Review the Rules

Rules

In all of our worlds (social, political, economic, biometric) we search for things considered necessary. We see closed doors, glass ceilings, and tables with no invitations. The good news is we have a set of new rules that could make change more positive.

Nikola Tesla

A way to develop answers to questions about change rest with the combination of several very new organizations such as the World Wide Web Foundation and some old scientists such as Nikola Tesla pictured (left). Both are excellent examples of learning and unlearning everything to begin every day differently than the day before. Pioneering access to information has always been available at the speed of light thanks to your hippocampus, but now it is a many-brain experience. We need new skills.

The first rule of knowledge is that it expands through the experience of frequency. The second is you control what you make recur. The third rule is books do not hold truth or meaning. Meaning is in people, and the truth is just outside your front door. Take a long looking walk every day.

These three rules draw a vital connection to the immensity of comparative change. Here is an example. It is a comparison of Nikola Tesla and Tim Berners-Lee. Here we find two people who looked just outside their door but managed to see the whole world. Just under a century ago, Nikola Tesla explored every aspect of energy he could imagine. Just a few decades ago (1989-1991) Tim Berners-Lee and others created the URL and HTML as a fast method for sharing and editing documents on a worldwide basis. There is a connection.

Tesla

I came across an examination of Tesla’s writings and interviews on the subject of the future at The Smithsonian. In Tesla’s vision, leaning to control the energy of everything will establish the recurrence of all things good. A movement to elect scientists instead of lawyers to leadership positions in the legislative branches of government has begun. In a 1935 Liberty Magazine article, Tesla was among those saw science the parent of law and writes,

Today the most civilized countries of the world spend a maximum of their income on war and a minimum on education. The twenty-first century will reverse this order. It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle. The discovery of new scientific truth will be more important than the squabbles of diplomats. Even the newspapers of our own day are beginning to treat scientific discoveries and the creation of fresh philosophical concepts as news. The newspapers of the twenty-first century will give a mere ” stick ” in the back pages to accounts of crime or political controversies but will headline on the front pages the proclamation of a new scientific hypothesis.

Something Is Wrong

A century later, for every $100 paid in U.S. federal income tax, well over half of it still goes to the military in the 21st century. Something is wrong.

Tesla saw the ability of science to improve people in the same way law sought to protect. Called eugenics at the time, these discredited and immoral practices present a view of the world based on the distorted views of privileged white males and this has yet to change in a meaningful way. Nevertheless, the debate continues in a broad spectrum by manipulating DNA in thousands of lifeforms. CRISPR will continue to press for the inclusion of the human genome. It must be watched, something isn’t right.

Tesla recognized the lack of control over the waste machines create as he was a builder of them. He envisioned a national agency with the mission to prevent pollution (waste nothing) and regulate the discarded materials of production for the specific purpose of protecting the land, air, and water. The EPA did not form until 1970. President Nixon was in office. Something isn’t right, waste continues beyond reason and it includes human beings.

Tesla’s outlook on the energy requirements of the human diet eschewed all stimulants except alcohol. Perhaps he was like Mark Twain who said that “too much of anything is bad, but too much Scotch is rarely enough,” but he knew it was possible to provide “…enough wheat and wheat products to feed the entire world.” and he criticized the industrialization of animals for protein. He was a contemporary of Dr. Norman Borlaug.

Tesla recognized energy drawn from the burning of fossil fuels as wasteful and dangerous. The identification of global warming gases began in the 19th century. He saw clean energy, from sources such as water-power and the scientific preservation of natural resources would end the agonies of drought, forest fires, floods, and viral infestation. Federal Disaster Declarations have doubled and tripled since 1955. Something isn’t right.

Science proves Right

Tesla’s favorite work is in the invention of remotely controlled machines designed to automate production. He understood communication as wireless. In 1935, he said, “At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a thinking machine. In all of our worlds, for right or wrong, the only proof of communication is persuasion. Can a “thinking machine” isolate the wrong of a lie?

Image result for tim berners-lee
Tim Berners-Lee

In 1994, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), formed as an international community devoted to developing open web standards. Tim Berners-Lee is the Director of W3C (2017). The question is direct. How well can this resource advance the frequencies of useful change that Tesla envisioned? In 2009, Berners-Lee formed The World Wide Web Foundation and began operations as an independent, international organization fighting for digital equality. It envisions the continuing implementation of an open web as a public good and a basic right. Its mission is to help build a world where everyone can access the web and use it to improve their lives. The internet community produced the following revolutionary ideas.

