The Passing Scene
NOTES ON THINGS THAT INTEREST, CONCERN OR ALARM ME
Find me on Twitter @PassingScene
26 June 2017
Is failure to address social exclusion providing support for President Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric?
19 June 2017
Can a non-profit survive in high-rent San Francisco? HealthRIGHT does it. Here’s how.
15 June 2017
Rural poverty, joblessness: This well-written piece from North Carolina tells a typical story.
4 June 2017
On the Columbia and Snake rivers, Sockeye Salmon are hauled around dams on barges. Is this unique to the US, or is it a common practice? It’s controversial.
2015 to mid-2017
30 May 2017
Is Amazon hollowing out local economies? An assessment of the problem and what to do about it.
23 May 2017
Will Seattle succeed in checkmating NIMBY? The city government’s objective is to consider a broad range of interests — eg. renters and homeless people, as well as homeowners — in making development decisions. (When the link opens, scroll down.)
15 May 2017
Will “ride-sharing” services like Uber promote road-pricing and strengthen public transportation in North American cities? Possibly, but, any way you slice it, they’re cheap labour. Dark times for cabbies.
8 May 2017
Universal Basic Income (we used to call it Guaranteed Annual Income) may abolish want, but what will we do about bad jobs, and abusive employers?
1 May 2017
Does Trump have the power to derail rational climate policies? Maybe not.
24 April 2017
Are fracking and earthquakes really connected? An admirably concise summary of what’s known.
18 April 2017
How to turn a bus stop into a place you actually want to visit: A Singapore neighbourhood blazes new trails in urban design.
10 April 2017
Can police do their job without appearing as an occupying army in poor neighbourhoods? Stop and frisk vs. gang policing.
29 March 2017
Unionize Uber? Can workers in the so-called sharing economy win the right to exercise some control over their earnings and working conditions?
27 March 2017
Is the high cost of real estate attributable to a seismic shift in the global financial system?
24 March 2017
Can improved housing address poverty? Yes and no: Chicago’s experience.
13 March 2017
No country left behind: The case for focussing greater attention on the world’s poorest countries.
7 March 2017
Are we doing our kids a favour by wrapping them up in cotton batting? The case for riskier playgrounds.
27 February 2017
Concerns over refugees have dominated public discourse, but what about regular immigrants? Will their growing affluence undermine public transportation?
21 February 2017
What will happen to Hispanic communities like Chicago’s Little Village in the Trump era?
13 February 2017
Winter city design: At last someone’s thinking about what’s appropriate in a winter city, instead mindlessly copying whatever is fashionable in California.
3 February 2017
Malevolence tempered by incompetence: A highly security-conscious commentator’s judgement on the Trump refugee/visa policies.
30 January 2017
Vision Zero (elimination of traffic deaths) comes to Portland. Here’s Portland’s plan..
23 January 2017
How Vancouver became North America’s car-free capital: A really well-done short video, informative viewing for anyone with an interest in cities. Click to start video, click again for full screen.
19 January 2017
The fading dream of a borderless Europe: Implications for asylum, mutual trust, security and the rule of law.
3 January 2017
Making the trains run on time? A closer look at fascist and authoritarian (as well as Trumpian?) claims of efficiency.
26 December 2016
The real costs of resource development in Canada’s Peace River Valley: Excerpt from a new book. A real eye-opener.
19 December 2016
A company called Wendover Productions offers videos that provide an intriguing variety of explanations of how the world works.
12 December 2016
Will a new study supporting supervised drug injection sites persuade New York to join Vancouver and other cities in providing more help for street people?
5 December 2016
Impressive vacant buildings in American cities, an unfortunate byproduct of unwillingness to invest the resources necessary to preserve America’s heritage.
28 November 2016
Does sprawl make housing affordable? A well-informed discussion for people with a serious interest in cities.
21 November 2016
Democracy Now has long presented often underreported news from a left perspective, but what hit me between the eyes today was how angry American politics has become.
14 November 2016
Portland, Oregon, is requiring deconstruction of buildings instead of demolition. Here’s why and how.
7 November 2016
Londoners want to limit development of highrise towers.
31 October 2016
Why has it taken me this long to discover this thoughtful, melancholy reflection on where we come from and where we’ve gone?
24 October 2016
If/when Britain leaves the European Union, bankers threaten to take their business elsewhere.
30 September 2016
Trump vs. Clinton: What are Americans thinking? Here’s a serious attempt to answer the question.
26 September 2016
At the University of Texas, you’re allowed to carry a gun, but not to brandish a dildo, on campus.
23 September 2016
US moves to end use of private prisons. A refreshing antidote to the myth that private enterprise is better at everything.
15 September 2016
Cities that are removing cars from the city centre: Madrid, Paris, Chengdu, Hamburg…
9 September 2016
A Harvard professor discusses how the internet could be governed, without the involvement of governnents. A 21st Century policy discussion if ever there was one.
7 September 2016
Are labour unions becoming irrelevant in an affluent society? Here’s an excellent, research-based discussion.
4 September 2016
Rural poverty in Stilwell, Oklahoma: A well-written piece that portrays lives more typical than rhetoric about the American way would have you think.
2 September 2016
Blood and Earth: How shockingly common slavery is in our world, what can be done about it, and how doing that will help resolve other issues
29 August 2016
Corruption isn’t an occasional feature of the Olympics, it’s endemic, says The Atlantic.
25 August 2016
The introduction of ride-sharing using autonomous cars enhances Pittsburgh’s reputation as a leader in robotic technology.
21 August 2016
A German graduate student, writing a thesis on nomadic living, lives on a train, because it’s cheaper than rent.
14 August 2016
Trump’s gamble — and that of the American people: A president doesn’t need an attention span, only the ability to forge compromises.
7 August 2016
Sorriest bus stop: Streetsblog USA is running a contest for America’s sorriest bus stop. These sample entries will make you laugh to keep from crying.
1 August 2016
Will Seattle drivers who work for ride-share companies Uber and Lyft become unionized workers?
31 July 2016
Why political life is so addictive: A Kenyan journalist’s perspective on a phenomenon that, as he makes clear, is a regular feature of political life in both Africa and North America.
29 July 2016
What happens to the suburban lifestyle when the suburbanites are aging baby boomers? A thoughtful, non-dogmatic discussion.
27 July 2016
Hauling kids around on bikes: It’s not as hard as you think. A photo essay.
2 August 2016
Blood and Earth: How shockingly common slavery is in our world, what can be done about it, and how doing that will help resolve other issues
25 July 2016
The sprawl tax: How urban sprawl drives up the cost of living — a problem that economists usually ignore.
21 July 2016
The migration wave: Young and poor descend upon the aging rich. A thoughtful analysis from Yale Global.
18 July 2016
Liberty Pedestrian Bridge: A visionary plan for a New Jersey-New York pedestrian bridge — with cafes, retail spaces, solar panels, artwork and free wi-fi! — is drawing some supportive commentary.
