Startups

Startups are efforts to plan and deliver a new project, program, product, or service under conditions of uncertainty. To examine the precariousness implied, pay close attention to five well-recognized organizing views   They are known to business development interests in every field. Software services dominate today’s startup business market, but these systemizations of the entrepreneurial spirit probably date to when someone imagined a potter’s wheel becoming a vehicle.

RLC

Here are those five views:

Entrepreneurs are 1) everywhere 2) most have management skills 3) and they are subject to “validated learning.” (?) Therefore, the fourth and fifth views focus on 4) implementation as a “build, measure, learn” sequence but rarely are they well informed by 5) innovation accounting.

If you hit that “? link,” you took a peek into the twilight zone of management gurus and a vast array of elegant maxims for ending uncertainty. One of those clever maxim gurus, Eric Reis, The Lean Startup made enough sense to hold a strong place on the NYT Best Seller List (roughly 5-10K sold per week to get on the list, then rising to #2). You will also find his approach transferable to the nonprofit, NGO world. The following is how we read it from that point of view.


Deem it possible to create ventures for an idea in short precise cycles. In that case, the institution, business, or industry size is not relevant. Instead, the key to using these views for a project is to notice changes, savor them and validate what was learned. A startup can perfectly or poorly select the metrics for deciding. Some of the most common are linked below that focus on the more agile sequences.

The startup strategy may seem obvious, but it varies significantly by the project or product sought. The traditional steps are 1) setting the requirements, 2) with specifications, to 3) begin design.  As these steps occur, they make the problem and the product solution prominent in the mind of individuals.  With this comes the confidence to 1) implement, 2) verify with modeling, and 3) test for maintenance and usability issues. Finally, the practice of fully recognizing the problem/issue leads to trusting the intended solution as understood equally. Unfortunately, these concluding steps tend to involve unsatisfactory participatory bargaining frameworks, even with oneself. To prevent these malfunctions from destroying the whole, innovation accounting is essential, especially to “startup” initiatives. There is a useful introduction to the novelty implied by this phrase from Reis (here).

What is the Account?

The release of a project/program into “the wild” may deploy many iterations for acceptance, rejection, and eventual dismissal into the market and a life of use destined to fail or soar. Trying to understand customers with specific consumable solutions (Joost vs. YouTube ?) share this unknown destiny. The effort to inject something into the world, even if it is a singular, unique item, hopes for approval marked by an exchange. Thereafter, the use and enjoyment, or how likely it will be dismissed or displaced by a competitor, is less concerned. Only the uncertainty seems sustainable. Nevertheless, the practices described above are reasonably successful when the solution and the problem are well known and similar to past endeavors.  Injecting the lasting practice of discovery into the “account” requires a diversified approach.

All the iterations of a known solution from the horse and carriage to a self-driving car led to this brief tale on innovation.

Leaving the country estate, Sir Alfred Reid passed out while driving his carriage. He awakens outside his London home, surprised he stroked his horse and stumbled off to his bed. Thereafter, he was happy to tell everyone that he had a good-pony-solution or GPS.

Getting to transformative innovation in transportation doesn’t mean putting everyone into Sir Alfred’s carriage. Instead, this tale represents a singular feedback failure. However, even though creating systems as functional as a horse’s pathway memory appears to be today’s advanced technology, it does not. It merely presses for a known and comfortable solution. Moreover, it ignores innovation accounting disciplines in preference to the useful comforts of validated learning. Finally, it fails by not understanding the customer, only the product. The account is a practice that maintains a reckoning with customers as immediately as possible. In this century, the open-ended practice of dropping sparkling objects ere the consumer’s eye is one of the most self-destructive mistakes to social and environmental well-being ever made. Reis argues it is for the lack of revolutionary innovation. We agree.

What is Innovation?

Successful innovation has two sides of a coin. One moves quickly to understand conditions in short-time sequences. The other side uses data from these compact arrays that define relationships. Thus, two sides of a coin establish opportunity, but you have to move like Mario with new data. (?)

How? First, with your product or service, create a clearly established baseline composed of a minimally sustainable/viable product (MSVP). Sustainable means undamaging to future generations, and viable, in our opinion, means “not dead yet.” Couple the MSVP with the ability to measure customer utilization and behavior as it occurs. Next, collect the short cycle data and measure each trial. Savor the metrics in these cycles, but know they must be carefully selected.  

No matter how innovative, a point of diminishing returns occurs. If attention is only paid to the first two components of the accounting effort, trouble will brew.  The final benchmark, therefore, becomes knowing when to pivot or persevere. Despite the uncertainty of this decision, recognizing the third side of the coin is critical during this process. The pivot or persevere side is the one on which it spins. Here is one story of the “when, where, and why” of a pivot.

In the mid-1980s, a well-known university architecture and urban planning program offered its students two studios entitled Community Design and Social Action to be taken sequentially. The courses were supported by a small administrative office that vetted requests for planning and design assistance from local community development organizations throughout the city. One prospective client approached the office with an idea for an extensive training and education center. The center would heighten the skills of volunteers from neighborhood associations and the staff of community-based development corporations.

The Community Design course provided the planning and research for the concept. Within fifteen weeks, the idea of a training center proved positive, as confirmed by a study of community needs, availability of participants, and a line of probable funding for training people. However, capital for a new or rehabilitated physical location was not available. As a result, the client’s dream of a bustling center of social change agents faded. New questions were asked in the next fifteen-week Social Action cycle. Is space of any size available to demonstrate the training idea? Eventually, a location previously thought of as undesirable was re-identified. It was small but in a convenient location. It represented a minimal but sustainable opportunity. At this point, a clearly identified program baseline was defined. The product became the design and construction of a flexible set of inexpensive, lightweight tables and vertical surfaces adaptable for small-group workshop areas and moderately large presentations.

Tools for Resilence

The first distribution of sequences occurred in fifteen weeks, involving traditional steps. The project could have produced one process: presentation drawings for an extensive training center design along with a hearty handshake and a good luck smile. However, the metrics to demonstrate successes/failures would have been obscure. So instead, the Social Action component in the ensuing fifteen weeks asked to identify a minimally sustainable product. It was assigned metrics and benchmarks to sustain a record of accomplishment lasting years. In this process, multiple layers for understanding “the customer” occurred in just thirty weeks. The project selection process for access to this planning and design resource used a detailed online questionnaire. In brief, it incorporated the organization’s characteristics, the type of assistance requested, background logistical data, timeframe, names of committed participants, mission statements, and extra-investigative elements. It was the minimum sustainable product for establishing essential data to define opportunities for a close customer relationship.

The project began with students, faculty, and a client/customer. The customer/client transformation into a training director was possible because the initial selection and interview process and research confirmed the client’s skills and experience in attracting customers. In this training center case, a modest effort was launched with volunteers and staff. Unfortunately, the process came face-to-face with the spinning side of that coin, and rather than persevere in hope. There was a pivot.

In the decades since this example, the capacity for a deep exploration of the relationship between technical assistance needs of all kinds and the desire of leaders to improve the quality of change is available for development. It lies in a vast digital matrix for expediting the delivery of products and services with a built-in capacity for rapid change. With the thirty-week sequence, including uptake and administrative follow-up support, this customer joined a growing movement of nonprofit local development corporations, community-based organizations, businesses, and companies dedicated to mission-driven change in metropolitan areas.


Draw Conclusions

Feedback is best when it is unhesitating in a social setting. However, moving quickly from idea to building and measuring, gathering data, and leaning back into a conceptual idea should also be immediate. Developing a digital backbone for networks is extremely useful but demands new techniques. The links below can be explored for ideas on how to gather and share data on a platform.

From the fine artist or artisan to the builders of the new, new thing, the content of a post-product relationship varies dramatically. These relationships are vital but can be as simple as “how is that ‘it‘ working out for you” to the millions of data queries accessible by grouping values that aggregate items using the discrete categories of mathematical functions. Functions such as arithmetic mean, median, mode, range are available to anyone that decides to count things and, with their customers, build a platform to do so. A startup can establish a relationship with all those interested in acquiring a mutually useful set of products or services with prepared resources. These systems can focus on money solely, but the metrics are available to include other views such as those expressed by the term 3BL (?).

Whether for a social change training center or alternatives to a self-driving pod, the practice of innovation demands a careful selection of metrics. Moreover, the choice to engage in social change training or urban transportation engineering requires interacting with people and serving investors of all kinds. The following links will take you to a set of choices. Some of them may be uniquely suited to your program, project, or product development. Most will not. The options are many to choose from. They tend to focus on digital products. However, even the smallest product and service endeavor will have a digital existence. Transcending the customer-consumer model begins with the challenges of mutuality, transparency, and environmental intelligence. Understanding new and extraordinary ways to establish reciprocity in the exchange is the central provocation.

The following needs vetting. Each link is a rabbit hole to peek into for one reason. A fast sequence could list clients to compile a customer/client archetype and possible recommendations and referrals. A fast measure could be to prepare a split test occupied with a fast build unit test. If you have a website, you have an SQL database subject to refactoring. As mentioned above, these are rabbit holes. Choosing by adding information is not.

We are interested in personal reactions and recommendations useful for NGO B Corporation efforts. If you have some to share, please use the contact link (here). For example, becoming a Certified B Corporation® (here) does not refer to tax status at all; it describes a business with a particular mission to promote the public good in certain ways. Another post (here) examines New York City B-Certified businesses and seeks reviews.

Fast Sequence

Fast Measure

Fast Build

B Corporations

The B Lab Company (B Lab) is a nonprofit (IRS Form 990 N.E.C. (W99) that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.  Located in Berwin, PA (EIN20-5958773 its mission is “to change the operating system, culture, and practice of business so that all companies compete to be best for the world.  In 2020 it self-reported about 12M in revenue and 10M in expenses (Guidestar).

Is B Corp Certification Worth It?

A Certified B Corporation® (here) does not refer to tax status; it describes a business with a particular mission to promote the public good in certain ways. B Corp Certification measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. The B Impact Assessment evaluates and verifies operations and business model impact on workers, community, environment, and customers.

Transparency and accountability requirements are used but do not prove where a company excels, however it commits a company to the long-term changes in a company’s legal structure.  A true Benefit Corporation is formed under state law. A list of NYS statute-produced corporations (here) does not include businesses with B Lab certification.

Public authorities have the power to create subsidiary authorities without additional legislative authorization. An example is 2007, the Empire State Development Corporation, (ESDC) dissolves 13 of its subsidiaries and merged 25 others into a single holding company and still encompasses many subsidiary organizations. While major public authorities can only be created by special legislation, many local development corporations have been created under the General Not-For-Profit Corporation Law as Local Development Corporations (LDC). They function in much the same way as other public benefit corporations and public authorities, but do not need to be established by specific state legislation and like businesses seek B Corp Certification. The speculation is the surge in interest seeks to soften the negatives associated $1.5 trillion tax cut package in 2018. Even B Lab posts an apology for certification delays.

Should a new startup seek a B Corporation Certification as a means to link other studio and production activities?  One way to find out is to look at the current group that has certification in New York. Using the B Lab directory the following selection of B Corporations based in New York City and nearby areas can be explored. The image to the right exhibits a selection from the B Corp directory. Use it (here) for individual searches not found on the list to the left. Reviews are requested and held in confidence. Use the contact link (here).

Income <=>

Obama defines the problem extremely well.

He actually answers the question about how and why we are in this fix.

This one looks at implementing a political agenda to reverse the trend where self-interest economics has lost its ability to reinvest. This is thirty minutes on the growing demand from the ordinary person for progressive solutions. The business community had better get involved.

EPA Saved Cities

11 Ways the EPA Has Helped Americans

March 17, 2017 by

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

The budget proposal Donald Trump’s administration announced yesterday will slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding by nearly a third, crippling an agency that has played a key — but often unnoticed — role in American life for nearly a half-century.

The main target of the president’s ire seems to be the agency’s programs that address climate change. “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said at a press conference. But cuts so large won’t just affect climate change-related programs — they will trickle down, affecting all of the agency’s work and the state environmental protection offices it supports.

Even Scott Pruitt, Trump’s climate science-denying EPA administrator, seems to feel Trump’s cuts go too far. When an initial budget proposal surfaced slashing the EPA’s funding from $8.2 billion to $6 billion, Pruitt expressed concern about the effect a reduced budget would have on programs aimed at cleaning up and repurposing toxic and polluted sites, a function of the agency that he supports. The New York Times’ Glenn Thrush and Coral Davenport report that Pruitt lobbied Trump to rethink the cuts, but his appeal, apparently, didn’t work: Trump’s finalized budget flouts his EPA administrator’s wishes by calling for even deeper cuts than initially proposed, slashing the agency’s budget to about $5.7 billion.

That budget isn’t final. It will still have to get through a Congress where even Republicans who have staunchly opposed the agency in the past are worried about what the funding cuts will mean for their districts. So, given that some in Congress might be deciding if and when to take a stand, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back at some of what the EPA has accomplished over the last 46 years since Richard Nixon signed an executive order in 1970 bringing the agency into existence. These successes were, almost unanimously, won despite the strenuous and well-financed objections of recalcitrant polluters, and are, almost unanimously, now taken for granted.

1. Patching the Ozone Hole

Remember the ozone hole? We don’t really either. But ozone concerns were front-and-center in the ‘80s when, frighteningly, scientists discovered that pollution was causing the part of the upper atmosphere that protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation to deteriorate. The issue came to a head when, in 1985, British scientists announced that an expanding hole had formed in the ozone layer over Antarctica.

The president at the time was Ronald Reagan, a zealous proponent of deregulation who did not seem to have strong feelings about environmental protection. But he surprised his advisers by vigorously backing the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty between 197 nations that banned chlorofluorocarbons, a chemical that was used as a refrigerant and was also found aerosol sprays, and was to blame for the hole. (Why did Reagan take up the cause? No one is quite sure. One theory is that Reagan’s own experience with skin cancer made him particularly sensitive to the topic.)