The Rules are Under Attack

In August 2020, the United States under the Trump Administration began to attack the idea of internet sovereignty in favor of an authoritarian view that would redefine the idea of free expression. The following principles of an open and free internet are therefore under attack.

  • Decentralization: No permission from a central authority to post anything on the web, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure … and no “kill switch”! This also implies freedom from indiscriminate censorship and surveillance.
  • Non-discrimination: If I pay to connect to the internet with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can both communicate at the same level. This principle of equity is Net Neutrality.
  • Bubble-up design: Code is in full view of everyone (Ctrl/Shift/I) to encourage maximum participation and experimentation. All you have to do is right-click and select inspect.
  • Universality: For anyone to be able to publish anything on the web, all the computers involved have to speak the same languages to each other, no matter what different hardware people are using; where they live; or what cultural and political beliefs they have. In this way, the web breaks down silos while allowing diversity to flourish.
  • Consensus: For universal standards to work, everyone had to agree to use them. The achievement of consensus occurs by giving everyone a say in creating the standards, through a transparent, participatory process at W3C. The consensus to agree with everything, at least “somewhat” and a known degree.

Hypothesis

Two immediate suppositions are evident when comparing Tesla’s ideas (turn of the 20th) about the world’s future with what the World Wide Web now offers (turn of the 21st). The first insight reveals a public education policy at risk and the second is one big assumption. The risk is that a probable series of severe social, economic, and environmental events will increase and continue to occur as “chaos costs.” The assumption is the threat of these costs will lead to repression as if the cause/effect in this situation is a certainty. It is not.

A third observation is less reactionary. The documentation and implementation of two resilience strategies that will serve as benchmarks. For example, putting a global price on GHGs and focus that resource on investments in new energy solutions are arguments that can be won toward action in less than a decade. The reasonable deadline appears to be 2050 by most observers to achieve net-zero. It could be sooner.

If initial benchmarks establish firm roots, a path will become apparent on ways to improve our global selves with the aid of super useful “thinking machines” focused on facts and knowledge instead of death and war.

Envision a world where trust is about truth and not about machine ownership. Something is wrong. The internet is not a machine.

A responsive market approach can succeed. The value system accepts disruption in parts of the physical and emotional community, but not the spirit of people in the wake of that change. The infusion of world wide web values now offers decentralization, non-discrimination, a bottom-up design, super universality, and consensus. This is a compelling alternative to authoritarian rule. The rules are clear for building pathways to new physical realities. The implementation of one hellish set of trusted, tried and true algorithms remains along with the desire to go outside. Have a good, long look at the world. (Knowledge share link here).

In the Wind

On January 4, 2013, The New York City Independent Budget Office of New York City published a study on the cost of Hurricane Sandy in overtime pay. As part of that study, the chart below illustrates who made the most money. There is a way to look at this sarcastically but helpfully. The Police as an institution is making a mess like Hurricane Sandy, but Sanitation was available to help clean it up. When it comes to the police, the people have no sanitation. There is an irony about this as the result of a modest bit of digging by the IBO because of a hurricane.

Irony: The nation’s rage is that hurricane.

The IBO: Reduced Funding for Reform

I know the connection to hurricane overtime pay is a stretch, (details here), but I’m sure the overtime numbers will be equally interesting in overtime pay for police, ironically in the name of the public’s safety and the protection of property. Last November, voters approved an increase in Civilian Complaint Review Board staffing. Does the Mayor’s Budget Plan Provide the Funds? No. Staffing for what would be a modest reform effort at best would be below the level approved by voters. Find out more: here for the deep end. Some of the points are:

  • In January, the Mayor released his Preliminary Budget for the upcoming fiscal year and included funding for 17 additional Civilian Complaint Review Board positions to comply with the new City Charter mandate. In April, the Mayor dropped these positions from his Executive Budget for a savings of $1.1 million in the fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1.
  • The City Charter revision approved by voters in 2019 included language providing the Mayor with authority to declare that “unforeseen financial circumstances” prevent the city from being able to attain the 0.65 percent minimum staffing requirement.
  • The city’s financial plan now includes funds for staffing the additional Civilian Complaint Review Board positions in 2022—one year later than previously planned. IBO estimates the city’s budget shortfall for 2022 is nearly $6 billion, a much deeper budget gap than the city faces in 2021.
  • Moreover, the actual size of the review board’s staff as of the end of February stood at 203, or 16 fewer than currently budgeted.

