Orlando

The Reinvention of Sanford, Florida

Sanford, Fla porch with kids.jpg

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 »

Subjects:

Forget What the Pundits Tell You, Coastal Cities are Old News - it’s the Sunbelt that’s Booming

bigstock-Houston-Night-Skyline-6923427.jpg

Ever since the Great Recession ripped through the economies of the Sunbelt, America’s coastal pundit class has been giddily predicting its demise. Strangled by high-energy prices, cooked by global warming, rejected by a new generation of urban-centric millennials, this vast southern region was doomed to become, in the words of the Atlantic, where the “American dream” has gone to die. If the doomsayers are right, Americans must be the ultimate masochists. After a brief hiatus, people seem to, once again, be streaming towards the expanse of warm-weather states extending from the southeastern seaboard to Phoenix.  read more »

Searching Out The Half-Full Glass

warehouse.jpg

There is a shiny, brittle skin to the economic recovery that conceals an unhealthy flesh underneath. It is tempting to call this condition a glass half empty. But seeking the healthy and the fit in nontraditional places has become a quest for more and more Americans who are leading us down a pathway that diverges, from the mainstream towards a new future. Out of earshot of the mainstream media and off of Main Street, there is a glass half full.  read more »

Highway Eye-4, Revisited

I-4 Orlando traffic.jpg

Interstate 4. It is a unique highway which is cursed by many drivers in Central Florida, and many more who come here in search of rest and relaxation. While Californians raise all highways to royal status — Interstate 5, for one, is referred to as "the five", as if it were some kind of important personage — Floridians just call their central artery I-four. My decision to chronicle I-4 was sparked by a recent experience. Along with my family, I was caught in a traffic jam as we headed east on I-4 outside of Disney World. I have been stuck on this very spot many times.  read more »

The Private Business of Public Art

Cedar of Lebanon by Jacob Harmeling.jpg

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

East End Market looking out.jpg

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 »

Subjects:

Building Authenticity: Finding Gems in Florida's Stucco Mansions

why-architecture-matters.jpg

This jaded land, Florida, is the world-weary capital of architectural irony, with more tongue-in-cheek showpieces than even Las Vegas. But hidden within the MedRev McMansions, the stucco-smeared stage sets, and the high cynicism of our highway junkspace, there lies hidden a handful of true works of quiet beauty. Leave it to Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer prize-winning architecture critic and best-selling author of Why Architecture Matters, to point it out to us godless heathens. In an interview, he tells me that he’s excited to tour these nuggets we’re hoarding. Who knew?

“While Frank Lloyd Wright and other ‘star-chitects’ hogged center stage,” Goldberger says, “many more created earnest, sincere buildings that fulfilled their obligation to the street. These unsung heroes of American architecture matter. I think that James Gamble Rogers II was one of these in Winter Park. I hope so, anyway, because I’m coming down from New York to see them for the first time ever.” Sincere architecture: an endangered species in the world today, but in over-themed Orlando, practically nonexistent.  read more »

Florida: When Your Best (Place) Just Ain't Good Enough

Florida-Housing-Bigstock.jpg

Real estate broker Coldwell Banker handles corporate relocations for a large portion of our middle class. It recently released a survey of Suburbanite Best Places to Live. While it's easy to dismiss as a sales tool for their realtors, the survey provides a fascinating glimpse of middle class, suburban preferences, influenced by our current economy. Coldwell Banker’s top honors go to Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.  read more »

Swing State Geography: The I-4 Corridor

bigstock-Interstate--East-Road-Sign-4971506.jpg

Overheated presidential politics have done few favors to Florida, except to put 132 miles of hot asphalt on everyone’s lips:  Interstate 4.  Completed in the late 1960s, this interstate (in fact, the only interstate highway to be entirely contained within one state) is known by millions who have  visited there at least once on vacation.  But the social and political reality in the world  around Interstate 4 is little known outside of Central Florida.  Like Ypres, the Flemish town continually under assault during World War 1, I-4 will receive the brunt of both side’  read more »

Localism As An Anti-Depressant

North End - Boston.jpeg

Are we heading into a new era of local solutions?  read more »