Thursday, October 30, 2008

What ails cities and suburbs -- and more

News from around:

Bull City Blues: Architect, engineer and planner Tony Sease raps Durham for how it's NOT making streets more comfortable for pedestrians in some new streetscaping projects.

Obama the City Dude: Alec McGillis writes in the WashPost that Barack Obama is the first candidate in decades who has spent almost all his life living in large cities, and speculates on what that might mean if he wins election. To make his point McGillis dismisses Dukakis as being from Brookline, not Boston, and Kerry as being more of Nantucket than Boston. That's a bit of a stretch.

Curing Urban-itis:
Americans have a love-hate relationship with cities, writes author William Finley in a column on The problems of cities and of suburbs are inextricably linked, he says, but usually they're dealt with as if totally separate Problems he lists include traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, blighted inner city neighborhoods and sprawl. He fingers the federal government -- among others -- for lack of leadership.

Here's his take on traffic congestion:
"Traffic Congestion is caused by one-person cars, auto and oil lobbies, subsidized parking, low gas taxes, political opposition to rapid transit, Federal and State failures to assist metro areas and the lack of regional leadership. It is always the other fellow’s fault."

Beauty Out of Season: Maybe Momma Nature decided the campaign muck was just too dreary and wanted to cheer us all up. Whatever the reason, some of the Rocky Shoals spider lilies are blooming out of season in the Catawba River near Great Falls, S.C. Lindsay Pettus sent along some photos from Bill Stokes. (one above, another below. )

The spider lilies are an endangered species that grow in the middle of the river. The colony in the Catawba is one of the largest known -- and when they bloom in the spring they're spectacular.


Cato said...

Mary, I know that this is your schtick, but good Lord, why is the Curing Urban-itis article even worth mentioning? It's basically interchangeable with any piece written by Neal Pearce, David Walters, JH Kunstler, or you in the past ten years. Blah, blah, blah - auto-oriented - blah, blah, blah, regional planning - blah, blah, blah - Portland - blah, blah, blah.

I don't expect you to change your point of view but how about a little thoughtful contrarianism now and then? Some possibilities:

1) Do New Urbanist communities have replacement-level (i.e., "sustainable") fertility rates? If not, what are the implications?

2) Do they have greater income inequality than other areas?

3) Why do cities no longer seem to provide the poor gateways to the middle class like they did during the first half of the 20th century?

I'm sure you have access to experts who would be eager to talk to you about these, or any number of other topics off the beaten-walkable-greenway path.

Be interesting.