Once the Montreal Protocol was signed, Congress amended the Clean Air Act to give the EPA the power to enforce a ban on chlorofluorocarbons and protect the ozone layer. The agency’s success in doing so, along with the efforts of environmental regulators worldwide, helped the hole begin to repair itself — and also, it turns out, lessened climate change. Though scientists didn’t realize it at the time, chlorofluorocarbons contribute to global warming. If not for the Montreal Protocol, climate change’s effects might be twice as bad.

2. Cleaning up America’s Harbors

When the EPA was created in 1970, the water around America’s cities was in a notably different state than it is today. Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River was, famously, so thick with combustible industrial chemicals that it often caught fire. Manhattan was dumping some 150 million gallons of raw sewage into the Hudson River each day. Around the same time, a failing wastewater treatment plant in Boston was also spitting out huge amounts of sludge, leading health officials to warn that anyone who fell into Boston’s Charles River or the harbor it emptied into should go immediately to the hospital to be assessed by a doctor.

It was the EPA’s job to deal with these problems. The Clean Water Act of 1972 charged the agency with cleaning up America’s waters, and provided billions of dollars to do so. Among other responsibilities, the EPA was tasked with laying down minimum standards for wastewater treatment before cities could release it. The EPA was also responsible for regulating city sewer systems so they didn’t overflow, spilling sewage into the streets during heavy rains.

This made a big difference in America’s cities. New York brought a large, new sewage treatment plant online in 1986, solving Manhattan’s dumping problem. In Boston, a series of lawsuits prompted federal action. “Secondary treatment of sewage is a national standard, which means no more Boston Harbors,” said Union of Concerned Scientists President Ken Kimmell, who, as a former commissioner of Massachusetts’s Department of Environmental Protection, worked hand-in-hand with the EPA to clean up the water around the city. Boston Harbor is now one of the cleanest in the country.

3. Cracking Down on Lead

For years, industrial players who used lead fought regulation, with disastrous effects for Americans. A 1985 EPA study estimated that as many as 5,000 people died each year from lead-related heart disease. Tackling lead poisoning was one of the agency’s founding agenda items, and it did so over strenuous objections from the industries that put it in their products. The metal is now virtually illegal, leading to dramatic improvements in public health.

Legislation in the 1970s effectively banned lead from paint, and a 1985 EPA order required that the amount of lead in gasoline be cut by 90 percent by the following year. Five years later, a 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act demanded that lead be completely removed from gasoline by 1995. The EPA also reduced the amount of lead that could be emitted by smelters, mines and other industrial operations, leading to an 85 percent decrease in the amount of airborne lead pollution between 1990 and 2015.

The effort, of course, was imperfect. A December 2016 Reuters report following Flint, Michigan’s lead crisis found 1,100 areas around the country where lead levels were regularly four times what they were at the peak of Flint’s contamination. Many, like Flint, were in poor regions neglected by state and federal policymakers. Unlike other toxic chemicals, lead does not break down over time. But the agency’s efforts did have an enormous effect. A 2002 study found that the level of lead in young children’s blood fell by more than 80 percent from 1976 to 1999, and that IQs increased as a result.

4. Making the Air Safe to Breathe

The agency also cracked down on other forms of air pollution, leading to a decrease in particulate matter and chemicals in the air that cause asthma. Their efforts meant a visible decrease in the smog that often choked cities in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

To do this, the agency cracked down on vehicle emissions and the pollutants coming from the smokestacks of factories and power plants. As the number of miles Americans travel per year has steadily climbed and the amount of power Americans consume has grown, emissions have fallen.

That saved hundreds of thousands of lives per year, and meant millions fewer cases of asthma and respiratory diseases. According to a peer-reviewed EPA study, these regulations in particular meant 165,000 fewer deaths per year in 2010 than in 1990 and 1.7 million fewer cases of asthma. One recent study found that, thanks to these air pollution controls, children in Southern California have lungs that are 10 percent larger and stronger than children’s lungs were 20 years ago.

5. Cleaning Up Industrialism’s Legacy

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, residents of Love Canal, New York noticed an odd smell coming from the 99th Street School. And they noticed that odd things were happening too: Childrens’ sneakers melted to the pavement; dogs burned their nose when they sniffed it. Turns out, the school was built on top of a toxic waste dump. The “canal” for which the town is named was filled with toxic waste by the Hooker Chemical Company for three decades — 22,000 tons in all — before, in 1955, the area was paved over and a school was built on top of it. The chemical company had sold the property to the city for $1 — part of the deal, the “Hooker clause,” was that the company would not be liable if anyone got sick or died in the school.

When residents of Love Canal uncovered this sordid history, it provoked national outrage. Efforts to regulate toxic chemicals had already been in the works — in 1976, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act as part of an effort to respond to concerns about illegal, toxic dumping, and the Toxic Substances Control Act, which gave the EPA the authority to protect public health by regulating toxic chemicals. But in 1980, largely in response to Love Canal and other toxic disasters that garnered headlines, Congress established a program to make use of a “superfund” that would clean up America’s most toxic places, and throughout the ’80s the EPA put the money to work, cleaning up heavily polluted sites from landfills to oil spills, factory fires to sludge pits, throughout the US. A program for less-urgent but still important cases, the Brownfields Program, was launched in 1995, tasked with cleaning up sites where contamination was an impediment to putting a vacant property to better use.

These programs, taken together, amounted to a formalized, government-supported environmental justice initiative, improving toxic sites that were unjustly distributed across America’s poor and minority neighborhoods. But, in recent years, shrinking appropriations from congress have slowed cleanup efforts.

6. Making Water Safe to Drink

In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, giving the EPA the ability to regulate the water that came out of Americans’ taps. The agency ended up banning more than 90 contaminants from the water supply and cracking down on companies whose business practices poisoned Americans.

The EPA also issues “revolving funds” to communities to for improvements to the infrastructure that brings water to homes and to water supplies.

7. Controlling Pesticides

The EPA has also played a role in regulating pesticides, which helps keep our food safe. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, a law that dates back to the Progressive Era, was put under EPA’s responsibility in 1972.

One of the agency’s first acts was to ban DDT, a pesticide that first came into use in the 1940s but poisoned wildlife and humans as well as bugs. The chemical’s effects were, famously, documented in Rachel Carson’s 1962 New Yorker serial Silent Spring, but the chemical industry, lead by Monsanto, fought bitterly to keep it in use. The EPA’s decision to ban it was a major environmental victory.

8. Attacking Acid Rain

We heard a lot about acid rain in the ’90s but don’t so much anymore. Congress took up the issue in 1990 — George H.W. Bush had, in fact, campaigned on addressing it. Despite opposition from electric utilities, Congress passed an amendment to the Clean Air Act so that the EPA could regulate the chemicals that were to blame: sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

It worked. “Despite the doomsday warnings from some in the power industry that the regulations would cause electricity prices to spike and lead to blackouts, over the last 25 years, acid rain levels are down 60 percent — while electricity prices have stayed stable, and the lights have stayed on,” former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote in 2015.

9. Paving the Way for Indoor Smoking Bans

Back in 1993, the EPA, in response to overwhelming research, classified secondhand smoke as a pollutant likely to cause cancer. At the time, this position was braver than it might seem today. Tobacco companies had waged a multidecade-long campaign to keep Americans smoking by questioning the link between cigarettes and cancer, even going so far as to suppress their own internal research that indicated otherwise.

The following year, tobacco CEOs admitted in testimony before Congress that cigarettes were dangerous, though their lobbying efforts against regulation would continue for years (a PR effort spearheaded by, among others, Myron Ebell, who resurfaced on Trump’s EPA transition team). But the EPA’s decision prompted a wave of city- and statewide indoor smoking bans; the majority of states now have them in place. And in the decade and a half following the EPA classification, the number of Americans who smoke — and, in particular, the number of high school-aged Americans who smoke — decreased dramatically.

10. Building a Cache of Public Data

One of the EPA’s greatest resources is the vast supply of information it has collected over four decades, some of which is available to the public through the internet. This data provides excellent documentation of the threat posed by climate change, but it isn’t limited to that. Spread across dozens of databases, the numbers include such information as the chemical compositions of various toxic pollutants and the locations in the US that those pollutants affect. The databases document the trends in air and water pollution, acid rain and the health of beaches and watersheds. It tracks which companies have been inspected and cited for enforcement.

Scientists are worried about the fate of this data under Trump, and have been scrambling to preserve it. “There is no reason to think the data is safe,” Gretchen Goldman, a research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, recently told The Guardian. “The administration, so far, hasn’t given any indication it will respect science and scientific data, especially when it’s inconvenient to its policy agendas.”

11. Beginning to Address Climate Change

The US government’s effort to address the greatest climate threat to face the modern world will — at least for the time being — be cut short. But during Barack Obama’s second term, the EPA began the work of figuring out what serious US efforts to address climate change would look like. In the face of an intransigent Congress, Obama ordered the agency to take the lead, and under Administrator Gina McCarthy it did, drawing up plans to, among other things, raise the number of miles per gallon gas vehicles were required to achieve and to cut pollution from US power plants.

Both of those initiatives will be tossed out by the Trump administration. While they were on the books, they were enough of an indication of America’s commitment to dealing with the climate crisis that other large polluting nations — notably China — came to the negotiating table in good faith. That lead to the Paris Agreement, a pact that the US looks likely to either pull out of or ignore, but that the world appears likely to continue to uphold without us.

David Steindl-Rast

The differences between fully institutionalized poorness such as that established by prisons or prison-like conditions are often countered by the cultural experience of modest, joyful lifestyles of poorness. Another difference is how being poor is defined by subsistence. It implies a dependency on the acquisition of necessities: water, food, shelter, and security. However, does meeting these minimal requirements translate into the opportunity to achieve emotional and environmental intelligence?

The means to an emotionally sound, intellectual community is a subject worthy of development but oddly thwarted by anti-subsistent demands that say meeting basic needs cannot generate the opportunity for self-actualization unless one becomes a Benedictine monk with an institutional history dating to 529 A.D. Maslow’s hierarchy is well known. Yet, these benefits appear to be overwhelmed by a completely unknown (or poorly understood) set of disruptive factors that support various social pathologies that prevent a more broadly based public achievement.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cae80-subsistent-1.png

References to research on this subject that extract the contributions of architectural space to the causes associated with this issue are needed. One of the “bridges” extends from architecture that serves the monastic life. David Steindl-Rast is part of the Benedictine tradition. He has unique insight drawn from a lifetime. He finds the freedom from fear is a good place to start by recognizing it as a choice, not a condition, but only if we stop, listen, and go to the references of the surrounding space. A fifteen-minute TED talk on the idea of gratefulness offers an appealing introduction to the problem.

Federal Agents

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Project Question: What is the strategic relationship that links each of these cabinet positions.

Established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to each member’s respective office duties.  Diehard political scientists examine the Archives on the agencies for comparison.  

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments; the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.  Here is a slightly larger list to explore.  Connect the dots.

Denise Meadows

The Club of Rome and the Smithsonian Institution’s Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet hosted a one-day symposium on March 1, 2012, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Limits to Growth.


The first report to the Club of Rome was published in 1972, and sadly the book was followed with vilification. By 2012, the scenarios offered proved correct, and two truths have become evident. First, there will be a managed solution by putting a price on GHGs and creating new energy solutions. Second, this is a bet made with one assumption.

There will be a series of catastrophic resolutions with severe social, economic, and environmental “chaos costs” in the world to create needed change. Whether it is small or big business or national or local politics that provides the urgent action needed is of little consequence because it is too late to achieve sustainable development for five main reasons.

  • Public discourse has difficulty with subtle, conditional messages.
  • Growth advocates change the justification for their paradigm rather than changing the paradigm itself.
  • The global system is now far above its carrying capacity.
  • We act as if technological change can substitute for social change.
  • The time horizon of our current system is too short.
Dennis Meadows

The term resilience is more common than sustainable for these reasons. The actions called for fit into what business and governance believe they can implement in their self-interest. Dennis Meadows’ investment in getting us to accept “resilience first,” like “fix it first,” gets our ducks in order.

The estimates for a stabilized and sustainable world called for about 3% of the world’s GDP. Resilience will cost more than that, but now there is no choice.  Resilience is a metaphorical “wall” that organizations such as Global Footprint and the Club of Rome define as the overshoot problem.

This assessment only began one generation ago, and the ability to get traction on change or the least purchase of the metaphor requires a new growth paradigm instead of a limit. A dramatic term for drawing a line around a place could describe the whole earth or a small town.  Nevertheless, once done, it becomes possible to construct an earnest per capita analysis inside that line to form the urban sphere. Per capita analysis is an excellent measure for comparing the needs and behavior of individuals, groups, and societies that create demands on natural resources. We learn to develop in extraordinary new ways from our personal social, economic, and cultural places. As a friend says on this, you can “parse that to the bank.”

Limits To Growth

Chart Sources: Meadows, D.H., Meadows, D.L., Randers, J. and Behrens III, W.W.(1972) (Linda Eckstein)

How does density fit in?

  • Density reduces the cost of essential resource delivery
    • water, food, energy, and material goods
    • resource transit from places to place
  • Pollution and toxic waste functions
    • are reduced per capita and
    • high volumes are contained for advanced treatment.
  • Density reduces “chaos costs” and increases resilience
    • it integrates renewable energy structures/systems
    • sustains natural habitats and can stop open space fragmentation.

?

People

Kundera describes ways people want to be recognized.

In the Unbearable Lightness of Being he put it this way:

  • The first longs for “the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes”;
  • The second needs “many known eyes.”
  • The third demands the eyes of “the person they love”;
  • The fourth is most rare and composed of people “who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present.”

All are recognized in the dense urban world. The world is full of information and data, big and small on every subject and place imaginable, but its meaning is in people. Have a look. Make a recommendation.

