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#ChaoticButSmart

What's Missing From the Green New Deal

What's Missing From the Green New Deal

The proposed Green New Deal is ambitious and urgent—but completely omits any mention of local land use. Can sweeping federal policy mix with the kind of decentralized, bottom-up change we need?

Why Urban Design Should Come From the Bottom Up (Part 1)

Why Urban Design Should Come From the Bottom Up (Part 1)

Professional planners are trained to yearn for tighter urban design controls, as if cities without comprehensive, top-down planning would devolve into chaos and disorder. In reality, cities evolve according to mechanisms that allow us to gradually discover optimal urban design across time.

Growth and the Fallacy of Control

Growth and the Fallacy of Control

The pitfalls of rapid growth are real. But trying to micromanage how, where, and even if our cities are allowed to grow is not the answer.

Using Native Species in Urban Landscaping

Using Native Species in Urban Landscaping

Nature is the original chaotic but smart designer. By landscaping our urban spaces with native plants, we can realize cost savings, improve quality of life, and achieve ecological benefits.

Unconventional Wisdom on Activating a Downtown

Unconventional Wisdom on Activating a Downtown

What does it take to bring life back to a faded downtown? Contrary to conventional wisdom, big employers may underperform as revitalization engines, and small-bet approaches—improvisational, innovative, and low-risk—can deliver outsize rewards.

Why we Need Messy Cities

Why we Need Messy Cities

In order to get back to building the kinds of places we love the most, we have to embrace the messy, unpredictable and always-changing nature of life.

Mixed Up Priorities for Mixed-Use Buildings

Mixed Up Priorities for Mixed-Use Buildings

Strong, financially resilient neighborhoods emerge organically. Requiring one particular style of construction because we've see it work in other neighborhoods will not achieve this goal.

Towards A Liberal Approach To Urban Form

Towards A Liberal Approach To Urban Form

What we need is not a new and improved vision of urban form but a robust liberal understanding of urban form. This transition involves shifting from thinking of cities as simple machines toward thinking of cities as complex, emergent systems.

Lessons from the Delta Implosion

Lessons from the Delta Implosion

Government – particularly local government – needs to be about redundancy, not efficiency. We need spare parts. We need slack in the system.

The Emerging Democratized Economy

The Emerging Democratized Economy

The key to building a sustainable local economy is to nurture a diverse set of employers that operate in multiple industries. With the emergence of the Democratized Economy, localized production for regional markets is returning to the fore.