Tag Archives: Richard Longworth

Urban Farms: Bad Idea?

Urban farming in places like Detroit (and elsewhere) has gotten a lot of good press, this blog included.

But the author of this piece, Richard Longworth says we shouldn’t necessarily be praising urban farming, but instead seeing it as a symptom of how far some cities have fallen. (We’ve written about Longworth, and his work at the Chicago Council’s Global Midwest Initiative before.) His suggestion? Better grocery options for central-city neighborhoods, including big box retailers like Wal-Mart.

Reading Longworth’s post reminded me of a speech I heard at last year’s GLUE (Great Lakes Urban Exchange) conference in Cleveland. The speaker, from the Genesee County (Flint) Landbank, said some in the urban planning community mistakenly might assume inner city residents are always enthusiastic about having an urban farm in their neighborhood. This isn’t necessarily true though, she pointed out. Some residents who migrated to Flint (or Detroit or Cleveland or wherever) came from a background of being rural sharecroppers in the South. A sizeable number of folks in the Flint community she dealt with were not enthused about farming in their neighborhoods, they wanted where they lived to feel like a city. 

What do you think?



Filed under Featured, Green Jobs, Real Estate, sprawl, the environment, Urban Farming, Urban Planning

You Heard it Here First


We at Rust Wire don’t like to toot our own horn that much.

But I just couldn’t help it after seeing this recent story in The New York Times about Buffalo’s lower west side neighborhood.

The story notes that this historically blue-collar Italian section of the city has recently become home to a number of different immigrant groups, such as people from Puerto Rico, Myamar and Somalia.

In a post about Buffalo back in March 2009, Rust Wire made this observation about the area:

“Our next stop was Niagara Street, on the city’s West side, to what was once a very Italian neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960’s where a number of my father’s family members had lived. Vestiges of the old neighborhood remain, in some of the business names.

I honestly expected this to be a fairly blighted area, but it turned out to be in pretty decent shape- judging by my (albeit somewhat superficial) view driving through. There definitely were not many boarded-up homes here, and the residents seemed to be from all different racial backgrounds. We drove by a small Asian market, and several women we saw appeared to be recent immigrants from Africa or the Middle East, and were wearing beautiful, colorful dresses.

My dad’s grandfather’s old home on York Street was brightly painted with multi-colored trim, his uncle’s old house on 14th Street was also in good shape.”

In Richard Longworth’s book, Caught in the Middle, he emphasizes that Rust Belt and Midwest cities must work harder to attract immigrants the way they once did.  It looks like at least this neighborhood in Buffalo is succeeding.



Filed under Featured, Rust Belt Blogs, The Big Urban Photography Project, The Media