14 July 2016
Walkable urban neighbourhoods, with lively streets and a variety of transportation options, are proving to be economic development magnets in cities of all sizes.
12 July 2016
Trump’s seven infrastructure myths. The most important thing about this article is not the demolition of myths, but the insight it offers into American (and Canadian) infrastructure woes.
10 July 2016
The high cost of “free” parking: We all pay for it. Poor people pay, even if they don’t own a car.
08 July 2016
With more than 80% of the world and more than 99% of the U.S. and Europe living under light polluted skies, the world atlas of artificial sky luminance looks like a timely project.
04 July 2016
Dragging their heels all the way, American state road engineers reluctantly recognize the importance of walking and cycling as modes of transportation.
30 June 2016
Is laissez-faire Houston — the only North American city without zoning — poised to become a well-planned city?
28 June 2016
Good riddance: London supermarkets are building on what used to be parking lots. Surprisingly, one of the drivers of this trend is increased on-line shopping.
26 June 2016
For four years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, train cars loaded with contaminated meat rolled around the western USSR trying to find a community to accept the meat. A fascinating glimpse into 1980s life in the Soviet Union.
24 June 2016
How Thatcherism crushed the aspirations of Britain’s white working class. A thought-provoking piece in The Guardian.
20 June 2016
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Atlanta’s Beltline, a 25-year project to develop a walking, cycling and eventually streetcar trail encircling the inner city, is drawing admiring commentary. But will it do anything to counter Atlanta’s legendary sprawl?
13 June 2016
Boston, struggling with the problem of providing late-night transit service, falls afoul of civil rights legislation.
6 June 2016
Taking advantage of a well-designed, but poorly-managed street system, San Diego is trying to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians.
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4 June 2016
Good news for Winnipeg’s heritage and arts communities: An abandoned Logan Avenue church is to be renovated to become a performing arts space called The Valiant Theatre.
30 May 2016
Animated maps vividly show the American history of sprawl from downtown density to barren city centres and densifying suburbs.
19 May 2016
The long, ugly history of lead: It was marketed energetically for a century, even though it was known to be poisonous.
13 May 2016
Clean energy investment by the numbers: Bloomberg.com takes a data-rich look at how clean energy was faring by the end of 2015. Is the picture they paint too optimistic?
6 May 2016
Low oil prices are supposed to stimulate economic growth. Instead, we have cheap oil and economic stagnation. In the kind of research-rich journalism we need a lot more of, Andrew Nikiforuk calls this situation a “civilization shrinker”.
28 April 2016
Don’t demonize driving, just stop subsidizing it.
22 April 2016
Should cities create a special district for 24/7 business and entertainment? Amsterdam’s “night mayor” says Yes.
18 April 2016
Portland, Oregon, Is the first U.S. city to make protection the default for all new bike lanes.
15 April 2016
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What you need to know about Hyperloop a radical new passenger and freight transportation technology that has some heavyweight backers. It’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of it.
19 February 2016
The biggest blind spot of urban greens: zoning. The argument this article makes refers to Cascadia, but it applies equally to the rest of Canada and the U.S.
18 February 2016
In the United States, are African Americans and Latinos ahead of the population as a whole in supporting climate policy solutions?
15 February 2016
With governments preparing to regulate driverless cars, they’re on the way to becoming a social, economic, and legal reality — but they leave us with a host of question marks. Here’s a brief overview of the issues we face.
13 February 2016
Perfect, boring Silicone Valley has run out of ideas. Look for fresh thinking in diverse, tumultuous Brooklyn.
10 February 2016
How do neighbourhoods decline? Very informative article moves beyond case studies to an understanding of factors that exacerbate or counter decay in different circumstances. Main points are summarized here.
5 February 2016
Bus seats and bike helmets: If we hope to go on living sustainably, we’ll have to re-think thousands of things. Here are two examples.
3 February 2016
Your British Columbia: A huge collection of gorgeous photos from left coast publication The Tyee.
1 February 2016
A Columbia economics professor offers an argument for solar subsidies aimed at American conservatives. (For more information about the collapse of Solyndra, mentioned by Professor Ho, click here.
29 January 2016
The woman who made New York a bike-friendly city.
25 January 2016
What happens to the bodies of homeless people? Most of us haven’t even thought about that. Copenhagen has, and has done something about it.
21 January 2016
By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.
20 January 2016
$7.5 million or much, much more: That’s what it costs for a condo in the sky next to Manhattan’s Central Park.
18 January 2016
Stockholm levies a congestion charge on motorists driving in high-traffic areas, and is considering rebating some of the revenue to programs benefitting cyclists.
15 January 2016
There’s no point banning ride-sharing services like Uber. Regulate them instead.
13 January 2016
Highway 401 near Toronto
A San Francisco Bay area mobility expert considers eight traffic reduction policies and the pros and cons of each.
11 January 2016
The world turned upside-down, in a good way: An environmentalist publication from Cascadia admiringly enumerates the main points of a program that establishes Alberta’s environmental leadership.
8 January 2016
If you’ve been hearing about the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, and you’re tempted to think Americans are all crazy, you might be interested in a view from the Oregon mainstream.
Rebuilding downtown. A guidebook for revitalization. This useful guide stresses the importance of equity and community engagement.
30 December 2015
Fight for $15 We live in the wealthiest society in world history. When are we going to admit to ourselves that some hard-working people, living amid that wealth, can’t feed their families?
28 December 2015
Bad street design kills people. The bad design referred to is the kind most often recommended by traffic engineers. Click on the links in the article for good supporting data.
25 December 2015
A short history of global emissions from fossil fuel burning: A fascinating video that uses an animated map of the world to show how the causes of global warming have proliferated in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
23 December 2015
When you shop at Amazon, you’re not getting as big a bargain as you think. Here’s an infographic account of the real costs.
21 December 2015
Using prisons to give the appearance of job creation.
18 December 2015
Retrofitting the walkable city: Seattle’s sidewalk-building program. A readable article that delivers a quick lesson on ways to build affordable sidewalks.
16 December 2015
A CEO’s guide to gender equality: A corporate think tank acknowledges the persistence of gender bias, explains it, and suggests remedies. Geena Davis offers some astute observations on gender bias in media.
13 December 2015
Grappling with homelessness: Portland, Oregon follows Los Angeles, Seattle and Hawaii in declaring a homelessness emergency. Some time ago, a Canadian source pointed to problems of the vulnerably housed.
9 December 2015
Climate change gets personal. It comes to Crescent Beach, South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada (and elsewhere).
6 December 2015
Urban farms fill some of Cleveland’s empty spaces while helping to settle refugees. Can this project serve as a model?
4 December 2015
Dealing creatively with excessive surface parking downtown — a problem many North American cities share. Despite many recent successful efforts, Winnipeg is no exception.
