Urban Issues

The Ecology of Obesity

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Starting in the mid-nineties, ecologically-minded Americans increasingly came to see farmers markets as a way to bring healthy foods to poor neighborhoods, support local organic agriculture, and even address global warming. During the Bush years, major health philanthropies joined these efforts, making new grocery stores their highest priority in combating obesity, which was disproportionately affecting the poor.  read more »

Commuting in Australia

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Data from the 2011 censuses indicates that mass transit is gaining market share in all of but one of Australia's major metropolitan areas. The greatest increase as in Perth, at 21% , aided by the new Mandurah rail line to the southern urban fringe. On average, mass transit's market share increased by 10.8% in the five metropolitan areas with more than 1 million population. This increase seems likely to be in response to both mass transit service improvements (such as in Perth) and higher petrol (gasoline) prices.  read more »

What Killed Downtown?

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What Killed Downtown?: Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls
by Michael E. Tolle

For those of us who have grown dyspeptic on the over-indulged topic of the collapse of the American city center, Michael Tolle’s What Killed Downtown? Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls earns much of its anodyne appeal by straying from a commonly accepted convention in urban studies—that an analysis of the socioeconomic decline of a community should draw heavily upon socioeconomic variables. Isn’t there another way to get the point across? And more importantly, aren’t there other contributing factors?  read more »

Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class

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Among the most pervasive, and arguably pernicious, notions of the past decade has been that the “creative class” of the skilled, educated and hip would remake and revive American cities. The idea, packaged and peddled by consultant Richard Florida, had been that unlike spending public money to court Wall Street fat cats, corporate executives or other traditional elites, paying to appeal to the creative would truly trickle down, generating a widespread urban revival.  read more »

America's Fastest- and Slowest-Growing Cities

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Since the housing crash of 2007, the decline of the Sun Belt and dispersed, low-density cities has been trumpeted by the national media and by pundits who believe America’s future lies in compact, crowded, mostly coastal and northern, cities.  read more »

Chicago: Outer Suburban and Exurban Growth Leader

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Greg Hinz at Crain's Chicago Business congratulates Chicago for its nation-leading population growth. Heinz also notes that the far suburbs also gained population strongly, but there had been losses in the areas between the two. He asks: "the question now is whether the area can prosper with a thriving core but sinking neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs around it."  read more »

The Psychology of the Creative Class: Not as Creative as You Think

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"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower"
–Steve Jobs

Behind every sociological movement is a psychology. The ever-growing creative classification of America is no different. The following teases the psychology of the movement apart.

Why do this?

Because it is needed. The costs of blindly acquiescing to copycat community building are too great. These costs are not simply aesthetic, even economic, but are costs in the ability to distinguish creativity from repetition, and ultimately: truth from fiction.  read more »

Communities Need to Build Better Millennial Connections

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A remarkable, but mostly unnoticed, 2012 study found a powerful correlation between a community’s civic health and its economic well being. The analysis by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and its partners found that the density of non-profits whose purpose was to encourage their members’ participation within the community   correlated strongly with the ability of a locality to withstand the effects of the Great Recession.  read more »

The Age of Bernanke

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To many presidential idolaters, this era will be known as the Age of Obama. But, in reality, we live in what may best be called the Age of Bernanke. Essentially, Obamaism increasingly serves as a front for the big-money interests who benefit from the Federal Reserve's largesse and interest rate policies; progressive rhetoric serves as the beard for royalist results.  read more »

The Beauty of Urban Planning from the Ground

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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 »