The New, Improved? Rust Belt

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There is no longer a Rust Belt. It melted into air. The decline of manufacturing, the vacancy of the immense, industrial structures that once defined the productive capacities and vibrant lives of so many pockmarked towns, the dwindling of social capital—all the prognosticators writing the obituaries for these dead geographies were right.

How long were rust belt cities going to be able to, as author Robert Putnam would phrase it, “bowl alone?" It turns out not very long.  read more »

California's Social Priorities, A New Report

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This is the introduction to a new report, California’s Social Priorties, from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy. The report is authored by David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez. Read the full report (pdf).

California has achieved a great deal since 1970, including much cleaner air, water and more effective resource stewardship notwithstanding a population increase from approximately 19.9 million in 1970 to over 38 million by 2014. 2 Nevertheless, the state continues to face significant, and in many cases increasingly adverse educational and social equity challenges. As summarized in more detail below:  read more »

North By Midwest: Minneapolis-St. Paul as the Capital of the North

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In November, I joined an overflow crowd at the Walker Arts Center to hear a panel discussion entitled Midwest? The Past, Present, and Future of Minnesota’s Identity. The discussion stemmed from common questions of identity, and proposed that Minnesota and the Twin Cities secede from the “Midwest” and claim ownership of a new region: the North. You might have heard about this, perhaps from the Star Tribune’s original write-up. There are some powerful people behind the movement. It’s the brainchild of Eric Dayton, son of the governor and owner of The Bachelor Farmer restaurant and the Askov Finlayson clothing store.  read more »

Rise of the Nation-States

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In this highly polarized political environment, states and localities, are ever more taking on the character of separate countries. Washington’s gridlock is increasingly matched by decisive, often “go it alone” polices from local authorities. Rather than create a brave, increasingly federalized second New Deal, the Obama years, particularly since the Republicans took control of the House in 2010, have seen discord rise to a level more akin to that left by James Buchanan, the last president before the Civil War, than Franklin Roosevelt.  read more »

High Density Housing's Biggest Myth

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Advocates of higher density housing development in Australia’s major cities – inner city areas in particular - are fond of pointing to a range of statistics as evidence of rising demand. Dwelling approvals, dwelling commencements, tower crane counts and various other sources, both reputable and dodgy, are referenced and then highly leveraged to support claims that our housing preferences have fundamentally changed in favour of high density apartments. But what’s the one inescapable fact that these advocates are missing?  read more »

Urban Core Millennials? A Matter of Perspective

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Yes, millennials are moving to the urban cores but not in significant numbers when view from the context of larger city (metropolitan area) trends. That's the updated story, based on new small area data that approximates the year 2011 (Note: ACS 5-Year Data).

Small area trends are important to understanding developments in metropolitan areas, because conventional municipal jurisdiction based analysis obscures the extent of large suburban areas within the boundaries of most core municipalities. In 2010, approximately 58% of the population in core municipalities lived in small areas that were essentially suburban, with much lower population densities than areas that developed before World War II, and where nearly all motorized travel is by car.  read more »

The Changing Geography Of Education, Income Growth And Poverty In America

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In this column, we often rate metropolitan areas for their performance over one year, five or at most 10. But measuring economic and social progress often requires a longer lens, spanning decades.

Nowhere is this clearer than in education, which many claim is the key to higher-wage economic growth. Yet there are two sets of numbers that need to be distinguished: those states with the highest percentage of educated workers and the states that have increased their numbers most rapidly.  read more »

Misunderstanding the Millennials

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The millennial generation has had much to endure – a still-poor job market, high housing prices and a generally sour political atmosphere. But perhaps the final indignity has been the tendency for millennials to be spoken for by older generations, notably, well-placed boomers, who often seem to impose their own ideological fantasies, without actually finding out what the younger cohort really wants. The reality, in this case, turns out far different than what is bespoken by others.  read more »

What’s This Place For?

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I was recently asked by Gracen Johnson (check out her site here) to elaborate on the possible future of suburbia. How are the suburbs likely to fare over time? This coincided with a city planner friend of mine who asked a more poignant question about the suburban community he helps manage. “What’s this place for?” If we can answer that question we might be able to get a handle on the possible trajectories of various suburbs.  read more »

Corrupt Illinois: Not A Few Bad Apples

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Despite a huge advantage in name recognition, massively more money, and a lift from President Obama, Rahm Emanuel failed to avoid a run-off Tuesday. It seems many Chicago residents are beginning to realize that our present system – and leaders – are leading us off a precipice.  read more »

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