Prepared by Bernard O’Brien New York City Independent Budget Office

The NYPD still makes a giant money-sucking sound and the city runs on $90 Billion. A substantial sum. That is why the only good news is as of today June 30, 2020, Mayor Da Blabla – cut one billion out of the NYPD’s budget. Dig in: Office of Management and Budget – NYC.gov

I would like to eventually find out if the staffing for the Review Board will be replaced, and what was cut, and if it makes sense to the police reform advocates.

Seven Facts About the NYPD Budget (here)
Source: Citizens Budget Commission

  1. About $11 billion from the City’s budget are allocated to the NYPD.
  2. The NYPD has the third-largest agency operating budget.
  3. Most of the NYPD budget is for salaries and wages, and the largest share funds street patrol.
  4. About one-third of NYPD employees are civilians.
  5. The average pay for police officers was more than $90,000 and as high as $190,000 for captains, including overtime.
  6. The NYPD budget has grown by one-third since the fiscal year 2010.
  7. NYPD headcount grew by more than 3,000 employees since the fiscal year 2010.

Funding Sources of the NYPD Budget

Most of the NYPD’s budget is funded by City tax dollars:

  • 92 percent, or $5.2 billion, is City-funded
  • 6 percent, or $349 million, is federally funded
  • 2 percent, or $82 million, is State-funded
  • Less than 1 percent is from other categorical grants

Markets

Cutting through the data maze….

Useful Demography

Demography is used to describe the social characteristics and vital statistics of people, families, and households within a geographic boundary. A variety of secondary sources provide free or low cost online access to useful data. Developing an inhouse, ” fast and easy” demographic resource is an important step in selecting the social conditions and the economic variables such as the cost of housing or access to employment that would be of greatest use to your organization or company.

Evaluate the depth of need for goods and services both public and private on a per capita basis. Research includes improved understanding of the changing quality of economic demand on local businesses in terms of market size. Our Demographic Reports review options and help select the information deemed most useful to client’s immediate needs.

Market complexity…
Whether for profit businesses or nonprofit community organizations corporations the tools for managing changes in market conditions are best understood when regional data is compared to local knowledge. A well-known tactic for evaluating these changes is advanced demographic research on the dollars and cents of local markets.

  Preliminary Market Analysis Services

                 

A key asset of every community is its uniqueness, including the ability to act on an issue in a timely fashion. Acquiring an advanced Demographic Market Report on local commercial districts will reveal the capacity of local small businesses to capture local spending and local nonprofits to get down to business.

Also known as a “drill down” method, the process helps community groups to launch a competitive response to large corporate retailers in business-to-business and business-to-community dealings. The policy has been to encourage local nonprofit organizations with a public service mission to consider “running a business” to “fill in the retail gaps.” This has been wrong headed.

In most urban communities today, the spending of as few as 25% of the households represent as much as 75% of local retail spending, but local business or community advocates only see that 75% of lower-income households whose spending power is only 25% of the market. Changing the business model to make the powerful 25% happy would be competitively good for everyone.

If you are a community-based nonprofit organization dealing with the concentrations of poverty, consider “transhipment” controls. This effort changes the means of delivery in the journey to free people trapped in self- and community-distructive cycles.

Organizational Development

What are your organization’s key performance indicators?

Community organizations and private businesses create change in response to the values and beliefs of a community. Testing for these values is a particular strength of nonprofit community service organizations, but small businesses also perform well in this area.  Small companies and charitable nonprofits advance the opportunity for growth by adapting well to change.  Here are three examples:

  • Risk Management – How does your organization define and manage risk?
  • Timely Evaluations – What steps are taken to preserve capital and leverage public confidence?
  • Conduct an Effort to Outcome Analysis – Do you use client management software?

The Organizational Development Report often precedes a Strategic Plan.  OD creates levels of goal assurance. Efforts are evaluated as individual tasks combine knowledge with interpersonal behavior.  New sources of capacity occur with acknowledgments that confront impediments. 

Strategic Planning is a tool to advance an organizations development with an external environmental scan. The scan examines competitive and cooperative relationships that are possible among the full range of civic, business, and public agencies. The SP Report produces a road map for the executive staff that improves operations, and interpersonal communication with flexible, scalable, and reasonable procedures.

Knowledge Capital Assessment 

In the United States, an entire generation has been fundamentally untouched by global war, disease, or famine.  This group is rapidly becoming “fifty-something,” and that is reasonably good news because human resource managers and executive directors face the dual challenge of retaining key people in their organizations. Most jobs are knowledge-based, and older workers, in increasingly large numbers, can fill these challenges into their 60s and beyond.  Along this line of thinking, is your organization prepared to address the following set of questions?

