the World of Working Class Collapse

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Some time back my brother recommended I watch the documentary film Medora, about a high school basketball team from rural Southern Indiana. I finally got around to doing it.

Someone described this film as an “inverse Hoosiers“, which is an apt description. Hoosiers is a fictional retelling of the Milan Miracle, the legendary story of how tiny Milan High School (enrollment 161) won the state’s then single-class basketball championship in 1954.  read more »

How Art Critics Create Community

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Orlando has taken on a new “web city” form. Its dispersal over a wide geographical area allows distinct and unique pockets of culture to arise within it, a kind of archipelago of art and design. It is a microcosm of the archipelago of many Florida cities. The overall effect is marvelous, if somewhat diluted by distance, and the broad metropolitan area has come to be a proving ground for artists, architects, and urban designers. As an artist and designer commenting on these topics, the single biggest trend I have seen in the last fifteen or so years is a growing sense of maturation.  read more »