2 December 2015
Return of the age of miracles: Winnipeg’s municipal government, traditionally so secretive that I used to liken it to the Kremlin, appears to be serious about consulting the public in drawing up the next budget. My advice: Browse the web site and share your views.
30 November 2015
In New Jersey, they’re talking about the money they wasted by building too many roads —a discussion that’s long overdue in Winnipeg, where, as well we can’t maintain our older streets because we’re building too many new ones.
27 November 2015
Why was there a spike in pregnancies during Sierra Leone’s Ebola crisis? Here are some illuminating personal accounts.
25 November 2015
Hazardous oil trains: The risks to the U.S. Pacific Northwest from oil train lines and terminals in North Dakota and Alberta. Riveting photos illustrate an informative account.
22 November 2015
Surging seas: A map tool that vividly pictures the impact of different degrees of global warming on our cities. Here’s a summary video.
20 November 2015
Should we mourn gentrification? Here’s a look at the issue that contradicts the usual narrative. See also Why gentrification is a non-issue in Winnipeg and why that matters.
18 November 2015
Road engineers like to threaten city councils with economy-killing congestion if they don’t build freeways. Here’s a response to that argument from Canada’s most attractive city.
13 November 2015
Varieties of participation: A masterful conceptualization of what’s involved in achieving optimum levels of public participation in government decision-making.
8 November 2015
The United House of Prayer in Washington, D.C. opposes a bike lane on grounds of religious freedom.
6 November 2015
The School of Life: How to make an attractive city. A thought-provoking, 14-minute YouTube that’s packed with interesting insights.
4 November 2015
Real estate speculation in Vancouver leaves empty houses, and demolished houses in its wake.
1 November 2015
Uber, the ride-sharing company, is bound to have a major impact on urban transportatlion. What challenges will it pose for city planners, and how can they meet them?
30 October 2015
Compared with 1960, Americans in poverty today are more likely to be westerners, children, city dwellers, and in their prime working years, as well as black, Hispanic, or both.
29 October 2015
Minimum wages in many countries look a little bit better when purchasing power is taken into account, but they’re still egregiously low. A table near the end of this article summarises the data.
28 October 2015
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Affordable housing advocates in high-rent American cities like Seattle, Boston, Denver, D.C., San Francisco, and New York City are battling to secure the enactment of promising policies to house people of limited means.
23 October 2015
Food shortages drive an increase in African urban farming.
21 October 2015
Professional sport generates traffic that all but mandates transit service, so why don’t the teams help pay for it?
19 October 2015
Ever wonder why you’re surfing potholes everywhere you go? Here are three reasons.
18 September 2015
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The story of one Yazidi refugee family, 29 people living together for 10 months in an unfinished building, as told by the Mennonite Central Committee, my favourite charity.
16 September 2015
When even chic urbanites have to worry about adapting to tiny apartments, you know real estate is getting too expensive.
13 September 2015
Planners call programs designed to reduce the street space devoted to cars “road diets”. Here’s how and why they work to everyone’s advantage.
9 September 2015
Gender mainstreaming: Planning cities so that they serve women and men equally well. A comprehensive European web site that’s loaded with information and policy advice.
6 September 2015
Could we tackle the North American infrastructure crisis by imposing a per-mile (-kilometre) driving fee? This article makes the case for the U.S.
4 September 2015
How energy companies evade responsibility for deadly oil field accidents.
2 September 2015
Vision Zero — the reduction of traffic fatalities to nil — is gaining ground in jurisdictions from Sweden to Los Angeles. How does it work? A clear, straightforward explanation.
31 August 2015
Will autonomous cars change the role and value of public transportation? Speculations about our likely future.
28 August 2015
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A statue in Portsmouth, England, commemorating the many emigrants who left Portsmouth and Southhampton to start new lives in North America. By extension, they represent the ancestries of most North Americans, who arrived here after taking a leap in the dark.
26 August 2015
American recycling is stalling, and the big blue bin is one reason why.
9 July 2015
How New Orleans stopped making jailing a business.
7 July 2015
E before I: London’s deputy mayor for transport explains why it’s important to engage the public in the planning of infrastructure.
6 July 2015
Is Houston waking up to the reasons for the infrastructure deficit? Houstonians see the folly of debt-financed sprawl, even if their leaders don’t.
5 July 2015
Good Jobs First: An American web site that tracks government subsidies to business. The site promotes economic development that benefits communities.
2 July 2015
The “dark store” strategy: How big box stores extract money from municipal governments.
28 June 2015
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Toronto’s Tower Renewal Project includes green retrofitting and rezoning to enliven surrounding streets with street-level commerce. Will it be enough?
26 June 2015
Fewer Americans are riding the bus because there are fewer buses to ride.
24 June 2015
What happens to you if you’re poor: This map, showing the hourly wage needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment in each American state is an eye-opener.
21 June 2015
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Mobility Lab: An informative web site to help free commuters from dependence on automobiles.
19 June 2015
Desperate measures: Officials struggle to keep the regressive property tax viable in distressed neighbourhoods.
17 June 2015
Saving a public housing project that was all but given up for lost: The story of Lord Selkirk Park in Winnipeg.
14 June 2015
Oil train explosions: A timeline in pictures. A disturbing reminder of something we all need to worry about.
7 June 2015
This place matters: The US National Trust for Historic Preservation has launched an ingenious campaign, using social media to get people involved in identifying places that matter to them.
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Here’s a place that matters to Winnipeg: The Forks, commemorating the centuries during which the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine has been a meeting-place and marking the point at which Winnipeg stopped turning its back on the rivers.
3 June 2015
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Telling truth in hope of reconciliation: Here’s a broadcast every Canadian should listen to. It’s riveting.
2 June 2015
Who pays for American roads? How the “users pay” myth gets in the way of solving transportation problems.
27 May 2015
Winnipeg City Councillor Janice Lukes is right about the City of Winnipeg’s communication system, and the consequences of its failures are far-reaching.
24 May 2015
Instead of municipalities competing with each other for “one big deal”, urban regions should identify their collective competitive advantages and build on them to evolve a regional development program.
13 May 2015
The politics of solar energy: U.S. utility companies spring into action to defend themselves against the proliferation of rooftop solar panels.
12 May 2015
Think of the Canadian Human Rights Museum as an add-on: Interesting advice for Winnipeg and Manitoba tourism officials from well-written Winnipeg blog The View From Seven.
10 May 2015
Vancouver faces a scramble for land as it promotes density in the interest of affordable housing and more viable transit.
8 May 2015
Sharing economy: How co-ops figure in the recovery of such distressed areas as New Orleans, Rochester and Cleveland.
6 May 2015
Public markets are doing well over all, but some are endangered by supermarkets, war, and more. Here is a report on endangered markets in Syria, Mexico, Vietnam, and Egypt.
