Urban Issues

The World's Fastest-Growing Cities

chongqing.jpg

The evolution of cities is a protean process--and never more so than now. With over 50% of people living in metropolitan areas there have never been so many rapidly rising urban areas--or so many declining ones.

Our list of the cities of the future does not focus on established global centers like New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong or Tokyo , which have dominated urban rankings for a generation. We have also passed over cities that have achieved prominence in the past 20 years such as Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing, Delhi, Sydney, Toronto, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.  read more »

Religious Freedom or A Tax-Free Ride?

Church of the Rock Megachurch.jpg

The furor over a mosque in Manhattan has swirled around issues of personal freedom and collective tolerance. But very little of the discussion has focused on the pros and cons of construction of places of worship in our cities and suburbs, or on their tax status. In a country that displays high rates of worship and has a growing population, it’s to be expected that religious spaces would be on the increase. Yet, like all things that are added to the built environment, churches, synagogues, temples and even meeting halls can have a negative impact on those who live in the area.  read more »

Decade of the Telecommute

telecommute.jpg

The rise in telecommuting is the unmistakable message of the just released 2009 American Community Survey data. The technical term is working at home, however the strong growth in this market is likely driven by telecommuting, as people use information technology and communications technology to perform jobs that used to require being in the office.  read more »

Shifting Religious Climate

church-in-Santa-Fe,-NM.png

While the new Memphis Islamic Center in Cordova, TN awaits completion, members meet at a nearby church building that houses Cordova’s Heart Song Church. The Christian congregation has opened its doors to the Muslim community as a gesture of good will.

This kind act is in contrast with other recent activities, like an August arson fire to an Islamic Center’s construction equipment in suburban Murfreesboro just south of Nashville. And to complicate things even more, there’s that tiny little church that had planned to burn the Qur’an on September 11th. While all of this is going on, there is of course the ongoing debate surrounding plans to build a mosque near ground zero.  read more »

Portland Metro's Competitiveness Problem

por-swaf2.JPG

Portland Metro's president, David Bragdon, recently resigned to take a position with New York’s Bloomberg administration. Bragdon was nearing the end of his second elected term and ineligible for another term. Metro is the three county (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties) planning agency that oversees Portland's land use planning and transportation policies, among the most stringent and pro-transit in the nation.  read more »

The New World Order

newsweek-map.jpg

Tribal ties—race, ethnicity, and religion—are becoming more important than borders.

For centuries we have used maps to delineate borders that have been defined by politics. But it may be time to chuck many of our notions about how humanity organizes itself. Across the world a resurgence of tribal ties is creating more complex global alliances. Where once diplomacy defined borders, now history, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture are dividing humanity into dynamic new groupings.  read more »

China Development: Go West, Young Comrade

chengdu-garden.jpg

Deng Xiaoping, the pragmatic leader who orchestrated China’s ‘reform and opening-up’ 30 years ago, once said that “some areas must get rich before others.” Deng was alluding to his notion that, due to the country’s massive scale, economic development could not happen all at once across China. Planning and implementation of such an economy would take years, even decades, and some areas would inevitably be developed before others.  read more »

Light Rail & Left Turns

No Left Turn.jpg

Imagine that you own a service station that supplies fuel to the surrounding community, and you specialize in automotive repair. You're proud that your reputation for service attracts vintage Corvette owners. You worked hard all of your life, and your shop is your equity for retirement. Your business is entirely dependent on customers who enter via a left turn from Boone Avenue, a low traffic street, because drivers cannot get direct access to you from Highway 55, just south of your business.

One fateful day, a traffic engineer decides that the street serving as access to your station  read more »

Suburbia Evolved: Glendale Then and Now

glendalw.jpg

The classic picture of suburbia is that of white picket fences, the family Chevy in the driveway, and Mom in an apron beckoning her children to abandon the baseball and glove for a home-cooked dinner. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this picture, per se. Nothing wrong except for the fact that it is now becoming more of the exception than the rule among American suburban communities, memorialized best in cultural artifacts like reruns of "Leave It to Beaver."  read more »

Iowa's Agro-Metro Future

iowa-elevator.jpg

When Brent Richardson, a field rep for Cadillac, was told he'd been transferred to Des Moines, he assumed he'd be spending the next year in a small town environment. Des Moines turned out to have much more bustle than he expected. The city had a robust insurance sector among its diverse industries. And the lifestyle was very similar to what he was able to live in big city suburbs like Naperville, Illinois or Bellingham, Massachusetts. Steeped in a decade of Farm Aid concerts, he also expected the surrounding rural areas to be populated with hardscrabble homesteaders struggling to hang on. Instead, he discovered that farming was big business – and, these days in particular, reasonably profitable. And some of those Iowa farmers turned out to be Cadillac buyers.  read more »