Startups
Startups are efforts to plan and deliver a new project, program, product, or service under conditions of uncertainty. To examine the precariousness implied, pay close attention to five well-recognized organizing …
B Corporations
The B Lab Company (B Lab) is a nonprofit (IRS Form 990 N.E.C. (W99) that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.  Located in …
Need a Laugh?
and Benign Violations  Everything changed when the screen eye brought the horror of the world to you. To get over it, begin your day with a critical listen to Bill …
Environment
Extinctions "The purpose of the organizations listed in this section is unified by one-word extinction. It is an event that occurs daily all over the earth. It is a difficult …

Bucky Fuller

Fuller World Game

The World Game Report (1969) shows Buckminster Fuller before a map he designed to eliminate distortion and represent an accurate global scale. A half-century has passed, and the demands in this little report remain. It called for a world reporting process that would be accessible to the ordinary person, and it offered this extraordinary promise if this was done, “all of the humanity can be brought to economic success within one-quarter of a century – thus eliminating the fundamental raison d’être of war.”

RLC

Designed for “intelligent amateurs,” the game sought a logistically reorganized use of the world’s resources. He introduced a progressive wave metaphor where each wave would create a layer of improved performance per unit of invested time and energy. Knowing how every component functions within the global schedule has continuously improved, perhaps beyond Fuller’s expectation, but not his vision. Global economists since Thomas Malthus and Adam Smith have defined human relations as “trade.”

The wonderful thing about Fuller is how he knew to offer a view that creates change through design using “scale” to produce balance and proportion. Applied to a map, a nation, a city, or a neighborhood, the scale offers a direct route success. There is much more on Bucky by the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

Frank Lloyd Wright

MoMA, New York, Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal


The American city of the 1920s and 1930s was European with less form. Frank Lloyd Wright presented the possibility of a new identity. His Broadacre City design presented a consumer-driven form. His Mile High (image right) produced sufficient contrast to start the dense vs. dispersed urban design debate of the 1950s that continues to this day. Wright put this forth plainly as a real choice.

RLC

The decision to choose density as the principal caldron for the growth of the mind and body of humanity is the right one, but the image of life enclosed by brick and steel remained bleak compared to the deep DNA-like resonance of a bucolic forest and the pastoral life. The American Mid-Twentieth century post-WWII urbanism overwhelmingly favored the car. The urban policy specifically sought to spread the population out and away from the concentrated terror of nuclear war. The people were to be armed.

Only the writings of Jane Jacobs and a few others, such as Rachael Carson, dutifully prepared stinging critiques of the century’s growth liturgies. Since then, urban development policy has barely managed to praise and support the hapless pedestrian seeking an active public realm.

A century of dystopian and utopian vision produced a few examples of successful density thanks to Jacobs, but looking for ways to ward off despair and establish the wealth of lifestyles that minimized consumption has yet to yield a solution

Frank Lloyd Wright, Mile High, Chicago. 19560

Source of image via MoMA and the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University

Diversity/Density

SPHERE 2

Twentieth-century urban and technological development events represent immense power. Yet, whether they are judged superficial, highly significant, or isolated and irrelevant, all share the common ground of small self-interest groups nested into their environments with various needs, interests, and concerns. Diversity is good for density.

The city makers and builders might control great wealth for scanning vast expansion opportunities. On the other hand, the makers could implement simple actions such as confronting crime abuses with more sophistication than a neighborhood watch. The deep and complex range of these events are measures of the urban place and experience. They are like the frequencies used to describe the technology of communication. Whether the event source is the long reach of a real estate investment trust or a modest urban infill project, the impact, whether top-down or up from the bottom, is less relevant than the diversity of methods applied by these actors and thereafter the regulators of events in response.


Envision a set of human occurrences in single-family homes on half an acre, tree-filled lots and compare that activity to what might occur in rows of multiple-story apartment buildings resting on commercial service and retail establishments, a school, and a couple of train stations.


Accounts of the action contained in urban spaces allow us to define unique spheres of influence. For example, a market analyst or urban demographer might apply the gravity model (wiki) to examine the economics of the actions and events within these places. Still, the actual forces involved are not dissimilar to that between the earth, our moon, and the solar system in which we are contained. The wonder of the billions of small moments involved in this system is that now it is possible to imagine taking stock of all of them, and there are many examples.

The so-called “smart-city” already lives in the imaginative eyes of those who are now trying to build them, and they might call upon an IBM data system called “Watson” to examine options, and so on. The need to build “a safe camp” or ‘a good city’ or “a flourishing earth” is a process that succeeds best when the action is community-motivated and understood as such. Individual self-interest behaviors are well known, and extraordinary work on interpersonal communication and behavior continues to advance. This makes the main problem very clear, but it is no longer a camp or a city. It is the earth. It is not something we can build like a camp or a city, or is it?

Nearly eight billion people form the earth community. Comparatively, small groups know the spatial implication of this. Yet, while each is capable of great accomplishment, they prove to be painfully ineffective in solving ‘whole earth’ problems. Yet, we also know the most successful responses to changing conditions, both social and natural, are buried in these small actions.


What are the connective tissues that would make a whole earth strategy workable?


In our minds-eye, a few practical examples in three segments are crawling into view that might become whole earth networks aimed at human dignity. The armature for building this vision is built on the grid, the second segment deals with the nature of consumption within the grid, and the third examines the urban brand or vision so formed.

The Infinite Grid

Ring on Grid

Alongside the expected order of the urban grid stands its shadow. Grids demonstrate an infinite matrix, a system for moving forever outward over the landscape. But, equally, the complexity of the movement developed for the use of all grids brings forth the novelty essential to what Alfred North Whitehead describes as the “what else” question.

We require knowing what is possible now. Science and engineering disciplines inject the grid with service components like mass transportation, steel construction, and the elevator. The grid provides unlimited electric power within all spaces, and with it, the presumption of certainty such as living is about thinking up new ways to live. The unique human capacity for campfire innovation is effective and responds to challenge well. Then suddenly, the urban question changed from how can we “make cities better” to “can we stop cities” and we all know why.

From basic urban reform to anti-sprawl, today’s global conditions are born of grid technologies that have begun to threaten life and community, but it still holds the novelty we seek. The same way the stars were once seen as sparks from the fire, the city’s vision as unending expansion will also change. Yet, we face one single great problem. Will the unlimited potential of the sphere bring balance and containment to the infinite grid?

Containing Consumption

food city

Materialism is associated with human well-being toward the negative. It tends to reduce positive-social behavior on interpersonal levels. We also see materialism as a major contributor to ecologically destructive actions defined globally as “overshoots” and “footprints.” Worsening educational and social outcomes occur when focusing on the supremacy of personal preference and pleasure over other values. Finally, excessive materialistic behavior is associated with unmanageable debt, often linked to a broader range of pathologies. While these are negative outcomes, the economic arguments dismiss these criticisms as unfortunate behavior while denying the cancerous downside of growth. Containment will require a new kind of intelligent abundance.

The economic growth of nations and the foundation of most revenue schemes depend greatly on the two forms of physical consumption. The overall economic condition is clear; it will drive spending to high levels by encouraging the purchase of “materials,” but that includes all required to provide or buy an “experience,” and therein lays the novelty we seek. As spending shifts away from physical products toward acquiring personal experience, it offers a unique step toward sustainability. It could build a society with the capacity to recognize the power of introspection and limits.

The Creative Asset

point

Cities have a brand heritage often leveraged as history along with a set of cool stories that firmly establish their urban product. One of the most important or useful of these narrative brands is the ability to cross-cultural borders with food, social norms, sensibilities, clothing, patterns, color, and experiences you might not acquire otherwise. However, when ‘professional urbanists’ seek to change an existing condition thought of as bad to something good, they have not successfully targeted their target audiences for the lack of one ability — to shift perspective.

Narrowing the professional focus to a single project or program is a step toward failure unless it can be consistently, if now relentlessly infused, with a new view up from the bottom, or from alongside, the top, or via a simple pan inward across the entire creative landscape. The capacity for superlative focus in response to a violent storm or fire is well known.  It is a power to be tapped in new ways as its purpose is to force an element of lateral “death and life” Jacobian creativity in every action (after Jane Jacobs, 1969).

For another example, the creative application of an oblique strategy is one of the best ways to shift views and see new opportunities.  Please take a moment to explore. Then, post it in the comment section below if it works—a personal reference via BBC podcast here (30 minutes).


The oblique strategy phrase that started the three indulgent and digressive paragraphs below was: “Make a “blank” valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame.”


Due to the above reference to Jane Jacobs, I will put a regional development policy idea aimed at increasing non-auto access to places in an exquisite frame. As a result, various multi-use districts would gain advanced levels of market strength given three new frames of regional urban development policy.

  • First, I saw employment growth in these beautiful business clusters created by land-use policies that discouraged job dispersion. Then the potential for these sleek competitive regional economy trains emerged.  They were blue.
  • These trains controlled the direction, if not the physical quality of development or the stability of growth, but each cluster and the train riders had enormous power.
  • Next, a portrait of the funding agents for quality urban form found my frame.  My blue transit system (rail, light rail, and bus) connected combinations of government services, knowledge-based employers, and major universities and medical centers, including “entertainment-based” cultural institutions with finely targeted retail offerings.

The “branding” idea of strong, dense centers connected to other strong, dense centers is an elegant picture.  The next frame captured traditional agricultural areas, watershed protection zones, and other natural resource functions, including older auto-oriented retail centers and other large warehouse and distribution centers reliant on trucking. These outliers (currently dominating my landscape) will gain the opportunity to be financially supported to defend an expanding natural environment through stewardship. Equally, the dense core structure offers an environment where the toxins of human activity are contained and eliminated with zero-waste policies, but I digress.

Summary: Choose How Your World Works

That little “oblique” exercise above is a method to take a personal experience (my education, training, career) and think about how the world should work. The concept works equally well in the organizational development of small groups, especially when there is a breakdown.


This brief essay on frequency and diversity is a simple example of individual thought and ideas. It needs to fit somewhere like a thought bubble among other people to conclude this way.


Government should pay for the essential stuff like keeping the nation on a permanent war footing or to help corporations and great big banks cover losses, oh, and spying lots of spying to protect old lines in the sand. But, then again, maybe it (that would be we) should pay for health and environmental protection, affordable housing and public transportation, and lots of education and training.

I know the former is a well-known path to economic distrust and collapse and the other, an intentional step away from madness toward human dignity. Yet, paradoxically, the former policies may be drawn by “rampart survivalists” as the way it has always been and requires us to circle the wagons. The latter may want to “occupy” new economic priorities by causing a re-energized, democratically digitized, public networking process. Both are “small group” formations – the former is a small group of large organizations and the other a large group of small organizations.  The thing on offer in this example is to launch a quest for balance instead of power.

The former can be overly defined as the one or two-percent groups with great financial power, global corporate structures, and a managed “public good” regime on the balance sheet. The latter is composed of lots of small groups with chaotic, tentative goodness rules because they are working on new theories of financial power and economic change. One is informed by a small group press and media that the few need and read to solve information problems. The latter works to solve the integration problems of small groups, and they read about ways to build new education process networks. These two forces are at work to change the other. With both in play, something exciting might happen in the region of balance.

Examine the following examples of that large group of small organizations struggling to find new ways to build their small individual stories into a larger and globally efficacious narrative.

Social Change

  1. The Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project. Connect people to their personal and community ecosystems. To create a way forward, this value is held as the guiding all others. This force identifies and eliminates all elements that contribute to ecological collapse and, in doing so, design and implements a biomimetic future. This alternative is known as the new intentional pathway.

Science and Technology

  1. Ask Nature challenges everyone to reexamine every aspect of how we use nature to make stuff, think and store ideas, and manage waste. It will produce a massive catalog of nature’s solutions to human design challenges.

Consumption and Well Being

  1. The Good Guide proves people with safe, healthy, green, & ethical product reviews based on scientific ratings of some 250,000products

Education and Training

  1. Kahn Academy is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan to provide “a free, world-class education for anyone.”

Participants are asked to expand this list in the comment section below to help develop new main headings, indexing, and groups. The main criteria being the information, and in some cases, the services provided are free. Voluntary donations may be requested.

Climate change events and displacement impacts threaten water, land, and food security. These security questions link directly to culture as defined by race and spirituality, wealth and poverty, and so on. A thousand questions rise to decide whether or not a proposed practice such as treating carbon dioxide as a regulated pollutant or whether a financing scheme such as “cap and trade” fits into how your world works when it comes to the cost of food, energy, water, transportation, and housing for people.

Whether it is the “company store” or cooperative alternative, the question will remain clear. Is there an equitable transition made by this decision that increases human dignity opportunities and reduces the potential for ecological disruption and catastrophic resolution?


“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.  The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease.”  

Sent-ts’an, c. 700 C.E.

Alain Bertaud

Meaning is in People

Alain Bertaud is an inquisitor. He pokes at data with experience and reflection to help us understand the way the world works, how it will change and whether it will be the way we want or not. The image (below) is one of those pokes skips across the blogosphere searching for people willing to deal with the issues, “or not.”

I came across Mr. Alain Bertaud because I was trying to make sense of the Global Commission on the Economic and Climate report entitled the New Climate Economic. My question was how and where to invest the estimate of $90 trillion around the globe. They see it happening in three structures: 1) the city, 2) food/water, and 3) energy.

What in the infrastructure is missing in this approach?

I would put “wilderness” defined as a structure untouched as humanly possible and because it is a simple image. I watch urban densities change in the blink of the planner’s eye. The difference drew down by Bertaud is in a red line that defines a between Atlanta and Barcelona. One puts a train station inside a 2,000-yard walk for about 60% of the population (Barcelona), but just 4% have that choice in Atlanta. Something they will wish was available as energy shortages begin to increase for various reasons. Atlanta’s planners made highways for single families. Barcelona made neighborhoods for large, super-extended socio-economic families.

In the United States, housing is put on the self like any other canned goods in a supermarket, it requires little thinking, just a price point and a label. See discussion via Wall Street (here).

News Source

The major networks C-Span, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, etc., are plentiful. Those who broadcast to the nation for free (with ads) are asked to follow the fairness doctrine. But, on the other hand, cable television can produce strange “entertainment news” and misdirect, position lies, and step as close to incitement of insurrection as possible. Other online sources range from subscription-based and highly expensive free, slightly odd, smart, and hopeful.