3 May 2015
Toronto, which has Canada’s highest rate of working poverty, has also reversed the time honoured North American pattern of suburban affluence and inner-city decay. In the Toronto region, poverty is worst in the suburbs. For details click here and here and here.
1 May 2015
Intriguing evidence that wide one-way streets have higher accident rates, and possibly crime rates, as well as lower real estate values than two-way streets.
29 April 2015
Here’s an important book: The greening of Asia: The business case for resolving Asia’s environmental emergency: Asia’s future is the future of us all.
26 April 2015
Pittsburgh is adopting a complete streets policy. What’s that, what have other cities learned, and why should Winnipeg follow their example?
22 April 2015
Cab drivers as cheap labour? Portland, Oregon, moves carefully as it tries to adapt its regulations for taxis and ride-sharing to competition from ride-sharing app companies Uber and Lyft.
19 April 2015
“Polluters pay” bills before the Oregon House call for the proceeds to be used to mail out cheques to taxpayers and their dependents.
12 April 2015
Large-scale production of public utilities and centralised sanitation networks made the modern city as we know it. Are we now starting to shift toward more localized production of the services we all need? A clear, succinct, scholarly assessment.
10 April 2015
Walmartification of the US: What are the implications of Walmart’s massive building spree for the environment, the grocery business, and independent business generally?
7 April 2015
China’s slash and burn approach to urban development leaves both victims and beneficiaries in its wake.
5 April 2015
A state public servant learned the hard way that Florida is in denial about climate change
1 April 2015
Shall we make our cities friendlier for cyclists by ensuring they can be served at drive-through windows? Salt Lake City says yes, but the state of Utah prepares to overrule the city.
29 March 2015
Everyone wants to be the new Dubai. So far, Belgrade, Serbia; Machakos, a largely rural area in Kenya, and Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) have jumped on the bandwagon. Who’s driving it, and what do they stand to gain?
27 March 2015
Clear thinking about transit: Here’s a lucid, careful summary by engineer Curt Hull of some issues we need to think about if we care about efficient movement of people in a big city.
20 March 2015
What has British Columbia’s carbon tax accomplished, and what results did it bring about? Ten takeaways from B.C.’s polluters-pay model.
13 March 2015
Struggling to deal with homelessness in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C.
11 March 2015
Time to end extreme inequality: Oxfam’s campaign to end the growing, and socially and economically damaging inequity in the distribution of income and wealth.
8 March 2015
Trying to fix unemployment with on-line learning: The program appears to have merit, but the claims made for it are unrealistic.
6 March 2015
The United States government is launching an ambitious public consultation about how to reform the American transportation system.
4 March 2015
Apartheid in The City of Light: Paris confronts a legacy of racism and social exclusion that is built into to the very way the city is laid out.
2 March 2015
Violence against aboriginal women starts with a hundred other terrible things that have happened to them. Stephen Harper take note: Murders of aboriginal women are not just crimes, they’re “sociological phenomena”.
27 February 2015
Could tent cities be the magic bullet for housing the homeless? Certainly not, but this is an informative article, with links to interesting and disturbing materials.
25 February 2015
Are small businesses and retail workers discovering a common interest in battling the tyranny of big box work schedules?
23 February 2015
Using affordable housing to attract artists to New York, Nashville and Minneapolis.
20 February 2015
Is the US doing a better job than Canada of protecting Arctic lands from climate change?
18 February 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity ratings hover above 80 per cent. Before you take those figures at face value, here are four things you should consider.
11 February 2015
Great source of information, and, for urbanists, a fun toy: The 2014 Global Metro Monitor Map provides a wealth of economic information about cities around the world.
8 February 2015
How Harper created a more conservative Canada: A thought-provoking and worrisome, but scholarly assessment of the Harper agenda and changing Canadian values. (To start reading, scroll down a page-and-a-half.)
6 February 2015
Thanks to absentee ownership in Vancouver, renters live in a mansion, and get a deal on rent.
30 January 2015
Mandatory composting of food waste comes to Vancouver. Wisely, they’ve phased it in gradually.
28 January 2015
Average annual pay in Canada: 100 top CEOs, $9.2 million; all Canadians, $47,358. For more detail, click here.
26 January 2015
Why Canadian hospitals outperform U.S. hospitals.
23 January 2015
Designing roads for a higher “level of service” isn’t about safety. Click here for a thoughtful comment about what it takes to make streets really safe.
22 January 2015
In terms of income inequality, New York resembles Swaziland, Chicago is comparable to El Salvador, and San Francisco to Madagascar. Look for that and more about inequality here.
19 January 2015
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Don’t try to tell a German bureaucrat that brevity is the soul of wit. Translation of the sign: “No parking motor vehicles or bicycles. Violators will be towed at owner’s expense.”
16 January 2015
When a few innocents are slaughtered by a gunman, we are rightly outraged. It’s time to do more about the many thousands of highway deaths. Vision Zero: Engineering roads to save lives.
14 January 2015
In Africa, thieves vandalize electrical transformers to drain PCB-laden oil, and then sell it as cooking oil. This is an example of the things that poverty brings into people’s lives.
12 January 2015
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More high rises, street art and shipping containers, and more decay: Eight pictures that capture how American cities changed in 2014.
9 January 2015
Reality check: Prosperous cities need workers who can’t afford the available housing. Here’s what Paris is doing about the problem.
7 January 2015
Washington State: Making polluters pay, and using the proceeds to fund education and transportation.
2 January 2015
Extra-judicial killings in Kenya? How deeply are Britain and Israel involved? A disturbing report from Al Jazeera English.
31 December 2014
Now that Colorado has legalized pot, here’s what they’re doing to regulate it.
29 December 2014
Richer and whiter: A picture tour of 50 years of gentrification in American cities.
25 December 2014
Ban diesel-driven vehicles. ban all cars from some neighbourhoods, double the number of cycle lanes — and more. Looks like Paris is getting serious about the environment.
23 December 2014
If you’re interested in urban development — as a developer, a planner, a government official, or a citizen — you need to know about form-based codes.
22 December 2014
An Australian coal mining and energy company, with operations in Washington State, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming takes a bath, and so do its investors.
18 December 2014
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Despite what you may have heard, Detroit’s misfortune continues. It still faces a sea of troubles, including a UN investigation of alleged human rights abuses.
16 December 2014
Gentrification, plutocratization, patrician ghettos: Are global cities turning into “vast, gated citadels”?
14 December 2014
The ultimate urban survivors: feral cats. They look well fed. For more urban cat pictures, click here.
10 December 2014
Here’s a single source for lots of easily accessible information about carbon pricing.
8 December 2014
Know anyone on Winnipeg City Council who relies on council salary for income? Tell your councillor you support the city’s existing provisions for a modest severance allowance to keep her/him going while looking for another job — or prepare for a council of developers, well-off lawyers and business people.
7 December 2014
Click on picture. Source: Ottawa Citizen.