QUESTIONS

Organizational Development (OD) reports suggest the following quality of thinking:

  1. As an employer, you cannot guarantee your future, so how can you secure the careers of your employees?
  2. Are employees encouraged to be responsible for their own careers and life planning?
  3. Will new ways to offer career options such as flexible time encourage your most experienced staff to explore fewer hours, with less stress and less pay?
  4. Will older workers help or hinder in developing the careers of younger workers?
  5. What the differences in how older vs. younger workers seek advancement?
  6. Have you developed succession plans for employees eligible to retire over the next five to eight years?
  7. Have you measured the gap between the talent you need in five years in comparison to the ability currently available?
  8. Are you training products on your list of investments to ensure employees of all ages can achieve ‘sustainable’ employability within your organization or elsewhere?
  9. Has the question, ‘Is there a retirement ‘life plan’ been asked of the older staff? Is a plan in place to assure this occurs at least five years before retirement date?

FACTS

The United States produced 99 million jobs in 1980, with 107 million workers in the labor force looking for jobs. By 2010 a reversal is expected. There will be 168 million jobs but just 158 million workers,  a shortfall of 10 million that includes recession impacts.

By 2010, about 64 million people(40%) in the labor force today (2007)  will reach retirement age. This will be the healthiest, longest-living, and the best-educated group of retirees in American history.

Mark Freedman, in Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life,  examine the national implications of the old/young staff and anticipates many questions about keeping this resource affordable. (See Questions)

These and many other issues face organizations of all sizes and missions.  We will be pleased to explore the OD report option with your organization.

For more information on this particular question, we recommend the Urban Institute’s Retirement Project website for its research briefs.  The economic influence caused by a higher percentage of the older people in the population we love to call the boomers will be with your organization for some time.  Try these brief papers:

  1. Will Retiring Boomers Form a New Army of Volunteers? (8 pages, PDF)
  2. Retaining Older Volunteers Is Key to Meeting Future Volunteer Needs (6 pages, PDF)
  3. Are We Taking Full Advantage of Older Adults’ Potential? (8 pages, PDF)

Get Strategic

Is this a Club of Rome Graphic?
I still do strategic planning. Mostly for fun or get even.

Planning .:.
Select objectives that measure the accomplishment of goals.

  • define policies that govern resource acquisition, use, and disposal
  • find resources to acquire objectives
  • adjust to changes in these objectives

Networking .:.
Key services and components for strategic action:

  • Scan the environment
  • Selection of “key” issues
  • State vision/mission statements
  • Conduct an external and internal analyses
  • Develop goals, objectives and strategies
  • Implementation actions selected
  • Monitor, update, and re-scan

Model Selection .:.
The strategic model is one that:

  • Emerges from a mutually beneficial partnership
  • Allows for meaningful participation throughout the planning and design process
  • Results in tactical implementation for a self-renewing design and planning solutions
  • Provides opportunities for innovation in the use of materials and methods
  • Promotes a “many-disciplines” discourse for collaborations to generate creative ideas
  • Fit appropriately in physical, social, economic and cultural context
  • Responds to concerns about environmental, operational and economic sustainability
  • Allows participants to build/own the project
  • Responds to concerns effectively and quickly

Publications

Additional information about publications with access to Adobe PDF documents where noted.

Good, Deeds, Good Design
Princeton Architectural Press, New York (2003)

Over the last twenty years, Rex Curry has taught a variety of urban planning seminars and studios in Pratt’s School of Architecture, the Graduate Program for Planning and the Environment, and in the Pratt Institute Center for Community Development.  As the former president of the national Association for Community Design, Inc. (ACD), he has furthered the development of this national organization by representing a combination of for profit and nonprofit planning and architectural practices in the United States.

One mainstay of community service through architecture is the community design center, some of which have existed for over twenty-five years and contributed a unique body of knowledge and great depth of experience.  CDCs have come to represent great potential for a new form of professional practice.  Read Article (pdf 365K)


Chinatown

In July 2000, a news headline described conditions in Chinatown in the following manner: “Boom times are the worst thing ever to have hit New York’s Chinatown.”  In January 2001, members of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) invested in the development of a “working papers” project and a survey of public opinion.  Over a period of six months, beginning in March 2001, research and interviews identified the facts, defined issues and encouraged mutual action in areas of shared interest.  On September 11, 2001 everything changed. The papers became a resource for recovery.    Read Executive Summary (556 .pdf)


Community Design
as a Standard of Practice

While at Pratt Institute, I sponsored a Fulbright Scholar interested in design, community participation and development.  When I received a call from the editor of Time Savers seeking contributions to their first publication of Urban Design Standards, I asked our resident scholar Dr. Sheri Blake if she would be interested in the project. The article link is below. 