I live in the center of Brooklyn, just south of Prospect Park. I believe there is a need for a political review channel that is purely local. It would cover Congressional Districts 7, 8, and 9 led by Nadia, Hakeem, and Yvette as major contributors to the influence and effect the federal government might have on the lives of the residents from year to year. These three districts have about 2.1 million people.  A few hours a month could fund their campaigns with a 20 share of that audience. The combination of experience and personal styles would be interesting. Our representatives have YouTube tidbits worthy of listening if you take a seasoned “What are they saying?” attitude. Solid local reporting on the workings of Congress by our Congressional Representatives could consist of City Council and state representatives.

Stronger together, but all of this is impossible. One cable station New York One (Spectrum), produces a few issues specific to Brooklyn and the rest of the boroughs. It requires a subscription. It should be free.

Watch and Listen to Achieve Confirmation Bias OR

Media on “politics, people and issues’ has suddenly become vital within the realm of “confirmation bias.” Look it up, the Wiki is a good place to start. Please weigh in on the following political outlets and make your thoughts known regarding a “none of what you read/half of what you see” approach for getting to good questions.  Also note, the bias here is to the left, and it is proving difficult to find center/right examples.

Brookings is one of the original “think tanks. “  Its review of issues has been tagged “liberal” by the American Enterprise Institute largely because of its positions on urban policy. The United States has become a metro nation.  For this reason, they advocate for an urban policy agenda focused more on “metro-regions” than “States.”

John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei left The Washington Post to become The Politico‘s editor in chief and executive editor. Politico

The Humanist Report is a retake of a week’s news.  It circulates socio-political and religious news stories with what sounds like a politically progressive commentary.

MoJo is a politically progressive American magazine that does independent and investigative reporting on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture. Clara Jeffery serves as editor. Monika Bauerlein has been CEO since 2015

A news aggregator and blog has both localized and international editions founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, Jonah Peretti, and Andrew Breitbart. Despite the last name, the information is a progressive accumulation, reflecting the overall tenor of reporting justice and fairness issues.  The wiki biography links are a good place to start.

Viewers and supporters of The PBS News Hour will recognize Amy Walter’s commentary and analysis and her role as the anchor on Washington Week.  The Cook Political Report includes a subscription that provides good detail on local congressional issues for $350.00 and only $1,400 for five subscribers. Something to keep in mind as the New York Delegation: Indivisible builds a base.

Moyers is well-known. He is one whose life as a journalist is to make sure we understand the principles of democracy and see the erosions of liberty. This site has 1,000 archived programs.

The National Journal says it equips government and business leaders with information, insight, and connections they need. Most DC-based organizations have higher followings and engagement rates on Facebook than on Twitter. However, Facebook remains more of an entertainment platform than a news platform. #DCInfoAge

The next step would be to examine local independent broadcasters to help aggregate national issues into a local impact presentation. There is an unending media explosion.  It will end with a number – those who will listen. This is probably good because ever since POTUS-45 declared it “the enemy of the people,” far too many people pick a “media” to follow in a silo, even though it might kill you, get you into prison,  It just makes choosing difficult.  Help choose.  Peace.


“Believe none of what you read and only half of what you see. It frees you to ask good questions.”

My Dad

You have to listen to be heard.

Want to add a source? Go to Contact

New York Colleges and Universities

There are nearly one-half-million students of higher education and over 1.1 million students in the NYC public education system. A resource of enormous power given 1) affordability and 2) focus on priorities of the city through scholarships and education incentives. These institutions have an enormous stake in the health, housing, and general welfare of New York City people.

2,5732014Barnard College
18,0902014Baruch College
3,7722010Berkeley College Midtown NYC Campus
11,1572010Bronx Community College
17,4102015Brooklyn College
1,2702016Columbia Business School
1,2442020Columbia Law School
31,4552020Columbia University
8,8462017Fashion Institute of Technology
15,2862015Fordham University
7,0782011Hostos Community College
23,0182013Hunter College
15,0002014John Jay College of Criminal Justice
15,9682016Kingsborough Community College
17,5692010LaGuardia Community College
12,0002019Lehman College (CUNY)
3,8832013Manhattan College
12,0632019Manhattan Community College
5,5192020Medgar Evers College
17,2822016New York City College of Technology
51,1232018New York University
6792010NYU Grossman School of Medicine
1,3952015NYU School of Law
12,8432015Pace University
5,8542015Parsons School of Design | The New School
4,5562014Pratt Institute
19,5202016Queens College, City University of New York
15,4932015Queensborough Community College
4,2012017School of Visual Arts
20,4482014St John’s University Queens Campus
5,8372011St. Joseph’s College New York
1,8912010SUNY Maritime College
16,1612012The City College of New York
8762015The Cooper Union
9392016The Juilliard School
10,2542014The New School
6,3482014Yeshiva University
8,5112015York College

Help in finding the faculty that combine housing, climate and social justice would be helpful here.

Thanks for the contributions to date: OCCUPY

James Baldwin

I have no idea if Aeon Video is a good source to use, but these few minutes of James Baldwin are vitally important to recall as words spoken a half-century ago. Even more instructive is the obsequious British joy in gaining Balwin’s participation in their instruction and then of the insight of Buckley who became an apologist for racism while defending American values as he has learned of them.

Nowhere else can one see more clearly how the knowledge and experience of hypocrisy carried by Baldwin contrast with a white male intellectual who sees his world as one designed specifically to conduct “a win” at the expense of all others. The community’s authentic voice is diverse, and it is this built-in strangeness that every agency or agent for change struggles to understand.

Do you know how a disaster (flood, fire) in a city will strengthen resolve while drought will have people at each other’s throat? I do. We are in that drought, and the political premise is correct — we do overvalue consensus because people want it to exist.  A bit of core knowledge in the people of the color world is that change tends to be for the worse, exceptions prove the rule, and there is a pedagogy of the oppressed. These core perceptions are poorly understood and that when “the white world of capital investment” comes knocking at the door and says we are here to x, y, and z you all. It becomes incredibly disappointing. The things to which you, we, or they can agree to “at least somewhat” do not built well on contradictory and unevaluated value systems. Not once in my long life has a developer entered the room saying we are racist. We represent a racist system. What is said is you have a role to play. If you move outside of that role (caste) and exact a price on the change we propose, we will label your efforts extortion. Not once have they ever said we accept full responsibility as system representatives. We commit ourselves to finance a way for you, for all of us to being that way starting now and forever.

Eye on the Mountain Top

snow covered mountains
Photo by Patrick Doyle on Pexels.com

Tale of Two CTs

City Center
Lincoln Square

Robert Venturi once observed Las Vegas as the only uniquely American expression of architecture. No one ever says it is a product of thoughtful planning. In 2006, when MGM Mirage and partners decided to build City Center, Las Vegas, NV, New York news aptly described it as an entertainment-based retail project. A comparison with an older effort confirms why metaphor-desperate architecture critics get super busy; however, I think lousy planning is the more useful element to engage. Enter stage left, Lincoln Square, Center, and Circle.

A viewpoint for examining the similarities and differences from one other kind of uniqueness can be useful. America is not built on ancient traditions, universal religion, ethnicity, or race; our founders believed they could be built on ideals. The principles of human dignity are given the highest value. Without the rigorous implementation of this core value, community development tends to fail this purpose. The question is not if the development practice in Lincoln Square, NYC, and City Center, Las Vegas was racist. The question is, how much racism is in play?

These two real estate investments are instructive of American urban development. They stand fifty years apart, but it might as well be five centuries regarding their exposure to values. Robert Moses broke ground on the Lincoln Center project with President Eisenhower. The biography of both patriarchs confirms a systemic racism component. Both believed Black people should be treated equally but did not think they were equal, and many of the policies and actions of both remain as proof.

Lincoln Square is an example of racialized architecture rationalized in New York City because the backdoor (parking/shipping) of Lincoln Center is Amsterdam Avenue adjacent to public housing. The entry plaza logically favored the Broadway/Columbus intersection. This was a reasonable architectural decision for many reasons. However, one reason rarely, if ever mentioned, is that architecture as a profession has no design solution for racism. They are subservient; the racism of their clients is included. The profession received clear notice of this problem in 1968 at their 100th convention (here).

Lincoln Center’s development is not as apparent as the proliferation of Confederate monuments from 1900 to through the 1920s, which continues through the 1950s. Lincoln Center did not support segregation with intimidation. On the other hand, it did support rules of law ito demolish a mostly Black neighborhood in the name of high-culture.

The Civil Rights Movement pushes back, and Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee Park is now Emancipation Park. A record of the effort to remove intimidating monuments is kept by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). On the other hand, the high culture of Lincoln Center uses the grade sheet of their traditions. They seek to convert participants into high arts as their earnest effort to confront racism and claim success in programmatic terms.

Lincoln Center represents issues that architectural design or sculpted monuments cannot handle. Its creation was born of the slum clearance, race intimidation movement known as Urban Renewal. It developed through the redlined 50s and into the late 60s in NYC. The civil rights response pushes back but is compelled to accept reconciliation measures. Reconciliation also occurs in the offerings of special district law in 1969. The Lincoln Square District’s roots can point a bit remarkably to its transformation. It led to comprehensive inclusionary zoning laws, albeit fifty years later.

As a renewal program, the special district design attacked the southern diaspora of poverty into the North with displacement strategies. As for tactics, restitution-like compromises such as the promise of affordable housing and well-funded ‘top-down” cultural services can be agreeable goals to the “fighters” and the losses, grave as they may be, deemed acceptable.

Understanding these programs’ rectitude provides the added depth needed to understand the term “systemic” in race relations and economic change.  The displacement practice, once quoted to me once as, “you are free, just not here, because you can’t afford it,” continues to this day and well examined in a report from the University of Pennsylvania’s City Planning program (here).  Displacement is a percentage game, and if human dignity was the measure, the players on both sides are losing. Penn’s work is an excellent update of Chester Hartman’s book, “Displacement: How to Fight It,” developed by Dennis Keating and Richard LeGates (1981). The truth in both publications, now decades apart, is the displacement process has only changed on the margins. Therein lies the terror of it all.

2009

2018

A small portion of New York City (Map: CT 145) covers an area of eight typical city blocks just west of Central Park. It had a 2000 population of 4,500 people living in 2,900 housing units that sustains a low vacancy rate of about 2%. The land area is 60 acres to yield a residential density of 48,000 people per square mile. (Facts to be updated following 2020 Census – see below.)

The area includes the Fordham University Law School, and it is just south of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Juilliard School, and a dozen other cultural miracles. It is not just a neighborhood composed of multiple-story apartment buildings; it is a destination experience established by cultural centers, the splendor of Central Park’s open space, and the Time Warner 12-story shopping “mall” without the standing auto-surround. The daytime population density can be doubled with ease and well supported by a transit system at this location that can deliver 5,000 people per hour, 24/7/365.

Zoning Resolution Chapter: 82-00 Map:  8c Effective Date: 4/24/69

The public goal (1969) of the Special Lincoln Square District is to enhance the area as an international center for the performing arts. To achieve this goal, urban design along Broadway will follow street line rules. Arcades for interior urban-room retail and service facilities provide a compromise for regulation and limits on street-level uses. Supply-side development bonuses are through special permits that offer added square footage for housing rented at lower (but not low) rents governed by Inclusionary Housing R10. and subway improvements. The demand side bets on good shows, a friendly neighborhood, and a sincere hope that the NYC mass transit services do not collapse.

Lincoln Center is a life-long learning opportunity in community development. Despite a long history of cultural engagement efforts as compensation for a vast mid-50s clearance of thousands of families, a tabula rasa planning strategy, and elements such as the fortress edge at Amsterdam Avenue, the entire project remains an unfulfilled story of transitional urban power.  Its future continues to be written for the success it still might get, not by crossing Amsterdam, but in recognizing how well the social fabric of this part of Manhattan is willing to attack its drift into a binary culture and ignore new opportunities that offer exceptional new levels of depth.

Instantanious Urbanism

The comparison with another entertainment-retail center for the high-spend culture has America written all over it. It is instructive of the “binary problem” and a warning of competing solely for the high-end. The City Center was a five-year design and build “hit”, not unlike graffiti, but way neat and well worth the time exploring innovations.

The $9+ Billion Las Vegas City Center (left to right): KPF’s Mandarin Hotel, (392) Libeskind, and Rockwell’s Crystal’s premium goods mall, Pelli’s Aria, (4,000) Helmut Jahn’s Veer, (335) Foster’s ill-fated Harmon. (demolition was in 2015) Also in the City Center, Rafael Viñoly Vara hotel and residences (1,495). A “who’s who” of architect high-end destination creation. The City Center project broke ground in 2006, and despite significant construction difficulties, including nine deaths in sixteen months, the new skyline hit the press in late 2009. The plan for this massive development was based on speed regardless of the human cost and a systemic “rent-comes-first” problem.

The entire project is symbolized by the demolition of Foster’s Harmon hotel, but like New York City’s development projects, the greater effort survived the 2008 recession. In Las Vegas, all bets are all on the black. Undeterred, billions spent in building the City Center out of nothing that can be remembered occurred even though Las Vegas sits amidst the aridest desert on Earth. Most of the 2.6 million residents trust in the spin on Lake Mead as shrinking (or not), rejecting any notion of a prolonged era of despair due to the rains of 2016/17.

The fresh knowledge of anguish from the City Center project became available when the Las Vegas Sun received a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the causes of construction deaths and lax regulatory assessments. The tragedy of a worker’s family is described (here). You can read all of the stories by Las Vegas Sun for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service (here). One of them points to NYC’s positive response to construction safety. Please read the work of Alexandra Berzon of the Sun who explored the pace, fear, and death, and terror that accompanied the creation of City Center before taking in the five minutes on the spin on the final product in the following presentation.

Bill Smith managed construction of the $9 billion City Center completed in 60 months.

