What to Look For in the Nordic Model

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The Nordic nations, and Sweden in particular, are seen by many as the proof that it is possible to combine innovative and entrepreneurial economies with high tax rates. It is often argued that nations such as the US can gain the attractive social features of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland — such as low crime rates, high life expectancy, and a high degree of social cohesion — simply by expanding the welfare state. An in depth analysis, however, shows that this line of reasoning is flawed.  read more »

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Rethinking Brand Chicago

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So many Midwest places flail around looking for a brand image or identity. Not Chicago. In fact, the identity and stories of Chicago overflow the page. They are too numerous to be written in a mere blog posting.

Yet Chicago has in effect decided to jettison that powerful, historic brand identity in favor of a type of global city genericism. This, I believe, is a mistake.

One trend you can’t help but notice if you travel is the increasing homogenization of the urban culture and standard of urban development. Global markets demand standardized commodities that can be graded and traded. This includes cities. This forces cities increasingly into a standard model of what one expects.  read more »

2011 Census Sub-County Allocations Masquerade as Population Estimates

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This is by far the most difficult article I have ever had to write. I have been a fan of the US Bureau of the Census since I began following its numbers in the second grade. Much of my career has been spent analyzing these numbers and those of similar national statistical bureaus around the world. Yet, the 2011 sub-county estimates produced by the Census Bureau should never have been released, because they were not estimates, but they were rather "fair share" allocations of county population growth (or loss).  read more »

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The Rise of Telework and What it Means

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Teleworking (also known as telecommuting) has taken flight as a global trend. During July of 2002, European Union collectively decided on a shared framework agreement on telework, which regulates issues such as employment and working conditions, health and safety, training, and the collective rights of teleworkers. Following suit, the American the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 served as a rallying call for federal agencies to encourage “work-at-home” employees.  read more »

The Changing Geography of Asian America: To The South And The Suburbs

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“There’s nothing wrong with New York that a million Chinese couldn’t cure,” the urban geographer George Sternlieb once quipped. It may be an exaggeration, but rising Asian immigration has indeed been a boon to many communities and economies across the country.  read more »

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The Answer Is Urban Consolidation – What Was The Question?

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The New Zealand Green Party is perpetuating the claim that development beyond Auckland’s “city limits” imposes a high cost on ratepayers.  A spokesperson claims that the current Auckland plan, which allows for some new development outside the current urban area, “will cost ratepayers $42b billion to 2042, an annual levy of $200 per ratepayer” according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.     read more »

The End of the Road for Eds and Meds

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In the last few decades, as suburbanization and deindustrialization devastated so many cities, they turned to two sectors that seemed not only immune to decline, but were actually growing: universities and hospitals. The so-called “eds and meds” sectors, often related through university affiliated hospitals, became a great stabilizer for many places.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Zürich

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Zürich is the largest urban area in Switzerland. The core city (stadt) of Zürich is located at the northern end of Lake Zürich, which is glacial and similar to the "finger lakes" of upstate New York. Lake Zürich is approximately 25 miles/40 kilometers long and 1-2 miles/1.5-3 kilometers wide. The urban area extends south along most of the lake and over hills to the East and West and further North.  read more »

The State of Economy in the Swing States

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I was living in Pennsylvania, voting in my second presidential election when my mom asked me that question in the months leading up to Ronald Reagan’s defeat of Jimmy Carter: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Four-year-ago comparisons are tricky when the worst financial collapse in my lifetime occurred four years ago. Comparing the swing states not to their conditions four years ago, but how they might feel compared to the rest of the nation, Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire appear to be “better off” than the average American.  read more »

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Brewster and Me: Photo Essay Exploring One of Detroit's Notorious Abandoned Housing Projects

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This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects of Detroit Michigan and there is nothing to celebrate. More accurately, there is no one to celebrate. For several years now this section of the city, already infamous for its vacancy, has been completely abandoned. Rows of houses, full apartment blocks, schools empty.

A cursory Google search will reveal many details regarding the architecture and planning employed at Brewster-Douglass . Diana Ross lived there. For my part, I didn’t want an explanation, but an experience.  read more »