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.
Rising from the ashes, a Buffalo suburb ends its dependence on coal
image: Deutsch Fetisch via Wikimedia Commons
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..
What’s the greatest risk cities face?
image: Sean Davis via Flickr/CC
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.
Ferris Bueller’s daily grind: how poverty in Chicago went suburban. On the surface, Lake County, Illinois – the setting for John Hughes’ 1980s films of affluent suburban angst – is all detached houses, swimming pools and malls. Hidden from view, though, is the growing need
image: Carmen B via Wikimedia Commons
Fraser Institute’s Calgary Herald op-ed used ‘BS’ data to attack raising the minimum wage
German minimum wage – not just the money
Mobile food bank expands in Windham County
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.
Underfunding of bus-based public transit combined with a tendency for newer and larger employers to locate in the suburbs makes it hard for low income Buffalonians.
Region’s biggest employers are tough for city’s poorest to reach
image: chrisforsyth via Flickr/CC
Though the reasons for the suburban crisis aren’t necessarily different from the problems facing cities—a lack of good jobs and weakening social programs—an historical cultural and political neglect of the suburban poor means that new frontiers of inequality are exploding invisibly where we least expect them. Urban poverty, measured by Census tract, has grown from about 18 to 20 percent between 1990 and 2014, but risen more drastically in the suburbs, from about 8 percent to over 12 percent of tracts. And in the last decade, a “tipping point” has been reached in which “the number of poor people living in suburban areas has increased more quickly.”