Over 900 miles driven this week to attend meetings in seven different communities made for a hectic, but rewarding, end to September. My new grass starting to grow, the leaves starting to turn, the fall air growing brisk and my Twins in the playoff chase all look to make October even better.
Enjoy this week's news.
- Don't let this little bit of news get you down. As the article points out, we still have low housing prices, low interest rates and a large tax-credit for first time homebuyers to keep the housing market moving.....and we all know those are here for the long run (well, perhaps the low housing prices anyway).
Other economists said the fluctuations in home sales could reflect rising unemployment across the country. About 15 million people are now out of work and economists expect the unemployment rate to hit 9.8 percent when the government reports its monthly employment figures next week.
“The job market is the biggest thing that’s going to keep sales down next year,” said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight. “When people can’t find a job, they don’t move. They can’t buy or sell a home.”
- Small Town quote of the week:
"A city does not produce anything. All of our resources come from tax dollars," Sartell Mayor Tim O'Driscoll said. "And tough times affect the city's ability to collect revenue."
- Ah, but tough times spawn innovation. Unfortunately, innovation in government means devising evermore ways to collect revenue.
- Speaking of government, here is another example of how the stimulus money is being spent. The $750 per family subsidy will solve the vexing problem of a town with a hall that no longer "meets their needs".
- Des Moines, Iowa, is apparently embracing a "complete streets" approach, something all small towns need to do in their core town areas. Check out the pictures in the article.
- I am amazed at how many people over the last week have asked me about this article. As someone with two young girls (ages 5 and 2), I understand the paralyzing fear that comes with letting them out of your sight. As someone who is a logical thinker that incidentally understands statistics, I know the irrationality of my fear. I'm not alone, so how do we fix it? The answer: neighborhoods that make us feel comfortable as we live our lives, not the harsh and sterile public realm we mostly interact with.
- More brilliant Duane, especially the part on improving the public process.
Duany said urbanists speak a lot about public process—how it holds things up and raises prices. Noting the architecture community's growing lack of confidence in democracy, he said, “You can either lose confidence in democracy or recognize the public process is not democracy—it is something else.”
He called for a reform of the public process. Democracy, he said, calls for a random sample. "We are not getting a random sample,” he said. “The people we are bringing in are the immediate neighbors, they do not have the community as a whole in mind." The frustration with the process is "distorting everything and causing too many people to drop out."
Instead, to balance the vested interests of the neighbors and the developer, he called for a review committee—a jury—made up of a random sample of people. He said there is a good chance the jury, once educated about the project, will “come up with the right answer.”
- More brilliant Friedman. Real men may not have to cry, but they certainly need to be mature enough to face up to our energy dependence problems.
- One of the most tragic things about modern small towns is how we sequester old people and force them into a life of dependency far earlier than need be the case. This article talks about an approach in the suburbs to address this problem.
- Kuntsler weighs in on the suburbs himself in a blog post I am linking to but am not responsible for its content.
- There is a tremendous book everyone should read called Lives of a Cell that relates life on a cellular level to human lives, systems and interactions. This article expands on an analogy that reminded me of that essential read.
- And finally, if you are trying to slow down my quest to bring about a stronger Small Town America, you will endorse ridiculous ideas such as this one.