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.
The smallest step might actually be the smartest one.
We earn the right to do big things by doing the little things well.
We must work to reduce the negative impacts on our cities and towns before we try the next trendy planning intervention to solve our problems.
Our ancestors had the same impulse toward big, risky projects, but today we have the tools to amplify that impulse to even more dangerous proportions.
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.
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.
Our culture seems to increasingly value efficiency over almost everything else. That's foolish.
The line between optimism and reality can be a fine one to walk.
Forget about the superstar neighborhoods—even most run-of-the-mill inner suburban neighborhoods would be next to impossible to build today.
Hurdles to revitalization based not on substance but control are the last thing America's cities and towns need.
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.
Government – particularly local government – needs to be about redundancy, not efficiency. We need spare parts. We need slack in the system.
It was going to be great, but it didn't turn out like the planners said it would.
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.
Janette Sadik-Khan discusses her experience as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, focusing on bottom-up action through smaller projects like plazas and bike access, instead of megaprojects that cost millions.
A basic look at financial productivity applied to the Iron Range community of Grand Rapids.
In a solo podcast, Chuck talks about the articles he wrote on Smart Growth and sprawl (first and second) and why he doesn't use either term in describing himself or the Strong Towns movement.
Cities are complex ecosystems. For areas in need of redevelopment, the only way to return to a healthy urban fabric is incrementally, a few small projects a year until the neighborhood has buildings of every age and condition, suitable for adaptation to the particular needs of some future time.
Many people associate Jacobs with a love of walkable neighborhoods, urban parks and historic buildings. What they fail to grasp is that these are means to an end, not the end itself.