Inside Kingston Penitentiary: An arresting collection of photos of the grey fortress on the Ontario lakeshore.
4 December 2014
Cutbacks, cutbacks, cutbacks: We North Americans and west Europeans live in the wealthiest society in world history. Why is so much of our politics about cutbacks? (If you see ads when you click, scroll down.)
2 December 2014
Interactive map of the best bus rapid transit systems in the world, together with an explanation of of the standards they meet.
28 November 2014
Despite some progress toward gender equality, women still suffer disproportionately from poverty, violence, inadequate housing, and a long list of other ills. Look up chapter and verse here.
24 November 2014
Don’t blink slowly: College tells female students to practice facial expressions in the mirror to avoid being raped.
21 November 2014
Drowning migrants is good politics: A deeply disturbing piece about refugees trying for a safe haven in Europe, and about possible future policies toward migrants.
19 November 2014
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In New York City, pay phones will be replaced by “links”, offering free local calling and wi-fi, paid for by advertising, even in low-income neighbourhoods. It’ll be interesting to see whether and how this works.
16 November 2014
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“Violet Is an Anagram of Love It”: An art exhibit that comments on connections among homelessness, urban decay and sprawl.
12 November 2014
A corporate consulting firm offers some sensible approaches to the world’s massive affordable housing problem.
11 November 2014
More evidence that devastated American inner cities are recovering. But what happens when all these young people have children and become middle-aged?
7 November 2014
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A fascinating map, superimposed on a London subway map, showing, for each stop, the language (other than English) most spoken nearby.
5 November 2014
How mental patients, pushed out of psychiatric hospitals, became burden on police and judges. Are the recent Canadian shootings a warning that North Americans are sweeping mental illness under the rug?
3 November 2014
Baltimore’s moral crisis: Lots of homeless people, and a glut of vacant houses. Is it time to create a community land trust?
27 October 2014
The turncoat poet: A fascinating and disturbing account of the classic totalitarianism that rules North Korea under the Kim dynasty.
24 October 2014
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How resistance to a development proposal generated community action that led to the transformation of a derelict park into a much-loved public space. The story of Congress Square Park in Portland, Maine.
22 October 2014
The carnage that follows when streets aren’t designed to accommodate pedestrians: A U.S. report with excellent resources and an action guide. We need something like this for Canada.
20 October 2014
Data vacuum makes it hard to track poverty. Is this the real reason for the Harper government’s cancellation of the long-form census? (If you don’t have information about them, you may not have to help them.)
15 October 2014
Strong Towns: A different take on what many of us have called the problem of sprawl. Will it succeed where we’ve failed? (Like other cities referred to in the Strong Towns web site,Winnipeg is headed for bankruptcy.)
10 October 2014
The homeless person who earned a Ph.D.: A remarkable story, with, apparently, important policy implications. When will we start listening?
8 October 2014
Why are only one-quarter of American cyclists women? The answer has a lot to do with bike safety, but even more with gender. I expect it’s much the same story in Canada.
6 October 2014
Google and Microsoft have figured out that favela residents aren’t necessarily as poor as you might think. As I noticed in Mathare Valley, Kenya, the appearance of such “slums” can be deceiving.
Mathare Valley (click on picture)
3 October 2014
The problem politicians don’t want to talk about: What to do as wealth increases and the numbers of good jobs decline.
1 October 2014
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has been battling big box stores and other community destroyers for decades, and they may be getting somewhere.
30 September 2014
The threat of prosecution, legal bills, low wages: The sad realities of life for most American whistleblowers.
29 September 2014
Energy efficiency, attention to the plight of the poor, walkable streets: Some examples of what municipal leaders can achieve if they try.
26 September 2014
The supermarket of the future has no packaging, says The Atlantic. Eco-conscious shopping that could save you money as well
25 September 2014
How everyone gains, in financial and other terms, if we break the habit of sprawl. Placemakers makes the case..
24 September 2014
Berlin, Germany, has developed strategy for preventing social segregation — the formation of exclusive districts for the wealthy and low-income ghettos.
22 September 2014
The benefits that accrue to cities if they get rid of restrictions on secondary suites, also called granny flats — an additional residential unit within a single-family home.
21 September 2014
Los Angeles commissions housing designed for homeless people. Right on. We live in the wealthiest society in world history. Why do we tolerate homelessness?
18 September 2014
In this article about car companies trying to get with digital communications, the best news is that young people are less interested in cars than their forebears were.
17 September 2014
Infill transit stations: one of the best ways to increase ridership, with little additional service, while helping to revitalize neighbourhoods, according to The Transport Politic, a very informative web site.
16 September 2014
With climate change a certainty, a beautiful Rhode Island beach, sure to be inundated, has an end-of-days feel.
14 September 2014
Can we get over our petroleum addiction the way our ancestors beat the slave trade? (Scroll down to “Naomi Klein says…” and click on “Listen”.)
12 September 2014
Using storage units to bring a measure of security and stability to the lives of homeless people.
11 September 2014
Wildleaks, a sort of Wikileaks for the environment, is launching an attack on poaching, illegal logging and the smuggling of wildlife products.
10 September 2014
Is Latin America teaching us how to do rapid transit right? With buses?
9 September 2014
Winnipeg mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis says it will take decades to fix the infrastructure. She’s got that right. Look left for the whole story.
8 September 2014
Cheap labour: Who are the worst offenders? Here are some answers for the US. It would be interesting to know what, if any, are the differences in Canada.
5 September 2014
I’ll be sleeping out with CEOs Sept 18. To help people who sleep rough in the world’s second coldest city, go to http://bit.ly/1rG3W7s.
4 September 2014
Why is ISIS, the blood-soaked, self-appointed Islamic State attracting followers, and fighters. from all over the world? A well-informed explanation in plain English.
3 September 2014
Egalitarian society? Find out how wealth is distributed at a web site offering lots of information about income inequality in the US (with a nod to Canada).
2 September 2014
The Calgary DJ who’s making money manufacturing commuter bicycles in Detroit.
29 August 2014
A metric bike-sharing systems should consider: Does the CO2 saved by driving the bikes outweigh the CO2 generated by vans that cart bikes from where they aren’t needed to where they are? Thankfully, in some cities at least, the answer is yes.
28 August 2014
Some innovative companies are turning away from the bleakness of suburban “campuses” as they discover that urban environments generate synergies and support creativity.
27 August 2014
Turning downtown into a good place for families: Here are some good ideas from Seattle.
26 August 2014
Cities vs. Airbnb: A particularly interesting sideshow in the battle over the social and economic change spawned by the digital revolution.
23 August 2014
University professors and high school teachers beware: It appears, in plain words, that this web site offers to disguise plagiarism.
22 August 2014
What do European cities have that ours don’t? A European perspective.
21 August 2014
The Guardian, an excellent British newspaper, faces the woes besetting newspapers everywhere in the age of the internet. One of its survival strategies involves doing the right thing — promoting sustainable living. Novel idea, eh?
