Cities v. Suburbs: The Carbon Smackdown: The infrastructurist.com in "New Study: Suburbs Can Pollute More Than Cities" reports on a new study that may set some conventional wisdom on its ear: "When blame is assigned for greenhouse gas emissions, big cities typically receive more of it than smaller cities and suburbs. But a new report in a recent issue from of Environment & Urbanization suggests casting a more nuanced net of responsibility. In fact, contrary to popular wisdom, cities can have a per capita rate of greenhouse gas emissions that’s astonishingly lower than rates in their surrounding suburbs."
Schoolyard Fight – Green V. Urban: This article from the Boston Globe, "Green Building," is making the rounds among landscape architects, urban designers and related folks. New Urbanist leader Andres Duany (a graduate of Princeton and Yale) is picking a fight with Harvard's Graduate School of Design. When Duany was in Charlotte earlier this month he told me one reason he was kicking up dust was to energize young New Urbanists. It's a movement, he said, that needs people with the energy to enjoy Sisyphean tasks.
Ex-mill town nurtures its downtown. Kannapolis, a one-time mill town built and dominated for decades by the Cannon family and Cannon Mills, was for years the largest unincorporated town in North Carolina. It finally incorporated in 1984. It's an interesting place, especially if you're keen on N.C. history, because many of the mill houses, built for the textile workers, still exist. So does the Williamsburg-style brick downtown.
Cannon Mills became Pillowtex, which abruptly closed in 2003, sending thousands out of work. The former Cannon Mills Plant No. 1 was demolished to make way for the still unfinished N.C. Research Campus. (I'm leaving out a lot. For more, see the N.C. Research Campus site here.)
Kannapolis is working on a new downtown plan. Here's a link to a draft of the plan. And here's an article from the Independent Tribune.com, by former Observerite Karen Cimino Wilson. A big problem: Since the huge mill closed the downtown stores have suffered. Among the proposals: Transforming Dale Earnhardt Boulevard/Loop Road from a suburban highway to an "urban boulevard." Building a City Market building. Creating better gateways to the downtown area.
K-12 Transportation Costs: Charles Marohn, New Urban Network writes about what he sees as school transportation policies that subsidize inefficient development patterns. In the New Urban Network, he writes: "Door-to-door transportation for K-12 students may seem to be a compassionate policy from a society that values both students and education. That may be the intent, but the transportation mandate ultimately takes money from classrooms to subsidize our inefficient, post-WW II development pattern. In the end, it also devalues traditional, neighborhood schools in favor of the remote, campus-style we now build."
Be forewarned. Marohn makes explicit that he's not considering the considerable issues of race and school integration: "Again, I'm not trying to get into a broader discussion on race. I'm not thinking that big," he cautions.
With Gov. Bev Perdue proposing making counties, not the state, responsible for buying school buses – one gigantic unfunded mandate – and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for all practical purposes resegregated anyway (I'm not supporting that, but acknowledging reality) it's past time for CMS and the city and county local governments to work together to make it easier for kids who do live within a mile of schools to be able to walk there safely. And for CATS and CMS to figure out better ways to collaborate. And for parents to stop being afraid that putting a 10-year-old on a city bus is a huge risk, when in fact the much bigger risk is putting a kid into a private auto. Remember, car wrecks are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1-35.