Thursday, October 9, 2008

Links o' the Day

Planetizen Book Review: Big Box Swindle

On True Economic Development:
Mitchell also contends that while America hangs on every tick of the Wall Street tape, local multipliers generate truer wealth than does the gamesmanship and speculation of the stock market. They subvert what Mitchell describes as the intimate, direct connections that ought to fuel local economies and, by extension, ought to concern local planners.

The ante-Walton economy worked something like this: The local hardware store gets a loan from the local bank and rents a downtown storefront. It then retains the local advertising firm. The advertising firm gives the artistic high school student her first job. The student deposits her wages into the bank, and she buys supplies from the hardware store. And the cycle continues. Nowhere does Adam Smith say that a single cent has to go to Bentonville or that the marketplace of ideas must be limited to that which will enrich Borders.

Guardian: Cities Made Bland Through Globalized Architectural Values
Not simply through eye-catching new buildings. Nef has drawn up guidelines for preserving distinctiveness: redevelopments must be owned (in the cultural rather than legal sense) by local people; developments must be authentic and rooted in history and communal memory. The texture of a place, says Nef, is as important as its economic assets. "Above all," it says, "distinctiveness is not neat; it is not marketing."
The Shiny Object Syndrome, the simplicity of thought, the blind belief that a single magic bullet will save the City, currently plaguing Dallas and many other American Cities (Detroit anyone?) only works in boom times. Now? It's time for real economic development.

The architecture profession is equally at fault for it's roller coaster of employment cycles tied directly to boom/bust periods. They genuflect utterly and completely into the superficiality that "the building will save you." Architects: Stay penitant
too many English towns regenerated in this way have "lost their sense of place and the distinctive facades of their high streets under the march of glass, steel and concrete blandness of chain stores built for the demands of ... a string of big, clone town retailers."
WSJ: We're Trapped in our single family homes...exhausting.

Note 1: While the call to arms is fine, I'm skeptical of the overall tone of the article. Sounds like a "don't blame business, it's your fault" play by the WSJ.

Note 2: Yet, the current proposals are too keep an unsustainable arrangement of human civilization (and a doomed one) afloat...

Sydney, OZ: Commuters brave hefty fines to shorten commute in carpool lanes.

Sounds like a broken system.

Great article about Car dominance ruining the quality of life in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

With a number of great little lines sprinkled throughout the article:
In fast developing Rawalpindi, the automobiles have become the main cause of decline in the quality of life. Fewer but high-velocity roads that are dangerous to cross have become like fences, segregating neighbourhoods and making the city less humane.
I've been laughed at using the word "inhumane" to describe roads in downtown Dallas.
If car use is not restricted it demands unlimited investments in road infrastructure, which would consume limited public funds that should instead go to water and sewage supply, schools, parks...

The safe mobility for those not having a motor vehicle should be accepted as an established right.

A good city must have at least one great public place that should be so fabulous that even the affluent visit it. By contrast, a city is ailing when shopping malls substitute open spaces meant for public.

We face the same issues all over the world.