Sometimes a single statistic stops us in our tracks.
A woman in Texas is ten times as likely to die due to pregnancy than a woman in Sweden or Spain. This morbidity is right at the top of the ”developed” world’s list. Among other things, it defies the experience of countries where maternal mortality can be zero in certain years.
Between the Niagara River and Route 266 in Tonawanda, New York sits the blocky red hulk of the Huntley Generating Station. For most of a century it brought the power to a series of major industrial customers that gave the town and the region much if its economic life. And a robust life it was.
Until it wasn’t. Like many towns throughout the American rust belt, Tonawanda is fully compelled to face a mixed new post-industrial reality. While not easy it looks like the town, directly north of Buffalo, has the beginnings of an interesting and powerful template for moving itself forward into an economy after coal-fired electrical plants and manufacturing. It’s always very nice to find positive stories and this seems to be one worth considering.
US president 45’s inaugural address entered America’s uneven popular culture almost before he finished it, full, as it was, with references to urban social disaster. The Donald’s portent-laden words seemed to reinforce and reflect still widely held beliefs about US communities, ones that deny urban success stories and suburban difficulty. With that in mind, we read with tons of interest a recent survey of US city-watchers, and what they feel their issues are..
Lake County, Illinois is apparently not what it used to be. In the 1980s it had been well off for so long it was the natural setting for a flamboyant but really kind of annoying movie about the problems of an affluent white youth. Half of the movie is an excuse to look at a red 1965 Ferrari 250 California GT and there’s also some whacky moments as young Ferris gyrates selfishly between parents, friends and his love object. Why it ever became a cult classic, though, is beyond us. Now, this not being a film blog anyway Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is only here as an entry point to a new Lake County that represents a changed American sprawl. If it were made today this movie would have a more realistic title like Ferris Bueller’s Permanent Layoff. The car would be a rotted out Geo Metro, too.
An artificial Intelligence application that processes US Census data and digital satellite photos is in existence. Penny can crunch the physical and numerical life of your community and describe its status. Yes, it is amazing. Yes, it is a tad creepy. Powerful stuff but what to do with this to better communities is the question to ask.