20 August 2014
Who pays when an Uber — the 21st Century alternative to taxis — has a fender bender? Another bump on the road to ride sharing.
19 August 20
Do you agree with the business publication that said “…if the government would just get off our backs most of us would do okay…”? We need more (intelligent) regulation, not less, as we should have learned from Lac-Mégantic.
18 August 20
The changing workplace, and changing hours of work, are bringing big changes for Toronto commuters — and commuters elsewhere as well.
15 August 20
Will social change force us to rethink zoning and parking regulations?
14 August 20
The 10 best cities in the world for bicycling, according to The Active Times. Winnipeg doesn’t qualify for top 10 status, but it’s much improved in the last couple of years.
Click on picture
13 August 20
Poverty in the United States has become both more suburban and more concentrated.
12 August 20
The Canadian federal government has been forcing foreign aid NGOs to fight paper wars in the name of market efficiency, instead of concentrating on their good work. The same thing happened to immigration settlement NGOs in BC. Will the government think again?
11 August 20
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This riveting video tells the story of Bete Desta, a Winnipeg-based aid organization that helps orphans and poor children in Korem, Ethiopia, while keeping them at home. To contribute, call 204-997-5358 or 204-334-0322.
8 August 20
The changing workplace, and changing hours of work, are bringing big changes to Toronto’s commuter rail service, GO Transit.
7 August 2014
Should public transit be free? Is it feasible? How much would it cost? What would be the consequences? Here are some answers.
6 August 2014
Has a pharmaceutical giant figured out a way to overrule the Supreme Court of Canada? (The pdf may be a bit wonky, but it’s legible.)
4 August 2014
The pricing of everything: A witty dissection of the natural capital agenda: the pricing, valuation, monetization and financialization of nature in order to save it.
1 August 2014
Things are taking a turn for the better in troubled Africa: Extreme poverty and HIV are less widespread than they were and economically, Africa is the fastest-growing continent.
31 July 2014
This article in the Huff Post is about revitalizing cities, but the most interesting thing about it is its account of how digital-age cities will differ from industrial cities
30 July 2014
Despite the current emphasis on dirty oil from the tar sands, Canada also exports clean energy. Why not more the latter and less of the former?
29 July 2014
Walkable Los Angeles? What’s going on? Actually, quite a lot. The tide is turning in favour of transit in some unlikely places. Question is: Are they building neighbourhoods or parking lots around the transit stops?
25 July 2014
In the age of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it seems almost subversive to say this, but government regulation does work, as we can see from this example in the on-line Atlantic of notable US success with fuel emission standards.
24 July 2014
Click to see the whole picture
Winnipeg signals its dislike of cyclists: In English, the sign implies they’re trying to deny cars the right to use the street. In French the implication is that bicycles aren’t vehicles. (Judging by behaviour, some drivers think of them as toys that shouldn’t be on the street.)
22 July 2014
Bicycle commuting is on the increase in the US, but is it becoming a gilded ghetto on wheels?
21 July 2014
The geometry of suburban sprawl signals its disconnection from the environment. Interesting pictures and comments.
18 July 2014
American politics: Is the F-35 a case study in how to provide political cover for an indefensible policy? (Source: The FP Group: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/)
17 July 2014
The ballooning cost of Winnipeg’s police headquarters. Have we been suckered again by the bait-and-switch? Follow the links to this deplorable history. It’s instructive.
15 July 2014
Feeding the headquarters beast: Médecins Sans Frontières charges the UN and NGOs are too focussed on risk aversion and securing funding to put the best effort into relief.
14 July 2014
Trying to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from sweeping across West Africa. http://bit.ly/1k3Bmq7
11 July 2014
The automobile-driven bureaucratic tangle San Francisco had to go through to get a path-breaking bus rapid transit line approved. Luckily, next time it’ll be easier.
10 July 2014
New prescription for failing American urban neighbourhoods: Turn them into national parks.
9 July 2014
New prescription for failing American urban neighbourhoods: Turn them into national parks.
7 July 2014
Is transit the answer for congestion? A well-informed discussion of the answer to this question as it applies to the rapidly growing Research Triangle Region of North Carolina.
6 July 2014
By this account, the so-called “inclusive cities” movement, has marked progress, but still has a long way to go.
2 July 2014
In Minneapolis, bike sharing is being managed by a non-profit, and apparently producing better results than private management companies. The idea that public services always improve when they’re delivered by businesses is as oversimplified as the idea that Big Brother knows best.
1 July 2014
A tool to help citizens become engaged in development issues and to push for higher quality urban development: Accidental Skyline
30 June 2014
Using urban design — such things as the location, form and orientation of buildings — to combat crime in Manchester, England.
29 June 2014
Protecting farmland from urban development, and dealing with ensuing dilemmas: Use-Value Assessment of Rural Land in the United States
27 June 2014
Robbers making their getaway on public transit. Apparently, it happens more than you might think.
26 June 2014
Why cheap labour is bad economics. Pay the living wage and it’s not just your employees who will benefit: Good article in The Independent, an impressive London newspaper.
23 May 2014
Check out the Planners’ Web for a wealth of urban concerns, including planning for healthy communities, growing the local economy, combatting blight, transportation planning for an aging population, and much more.
22 May 2014
Land titles enable slum residents in developing countries to make investments to improve their living conditions. Examples from Bogotá, Rio de Janiero, Johannesburg and Bangalore.
20 May 2014
Is strategic planning “a staggering waste of time and money”?
19 May 2014
Why U.S. President Obama shouldn’t be making speeches about energy at Walmart.
15 May 2014
Governments aren’t doing much about climate change, so will the job be left to private finance, and can it succeed?
13 May 2014
The United States Census Bureau makes large amounts of information available on line. The Canadian census struggles to offer a similar tool. Does that have anything to do with cutbacks?
11 May 2014
An Al Jazeera documentary about infant mortality in America.
8 May 2014
A new internet-based publication, The Intercept, focuses on a new political problem: Wholesale government spying on ordinary citizens, including you and me.
7 May 2014
The bike-share business may be the way of the future, but it’s not a sure thing yet.
6 May 2014
Google’s self-driving car navigates city streets. An illustrated description.
5 May 2014
Will investments in oil and gas stocks become unprofitable? Interesting article, part of The Tyee’s “Are we screwed?” series.
2 May 2014
Seniors are often walkers. Municipal decision-makers should be planning with that in mind.
1 May 2014
An opera about Robert Moses, the controversial city builder, and Jane Jacobs, who fought him to a standstill over plans for a freeway across Lower Manhattan. Read this article and follow the links.
30 April 2014
Do you know what a porch racist is? Here’s a thoughtful dissection of the Donald Stirling incident.
28 April 2014
The surveillance society: A huge political issue that affects us all, and that we have yet to tackle.