All of Las Vegas began as a city of no-rules sprawl. The property taken didn’t make the news. It produced thousands of hotel and residential condo units spread through multiple structures on a 67-acre site. The Vara overlaps residence floors with a 1,500-room hotel. Regular housing is included in the Mandarin Oriental and a 37-floor twin tower. The housing and related residential accommodations combine a complex of hotels, shops, and gambling entertainment. Whether the housing is composed of permanent residents or time-shared ‘hotel-condo participants is of small consequence. The community with this density can resolve the service implications with reasonable ease based on density. That leaves median income and whether racial and gender disparities are becoming dispositive.

Developing business models on the provision of unique destination-retail cultures (high or low) are coupled with a base of rental units, permanent, and condo-hotel housing. Development of this kind suggests the need for a comparison built on the demography of a place, before, during, and after. Such a comparison could yield measures by which the fast “time is money” impact of capital project disruptions that often lead to forced and economic displacement also provide proof of balance. There would be sufficient generational investment for those found in the wake of this harm that will never occur to that household again. It would be a guarantee that the cycle of poverty ends with an emphasis on every child regardless of the cost.

AKA: Near Win Wheel

The resident population of Las Vegas will be close to three million people in 2020, and before the 2020 pandemic, this city had 42.52 million visitors in 2019. There are just two “isms” that describe gambling in Vegas, “tourism” and “capitalism.”

The increased competition for gamblers as entertainment-based retail comes clear in a joke you would not hear at City Center. “What is the difference between an online casino and a live casino? – When you lose online and cry, no one will laugh at you.” The enclosures of the modern casino encourage over-confidence, leading to the illusion of security. Our brains like this as a sense of pleasure and contributes to the idea that an educated guess can be precise. Illusions of control also negate outcomes of chance into more extreme emotions, such as a “near win” means getting close to one.

To the visitor, the core illusion is gambling is a personal decision not influenced by the environment or knowledge of “the odds.” Both support and encourage the fantasy of winning and a sense of superiority despite a uniform failure (not-wining) rate. This phenomenon is well understood; however, the public policy allows gambling while discouraging it as a dangerous, potentially addictive practice.

A growing proportion of society participates in gambling. The economic impact occurs in every public jurisdiction. It is not treated as a preventable problem, but a percentage of the population issue, leaving it to post-trauma “hot-lines” to resolve. Proof of a high-quality education system will occur when the “casino” as a land-use disappears or when no one other than the fabled 1% gamble.

Demographic Comparisons

Every resident, business, and neighborhood in the nation has a census tract. The Bureau of the Census has made significant improvements in providing online access to data for ordinary people. There are thousands of tables on who we are as a nation, city, state, county. The census tract is the “where” of this data. Knowing the actual condition of our lives yields an assessment of fitness and reasons for action based on comparisons. The first and most important bit of that knowledge is to know that the patriarchy that beats society into submission cannot be used to dismantle its house. One must know how the house got there in the first place.

The creation of the structures you enter to live, work, shop, or play must be safe structures. To assure these objectives, the regulations governing land use and the practice of architecture, engineering, and construction are strict. When errors are discoverer and repair is impossible, the building comes down, as in Foster’s building in Las Vegas. The structures also have social and economic impacts, but these products are not well regulated or measured. The ideals of the American Constitution demand fair treatment measures under the law, fair and just compensation and unfettered access to quality education, and a “we the people” promise of fairness in the pursuit of happiness.

Following, you will find a glimpse of the 2010 data on two U.S. Census tracts illustrated in the description of these two locations. This glimpse will await the final publication of the 2020 Census. Both locations are products of a largely racist power structure focused solely on the flow of capital as exhibited by the value of the real estate. The fulfillment of America’s constitutional ideals is deemed irrelevant or, at best, secondary to that flow of capital.  Ironically, improving the flow of capital is touted as the best remedy to whatever set of problems a social justice agenda might present. Therefore, the quality of life becomes a material consequence of profit. Rightly so, until a tipping point occurs when the measure of quality lowers until it is only viewed as the ability to subsist.

Population, Sex, and Race

Census Tract 145 Manhattan (2018 estimates) has a total population of 5,960. It is 64.4% White, Non-Hispanic, and 38% of the population 15 years and older have never married. Census Tract 68 Las Vegas (2018 estimates) has a total population of 5,077. The White, Non-Hispanic population is 23.2%, and 45% of the population 15 years and older have never married.

2010 City Center (CT 68)
Total population3,986
Median age (years)35.1
Sex ratio (males per 100 females)101.9
Age dependency ratio56.6
Old-Age dependency ratio17.0
Child dependency ratio39.6
One race99.0%
White74.9%
Black or African American7.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native0.0%
Asian4.6%
Some other race12.3%
Two or more races1.0%
Hispanic or Latino origin (any race)45.4%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino41.7%
2020 City Center (CT 68)
to be written

2010 Lincoln Square (CT 145)
Total population6,245
Median age (years)34.3
Sex ratio (males per 100 females)105.0
Age dependency ratio33.8
Old-Age dependency ratio20.2
Child dependency ratio13.6
One race97.3%
White79.0%
Black or African American3.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native0.3%
Asian12.2%
Some other race1.4%
Two or more races2.7%
Hispanic or Latino origin any race)14.4%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino69.4%
2020 Lincoln Square (CT 145)
to be written

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100 Change Agents

The Big Fail

Put “The 100″+”*” into a search engine, and about 20 billion references will be listed, so it is a popular idea to take 100 things and add “top or most influential” or, as in this case, “change agents.” A couple of sentences on the list below will not sum up a life; they only spark further interest. Nevertheless, understanding the individual accomplishments of the one hundred people listed here exhibit the extraordinary impact of “design,” the best in urban analysis, and a vast network of pathways beaten to their doorsteps. This success of individuals must now become the focused leadership of many.

The image below displays the first grouping using the search criteria. Why is this 100-list labeled “The Big Fail? In the world we live in now, Gene Kranz’s words, “failure is not an option” (Apollo 13) ring clearly, yet any of the 100 on this list, living or not, cannot muster up a tenth of the value assigned to a popular television series combining teenage angst with a dystopian theme. The metaphor is not lost on anyone.

Creativity is assigned to one person by supporting millions willing to accept their leadership or inventiveness, innovation, and talent, but not transforming the urban experience into new domains. At least one hundred living and intensely engaged change agents are needed to create a series exhibiting an American urban future that people will believe possible.

If I had between one and five billion dollars for ten years for a group of 100 people on a list like this, a series of on-the-ground projects would soon demonstrate the new world we must have and need. But, instead, the “big fail” is upon us for not thinking in a new way, or at least as creatively fundable as a TV series.

RLC

The revenue of a popular television series over ten years is similar to the fund proposed. Think in a new way.


1. Jane Jacobs – (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) The author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs is credited with nurturing a new era of community-led planning. Famously opposed Robert Moses on some of the most famous planning controversies of the 20th century.

2. Jaime Lerner – An architect and urban planner, founder of the Instituto Jaime Lerner, and chairman of Jaime Lerner Arquitetos Associados. A three-time mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, during a period of revitalization that made the city renowned for urban planning, public transportation, environmental social programs, and urban projects.

3. Frederick Law Olmsted – (April 26, 1822 – August 28, 1903) A landscape architect, journalist, social critic, and public administrator. Olmsted is considered the “father” of American landscape architecture and is responsible for many plans and designs of open spaces around the country, perhaps most famously exemplified by Central Park in Manhattan.

4. Jan Gehl – An architect and urban designer famous for refocusing design and planning on the human scale. Author of Life Between BuildingsPublic Spaces, Public Life; and Cities for People, among other books.

5. Andrés Duany – An American architect, an urban planner, and a founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Duany is credited with the plan and code for Seaside, the first new traditional community, the development of the SmartCode, and the definition of the rural to urban transect, among other accomplishments.

6. Lewis Mumford – (October 19, 1895 – January 26, 1990) Mumford interpreted architecture and urban life in a social context while working as the architectural critic for The New Yorker magazine for over 30 years and authoring numerous books, including The City in History, published in 1961.

7. Robert J. Gibbs – President of Gibbs Planning Group. Planned Michigan’s first ten New Urban communities and form-based codes, in addition to contributing to commercial developments in more than 400 town centers and historic cities in the United States and abroad.

8. Frank Lloyd Wright – (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) Perhaps the most famous architect in U.S. history. Frank Lloyd Wright led the Prairie School of architecture and pursued the theory of organic architecture. Fallingwater, a home located in Pennsylvania, is a beloved example of his work.

9. Le Corbusier – (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965) Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, was a pioneer of modern architecture and planning. The “towers in the park” concept that emerged from his Radiant City Plan was adopted in cities around the United States.

10. Charles Marohn – Founder and president of Strong Towns, a news and commentary website and a popular portal for advocacy on issues of planning. Marohn authored Thoughts on Building Strong Towns, volumes 1 and 2, and A World Class Transportation System.

11. Richard Florida – One of the world’s most visible urbanists. Richard Florida authored The Rise of the Creative Class and, most recently, The New Urban Crisis. He serves as a university professor and director of cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto.

12. William H. Whyte – (1917 – 1999) His 1980 book The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces enlarged the standard of observation and the study of human behavior in urban settings.

13. Donald Shoup – Distinguished research professor in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. Author of The High Cost of Free Parking, which has succeeded in launching a new approach to parking policy, as a fundamental aspect of planning and land use regulations, in communities around the country.

14. Kevin Lynch – (1918 – 1984) An urban planner and author of The Image of the City (1960), What Time is This Place? (1972), and A Theory of Good City Form (1981) In The Image of the City, Lynch posited a theory of paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks that is referenced implicitly or explicitly in many planning and design efforts of the current day.

15. Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk – Co-founder of Arquitectonica and Duany Plater Zyberk & Company. A leader in the New Urbanism movement and the co-author of Suburban Nation: the Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, and The New Civic Art.

16. Janette Sadik-Khan – Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007–2013, while the nation’s largest country pursued and delivered one of the most sweeping revitalizations of the city’s streets in a half-century. Currently the principal at Bloomberg Associates and chair the National Association of Transportation Officials (NACTO). Author of Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution.

17. Robert Moses – The “master builder” of mid-20th century New York City and environs, Robert Moses is one of the most polarizing figure of modern city building. Perhaps the most powerful man in New York City for a long stretch of the 20th century, Moses pursued a campaign of modernism based on slum clearing, public housing projects, and high-speed automobile transportation evident in New York to this day. Moses’s ambitions also inspired the growth of an opposition movement around Jane Jacobs.

18. Daniel Burnham – (September 4, 1846 – June 1, 1912) An American architect and a towering figure in the history of American planning, thanks to his work in co-authoring the Plan of Chicago. Burnham also contributed to plans for cities like Cleveland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

19. Ebenezer Howard – (January 29, 1850 – May 1, 1928), the originator of the garden city movement. Authored To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, published in 1898, which described a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together with nature.

20. Christopher Alexander – Architect and design theorist, regarded as the “father” of the pattern language movement. Co-author of the 1977 book A Pattern Language.

21. Jeff Speck – A city planner and urban designer and a leading advocate for walkable cities. Author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, among other books.

22. Peter Calthorpe – Founder of the award-winning firm of Calthorpe Associates, Calthorpe is also one of the founders and the first board president of the Congress of New Urbanism.

23. Michael Bloomberg – Michael R. Bloomberg is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who served three terms as the mayor of the city of New York, during a time of innovation in city government and placemaking efforts in the nation’s largest city.

24. Jane Addams – (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) Known as the “mother” of Social Work.

25. Enrique Peñalosa – Mayor of Bogotá from 1998 until 2001, and then again beginning in 2016, overseeing major transportation and public space projects in the city. Also served as the president of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

26. Nikos Salingaros – A mathematician by training who applies his work to urban theory. Salingros has championed network thinking and traditional architecture in the books Principles of Urban Structure and A Theory of Architecture, respectively, among other books.

27. Charles, Prince of Wales – A frequent commenter on matters of the built environment, Prince Charles is an advocate of neo-traditional ideas, such as those of Christopher Alexander and Leon Krier. Prince Charles illustrated his ideas on the built environment during a 1984 attack on the British architectural community in a speech given to the Royal Institute of British Architects, in which he described a proposed extension to the National Gallery in London as a “monstrous carbuncle.”

28. Ian McHarg – A pioneer of the environmental movement, McHarg founded the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Landscape Architecture and authored the book Design with Nature, published in 1969.

29. James Howard Kunstler – Noted author and critic of suburban development patterns, best known for the book, The Geography of Nowhere.

30. Rosa Parks – (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) An activist in the Civil Rights Movement who set the stage for the Montgomery bus boycott with an act of civil disobedience on public transit.

31. Pierre-Charles L’Enfant – (August 2, 1754 – June 14, 1825), A French-born American military engineer who designed the basic plan for Washington, D.C. known today as the L’Enfant Plan (1791).

32. Buckminster Fuller –  (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) An American architect, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. Fuller published more than 30 books and developed numerous inventions and architectural designs, including the geodesic dome.

33. John Muir – (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) A naturalist and author, most famous an early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. His activism helped preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park, and many other wilderness areas. Muir also founded the Sierra Club, which is one of the most active environmental groups, advocating positions on development projects throughout the United States.

34. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. – (July 24, 1870 – December 25, 1957) A landscape architect and city planner who worked on projects in Acadia, the Everglades, and Yosemite National Park as part of a life-long commitment to U.S. National Parks. Also a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

35. Léon Krier – A leading proponent of New Urbanism and provocateur or modern urbanism. Best known for the development of Poundbury, an urban extension to Dorchester, in the United Kingdom.

36. Rachel Carson – (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) An American marine biologist, author, and conservationist. Carson’s book Silent Spring is credited with bringing environmental advoccy to a new level of public awareness.

37. Walt Disney – (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) An entrepreneur, animator, voice actor, and film producer. In 1965, Disney began development of Disney World as a new type of city, the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.”

38. Candi CdeBaca – Co-founder and co-executive director of Project VOYCE, founder and member of the Cross Community Coalition, and founder and principal of Rebel Soul Strategies.

