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Showing posts from March, 2012

Beyond Smart Cities

Book Overview book by Tim Campbell

The promise of competitiveness and economic growth in so-called smart cities emphasizes highly educated talent, high tech industries and pervasive electronic connections. But to really achieve smart cities — that is to create the conditions of continuous learning and innovation — this book argues that there is a need to understand what is below the surface and to examine the mechanisms which affect the way cities learn and then connect together.
This book draws on quantitative and qualitative data with concrete case studies to show how networks already operating in cities are used to foster and strengthen connections in order to achieve breakthroughs in learning and innovation. Going beyond smart cities means understanding how cities construct, convert and manipulate relationships that grow in urban environments. The eight cities discussed in this book — Amman, Barcelona, Bilbao, Charlotte, Curitiba, Portland, Seattle, and Turin — illu…

Government Reorganization Fact Sheet

I wonder if urban is built into the mix here somewhere...

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
January 13, 2012
Government Reorganization Fact Sheet

Looking to make our government leaner, smarter and more consumer-friendly, the President will call on Congress to reinstate the authority that past Presidents had, over decades, to reorganize the government.  With the exception of President Ford, every President from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan had reorganization authority.  Presidents had this sort of authority for almost the entire period from  1932 through 1984.Unlike the authority granted in the past, the President’s proposal would initiate new accountability by mandating that any plan must consolidate government - reducing the number of agencies or saving taxpayer dollars.

The President will also lay out his first proposed use of that authority: consolidating six agencies into one more efficient department to promote competitiveness, exports and America…

Comeback Cities

In their recent book, Grogan and Proscio offer the “Comeback Cities” model to engage the multifaceted variables of poverty in renewed economic development in urban areas of the United States. Using primarily data from the 1990s, the authors’ argue that cities in the U.S. are revitalizing in ways only dreamed of in the past. They encourage a third-way of policymaking, allowing space for the public, private and nonprofit sectors to work together. Grogan and Proscio suggest cities are changing the status quo because of four fundamental factors: engagement in grassroots participation, the promotion private investment, the slashing of bureaucratic red tape, and the decrease of intercity crime. This new model engages political and social problems to tackle the hard economic disparities in a given locality. This essay will briefly describe the “comeback cities” approach, and then apply lessons learned in redeveloping Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Camden.

First, Grogan and Proscio desc…

A Prayer for the City

In his monograph A Prayer for the City, award-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger depicts Ed Rendell’s mayoral terms in office through the eyes of individuals living in Philadelphia. Each character confronts issues of politics, economic development, housing, and inner city distress through their own personal histories. Bissinger captures each while interweaving their lives with city’s policies and Randell’s efforts to remedy their circumstances. These thick descriptions of public problems are brought to life, as they are scene affecting the vary individual’s lives in which they are made to help. Although the origins of each problem are hard to define with precision, so too are the overlays in
Originally uploaded by heydee which they affect one another and more so the people’s lives. The hope that fuels this book is located in the dynamic work with gusto in which the public officials—like that of Randell himself—perform day in and day out.

For example, Bissineger first describes the…

Camden After the Fall

In Camden After the Fall, Howard Gillette describes the historic degradation of an industrial city and its subsequent recovery efforts to rebuild. The book illustrates one city’s development process, its efforts to get out of poverty and its ongoing consequences of failed policy attempts. Through the thick description of economic recovery, the reader can observe the structural and contextual factors that impede Camden, New Jersey’s search for growth. According to Gillette, the sources of Camden’s on-going problems are multifaceted. Migration patterns, racial make-up, the low-level labor supply, the lack of public financing dollars, and levels of social capital are all attributes that make up Camden’s current economic status. This essay will describe those structural factors, discuss each policy endeavor attempted, and finally, relate those efforts to the public, private, and nonprofit arenas.

Gillette uses the term “recovery” to connote the efforts to rebuild buildings in depressed ar…

The American Project

In American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto, Sudhir Venkatesh describes the social interaction in the Robert Taylor Homes, a public housing development in Chicago, from the 1960s to the mid 1990s. He uses participant observation to write a historic monographic about how people lived in and around this modern ghetto. Venkatesh argues that while the creation of the public housing structures were well intended by local and national bureaucracies, but its decline was due to their retreat both in financial and political resources. Regardless, residents of the “projects” were embedded with thick social capital, which assisted them to live and sustain their livelihoods, both financially and socially.

As part of the New Deal legislation, Robert Taylor Homes were constructed in 1962 for approximately $70 million dollars. The 4,500 apartments consisted of three, for and five bedroom units which would home Chicago’s poor black population. The tenants first consisted of familie…

The Origins of the Urban Crisis

Although many Americans remember the 1950s for its great prosperity, Surgrue in his historic monograph, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, depicts Detroit as a divisive and poverty ridden, where many residents faced systematic and structural racism. He argues that the mundane discrimination, most prevalent in employment and housing practices, caused the Detroit’s crisis of racial segregation and conflict in the 1960s. The local government only reinforced this discrimination based on its own incentives created by the emerging, predominantly white, working class.

The US government responses to Detroit’s housing and employment markets during the 1930s-1960s were drastically different from the national to the local level. Where as the New Deal policies encouraged homeownership, entrepreneurship and collective organizing, this disproportionately affected blacks and whites because blacks faced upward challenges of racial inequalities. Structural racism was mutually reinforced by local laws and…