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Articles in the Good Ideas Category

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[13 Oct 2014 | No Comment | ]
Milwaukee’s Effort to Build a New Industry Around Clean Water

The three lake sturgeon in Discovery World’s “touch tank” aren’t given official names, but that hasn’t kept at least one employee in this newish Milwaukee educational center from christening them female superhero names like Tank Girl and She-Ra. As a Michigan native, I’d heard of Sturgeon before, but I wasn’t prepared to fall for them the way I did when I put my hand in the tank.

Sturgeon are big – in the wild, they’ve been known to reach up to seven feet long. And they’re unlike any other fish I’d seen. Their rough skin is scale-less and their spine is bony like dinosaurs you’ve seen pictured in kids’ books. In fact, sturgeon have been around for at least 200 million years. It’s a mind-blowing story of survival.

Featured, Good Ideas »

[13 Mar 2014 | No Comment | ]
The Possibility Corridor: What if We Downgraded I-490?

I-490, the 24 year old stub of a highway between I-90 and E55th, has seen recent interest as a connector via the proposed Opportunity Corridor. Advocates for the Opportunity Corridor cite its value as an “Urban Boulevard” in contrast to the limited access highways that had been blocked by the “highways revolts” of the 1960s. With this is mind, it seems appropriate to reconsider I-490′s role in our region. 
Having been meant to merely form one link in a continuous limited access network of …

Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[7 Mar 2014 | No Comment | ]
Lansing Area Logistics to “Go Green”

Scheduled to launch in Greater Lansing on Earth Day, 2014 (Tuesday, April 22nd), Go Green Trikes, LLC (Facebook webpage link) is the brainchild of local green business entrepreneur, Yvonne LeFave. Utilizing heavy-duty electric-assisted cargo trikes capable of carrying loads of up to 600 pounds, Go Green Trikes will provide prompt and sustainable delivery services throughout the urban heart of Greater Lansing – essentially an area bounded by I-96 on the south and west, I-69 on the north and Van Atta Road to the east. Here’s a maplink of the service area.
These are …

Book Review, Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Green Jobs, Public Transportation, Sprawl, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[18 Feb 2014 | No Comment | ]
“Bikenomics” – An Instant Classic for Planners and Bicycling Advocates

Certain books become a classic in their field of study because of their comprehensive nature (i.e. The City in History). Others do from their advocacy and groundbreaking nature (i.e. Silent Spring).  In the case of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy, both of these reasons apply. Author Elly Blue has written “the” definitive book on bicycle planning that clearly identifies the societal, physical, environmental, and economic benefits of bicycling, while also completely debunking the myths, fables, urban legends, half-truths, and outright lies spread by naysayers and automotive apologists.
Facts are funny things. They tend …

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 …

Featured, Good Ideas, Headline »

[16 Oct 2013 | No Comment | ]
Help Bring Bike Composting to Cleveland

There is a popular thought experiment that goes a little like this: ‘What would you do if you had a million dollars?’ Frankly, I have no idea. A million dollars is something I cannot even fathom. I work two jobs, and fill my ‘free-time’ working to get ideas off the ground so that one day, I can pursue one of these more meaningful endeavors as a full-time gig. So, for the sake of discussion, lets scale things down to a more human scale; ‘What would you do if you had $10,000?”

This is a question I have an answer to!

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:

Featured, Good Ideas »

[25 Sep 2013 | No Comment | ]
From Rust Belt to Breadbasket

Taking a drive from the rural outskirts of Youngstown down State Route 224 to Canton, Ohio is in many ways akin to taking a trip back through time. At one point, before the interstate highway program, US 224 was an important route for truckers. Small towns thrived along its edges, along with farms both large and small. The construction of the expressway ultimately diverted much of the economic lifeblood of 224. And though much has been said about the subsequent decline of the small communities on the route, much less …

Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, The Environment »

[5 Sep 2013 | One Comment | ]
On the Waterfront: The Possible Future of Youngstown’s Riverfront

For many legacy cities in the former Industrial Heartland of America, waterfronts were never much more than alien spaces. Cargo shipping, steel mills, chemical companies, and other industrial concerns ruled rivers and lakefronts. Manufacturing enterprises even rendered waterways into toxic dumping grounds in the decades before the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act. This is especially true of the former steel city of Youngstown, Ohio.

For most of the twentieth century, miles of massive steel mills covered both banks of the Mahoning River, which snakes through the city of Youngstown.