Within the last couple of years, the population of the world has become more than one half urban for the first time in history. By 2025, the world's urban areas are expected to account for 58% of the world population, rising further to two-thirds in 2050. This represents a huge increase from the 29% that was urban in 1950, or estimates of approximately 10% (or less) in 1800. (Figure 1). read more »
Picasso said “Art is a lie that tells the truth”. Nowadays, there’s less truth to that, as the creative process is increasingly about prettying up and papering over what’s broke.
More on that shortly, but first, about the breakage: it’s legitimate. Said Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz in a recent NY Times piece that plain-talks our economic conditions: “Increasing inequality means a weaker economy, which means increasing inequality, which means a weaker economy.”
That assessment—from a very smart man studying the problem—isn’t good. But in the American feel-good milieu you wouldn’t know it: “We’re coming out if it.” “Tomorrow is forever.” “Start-ups will save the U.S.” Etc. And while tone deaf, this kind of brushing off of problems isn’t new, but part of what social critic Barbara Ehrenreich refers to as America’s “cult of cheerfulness”, and it’s a “cult” that has spawned a longstanding and growing American feel-good industry. read more »
For more than a century, the city of Detroit has been an ideological and at times actual battleground for decidedly different views about the economy, labor and the role of government. At one time it was the center of a can-do entrepreneurialism that helped launch the American automobile industry. By 1914, for example, no fewer than 43 start-up companies were manufacturing automobiles in the city and surrounding region. Following a wave of sit-down strikes that began almost immediately after FDR’s landslide victory in 1936, the economic character of the city changed dra read more »
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 »
For some time, many in the urban planning community have been proclaiming a "sea-change" in household preferences away from suburban housing in the United States.
Perhaps no one is more identified with the "sea-change" thesis than Arthur C. Nelson, Presidential Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah. Professor Nelson has provided detailed modeled market estimates for California in a paper published by the Urban Land Institute, entitled The New California Dream: How Demographic and Economic Trends May Shape the Housing Market: A Land Use Scenario for 2020 and 2035 (He had made generally similar points in a Journal of the American Planning Association article in 2006). read more »
The San Jose metro is adding jobs at a faster clip than any other large metro area in the U.S. since the recession. Houston, Austin, Detroit — and a handful of other metros — have also been stellar performers the last few years. But how much of the job growth in these and other metros can be explained by unique regional factors rather than national trends? read more »
Addis Abeba is the capital of Ethiopia and calls itself the "diplomatic capital" of Africa, by virtue of the fact that the African Union is located here. Yet Ethiopia is still one of the most rural nations in both Africa and the world. Ethiopia also appears to be among the most tolerant. Various forms of Christianity claim account for approximately 65 percent of the population, with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Coptic) holding the dominant share. At the same time there is a sizable Muslim minority, at more than 30 percent of the population. read more »
I was honored to speak at a conference in Milwaukee over the summer called Milwaukee’s Future in the Chicago Mega-City. Chicago and Milwaukee are about 90 miles apart on I-94. There’s an Amtrak link that makes the journey in about 90 minutes. The two cities have been sprawling such that there’s now more or less continuous development along the lakefront between the two cities. Milwaukee has been a challenged city economically and demographically. read more »
When Americans think of oil executives, they tend to conjure up the image of J. R. Ewing: slick smile, sharp suits, cowboy boots, and a 10-gallon hat packed with bluster, vanity, and greed. According to Gallup, no industry is more widely reviled than oil and gas—not even banking, real estate, or heath care. The poll found that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of its activities. Only the federal government fared worse. read more »
There is general agreement that smaller units of government are more responsive and accountable to their electorates. However, proponents of larger governments often claim that this advantage also creates higher spending and tax levels. On this basis, bigger-is-better proponents often suggest consolidating local governments to save money. Such calls have increased in recent years, with the unprecedented fiscal difficulties faced by governments from the federal to local level. read more »