When trapped in the matrix of metrics, Blake points out that change does not occur without persuasion.  In this sense, when the facts do nothing but paralyze a community, other methods are needed to develop the courage to change and grow with uncertainty.  Read Article (pdf 366K)


Gowanus Research Leads to Zoning Changes in 2007-2008

The freight moving capacity of the Gowanus Canal defined Brooklyn’s economic growth for a century.  The material the canal delivered are the homes that surround it.  Today, it there is less a robust but steady investment in environmental protection and lack of decline in some businesses that hint at its new potential.  This combination of economic inputs implies significant changes to the adjacent “upland” residential communities such as Boerum Hill, Columbia Heights, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and many others.

The choices outlined in the 1987 Gowanus Canal Development Study (GCDS) examine the potential for a sequence of land use changes into the future.  Data for local business and local nonprofit corporations provided measures of changing economic conditions.  A series of “sites” in the report offered probable development locations.  Several fragmented urban blocks over total area of 1.7 square miles, almost 467 acres define these locations.  The primary investment remains a public responsibility.  Making right a long series of past environmental wrongs has proven to take two decades vs. the 4 to 5 years originally estimated.  A subsequent analysis undertaken in 2000 identified the causal issues, but once again attempted to define and market development locations.

During the initial 4-5 year period the Canal’s ancient flushing mechanism was re-engineered using the same technology –  a pump to bring clean water into the Gowanus Canal to achieve “fishing and boating status” (level 7).  The next high level of need is the administration of environmental services to continue the process of land restoration and monitoring for intentional dumping and spills in the area.  This is where clean up efforts have stopped “dead in its tracks”.  Dumping is part of the Canal’s legacy, just putting clean water into it does not mean that CSO dumping has been reduced or the that the need for indemnification of past land owners by the public can proceed given the current status of the land and environmental protection reform. 

The 2000 report (a few of the pages are inserted below) included a detailed review of zoning history examining the last fifteen years of public land use decision making.  An argument promotes the “re-invention” of local business opportunities using a special district approach with financial incentives.  The vision is a revitalized canal business and industry center drawing on the substantial resource of design professionals in the area.  The challenge is it argued, is the revitalization of this part of Brooklyn’s waterfront landscape is through unifying the demand for employment with new affordable housing based on industrial product design and research. 

The community base of demand for “doing something” came from a visionay, a resident business man, and the unofficial Mayor of Carrol Gardens. Buddy S. Scotto’s saw a little bit of Venice, young entrepreneurs, and above all an end of its pollution. The central lesson here should be persistence. Any developer taking a modest look would require a fearlessness sense of risk. Since 1987, when I first started to take a serious look, I realize that position will hold through 2050 with a strong new group of advocates.

Survey of Outreach Programs 

This survey examined the relationship between graduate urban design programs and university-based community outreach programs.  The survey reports urban design programs in schools that included community outreach organizations.  In addition to those covered, six others, without graduate programs in urban design do have undergraduate programs:  Arizona State University, Tulane, University of Maryland, University of Tennessee, University of Oregon, and Yale.  To open and download the table (pdf 280k) Click Here

Mega Region Design

Megaregion Design
In November 2007, Bruce Katz presented the challenges of the urban world through his work at the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institute

The exquisite logic of Blueprint for American Prosperity was this century’s “Rachael Carson” moment. The truth is almost impossible to believe, and as it turns out, no one did. That is a serious problem.

The 2050 population estimate by the U.S. Census is about 440 million people.  This is a 60% increase from 2000 at 280 million and sufficient to sustain modest GDP growth were it not for one salient fact.  One-third of the population in 2050 will be 60 years or older. 

Where will the majority of this population decide to live? Economists seem to think it will be in warm places. This is a critical question for many reasons. One of them confronts an enormous labor shortage expected to begin around 2025. Perhaps the most compelling policy question involves the demands of this population for elder care services concerning the quality of its provision in the market place.  This affects everything. 

