The Friday News Digest is going to be the Friday-evening digest this week instead of the Friday-morning, as is our usual approach. The APA Conference this week (see coverage in the four posts that follow this one) kept us busy, and then when I got back I seem to have caught something that has wiped me out (not the Swine flu, just some Spring allergies). Either way, this gives me the unique opportunity to write the news digest while I watch the Twins and the return of Joe Mauer. Home run on the first swing? Amazing!

Here is this week's news: 

  • The NY Times has done some excellent reporting on the recession and the economic numbers as they have evolved. This article points out that high-than-expected consumer spending early this year helped things be a little less bleak, but bleak they still are. If you have read this blog for any time, you know I love charts. Here is an awesome on from the article that shows the depth of this recession compared to prior downturns. 

Chart produced in the NY Times using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Nation Bureau of Economic Research

  • And more good news (I guess) from the Star Tribune indicating that housing prices fell by 18.6% in February (but that wasn't a record). That was an improvement over January's 19%. Come on, people - this is not how you interpret statistics. Here is some similar reasoning: You start last year with $100. In February of last year, you lost $20. By the time you got to this February, you only had $40 left. This February, you only lost $7. Congratulations - things are looking up for you. (No wonder journalists don't make any money).  
  • And if the gun and ammo approach burns itself out (pun intended), there is always this approach. Again, patriotism can be expressed in many ways.  
  • But with every dark cloud there is a silver lining. Apparently, recession is good for your sex life. After all, "you don't need a 401(k) to have sex." Click here to read the Eight Ways The Recession Spices Up Relationships. 
  • And despite our broadband fetish (also known as "Broadband will save the (small) world" or also "Let them eat broadband"), broadband apparently doesn't fix all problems. 
  • An article about "job sprawl" should be another a long line of wakeup calls for those running small towns that believe the federal and state governments will continue to subsidize their infrastructure. From the article:

''Allowing jobs to shift away from city centers hurts economic productivity, creates unsustainable and energy inefficient development, and limits access to underemployed workers.''   

  • I really appreciated this article on the planning profession and felt it was right on. It argues that current urban planning processes and bureaucracies are losing relevance. The solution: "open source planning", which sounds a lot like the principles of grassroots empowerment central to the Five-Year Planning Cycle approach we recommend for small towns.  
  • In my hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota, we practice redevelopment-by-fire. Unfortunately, our results have not been as good as Greensburg, Kansas, which has practiced redevelopment-by-tornado
  • Friend of, Jon Commers, published an interesting blog entry this week about the American Dream. Some chilling statistics included (and a chart). 
  • Here is an amazing article that describes how geography has impacted, and will continue to be the dominate influence, the fortunes of the world. Long read - but worth it. 
  • And here is the local coverage of this week's APA Conference. It was a good conference and I congratulate APA for pulling it off amidst a historic recession.