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Art, Editorial, Featured, Headline, Labor, Regionalism »

[11 Feb 2014 | No Comment | ]
Documenting Pittsburgh’s Labor Culture

Worker with United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America flag – Pittsburgh, PA
“There are no saviors, we are our own saviors. We have the capacity to save ourselves. Not individually no, but we have the capacity to band together, work together and understand that in order to create a better world, we need to create a world in where we all live better. If we create a world where only some live better, we haven’t created a better world.” - Mel Packer, Pittsburgh Activist & Community Organizer
When it …

Architecture, Economic Development, Editorial, Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[13 Dec 2013 | No Comment | ]
Does your community suffer from power pole blight?

I don’t know about your community, but here in Greater Lansing there seems to be an intense love affair between public utilities and power poles. “Holy pincushions, Batman, you’d think they’d all been raised by a family of porcupine.”
In some places, the primary roadway corridors look like a long, linear parade of power pole blight.  Sadly, all too often this leaves communities in the region with disjointed and unpleasant streetscape aesthetics to overcome. I know Greater lansing is not alone, as I have seen power pole blight across many parts …

Architecture, Art, Brain Drain, Economic Development, Editorial, Education, Featured, Good Ideas, Green Jobs, Public Transportation, Sprawl, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[29 Oct 2013 | No Comment | ]
Ten Lessons from Boulder, Colorado

 
I had the great pleasure of visiting Boulder, Colorado for the first time over an extended weekend. As an urban planner, I was able to take away many useful lessons for Rust Belt communities from the lovely city abutting the Front Range. Granted, not every place can be set aside majestic mountains, but every community does have unique attributes.
Here are what I would quantify as the top ten. Many of these are remarkably similar to the ten lessons from European industrial cities published earlier this month.

Cherish, protect, enhance, and enjoy …

Architecture, Art, Economic Development, Editorial, Featured, Good Ideas, Politics, Public Transportation, Urban Planning »

[8 Oct 2013 | No Comment | ]
Ten Lessons from European Industrial Cities

I have had the distinct privilege and honor of visiting the great cities of Dublin, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; and Manchester, England in the past four years. All three of these industrial revolution-era urban centers can provide America’s Rust Belt will valuable insights about overcoming past malaise and degradation to chart a new economic paradigm. Here are ten lesson I have learned from visiting them and observing what makes all three so vibrant:

Editorial, Public Transportation »

[13 Jun 2013 | No Comment | ]

Here’s a handy guide to not putting your foot in your mouth when discussing Cleveland’s “Opportunity Corridor,” a $350 million highway-development scheme that will displace 90 families on the Southeast side. Don’t, under any circumstances, say the following things:
1. “The Forgotten Triangle” …
Can we just stop using this patronizing, culturally biased term? Pretty please? As my friend Akshai pointed out, who exactly “forgot” about these neighborhoods people live in? Was it the people that live in them? Did they forget they live there?
This bs term is being used to make …

Architecture, Economic Development, Editorial, Featured, Headline, Politics, Real Estate, The Media, Urban Planning »

[9 May 2013 | No Comment | ]
Gaming the Economic Development System

Once again, it appears that “build it and celebrate it” no matter the past sins (or future consequences) reigns supreme among economic developers. While hyping an announcement of more jobs and new construction in Greater Lansing, the fact that the insurance company in question challenged its property taxes using the “functionally obsolete building” scheme in 2010 was conveniently overlooked (see article in City Pulse).

Source: freep.com

If you are not familiar with the “functionally obsolete” tax game that is being employed most often by big box retailers, the claim that is made is …

Brain Drain, Economic Development, Editorial, Great Lakes, Headline, Politics, Real Estate, The Environment, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning »

[24 Apr 2013 | No Comment | ]
Economic development soul-searching

The title of this post may be a bit controversial, but can also be sadly true. Far too often, it seems a blind eye is turned toward the sins of the past just to generate new economic investment. A perfect example is portrayed in the past week’s (April 17th edition) of City Pulse by an article entitled “A Tax Break Won’t Change This.” While tax breaks are being offered to GM for additional investment in Greater Lansing, a ginormous vacant parking lot blights the near south side of the city, not to mention additional deteriorated sites along Saginaw Highway on the west side of town.

Editorial, Headline »

[1 Oct 2012 | No Comment | ]
Cities: Be Who You Are — Only Better

To All City Leaders, Urbanists, Activists, Citizens, and “Would-Be” Energizers of Places,

A couple of the interesting things that I get to do in my role as CEO of the Michigan Municipal League is to travel to interesting places and meet some extraordinary people. Just in the past month or so I have had the pleasure of spending time neighborhoods throughout Detroit, St. Louis’ Delmar Loop, Sixth Street in Austin, Downtown Traverse City, and Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

Editorial, Race Relations »

[15 Aug 2012 | No Comment | ]

People often accuse me of being angry or negative. It’s a pretty highly charged accusation and I have to admit that sometimes it stings; but more and more I’m used to it.
I’ve thought it over a little bit, you see, and I don’t really have an anger problem in my personal life. Not in my family. Not in my relationship with my boyfriend. Not at my job. But, oh my gosh, a land use issue in Cleveland can really set me off. It raises my blood pressure. I had to …

Architecture, Economic Development, Editorial, Featured, Green Jobs, Real Estate, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[23 Feb 2012 | No Comment | ]
Guest Editorial: Occupy the USGBC! A Call to Arms for Preservationists

Speak with any preservationist who has considered LEED certification for a project and they will be quick to point out that the act of saving an existing structure is given the same weight as installing bike racks in the LEED scoring system – that is to say, not much.