Knowing how this population will decide to live also goes a long way toward knowing where it can work and be well received.  In order of preference, the following answers are probably accurate:

  • living the same way we always have since we settled here until we drop dead, or
  • seek a village-like setting with easy access to my favorite recreation — theater, movies, dining, and health sports such as running, cycling, golf or tennis, or name it.
  • Move closer, but not too close to the kids, or their kids and some of our friends.
  • Be living with the children in their house as they or we become caregivers or receiver
  • find ourselves in elder care or nursing facility/hospice eventually.

One way to resolve the conflicts of prediction is to define the population’s cohorts by the 2050 geography of megaregions from Brookings and work back to now. Say it is 2020 – you have thirty-years to arrange policy and resources.

Planners and developers know the analysis well. Work in the context of the above categories and then modify a carefully selected yet thin wash of possible local development sites with existing services density or links to dense parts are probable. The question of where is then partially resolved. It is least risky to recognize high demand potential regressed to the mean of less predictable costs, including displacement events associated with the climate change crises, including COVID-19. The choices also involve a broad landscape of existing housing, large to small retail districts, office parks, and industrial areas.  All of the megaregions will require analysis of the historically contrived municipal boundaries organization with rapidly changing demographic characteristics.

A guidebook called Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs documents those who have taken this approach.  (see: Ted Talk by Ellen). It observes how redevelopment plans in low-density areas can be diagnosed. The failure of many developments must be understood. These include grey-field office parks, dead or dying malls, and housing subdivisions altered by illegal or loop-hole conversions. Suburban communities are feverishly working to stabilize or lower personal and property taxes by urgently digging for new options in more haphazard manners than ever before. There is no reason to believe the economic and social forces that accelerated central city decay is not at work with similar consequences in the spread city.

Face it, successfully injecting an urban design agenda into these communities will require a much sharper, top-down “Brookings, APA, AIA, Lincoln, ULI” coalition, and a public focus on how impossible it is for local government agencies to direct development in a free market economy.  It comes done to one question. Why are people such as Bruce Katz and his team all alone on the significance of this make or break analysis? Where is the public capacity to ban all shovels until all projects proposed to comply with regional rules that clearly recognize the age cohort and highly disruptive displacement events? 

Mandatory rules in the following order of priority are available. The guidebooks and manuals for a more successful urban world are well written.  The missing element is a coalition level of political enforcement that would help assure community planning, urban design, and architecture will accomplish the following:

  1. a residential environment that is safe and walkable to meet convenience needs
  2. design solutions that allow for the routine use of human-powered and power assist vehicles
  3. provision of mass transit access serving all comparison goods, needs, interests, or desires
  4. zero footprint impact and plus-grid (micro) energy, natural and technologically advanced waste (of all kinds) management systems
  5. integration of open space systems responsive to natural environmental conditions of wilderness (preferably not fragmented).
  6. Oh, and end the crapshoot presented by the following image of Atlanta as it really exists.

Experience plus reflection produces knowledge. The Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program back in 2007 presented the real challenge of the American urban world.  Why has it not taken hold in a way that ordinary people can absorb? I think the exquisite logic of Blueprint for American Prosperity failed to convince Atlanta. Except for NYC, nobody got it because the hard truth was impossible to believe. Time to repeat it, SAM.

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The Synergy Project

The answer has been right in front of us all along. What matters is the place, and what happens in a place. The earth is big, as a system, it is described best in terms of its solar system. It is better to make sense of the earth in small ways, one with people we know who want and need to create good places.

Rex L. Curry

Our Compacity

Density is a science term. Compacity is a measure places like the New York Metropolitan Area. New York City on the other hand has a fairly distinctive line around it, and that defines it reasonably well.

People know exactly where they are in the NYMA and when not. Boundary lines separate one thing from another and the stuff that makes the NYMA separate from everything else is tied to the density of things per unit of land or water. At some point, the area is not dense enough to be called metropolitan. These many densities combine to form measures of compacity, of everything we know and to the detriment of humanity, it still remains a vague notion.

Politics and Plans

Lines are also the subject of power. I am a researcher more than a practitioner. The lines in the world of politics and plans distinguish one leader’s area from another. Leaders may be political representatives or other types that reveal areas of distinct responsibility for services such as police, fire, and sanitation or how water, gas, electricity, and bytes serve your community. The lines are multi-linear they can define you by your zip code or the train line you use as equivalent to career routes to and from places that shape human life.

The Synergy Project

The premise of combining stories and writing about the compacity of urban life and the many opportunities it offers includes elements of personal political leadership essential to educate and inspire the will to create change on a scale so massive it appears impossible. It is not.