39. Henri Lefebrve – (June 16, 1901 – June 29, 1991) A Marxist philosopher and sociologist, best known for pioneering the critique of everyday life and for introducing the concepts of the right to the city and the production of social space. Author of 60 books and 300 articles.

40. Jimmy Carter – The 39th president of the United States, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and a tireless champion of Habitat for Humanity.

41. Patrick Geddes – (October 2, 1854 – April 17, 1932) A Scottish biologist, sociologist, geographer, and pioneering town planner, Geddes introduced the concept of “region” to architecture and planning and coined the term “conurbation.”

42. Saul Alinsky – (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972) An American community organizer and writer and an early adopter and champion for many of the practices of modern community organizing.

43. Edward Glaeser – Economist and professor of economics at Harvard University. His book, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, is a popular and widely cited reference for urban boosters.

44. Gil Peñalosa – Founder and chair of 8 80 Cities, and a leading advocate for the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, using public transit, and the new use of cars.

45. Saskia Sassen – Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and a member of the Committee on Global Thought. Coined the term “Global City,” and authored Global City: New York, London, Tokyo, published in 1991.

46. David Harvey – A theorist in the field of urban studies, geographer by training, professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and prolific author.

47. Peter Hall – (March 19, 1932 – July, 30 2014) Professor of planning and regeneration at University College London. Also served as president of the Town and Country Planning Association and the Regional Studies Association. Considered the “father” of the enterprise zone, a policy tool subsequently adopted by countries worldwide to support economic development in disadvantaged areas.

48. Edmund Bacon – (May 2, 1910 – October 14, 2005) An American urban planner, architect, educator, and author. Served as executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission from 1949 to 1970, earning the nickname “The Father of Modern Philadelphia.”

49. Jacob Riis – (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914) Social reformer, “muckraking” journalist, and social documentary photographer.

50. Georges-Eugene Haussmann – (March 27, 1809 – January 11, 1891) Commonly known as Baron Haussmann. Carried out a massive urban renewal program of new boulevards, parks, and public works in Paris commonly referred to as Haussmann’s renovation of Paris.

    An inspiring first 50. However, if a name and description has occurred to you and not found in the next 50 and fits the "urban change" category or tag, please come back here and make the addition. Especially, if you have the names of women. Also, please suggest other categories with the idea that there is a network out there for creating positive change.

    51. Thomas Jefferson – (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) The third president of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and an accomplished architect. Jefferson’s designs for his home of Monticello and the University of Virginia campus are significant contributions to the architectural heritage of the United States, as well as influences on the federal style of architecture that survives to this day.

    52.  Brent Toderian – Vancouver chief planner from 2006 to 2012, during the city’s 2010 Winter Olympics-related planning and design process as well as the EcoDensity initiative and the Greenest City Action Plan. Toderian is now a consulting city planner and urbanist with TODERIAN UrbanWORKS and vocal advocate for livability initiatives.

    53. Allan Jacobs – An urban designer and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Authored the paper, “Toward an Urban Design Manifesto,” with Donald Appleyard, among other books. Also served for eight years as the director of the San Francisco Department of City Planning.

    54. Jennifer Keesmaat – Served as chief planner of Toronto from 2012 until September 2017, during which the city underwent a period of rapid growth. Keesmaat is an active participant in the planning discussion, contributing numerous editorials for local publications that argued in favor of progressive transportation planning policies.

    55. Vitruvius – (c. 80–70 BCE – c. 15 BCE) A Roman author, architect, and engineer. Author of De architectura, whose description of perfect proportion in architecture and human form influenced Leonardo da Vinci.

    56. Rem Koolhaas – Architect, architectural theorist, urbanist, and professor in practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Koolhaus is the author of multiple books, including S,M,L,XL, which includes an essay on urban planning titled “Whatever Happened to Urbanism?”

    57. Jarrett Walker – A consulting transit planner, Walker’s work in cities like Houston and his blog Human Transit lead current thinking about best practices public transit and mass transportation infrastructure.

    58. Dan Burden – A leader in innovative transportation planning, working in the past as Florida’s first state bicycle and pedestrian coordinator and as a co-founder of Walkable Communities, Inc. Burden is currently director of innovation and inspiration at Blue Zones, LLC.

    59. Hippodamus of Miletus – (498 – 408 BCE) An ancient Greek architect and urban planner, among other intellectual pursuits. Considered the “Father of European Urban Planning” and the namesake of the “Hippodamian Plan” (grid plan) of city layout.

    60. Joseph Minicozzi – Principal of Urban3, LLC, Minnicozzi is an advocate for downtown-style mixed-use developments, especially as preferred to big box retail.

    61. Michael Mehaffy – Portland-based consultant and author specializing in walkable mixed-use projects. Mehaffy is also a senior researcher in urban sustainability at KTH University in Stockholm and the executive director of the Sustasis Foundation.

    62. Fred Kent – Founder and president of Project for Public Spaces, and an authority on revitalizing public spaces.

    63. Jim Venturi – Jim Venturi is the founder and principal of ReThinkNYC, a New York City-based urban transportation planning think tank.

    64. Mitchell Silver – Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Past president of the American Planning Association (APA) and former chief planning and development officer and planning director for Raleigh, North Carolina.

    65. Christopher Leinberger – Research professor and chair of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business, president of Locus: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, and founding partner of Arcadia Land Company. Recently a proponent of Walkable Urban Places, or WalkUPs.

    66. Carol Coletta – A senior fellow with The Kresge Foundation’s American Cities Practice, Coletta is leading a proposed $40 million collaboration of foundations, nonprofits, and governments to demonstrate the benefits of a civic commons. Former vice president of community and national Initiatives for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and president of ArtPlace. 

    67. Dan Gilbert – The chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans Inc., Gilbert makes this list for his portfolio of downtown development investments in Detroit and Cleveland.

    68. Zaheer Allam – An advocate for energy and urban systems in Africa and the Small Island States. Co-founder of the Plateforme Citoyenne.

    69. James Rouse – (April 26, 1914 – April 9, 1996) Founder of The Rouse Company, was a pioneering real estate developer, urban planner, and civic activist. In 1982, Rouse created the Enterprise Foundation, an organization that helps community groups build housing.

    70. Majora Carter – An American urban revitalization strategist and public radio host from the South Bronx area of New York City. Carter’s work focuses on inclusion and sustainability.

    71. Ellen Dunham-Jones – Professor at the Georgia Tech School of Architecture and director of the school’s urban design program. Authored, along with June Williamson, Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.

    72. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – A pioneering hip hop group formed in the South Bronx of New York City in 1976. Their classic song “The Message” is an instantly recognizable urban manifesto.

    73. Gaétan Siew – Architect, planner, and founder of Lampotang & Siew Architects. Work includes master plans for the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Mauritius, the Chinese neighbourhood in Port Louis, the Seychelles International Airport, and other projects around the world.

    74. John Nolen – (June 14, 1869 – February 18, 1937) A landscape architect and planner best known for work in Florida and Wisconsin. An advocate for regional planning and land use controls to counter land speculation.

    75. Mike Lydon – Principal with Street Plans and a leading proponent of Tactical Urbanism. Co-author of Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action, Long-Term ChangeVol.1-4.

    76. Bruce Katz – The inaugural Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution, where he focuses on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization. Served for 20 years as the vice president and co-director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, and authored the book The Metropolitan Revolution, published in 2013.

    77. Camillo Sitte – Architect, painter, and city planning theoretician. Authored City Planning According to Artistic Principles, published in 1889, frequently cited as a criticism of the Modernist movement.

    78. William Penn – (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) An English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

    79. F. Kaid Benfield – Former director for sustainable communities for the National Resources Defense Council and high profile author, writing at numerous urbanism publications and authoring several books.

    80. R. John Anderson – Co-founder and principal for Anderson|Kim Architecture + Urban Design.

    81. Earl Blumenauer – The U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 3rd congressional district, Earl Blumenauer is one of the federal government’s most ardent supporters of alternative transportation, through public transit and bike infrastructure, as well as sustainability initiatives.

    82. Walter Benjamin – (July 15, 1892 –  September 26, 1940) A philosopher famous for theories of aesthetics. Benjamin also focused academic inquiry on the concept of the flâneur.

    83. Naomi Klein – A journalist, activist, and author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the ClimateShock Doctrine, and No is Not Enough.

    84. Donald Appleyard – (July 26, 1928 – September 23, 1982) An urban designer and theorist, teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. Author of the book Livable Streets and, along with Allan Jacobs, the paper “Toward an Urban Design Manifesto.”

    85. Henry Cisneros – Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, from 1981 to 1989—the second Latino mayor of a major American city and the city’s first since 1842. Cisneros also served as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the administration of President Bill Clinton.

    86. Ildefonso Cerdá Suñer – (December 23, 1815 – August 21, 1876) A Catalan Spanish urban planner who designed the 19th-century “extension” of Barcelona called the Eixample.

    87. Shelley Poticha – Director of the Urban Solutions team at the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC). Formerly a senior political appointee in the Obama Administration, where she led the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and launched the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    88. Doug Farr – Founding principal and president of Farr Associates Architecture and Urban Design. Farr also founded the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Core Committee and is a board member of EcoDistricts.

    89. Virginia Hanusik – A New Orleans-based artist examining the the relationship between culture and the built environment. Hanusik’s most recent projects, Backwater and Impossible City, were detailed in Places Journal.

    90. Richard Sennett – Centennial professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and university professor of the Humanities at New York University. Sennett studies social ties in cities, and the effects of urban living on individuals in the modern world, and has authored many books on related subjects, including The Fall of Public Man, published in 1977, about the public realm, and Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation, published in 2012.

    91. Kennedy Smith – Expert on commercial district revitalization and development, independent main street businesses, and economically and environmentally sound community development. Co-founded the Community Land Use and Economics (CLUE) Group, LLC. Also the longest-serving director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center.

    92. Mike Davis – A writer, political activist, urban theorist, and historian, best known for his investigations of power and social class in Southern California. Authored City of Quartz, published in 1990.

    93. Clarence Stein – (June 19, 1882 – February 7, 1975) An urban planner, architect, and writer. Stein was a major proponent of the Garden City movement in the United States. Co-founded the Regional Planning Association of America to address large-scale planning issues such as affordable housing, the impact of sprawl, and wilderness preservation.

    94. Jose Corona – Currently the director of equity and strategic partnership for the Mayor’s Office in the city of Oakland. Previously worked as chief executive officer of Inner City Advisors (ICA).

    95. Jason Roberts – Co-founder of the Better Block Project, founder of the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, and co-founder of the Art Conspiracy and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff.

    96. Jean-Michel Basquiat – (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) An American artist, who began his career as a graffiti artist in New York City, helping to popularize the medium.

    97. Emily Talen – Professor of urbanism at the University of Chicago, following previous faculty positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University. Author of numerous books devoted to the relationship between the built environment and social equity.

    98. William McDonough – Architect, product designer, and advocate. Authored the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, as the most famous expression of his message. Also the founding principal of William McDonough + Partners and co-founder of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC).

    99. Theaster Gates – A Chicago-based installation artist, Gates’s addresses urban planning, among other issues. Gates is also the founder and artist director of the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on cultural-driven redevelopment and affordable space initiatives in under-served communities.

    100. Norman Krumholz – Professor in the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Long-time Cleveland planning director, serving under three separate mayors, and a leading proponent of equity planning.

    Placeless Participation

    Defining a New Public Engagement Process for Placeless Participation

    Where are the physical places for public decision-making that assure the right to a personal view and the power to express them freely on all matters? If you can answer that question and make a list, know they are opportunities. If you don’t, find out where are they now. They will be needed.

    The places to create a system change are disappearing into globalized digital fragments. You know the old range; it moves outwardly, from the privacy of the bedroom to places where you cannot scream words like fire, and to larger venues where rights of passage allow you to be heard and there are places where you can yell as loud as possible and no one would hear you, whether it is a canyon’s echo or in the din of a crowd.

    System change requires these places. If a small group like “a band” learning to play in a garage eventually fills a stadium with thousands of ticket buyers, that is a system change. It is organized by a defined set of communication tools and the talent to create music that people would purchase. Communications may be written as a narrative or clearly spoken, become music, fine art, or any of a thousand mediums of choice. There it is, communication tools are ubiquitous. Therefore the question, how do you find people who seek, receive, and impart information and ideas in a useful way other than the sale of tickets? You know this as an experience of membership, from classroom to university, congress member to Congress, but what if you want to get that metaphorical band together or back from where it was lost? Or what if there is no right of passage, no recognized path, or place you can name, even locate? What can you do?

    What if the revolution came, and you missed it, lost the poster, didn’t pay attention, or only listened to minds that hate? The communication tools for placeless participation are new, and there is a struggle to use them well. The new devices offer an evasion of experience that absorbs the placeless like a sponge.

    The quality of space is its climate. Care is taken to assure sound, temperature, color, do not assault, and gatherings are not disrupted. People can exchange views, trade ideas, or data, as well as negotiate over intent, desired results, and expectations. Change occurs in the act of face to face, in a place structure for participation, but it is not a system change. That requires an open exchange between the known and unknown.

    Kevin Lynch in “A Theory of Good City Form” (1960) describes five elements for “legibility” in the urban or suburban experience of a place that can be adapted to the placeness of digital communications.  We organize our ‘mental maps’ into elements that yield our physical relationship to places.  The way Lynch broke it down is widely regarded as a useful intellectual and graphic notation tool for communicating the abstractions of urban places and structures. 

    In” Image of the City,” Lynch isolates several categories of form-generation growing out of urban experience to measure growth and development: vitality, sense, fit, access, control, and two significant criteria – efficiency and justice.   Despite a generation of ‘interpreters’ every element of Lynch’s analysis remains true, yet it without the power to implement. It is now possible to achieve in the virtual space, and anyone can do it because everyone can have a role in implementation.

    When inputs predict desired outputs efficiency becomes measurable, but unless an impartial application of conformity to what is right, the former loses value. Lynch points out two major-criteria (efficiency and justice) are themselves aspects of each spatial criterion described below. In each case, one must ask, “what is the cost in terms of anything else we would choose to value, in achieving a degree of vitality, sense, fit, access, and control?  

