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?
We need to solve our housing affordability problems, but not by ignoring context and embracing “orderly but dumb” means.
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.
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.
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.
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.