25 April 2014
“Sorry, gridlock is unfixable.” Well, not quite. Read to the end of this well-researched article and find out about constructive approaches.
24 April 2014
Is this how we got talked into accepting the mess cars have made of our cities? Disney’s vision of the future.
23 April 2014
EcoTipping Points: “Levers for restoring sustainability to our imperilled environment – small actions that tip the balance.” This is a well-constructed web site with loads of information about environmental success stories.
20 April 2014
Are car-free cities possible? This video offers an overview of how it can be done.
17 April 2014
Art and architecture of Boston and Cambridge: A picture essay.
15 April 2014
Temporary foreign workers are paying the price for the federal government’s scorched-earth termination of federal-provincial co-operation on immigration and settlement.
For an example of the good results that the federal-provincial immigration and settlement program achieved, take a look at this study. (To skip the theoretical genuflections, start with the last paragraph on p. 494.)
14 April 2014
For the remarkable story of a reclusive, talented artist who took riveting pictures of life on the streets of Chicago while making her living as a nanny, click here.
13 April 2014
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The Chinese real estate boom: The other shoe drops. Apartment buildings, hastily built in the 1980s and 1990s, are starting to disintegrate.
11 April 2014
In dealing with refugees, the Canadian government is a hard-nosed debt collector and administrator.
10 April 2014
A corporate think tank argues that making machine-readable government documents freely available would unlock substantial economic value.
9 April 2014
For ratings of America’s worst sprawl, as well as the most compact connected cities, click here, and scroll to pp. 4-8. There’s more: The document is a gold mine.
8 April 2014
The resource revolution: A prominent corporate think tank on how we can stretch limited resources to meet growing demands.
7 April 2014
“How crime-ridden Medellín became a model for 21st-Century urbanism.” It’s an impressive story but — as we learn near the end of the article — it’s not all roses.
6 April 2014
Tolerating hate speech and misogyny on an Ohio news web site.
4 April 2014
Fracking and shale gas: Click here for a gold mine of up-to-date information.
3 April 2014
Scientists haven’t yet determined the full environmental consequences of fracking, but what we do know isn’t encouraging.
2 April 2014
Failed prophets: 13 grand architectural dreams that didn’t come true.
1 April 2014
Dealing with urban poverty: Examples from Johannesburg, Curitiba, Cali and Mumbai.
31 March 2014
If predictions hold, Vejle, Denmark, will be under water by 2100. Here’s what it’s doing to address the challenge.
The US is wrestling with a problem it’s never before faced on the present scale: long-term unemployment.
26 March 2014
Can you identify these cities by the sounds they make? An intriguing quiz in The Guardian.
24 March 2014
Britain is ready to do just about anything to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money, or so an article in The New York Times says.
23 March 2014
It’s not just the lower price of transit, it’s the growing volatility of gas prices that’s driving the increasing popularity of transit. in the US.
18 March 2014
Exploring New York City taxi trails and sharing our way to a more sustainable urban future: Clever videos and a really interesting idea for the future of transportation in the US.
17 March 2014
Are Manitoba cities becoming “more urban”? Multi-unit residential developments are up, and, thanks in part to the provincial government, a significant proportion are affordable and social housing.
16 March 2014
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New mega-skyscrapers are coming to New York City and Los Angeles, according to blogger Panethos.
14 March 2014
London’s outrageous housing prices: An opportunity to sell emigration?
13 March 2014
Here’s yet another education crisis. The claim: Most universities don’t teach leadership, humility, purposefulness and responsibility.
12 March 2014
The Frank Underwood of Venezuela: An absorbing look at power struggles behind the headlines.
11 March 2014
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SkyCycle: The proposal for overhead, exclusive bike paths in London is hailed as innovative, but Lujiazui, China, unveiled a similar path for pedestrians three years ago (See 5 February 2013 below).
10 March 2014
I’m not well-versed enough in finance to really understand Bitcoin, but common sense suggests that this acid assessment nails it.
Don’t look at me: Recriminations and denials amid the repercussions of the Bitcoin fiasco.
9 March 2014
A Harvard economist explains why higher wages are linked to higher profits, even in poorly paid service occupations.
7 March 2014
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How oil pipeline companies avoid full environmental scrutiny of the impact of their projects.
A giant, artistic light show will turn the San Francisco Bay Bridge into the world’s largest light sculpture for the next two years.
6 March 2014
Think the Nordic approach is the best way to deal with the sex trade? You might want to think again.
5 March 2014
Downtown Winnipeg is improving, after decades of disheartening decay, but it has a way to go.
Can non-profits solve social problems by becoming “profits”? A well-argued contribution to an interesting debate.
4 March 2014
A dictator’s guide to urban design: The role of public squares in political upheavals.
3 March 2014
Driverless cars are coming and they will change the world, but how quickly, how much, and how?
Made for walking: Density and neighbourhood form: A readable, profusely illustrated book (e-book or paper) that makes the case for walkable city neighbourhoods and lays out what’s involved in achieving them.
2 March 2014
What happens after the Olympics leave town? The answers to that question are different for these three cities.
28 February 2014
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Do you know what Agenda 21 is? I haven’t paid much attention to it, but I will now, because it draws the ire of people who like urban sprawl and hate the United Nations. Here are links to the text and the Wikipedia entry.
27 February 2014
Confronting suburban poverty in America: A rich web site with an effective video, blogs and community profiles. It would be interesting to know how Canadian suburbs compare.
26 February 2014
Walmart doesn’t just build big box stores. For cities that have the courage to demand it, they’re willing to produce much better designs.
Why is G8 agricultural aid being condemned as a new form of colonialism?
Quite abruptly, Winnipeggers have started worrying less about crime and more about the lamentable state of Winnipeg’s infrastructure, according to Probe Research.
But are American expressways on the way out? Not necessarily. Good thing Canada never committed itself as completely to expressways as the US.
The tragedy of the commons: A New York professor, arguing that the minimum wage benefits the middle class, provokes lively debate.
17 February 2014
Brazil’s anti-poverty initiative pays poor people to keep their kids in school and use government medical services. The goal is to reduce social inequality. It seems to be working.
14 February 2014
Who we are: Treaty elders’ teachings. in this book, the first of four volumes, more than 200 aboriginal elders share traditional stories in English and one of five other languages.
13 February 2014
Streetcars are making a comeback in the US, surprisingly because they’re proving to be an economic development tool. Unlike many other cities, Toronto had the smarts to keep their old Red Rockets.
Red Rocket (click on picture)
12 February 2014
Could a legal challenge to fracking become a charter case?
11 February 2014
Indianapolis has always been my favourite example of a radically automobile-dominated city, but it looks as if things have changed.
10 February 2014
Is a non-partisan Senate possible? Interesting article in The Tyee.
9 February 2014
Transit ridership outside the rush hours is increasing in major American cities. It’s not just about reduced auto-dependence. Work habits and job location are also reasons…
…The problem is, transit fails to serve a lot of the people who need it most.
