A couple weeks ago I reported on the food list for the new Minnesota Twins stadium, which looks really good. What was not on the list - and as a Minnesotan I simply assumed would be there - were Hormel hot dogs. I always felt that it would be one of the highlights of my life to be in the Hormel Row of Fame, a random honor I have never had. Apparently now I never will, since the Twins and Hormel announced this week that they have parted ways. How can this be?
Despite this major setback, I did purchase my opening day tickets today. I'll be spending the first regular-season game in Target Field in the left field bleachers. Wow! Spring can't arrive soon enough.
Enjoy the week's news.
- The engineer part of my brain has always liked rating systems. I'm probably one of only a handful of men alive that, as a teenager, used a rating system to decide who to date (until I met my wife, and she broke the metric). So I was excited when I read this week that CH2M HILL (an engineering company) and the University of Washington released a "Green Roads Rating System". I want to look into it more, but it sounds so far like it has a lot of potential.
Sustainability benefits include the reduction of raw materials use, water use, air emissions, wastewater emission, soil/solid emissions; optimized habitat and land use, and improved human health and safety, according to the report.
- We have written here how small towns have undermined their own economic viability by transforming their downtowns through replacing buildings with parking lots and pedestrian-scaled streets with minor highways. Here is an analysis on a larger scale that supports the notion that, as parking goes up, employment and economic activity actually goes down.
- If you thought we were overly dire here at Strong Towns when we wrote about the likelihood that many American cities would be forced into bankruptcy as this economic crisis continues, the Wall Street Journal this week reported that some are already pondering the option.
But many experts fear that a surge in municipal bankruptcy filings is unavoidable. "The day of reckoning is coming," says Michael Pagano, dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.
- At Strong Towns we are all about improving towns and neighborhoods through better design. Here is one unique, and seemingly effective, way to improve the necessary boundary between pedestrian space and automobiles - the virtual wall. It is a laser that creates a visual boundary in the travel lane protecting the crosswalk. Love the concept.
- My hometown recently voted, as are thousands of small towns across the country, to delay maintenance of infrastructure as a cost savings measure. This move would appear only slightly less absurd in this case if the city were not moving full speed ahead with the multi-million dollar College Drive expansion project (which, despite not doing anything for the city's economic growth is still their top priority). Without any possibility of affording the maintenance of their current infrastructure, most cities never stop to question if their development pattern is perhaps not efficient. They simply charge ahead with more, digging their hole deeper.....and now delaying maintenance on top of it.
- I was a little cranky with the U.S. Census this week. To make up for my burst of anger, here is the Brookings Institute debunking five myths about the census.
- I'm fascinated with Intelligent Transportation Systems. I can't wait to see what the world will be like twenty years from now, especially if we are forced to innovate more during the intervening years.
Simply providing real-time traffic information could boost the economy, according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Deploying such a system would cost $1.2 billion, but it would deliver $30.2 billion in economic returns over 10 years in terms to mobility, safety and environmental savings.
- I'm going to end how I started today, mostly because this hot dog thing is a big deal to me. And lest you think it is simply me, you should check out The Daily Something (great play by play of what it is like to be one of the 30,000+ Twins fans not in the ROF), or you can try this Twins fan profile from Scoreboard Gourmet (they have the timeless lyrics) or you can read the Twins Geek as he recalls his favorite ROF moment. I can't believe that apparently the only audio remaining of this timeless classic is from this guy I found on YouTube. He sings for us all now.