Aussie Urban Myths

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Urban planning in Australia is lost in a dense fog of presumption and theory. What’s needed is to toss out the hype and to illuminate some of the common planning myths for what they really are: impediments to progress.

An example of planning hype occurred not long ago when ten urban academics loudly criticised the Victorian government’s decision to develop about 40,000 hectares of new land on Melbourne's fringe, calling the decision short-sighted and unsustainable.  read more »

The World's Fastest-Growing Cities

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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?

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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

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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 »

The Great Deconstruction: Competing Visions of the Future

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During the Great Recession, America’s wealth has diminished while indebtedness has increased. This is simply a matter of fact. How the United States will marshal its resources and deploy its wealth in the future is a matter of great public debate. Previous installments of the Great Deconstruction series have explored the debate over the growing size of government and the impact the Tea Party movement may have on a possible smaller role for future government.  read more »

Subjects:

Environmentalism as Religion

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Traditional religion is having a tough time in parts of the world. Majorities in most European countries have told Gallup pollsters in the last few years that religion does not “occupy an important place” in their lives. Across Europe, Judeo-Christian church attendance is down, as is adherence to religious prohibitions such as those against out-of-wedlock births. And while Americans remain, on average, much more devout than Europeans, there are demographic and regional pockets in this country that resemble Europe in their religious beliefs and practices.  read more »

Redefining 'Niners': Football on The Great Plains

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At 0.5 people per square mile, Harding County, South Dakota is one of the least populated places in the nation. The county’s only high school, located in Buffalo, is small by even small-town standards, with 85 students in grades 9-12. However, few schools can match its gridiron success. Nicknamed after the primary industry in the region, “The Ranchers” football team has experienced only one losing season in its 44-year history.

Harding County’s teenage boys suit up every Friday night and dominate 9-man football.

Nine-man football is a small-town sport. Unique to three upper Great Plains states (South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota), it was designed  read more »

Shifting Religious Climate

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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

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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 »

California’s New Grassroots Movement: High-Speed Rail on the Peninsula

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In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 1A to allocate $9.95 billion of the state’s money to a high-speed rail system. Just two years later, many of these same voters are yelling and screaming at the High-Speed Rail Authority to revise their plans. Why have Californians turned against this project so quickly?  read more »