    As for performance dimensions of a human settlement, the five criteria map onto ecological parameters for community survival; that is, they may be employed in the design of an urban place, an arboretum, or even an aquarium.  It is ecologically reasonable to assert that if we destroy a plant or animal’s performance dimensions, we tend to destroy the organism.  That is, if plants and animals have value only in their use to people, then any non-conversion of land must consider these values as lost.  That is, the value of new houses or shopping centers is greater than the opportunity forgone. If plants and animals do have an intrinsic value, then some extra-market systems must arise to embrace new values. Here is an idea that has been with the creators of urban environments such as Lynch for decades, and yet it has not developed.

    Vitality is the experience of energy and strength. The intellect is developed with the injection of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. The relationships established in a place based on vitality and sense produce an understanding of a fit, conditioned by access and control. These remaining two elements suggest access in a variety of layers or portals in which the rights of entry are established. The overall effect of vitality, sense, fit, and access reveals a quality of control, or the capacity to assure the recurrence of events, products, or processes. The purpose of understanding these elements is to recognize and expose its failures.

    With these seven elements well-considered, the creation of a place in which people can change the rules of access and challenge control is possible. The difficulty of entering the placeless environments offered through digital communications is realizing and interpreting these elements without the physical functions that offer proof in Lynch’s urban analysis. The design and development of participation platforms online are developing rapidly and as in every virtual environment, nothing is impossible. First a brief description of the physical aspects that facilitate civic participation.

    The use of passageways, conduits, and tubes link one destination to the next. These objectives will have a boundary or frame confirmed by a transition and experience of difference. Within these destinations, three main components will be found. A joining of assets linked to pathways pass through edges to form nodes, that may become districts or regions defined by a constituency placing value on its uses. Each may have a range of functions such as a university campus, or a shopping district. Within these places, there are experiences, familiar sights, signs, monuments that function as markers.

    Wilfred M. Thomas, Artist

    Participation in public affairs and friendly discourse is nonlinear when it is within the limits of a few lives, but its content tends to fold into the layers of a more extensive cultural process involving many lives. These creative cultures shape a person’s individual capacity to expose similar experiences in comparable periods with the different perceptions of others.

    Back in 1975, I became friends with an artist, pictured here, and we raised some money to paint murals. He was very fond of his “riders” and drew them everywhere. He painted them because he wanted people to see and protect them. It would not be until the turn of the century that a far more powerful communication tool would be used to make a change. In 1977, American Youth Hostels with help from Citibank organized the five borough bike tour, and now put over 30,000 people on a city tour to raise funds to support cycling. It allowed people to see their city in a new way. In the 90s, I worked with architect’s and planners as community advocates called design centers. The Pittsburg, PA design center also wanted to raise some funds and get it people to recognize one another with a bike route. A project known as Pedal Pittsburgh (now PedalPGH) was born and it proved to be a powerful exchange that crossed through old race and ethnic lines and people developed a new and joyful view of the steel city. Closing the streets for a bike tour once or twice a year is not enough in fact, it was a problem.

    Places for serving a specific interest such as city-cycling vary, but as the following example will illustrate Pittsburg, New York City, and cities all over the world have thousands of cyclists who are in danger. They need a right to the road among automobiles. From the seventies through 2000 a new power was discovered. Each rider’s personal experience and the purpose of riding could be shared in a virtual space to discover and expose one truth – a bike trip in NYC (or any city) should not be a life and broken bones experience or a flirt with death.

    At this point (2004) a highly motivated communication effort steadily built an ability to air this grievance with many voices via “text” and a blog. When challenged for their power by the police authority, it became necessary to sustain “critical mass” demonstrations, until negotiations were re-established more seriously and a system change occurred that saved lives, and safely replaced automobiles for many trips. It opened up new pathways, albeit mostly etched into the road with paint, but it also began to mark the way and the place for a variety of small multifunctional vehicles that could enrich the quality of life for all residents

    February 2005, in the heat of battle, when the New York Police Department was bearing down on our once peaceful critical mass. Enormous precedence was being set. The police were trying to define what critical mass was and fit it into some logical explanation complete with leaders and organizations. This was happening, most likely to justify their actions of mass arrests five months earlier, just before the Republican National Convention came to NYC. I wanted to help define critical mass myself, or rather keep it undefined and make it be an ever-evolving, spontaneous unique experience for the individuals who participated. I wanted a way to personalize the experience through my own words and to connect with the amazing fact that this bike ride was happening on the same day in over 300 cities around the world.

    Michael Green

    Before examining the structure of system changes as facilitated by attacking a malfuntion, it essential to produce demonstrations that motivate the agencies of change. I like Kevin Lynch’s observations, but they do not provide a pathway to civic participation, only the context. The acquisition of new power, even in this “safe biking” example, requires a better understanding of why “the police” had to be used to create the leverage for a reasonable change in public transportation policy.

    The use of passageways, conduits, tubes serves to link one destination to another is a useful metaphor. The places where you live, learn, and work as a network of physical destinations now includes a new address.  The old addresses have boundaries with transitions that express differences of experience. Within these destinations, there are four main components—a joining of assets linked to 1) pathways that pass through 2) edges to form 3) nodes. A constituency placing value on a range of uses and range of functions to create 4) districts. Within these places, there are familiar sights, signs, monuments that function as 5) landmarks.

    Agency of Change

    The new address is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol (IP) for communication. Your home/work and IP address serve similar functions. At home and work, you are part of a host network with known physical boundaries and edges with location addressing. The difference is an interface identification protocol (IPv4 and IPv6) increases communication access to every place in the world. The path is for lightspeed travel, and the edge, as described by Kevin Lynch, is gone. Well almost.

    The edges that Lynch spoke of would mark a noticeable change in the environment as defined by a coastline or river or more subtly in transitions from a shack in the woods, to lonely single-family buildings, to brownstone rowhouses and tall, skyscraping multiple-use structures. The edges formed by IP addresses, on the other hand, build more keenly on economic circumstances and preferences in communication styles with the documentation of preferences and purposes.

    Estimates of nearly two billion websites include one person or family network to sites that serve millions of people daily, such as Amazon, Wikipedia, or Google. Also, some three billion people use the internet through several social media accounts. In this sense, participation along known paths and observed edges in a physical world have local launch pads in a physical place and a community that requires the observation of edge transformations differently. Connect these two worlds with comparable pathways of participation require a better understanding. The use of a common language will help to define the choices of involvement that can lead to better controls over both worlds.

    The viewpoint for this observation of participation begins with two choices. A website owned by a person or company is an authoritative launchpad that controls the subject matter. The services of a social media account are considerable, but the pages are not yours. The content is removable by others, and it can be altered and monitored—the sale of user and usage statistics knowingly or unknowingly is routine. A personal or business website is the focal point for participation in other mediums, but it controls its content. Both choices will reflect expressions based on the physical experiences . Both are directly affected the quality of a place from which they speak. One is easily manipulated The first edge defines this choice of use, and it determines how the human relationship aspects of involvement in a community develop.

    You live in the world on the left, but from a communications point of view you understand that world the way Lynch produced “images” of the city on the right. The online communications medium of the internet is not as complicated as the pathways and edges that define movements involving home, family, work, neighbors, friendships, and life in search of social and economic well-being. Nevertheless, the way Kevin Lynch adds nodes, districts, and landmarks to the urban arc of a life is super useful. Imagine the city on the right represent physical locations and constituencies with an interest in improving a specific quality of life such as being able to use a human powered vehicle for every trip with substantial guarantee of safety. Now imagine the power to connect with every person in that limited environment that wants the same thing.

    When I understand my IP address, the questions are in what nodes am I apart, what kind of districts do they form, and what are the landmarks (attractions) of each. Using these three terms can reduce the jargon that describes the technical function of your phone or other computers.

    Search “IP packet,” and 17 million locations deliver in half a second because nodes on the internet are composed of servers.

    In 1960, when Lynch wrote his first book, a node was a concentration of some characteristic at the strategic focal point into which a participant enters. In Lynch’s case, those points were identified and defined using a series of Boston streets (image above). Thus, Lynch demonstrates how the psychology of cognitive mapping is useful in understanding the city in the context of regional planning, urban architecture, and design.

    Edward Tolman (1948) wrote “Cognitive Maps in Rats and Men” to describe navigating an environment that uses spatial knowledge to make choices. In the early 70s, I traveled to Kentucky by car on a research project with a friend, a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and Bryant, an African-American. After arriving, we had a choice made for us when told that sensitivity levels were a little “touchy” and to avoid a stretch of state highway. I assumed that “sensitivity” was White, but I learned Bryant thought it was Black weeks later. We laughed.

    Between 1970 and 2020, it is the lightspeed that changes everything. Traveling with an IP address has made cognitive mapping choices very different. We create mental images of a place based on our personal experience or as given to us by others. At any moment, IP travel offers a series of narratives, videos, training programs, and product offers as choices. However, there are, as yet, very few resources to further your understanding of what your IP means.

    Adding Lynch’s knowledge of the urban form is useful in understanding your unique IP self or social media membership. In the lightspeed world, distinguishing between an IP that identifies you in a dense local district produces attractions that offer thousands of new types of engagement that you can acquire by walking. An entirely new and rapidly developing business model aims to know the fine grain of who you are in the context of a region the size of Boston or the Northeast, but do you know who you are in that world concerning the one you walk in?

    Finally, a set of landmarks to which you are attracted form continuously. Examples are a specific data stream that meets a need or a planned set of experiences designed to build benchmarks that signify achievements. Regardless of the order provided, we should learn to perceive and understand the digital environment in the same way as the one we walk. Both pathways have the quality of a physical object, which gives it a high probability of evoking a larger image in which one path becomes vital because it is a point of decision, but is it yours?

    Multiple sizes and locations across these landscapes of common interest discovery have many successes and failures. The example given in this post is a brief explanation why you will find bicycle lanes on city streets throughout country. The more difficult explorations for discovery are explored in posts on system change. The resurgance of the movement for civil rights or the termination of racism have complex sets of partial success and qualified failure. The definition of a growing list of malfunctions exhibit the rise of urgency regarding the course of human history

    Three spatial forms describe how the engagement of participants leaves little room for reciprocity in teaching and learning about community change.  These are the places in which a group is 1) manipulated, 2) called an exhibit, or 3) treated as tokens, are well known. 

    Manipulation

    Those who administer an exit poll during an election or a consumer market or political opinion survey expect benefits. The product of their analysis of the data gathered provides an idea of what the immediate future holds. Identifying an unmet demand in the market for goods or services or taking a sample of a decision already made by a large group predicts outcomes.

    We are all familiar with election night exit polls. There is nothing grievously wrong with these forms of participation, but the opportunity for redress on the part of those used for these purposes is limited. It is participation without balance. The manipulation occurs in highly localized places such as a shopping district or a street outside a voting place. Surveys or other activities that offer little understanding of purpose are acceptable to people. They enjoy sharing their thoughts in person, on the phone, or online and do not expect the knowledge gained by others is shared with them at some future date. However, there is a line, and when crossed, people will sense a lack of fairness. Whether they step or stumble across this line, numerous acts of betrayal are possible. Whether deliberate or unintentional, this is a significant responsibility in the practice of a community’s participation.

    Decorative Prescription

    Perhaps you engage people (especially students) in community projects or a political cause, or a demonstration with a few placards for a march, or an event such as an awards ceremony.  Here, the quality of participation is a lesson in how appropriate actions acquire benefits. Creating involvement in addressing a problem with public displays of concern, such as a brief march, will involve people. People are happy to purchase a ribbon and decorate themselves to symbolize identification with a cause. Still, they lack effectiveness beyond a show of power, an exhibition of solidarity, or the appearance of consensus. 

    Participation occurs in the form of judgment about a problem to make it pre-extant. For example, raising money or distributing position leaflets.  Also, to get a child’s participation by saying, “you are a poor reader because you just don’t read.” is a judgment different offering a more attractive prescription by saying, “let’s find some things we are interested in reading. About?” A similar example saying, “you are within the law, but you are immoral,” is considerably different from working hard to see challenges within a larger ethical framework. Producing acts of uniformity for a cause works. The downside is that participation in socially diverse settings weakens when there are various issues to define and resolve.

    Token Information

    Becoming engrossed in complex community development issues such as human rights, sustainability, basic safety, housing, and education affects many people in very different ways in all urban landscapes. Presenting options that deal with concerns in these settings that direct residents to their rights and responsibilities can become “tokens.” Individual leaders may understand an issue well enough to stand up and say, “We have the answer, follow us,” and do so with all the persuasive powers at their command. While this might be true, it precludes participation and the opportunity for others to engage the problem directly and define it for themselves. We may be quite willing to follow, but this weakens the chance to experience negotiation power regarding immediate and possibly, future actions. Participation based on the information given and little else inhibits the development of new ideas and data.

    Participation as a “done deal” is reasonable; its weakness is the myth of the “now or never” demand. Its strength is in the implied rage built into “no justice, no peace” because it is not a threat. It is a prediction. What must be recognized is how the hopelessness that wells up when “Black Lives Matter” is countered with the “all lives” statement. The latter is a statement of willing ignorance or a poor understanding of history. The experience of no change whether, day-to-day or by generation, invokes the requirement for improvements in the public’s understanding of social change. It is painful to recognize differing perceptions of the same experience in a time and place as having validity. How people interpret an experience may be correct or incorrect but always considered to be correct. There are many reasons for this, but there are two I like best. First, it is well proven that we fill in visual data (color, images, light, faces) in the rush or stream of events before us, and second, doubting the correctness of our senses is considered a step toward madness. It is not merely sustaining the discipline to look both ways.

    Newer forms of active participation produce leadership structures willing to give up predetermined conclusions and “re-enter” the problem from the beginning with participants in a continuous flow.  Integral to the growth of democratic systems is knowing how other highly informed participants can broaden their perception of what is needed. What is the use of someone “knowing the way” when the capacity to follow will not grow or modify in the process?