7 February 2014
Free transit in Tallinn, Estonia: Exciting innovation or dumb idea?
5 February 2014
Here’s what Manitoba’s Green Action Centre is saying Manitoba Hydro has to do to improve energy conservation efforts.
4 February 2014
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A global network of the urban poor seeks solutions to problems that defeat bureaucracies.
3 February 2014
Financial journalists failed to connect dots, and, in 2008, left abusive, reckless, and criminal corporations free to drag the global economy into the abyss, says the author of The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark.
The world turned upside down: The European Union scales back its climate change commitments just as Coca-Cola and Nike embrace the idea that climate change is economically disruptive.
31 January 2014
Will New York City succeed in its remarkable campaign to end traffic deaths?
Unpleasant design: City facilities that, deliberately or inadvertently, repel people.
29 January 2014
What happens when a cool neighbourhood becomes too cool. Pay attention, Corydon Village.
28 January 2014
Tongue-in-cheek video, by Swedish trade unions, takes a swipe at the California lifestyle by comparing it unfavourably with living like a Swede.
24 January 2014
Watch the earth get warmer and stormier over time in this fascinating video.
Climate change intensifies the already crazy, shady competition over the delicious truffle.
23 January 2014
Global warming and urban infrastructure: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, and other cities are working on new infrastructure policies to take account of climate change.
22 January 2014
A streetcar renaissance is underway in the US. Here’s a good overview of what’s happening and a collection of links to streetcar web pages that’s useful, despite the occasional dead link.
What happens when a city bans bottled water? It’s been done, and we can now start to look at the outcome.
21 January 2014
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, addressing the ethnic media, admits temporary foreign workers are being abused. Go to minute 22:15 of this audio file. to listen to his remarks.
Land banks as a tool for the redevelopment of derelict American inner cities: promise and pitfalls.
14 January 2014
The Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient Cities web site is an eclectic, informative resource for anyone interested in cities.
12 January 2014
Islamist extremism has more to do with urban poverty than with religiosity: A thoughtful reflection, backed by a compelling story from Kenya.
8 January 2014
A collection of stark, beautiful photos of Saskatchewan by Canadian photographer Vera Saltzman, reproduced in an American publication.
7 January 2014
Toronto’s Tower Neighbourhoods, unique in North America, but typical of much of the world, are bigger energy users than single family homes. Their renewal is key to a low-carbon future.
6 January 2014
This chart blows up the American myth of the welfare queen.
Taiwan-based non-government organization fights poverty and malnutrition by supporting the production and consumption of vegetables.
3 January 2014
Phoenix claims to have ended homelessness, while Vancouver struggles with many more in need of shelter. Is Vancouver’s problem really that much larger than Phoenix’s, or does Phoenix have lower housing standards?
Does your down coat or comforter come from live-plucked, force-fed geese? Look for the DOWNMARK® label.
The cost of a politics that attacks enemies, rather than seeking unity. A sad, eloquent comment from America’s rust belt.
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Category Archives: Democracy
A friend and former student sent me a message objecting to my January 3rd Passing Scene post. (Readers using a computer only have to glance to the right to see what I’m talking about. If you’re using a mobile phone, you have to scroll down to get to the Passing Scene column.)
My friend has a point. Comparing Trump to Mussolini is inflammatory rather than persuasive. By the same token, the comparison is more than just idle talk. Continue reading
I’m registered as a follower of Policing, Politics and Public Policy, a blog by Menno Zacharias, a former Winnipeg police official. Over the years, I’ve read quite a few of his posts and found his commentary to be intelligent, sensible and progressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of his former police colleagues consider him a dangerous radical. His views about policing make a lot of sense to me, but when he recently turned his attention to urban design , my former fellow traveller in blogging morphed into an advocate of the worst in city planning.
He advocates an approach to the achievement of safe neighbourhoods that he calls Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Over the decades, this monicker has acquired so many conflicting meanings that it really means nothing unless the meaning is spelled out. I call Menno’s version the fortress theory of urban design, but don’t ask me, because he explains his theory very clearly. He says we can make urban neighbourhoods safe by:
My favourite writer about cities, and a favourite of generations of my students, is Jane Jacobs, a sharp-tongued critic whose polemics were grounded in a strongly positive view of cities. She wrote her best-known book, The death and life of great American cities, when she was a New Yorker, but within a few years she had moved to Toronto, where she spent the rest of her life.
She loved cities and thought that the preservation of their livability and attractiveness was a key to the well-being of society as a whole. It’s central to Jacobs’s concept of cities that they are natural, that they grow organically out of the ways people choose to interact with each other.
As a result, in Death and life, she was scornful of the visions of planners and architects who wanted to create buildings, neighbourhoods, and parks in response to their ideas of what would look good — a philosophy we now know as modernism. (I’m not being entirely fair to modernism, but today’s topic is Jane Jacobs.) Continue reading
On April 20th, 2014, in the Passing Scene column to your right (or below if you’re reading this on your device), I raised the above question. Peter Woolstencroft was good enough to comment in Facebook, and gave me permission to post his comment below, together with my response. There’s also an exchange with my friend and former student, Dave Danyluk. Here’s the picture I refer to in my response to Peter:
Peter Woolstencroft: A car free city is a nice idea, but what happens to the costs of road building, maintenance, and repairs? Who is paying for these expenses? I like the firetrucks and ambulances that go past my house on a paved and well-maintained road. Much appreciated are the trucks that bring goods and services to people in their houses and apartments. In other words, what proportion of road building costs and maintenance are accounted for by gasoline taxes, licenses, vehicle permits, and whatever else motorists generate by way of their economic activity (such as taxes on insurance)?
Taxes and fees aren’t the only ways to tackle Winnipeg’s revenue problem: A taxpayers’ bill of rights
Last week Winnipeg City Council endorsed a proposal to ask the provincial government to allow the imposition of new fees on residential and commercial development. It was the latest turn in a decades-long struggle by the city to overcome an infrastructure deficit of at least $7 billion. The proposal, followed by a quick refusal from Broadway, unleashed a flurry of news and commentary, accompanied by more than 200 letters from readers. (See links at the end of this post.)
From the start, the fees were referred to as “taxes”, and for the most part, comments, by both writers and readers, focussed on taxation. Absent from the discussion was a recognition of the fact that the infrastructure crisis wasn’t caused by insufficient revenues, and will not be resolved by the imposition of additional fees or taxes. A major, but completely overlooked, cause of the crisis is the city’s failure to draw up a coherent growth plan and stick to it. Continue reading
My African life III: Putting old people in homes
I began to love Kenya when I moved to Nyandarua District, a largely rural area, in 1971, but my first few months in the country, when I had temporary quarters in Nairobi, the capital city, were disheartening. Everywhere I went, I encountered racial self-segregation so strict one might almost think the era of British colonial rule was not yet over. Continue reading