A fresh angle on the effect of built form on workers in this essay from Shelterforce.
Sprawl vs. unions. The three very different stories of the building trades in Atlanta, Denver, and Portland, Ore., show just how much urban development patterns affect workers
image: Andrei Dragusanu/Flickr
We enjoyed learning about the solidarity economy this afternoon via a piece in Dissent. Such an economy involves working to give rather than take. The inspiration for the localized, cooperative spirit in this approach to commerce comes from diverse sources, including Quebec, and resonates with a down-to-earth good sense. Seems to be working for Reading, Pennsylvania.
The entire editorial staff at suburban-poverty.com would like to go away from Mississauga and live somewhere that has both solidarity and goats. But then, we would, wouldn’t we? The point is to search for and enact alternatives.
See also: (578) Star Trekonomics
Two principals from the Brookings Institution are staffing a project called The Metropolitan Revolution. There is material from a book of the same name, a blog, an iPad app and more on the site which concerns itself with “how cities and metros are fixing our broken politics and fragile economy.” Top notch content as far as the governing of realities of American cities and metros are concerned. Suburban-poverty.com was impressed with this item on Denver, CO.
Last year the Urban Land Institute produced a document with a half dozen case studies of communities doing sprawl repair, adding transit infrastructure, and undertaking suburban retrofits. It’s nice to see these projects because it seems logical that a better designed community offers its residents some insurance against difficulty compared to poorly thought out, low density, car-dependent ones, the kind that are everywhere. These projects and their various components represent at least a good attempt at adapting the lived-in North American landscape to an emergent future which doesn’t really support the things that made suburbia possible any more, namely E-Z money and cheap energy.
Our relatively limited experience of these refitted places is that they rely too much on retail and ironically, cars. What will happen to the major continental chains like Starbucks or The Gap as we move forward is not fully clear. They and their global supply chains may contract along with everything else. A coffee bar an upstairs tenant can walk to doesn’t mean much if the windows are boarded up. One of our interns was in Toronto’s Liberty Village this weekend. Liberty Village is not so much a refitted suburb as a refitted industrial area but it models many of the same attributes as ULI’s case studies. “Don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many luxury SUVs, Minis, Japanese sports cars, German sedans in one place, ever,” said our intern. The very success and enjoyability of the area’s renovated buildings, its retail opportunities and so forth attracts loads of people, many of whom arrive by car even though there’s multiple possibilities for arrival by public transit.
Shifting Suburbs: reinventing infrastructure for compact development
uli.org 56 page .pdf file
image: dead shopping mall by Augustawiki via Wikimedia Commons
Despite the best of intentions of parents, social workers, teachers, the entire village it takes to raise a child, poverty gets at some children eventually, magnifying all the challenges of growing up. This particular item, from Denver, Colorado renews the reality for us at suburban-poverty.com in a way that yet another piece about once middle class people demoted to food banks in depressive times would not. A teacher in a suburb of western Denver undertakes to teach a lesson in what homelessness might be like and discovers she has students already pretty much living it. Her school board now has a homeless liaison person on its staff and the numbers of families with school age children facing precarious situations in housing and employment there are way up.
Both items from tolerance.org – a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center
Readers with access to American network NBC may like to set aside some time tomorrow night for a special episode of the program Dateline called America Now: Lost in the Suburbs. Newsguy Lester Holt looks into long term unemployment, food banks and the recent confirmation (Federal Reserve Bulletin for June 2012) that something like 40% of the wealth of the US middle class has simply evaporated. Even if a lot of that wealth was in the form of bubble money and attached to specualtive real estate in a Ponzi economy this must surely represent permanent demographic change, a permanent state of damage. What a spectacle it is, to see “ordinary” middle class American families go from employment and reasonable fulfilment of their ambitions to poverty. 2008 was a long time ago for some of the people interviewed. Holt focussed on Boulder, Colorado, a community where the majority of people thought things were really quite good, that they were getting a deal as square as their state. Now it’s all about food banks and scraping by after your savings and unemployment insurance have run out.
Great recession Fallout Huffington Post
Even the home of ‘parenting & babytalk’ is in on suburban poverty. Our editorial staff were concerned that this blog’s content sources might thin out more quickly than anticipated. Doesn’t look like this will be a problem.