    It is impossible to say a better way is possible when none can be exhibited with validity. Rage and hopelessness are the sisters of no change. This is where advanced communication systems focused on local engagement and participation can bring a form of experience that can effectively eliminate the despondency of our times.

    Toward More Effective Participation

    At this point, it is appropriate to bring up “mobilization.” Being organized can come from the willing participation in surveys without ever knowing the results, participating as an exhibit of an issue, or being treated as a token for a cause in a march. It is OK. We don’t mind answering questions or walk in a protest carrying a sign or wearing a ribbon. We are a society based on assembly. We share classrooms to learn, churches for prayer and offices for work, arenas for games, and so on. The reason for this is apparent; society has valuable things to trade and information to deliver. 

    Some gatherings are regimeoriginated, others purely voluntary. As institutions, they may help us choose what we need to know. We participate in protecting what we have. But, on the other hand, when we have nothing or the appearance of nothing compared to others, participation seems to have a very high cost and little evidence of immediate, exchangeable value. Why?

    For the most part, we freely allow ourselves to be part of the three most common forms of civic participation described above.  The danger of it is not knowing that your knowledge is among the multiple types available. For example, the quality of a physical location experience is a product of active design and drawn from an original consultation form. The rows of chairs in a school or line of pews in a church is a design asking people to listen and accept membership. At some point, people were asked to create an assembly space. The same for the first desk or table, wheel, The new pathways described below are unnerving. As the process begins, participants are without clear, concrete objectives and a social distancing world. It is, by its nature, ambiguous.  Luckily, these periods of ambiguity have the potential to be the most highly creative.

    The “Winding”

    Overall, the forms described above have one overall acronym – DAD (decide, announce, and defend), and it produces in fun urban terms such as a LULU (aka, a locally undesirable land uses).  One nationally active community organizing coalition describes the forms of participation described above as the BOHICA (“bo-hee-ca”) problem.  Or bend over, here it comes again,” suggesting these forms of assistance might as well be a swift kick in the pants. Another described it as a beautiful path to achieve “maximum feasible misunderstanding” to play with the phrase “maximum feasible citizen participation” regarding impacts. 

    Unlike a metaphor, the winding is literal and applicable as an alternative.  A winding can refer to rivers and roads, even clockmaking. The mind-shaping type when being manipulated, shown for a cause, or asked to follow without the opportunity to question has viseral, potentially violent consequenses.

    Testing the breaking and balance skills of participants occurs with a nonlinear injection of possibilities. The desire for speed is disrupted, but it can be replaced a similar emotion – discovering how to absorb different preferences and perceptions in the wind of common experiences. Help in assessing risk/reward conditions builds energy people can share. A review and exploration of five winding experiences suggest new engagement strategies. Briefly, the first present two forms of consultation – assigned and composed, that outline resource packaging for participant-initiated projects. The next three describe member command structures by delegation systems, then data sharing methods, and the third introduces various sets of control structures.

    Assigned Consultation

    Someone or some group has gotten the attention of people and they assemble. A list of possible “projects” are offered that define and solve problems. A talk begins and the people question the plans. We confront the quality of participation every day. We understand and accept most of them, whether getting signatures for a candidate, selling cookies for the scouts, even when stuck in traffic on a communte. When something new is presented the “projects” tend to define and solve problems in the same breath – elect a representative, raise money for the scouts. When this kind of expectation fills a meeting place, ask, and answer these questions regarding accountability.

    1. Who made the decision to seek public involvement and how is it planned?
    2. How is the involvement people determined?
    3. What measures are used to evaluate contributions to the program and projects proposed?

    The discussion is guided by asking process questions such as:

    1. When will the experience, thoughts, and energy of people shape or alter these projects? 
    2. How will this help resolve the problems we have just described?
    3. How will this help us to accept, reject, reframe, and define the opportunities offered?”

    With the knowledge that accountability and a clear process will remain in constant review, the work required to establish active project-to-project participation rests when the imagined events are activated. Reciprocal levels may be hard to find, but they often represent a form of freely borne membership that “self-assigns” the consultation process. 

    Without a doubt, an emotional coil forms to represent the impossibilities. Some will call it the camel’s nose, others – the elephant. Whatever people want to call it, the rise of several small groups will begin to examine all sides of the thing. Encouraging self-assignment through a consultation process gives the go-ahead to poke and prod it just enough to discover the actions available to kill the potential for apathy.

    Say a group of trial lawyers want to change the behavior of district attorneys in arraignment proceedings. A group forms, and they get the DAD experience. A series of lawsuits or formal complaints report a failure in fulfilling rights guaranteed to citizens. In these matters, the court does not enhance the quality of life nor judge its inadequacy. 

    Composed Consultation

    Those who have control will make turns on or off the road.  They have managed the selection of a whole series of possible projects as part of a planning-to-act process. It helps to determine mutual accord and the consent needed to move on down the road.

    Completing a fair summary of newly discovered information from recent events reveals the probability of moving too quickly.  The process stops because of sweeping generalizations, placation, or other feelings that slide a crisis. The lack of human resources, skill, and cash, you name it. To help control the speed of participation, I recommend participant leaders develop the means to introduce the following consultations:

    1. Members generate the program plan in the selection of project activities.  (list, prioritize)
    2. Resolve mistrust, or confusion arising from the powerholders’ release of power.
    3. Encourage access to independent technical resources to those implementing projects.
    4. Compose groups implementing projects to define potential programs.
    5. Explore the issues and problems raised with adequate tools.  (testing, skill assessments)
    6. Ask participants to delegate the responsibility in summation to a representative body.

    Summation involves proof of intensely undistracted listening. It requires a reading of non-verbal languages, and above all, the ability to exhibit the intelligence inherent in a collective enterprise. Top among them is to have a name for the variety of collaborations discovered to the time used.

    For example, consider the formation of a “scouting team” asked to look further up the road to report views, or a “research group” asked to examine the past by interviewing participants in a similar effort about their satisfaction and achievements. Thousands of examples “never doubt” groups are possible. The operation composed consultation is to sustain interest in the discovery of new resources useful to all, and in doing so broaden and composition of new conferences. The prevailing summary statement should prove that “no one is as smart as all of us.”

    Participant-Initiated Partnerships 

    With a few places to go to achieve identified ends, it becomes possible to decide how to get there – to choose a means. The power to maneuver, bargain, and negotiate also becomes distributable. A good partnership in many ways is playing in low-risk trial and error effort. The game can be solemn among adults, but once skill development is well exercised – it’s usually called fun.

    The idea of a partnership contains many actions. They form to provide advice and consent opportunities or to protect and assist and reject or abandon an effort. For example, once a participatory project begins with young people, the partnership should be intelligent and skilled enough not to interfere with or over-direct the play as if they were surrogates. The very roots of our learning abilities begin with games followed by reflection with adults on their meaning.  The reverse is equally possible.

    Adults tend to respond poorly to the initiatives of the young because it involves that transition from “I decide” to “you choose.” These changes shape the “rites of passage,” for which there are many benchmarks, portals, and passageways. One of the poorest of these “portals” is as follows: “as a child, you play. When you become an adult, you work.”  Non-interactive media such as TV, film, reading tend to dominate the concept of the game.

    It isn’t the absence of the desire to be useful in community affairs for both young and old. Instead, it is more likely to lack leadership in forming participant-initiated partnerships that demand interactive forms of learning and experience. Here are some questions to use in building and supporting these organizations:

    1. Do the projects serve the interests and needs of individuals in small groups?
    2. Are these various designs recognized as part of a whole?
    3. Are quantified goals and objectives written about these projects?
    4. Is there a feeling of strategic accomplishment in meeting goals and objectives?
    5. Have issues of policy and priority been discussed?
    6. Are sufficient resources available to accomplish the projects envisioned?
    7. What is the evaluation practice of projects undertaken as part of the plan?

    The winding road metaphor begins to open up exhilarating views of the world when answers to these questions come with ease.  If unanswered, the participants do not have a vision of the future and do not know where they are going.  The phrase, “if you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there” in my experience was restated best by Yogi Berra, when told us to be careful, “if we don’t know where we are going because we might not get there.”

    Planning what to do has been outlined. Participant initiatives reveal an ability to undertake decision-making and assume responsibility. Exposing this as an enhanced condition unfolds practical limits and prescribed periods. Decision-making power organizes participants into groups given individually selected but mutual learning needs or interests.

    Leadership is often a thing “taken,” as if it were, in itself, power.  On the other hand, effective leadership is something given and taken in the process of delegating and sharing decisions.  Without a doubt, this form is more complicated and often painful in its seemingly sluggish pace.  The heart of knowledge is experience and reflection with other people.  As the “winding road” speed will vary with every individual or group, we recognize how awareness (cognition) occurs at different rates.

    Delegated and Shared Decisions

    Delegation systems acknowledge that no one person or group has absolute control. We face degrees of delegation to ourselves (to-do lists) that include, even guarantee capacity to make decisions for others to do. We also learn to negotiate the conditions that allow “outsiders” to change the list if the resources exist to respond to a delegation and delegate.

    There is a useful image of a “mountaintop” on the winding road regarding decision-making. Everyone can get there in the sense of seeing it, but not all simultaneously or for the same reasons.  The fact that it exists, that it is there, establishes the means for a continuing relationship, consistently defined between task groups to get us all there in one or more of its many forms.

    The capacity to distribute resources produces a trading and bartering environment if the intent is to achieve mutual benefits. Many participant perspectives involving a series of reasonably well-implemented projects create individuals and groups who have the power to contract for resource exchanges from the “outside” or “inside.”  The participants “know what they need to know” and control the process of gaining this information.  The dialogue moves from “just tell us what to do, or know” to decisions about the forms of mutual assistance available to discover what needs to be done and learned.

    At this point, there are also drawbacks, more like potholes than boulders, when a group stumbles on a task or project. The esprit de corps climate can foster win-lose confrontations instead of win-win conclusions. The result will be participants who are or feel “left out” of the process.  Competitive sport is an excellent example of this drawback. It has a dominant win-lose component of real value. Still, the often-neglected win-win conclusion is a broadly dedicated group of participants engaged in applying physical skill and necessary teamwork.  Remaining focused on these win-win objectives is essential.

    All organizations run from the top down, but those closest to the source of information give power from the bottom if there is a way to bubble up. The freedom of those at the top can cause forgetfulness about the importance of stopping to take a look around. Delegating from the top to all participants is a power function to respond to demand from the bottom. This top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top flow of data describes an organization’s capacity to achieve goals.  Structured training experiences are available to illustrate the importance of these types of events in real-life experiences.

    Controlling “We Decide”

    Control systems also recognize that organizations can establish absolute delegation power.  Just ask anyone who has experience with New York City’s alternate side of the street parking regulations. As a result, control systems can have considerable influence over human conduct.   While this example involves financial penalties for nonparticipation, active control systems are those fully embraced by community-wide value systems.  After all, what the New Yorker is experiencing is alternate-side, street-cleaning as a commonly held community value. 

    A proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a community value, it implies modest differentiation between parenthood and the responsibilities of the community. Too often, we forget this includes the child.  The exclusion of children as full participants is frequently due to the research styles of social, psychological, and even anthropological sciences limiting participation to the first three described above. For example, written “permission” for the involvement of parents in various events (being interviewed, field trips) is rarely asked of a child. 

    Under what conditions are people of any age allowed to say “no” or asked to “give permission,“ even as a child?  There is a fundamental difference between going through the routine demands of participation and having real management control over outcomes.  This point occurs in the path of life but recurs continually in the development of a community.  Ultimately, a person or a community can control what it can make recur.  For this reason, it is invalid to seek participation as an end in itself.  More than any other force, involvement in the design of community activities is driven by the full and repetitive disclosure of values affirmed and expressed consistently and openly.

    Summary

    There have been eight parts of participation presented here.  The first three describe the weakest and most conciliatory forms on the road to active service.  They seek to “educate” or “treat” participants but leave little room for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the process of managing change.  I used a winding road analogy to introduce activities that support tradeoffs and negotiation to define intent, the predictability of results, and the clarity of mutual benefits.  Our sense of fairness is a consequence of participation in civic affairs; however, the more serious issue is that “hope” does not produce a future. A plan does. 

    The most efficient form of assistance engages task and project groups with experiences and resources to establish the capacity for the delegation of decision-making. The basis of managerial power every community can obtain in managing the complex array of activities leads to a planned course of events.  Within the community circle or geography of the neighborhood, these games are intuitive.

    1. Research on issues is by the people concerned socially or economically by degree.
    2. Research is a commitment to the individuals and their control of the analysis.
    3. Research begins when a concrete problem is identified; and
    4. We proceed by investigating the underlying causes of the problem selected so that the members can go about addressing causes and solutions themselves within a series of standard geographic reference points.

    On the other hand, when specialists evaluate an issue or problem, they carry additional influence and responsibility for the structure and direction of subsequent actions. For example, it is possible to alter people’s experiences without their advanced knowledge or insight regarding the nature of the change.  More positively, the act of problem-solving itself establishes a self-empowerment process that encourages the provision and selection of self-enabling tools.  In examining the availability and facility with these devices, the potential for a wrong is measured.

    The motivation derived from defining and investigating problems is powerful. Detailed environmental analysis or local history produces scientific and humanistic questions. These issues engage geographic reference points that function from the local to the global and back again. Participation processes can embrace all people’s validity of their personal views, experience, knowledge, and foresight. Investing in the value of citizenship in this manner creates a condition where anyone at any moment can have critical insight essential to success.

    References:

    Two essays that influenced this post are well known by Sherry R. Arnstein’s 1969 article in the AIP Journal, entitled A Ladder of Citizen Participation. The second is by Roger A. Hart, in 1992, Innocenti Essays No. 4, “Children’s Participation – From tokenism to citizenship,” published by Unicef – United Nations Children’s Fund that added his interpretation. Finally, the addition of Kevin Lynch’s viewpoint of the urban structure in A Theory of Good City Form and Image of the City helped give the language of place to the participation process.