Learning from Medellín with Alejandro Echeverri

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“I think, if you want to write a new narrative at some specific moment in the story of a city, it is important that you have to feel the transformation and see the transformation. So the physical transformation is important but always there is more a spiritual thing, as happens with emotional connections and inspirational things.” ______Architect Alejandro Echeverri.  read more »

Subjects:

Chicago's Advantages

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When I wrote that Chicago is the duck-billed platypus of American cities, I noted that there were a lot things about Chicago that were unique – both good and bad – putting it in a class of its own and making it hard to compare Chicago with other cities.  read more »

Adding Space to Suburbia

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Space has value. Even the mere perception of space has value. As land becomes more scarce, space becomes more valuable, and has a direct impact on housing costs and a developer’s profit (or loss). Both developers and the New Urbanists who preach that dense cities are good places know this, even as they pressure town councils and planning commissions to authorize reduced lot sizes. Where they have succeeded, the resulting compressed lots sacrifice quality organic space — green space — to the point of oblivion.  read more »

Australia: Mad As Hell And Not Gonna Take It?

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The result of Australia’s recent Federal election remains unclear, as the count has continued — as of this writing — for days. What is clear is that the major parties suffered a rebuff. One in four Australians voted for an alternative to the traditional mainstream parties, a historic record. Even if incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull can win enough seats to control the lower house (nearly tossing out a first term Prime Minister is another first for this election), the Senate is well beyond reach of a majority.  read more »

Subjects:

The Meaning of the Baby Bust

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With a stronger economy and a growing number of women of child-bearing age, Americans should be producing offspring at a healthy clip. But the most recent data suggest that this is not happening, as the birthrate in 2015 dropped to a historic low. A new study from the University of New Hampshire suggests that these trends have resulted in 3.4 million fewer births since 2008, based on the pre-recession fertility rate, or roughly 15 percent fewer births than would have occurred at the 2007 birth rate.  read more »

Subjects:

Urban Future: The Revolt Against Central Planning

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In Milton Keynes, perhaps the most radical of Britain’s post-Second World War “New Towns,” the battle over Brexit and the culture war that it represents is raging hard. There, the consequences of EU immigration policy, of planning instituted by national authority, and of the grassroots yearning to preserve local character have clashed together to shape a platform that may set a precedent for whether central planners or local residents will determine the urban future.  read more »

Fastest Metropolitan Area Growth Continues in Prairie Provinces

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The latest Statistics Canada population estimates indicate that much of the nation's growth continues to be in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, centered on Toronto, and in the Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In addition to Toronto, the Greater Golden Horseshoe includes Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Oshawa, Brantford, Barrie, Peterborough St. Catherine's-Niagara and Guelph census metropolitan areas. The Prairie Provinces metropolitan areas are Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina.  read more »

Why the World Is Rebelling Against ‘Experts’

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An unconventional, sometimes incoherent, resistance arises to the elites who keep explaining why changes that hurt the middle class are actually for its own good.

The Great Rebellion is on and where it leads nobody knows.

Its expressions range from Brexit to the Trump phenomena and includes neo-nationalist and unconventional insurgent movement around the world. It shares no single leader, party or ideology. Its very incoherence, combined with the blindness of its elite opposition, has made it hard for the established parties across what’s left of the democratic world to contain it.  read more »

Homesteading Detroit

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I was in Detroit recently for the Congress for New Urbanism, the Strong Towns gathering, and a Small Developers Workshop. I used Airbnb instead of the corporate hotel option while in town.  read more »

European GDP: What Went Wrong

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First the two world wars, then a decline in the birth rate.

Newspapers these days are full of stories on World War I which started 100 years ago. They are also full of stories on today’s anemic European economy, as for example with Italy’s negative growth rate in the second quarter and France’s struggle to reach 1% GDP growth this year. At first blush, these two sets of stories are unrelated. But on closer look, it is apparent that the economy today is a distant echo of the war a century ago. And it all comes down to Europe’s demographics.  read more »