Two forces are at work in the continuing creation of NYC. First-force is energy aimed toward “centers.” Second-force moves outward and away from its centers. Implementing the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA) is an interesting example using a comprehensive urban planning perspective of both. The centers are locations where there are buildings with more than 25,000 square feet in NYC. The force is generated by a global condition demanding a reduction in GHGs. The focus is on large urban centers within large metropolitan cities.
The CMA requires building owners to contribute to meeting the 80/50 goal.
By 2050 NYC will reduce GHG’s to 80% of current levels.
If the legislation passes, the first milestone in the ten-year LTCP will be the City Report’s Conditions (COC). The narrative will draw on the ongoing objective, measurable data that City agencies generate every year over the last five years and punch it into the COC. The COC focus on long-term issues as embedded in the data concerning long-term planning and sustainability will have to face the Climate Mobilization Act’s impact.
Suddenly the Climate Mobilization Act marches into the room from 2021 to 2024 with compliance requirements through 2029. If there were anything like a 1,300-pound Grizzly in community planning, it would be every building owner in the community with square footage over 25,000 square feet yelling, “the investment in energy efficiency, for the reduction of GHGs, will cost the community jobs and displace residents.”
The law says tenants will be protected, but we are in a buyer beware world. The following was set from “deepdive”
“When the act originally passed last year, owners of buildings where rent-regulated units make up less than 35% of the total were given an alternate path to compliance due to what officials called “outdated” rent laws in New York State. That path allowed landlords to pass the cost of building upgrades to tenants by charging for major capital improvements through higher rents.”
“Then in July, the state-level Housing Stability and Tenant Protections Act of 2019 altered how such improvements can be imposed by only allowing rent increases for rent-stabilized units if they make up 35% or more of the units in a building. While this adjustment saves tenants from having the costs of capital improvements and retrofits passed on to them, some councilmembers worried about landlords’ ability to absorb those costs themselves.”
“Elected officials said while more established landlords can likely take on the costs for improvements like HVAC and lighting upgrades. Still, those who manage smaller buildings may not be able to, especially as the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has affected their rental incomes.”
Residential building owners will see it as a perfect opportunity to displace tenants through major capital improvements with added harassment efforts. Major Capital Improvement (MCI) and careless rule enforcement allow building owners to raise rents on the unsuspecting. Documented abuses in monthly MCI rent hikes over $800 per apartment are well-known and feared.
Is it possible to imagine that the plan that eliminates jobs doesn’t matter because the people who have them will be displaced anyway? A counter-measure is available if the focus on the green economy is on jobs. The data is available in jobs from the production of a net-zero supply-chain to the production of well-educated people in the universities NYC has to offer. (See list)
Whether that ridiculous scenario occurs or is more likely in some neighborhoods than others, the Climate Change crisis is that Grizzly in the long term. It has the capacity to push aside all the other issues, education, transportation, public health, arts and culture, economic development, zoning, and land use.
Set by climate policy, the Climate Mobilization Act’s implementation priority will focus on projects that involve about 50,000 buildings in this category, about 2,500 have a million square feet or more. NYC’s Open Data portal has an example Building Footprints to illustrate that the city can be super-square-foot smart on a building by building basis.
The GHG reduction goal is a force applied from the outside toward these locations. The impact on sales and acquisitions in real estate markets for all land uses old, new, and proposed will be significant. The buildings are known and mapped. This is where defining the second-force comes into play.
An old example of a first-force, “center-inward,” and a second-force “center-outward” impact was global thermal nuclear war and auto-technology. The policy was to spread out urban life, leaving energy-efficient public transit systems behind and in decay. The priority was to produce the massive growth promised in an auto-driven economy. Hey, it looked great for a long time, but now hundreds of articles available from the GBC and elsewhere talk about the lack of balance in this policy.
The building owners and communities involved and informed by the Climate Mobilization Act will be encouraged to understand its requirements. These reactions to a problem will occur outwardly from the lawmakers who know stuff to ordinary people who haven’t been told and may never know.
The conduct required involves analyzing existing energy use, building condition, and capacity for financing implementation. Depending on the community, facility projects will either fail or comply with their carbon emissions reduction to 26% by 2024 – 2029. The Green Building Council (GBC) here provides details. The structures involved are organized by space classification, and fines and penalties for non-compliance may not be significant. A good example is the Empire State Building will have to pay $1.25 million as a fine for failure. See story, The New York Times.
Poorly defined second-forces can include the displacement of low- and moderate-income households in rapidly complying and gentrifying NYC neighborhoods due to the well-known impact of “major capital improvements.”. A well-funded outreach and community planning process is needed to get beyond the dubious effect of fines. Assured compliance with Social, Economic, and Environmental Design (SEED) and the LEED nod to this issue is essential. The SEED Evaluator and certification framework establishes social, economic, and environmental goals for building projects to measure success. Buildings are the major contributor to global warming. Still, the people of dense cities such as NYC are the low per capita energy users. The people in the buildings (residents and workers) should have a higher value than the buildings.
The lessons of displacement are throughout the United States.
I urge you to hear Colette Pichon Battle. What she knows now, we need to know.
TheGulf Coast Center for Law and Policy and Colette Pichon Battle’s work raises awareness on equitable disaster recovery, migration, economic development, climate justice, and energy democracy. Climate change is not the problem. It is a symptom of a more significant system problem the American people must address. TED presentation (here).
The NYC Zoning Resolution is now open for business as a negotiating tool. Mandated inclusion to subsidize rental housing is the most recent example. A mandated subsidy drawn from the energy savings produced could be used to prevent displacement and sustain affordability. A therm saved is one earned. The thing is, there is no negotiation with a rising ocean, only the duty to protect all people from all the forms of displacement it will cause.
Exposure to all the wiggle room (cash savings for wealth owners) could help line up social justice and equity goals with needed compliance. For example, Local Law 84 mandates benchmarking and disclosure of energy use. However, it exempts buildings with 10%+ (really, seriously) floor space devoted to data centers, trading floors, or broadcast studios. No Energy Star score is required because disclosing a terrible energy use intensity (EUI) is awful PR. Example abound in this arena of the wiggle.
Carbon offsets are allowed. Purchasing unlimited renewable energy credits (RECs), also known, can reduce reported emissions for electricity. A citywide emissions trading scheme (ETS) focused on greenhouse gas emissions will come up in 2021 and so on. Every dime should turn into an anti-displacement dollar for one reason — the law outlines “guidelines” most of the specifics have yet to be reconciled. And, in addition to Local Law 97, the Climate Mobilization Act includes other laws:
Local Law 98 – Wind Energy: Obliging the Department of Buildings to include wind energy generation in its toolbox of renewable energy technologies.
Thankfully, there are resources to help building owners navigate this evolving regulatory landscape. The NYC Retrofit Accelerator supports building owners’ efforts to improve their buildings’ energy efficiency. (calculator) At the state level, NYSERDA has several programs geared towards putting buildings on the path to energy efficiency.
Voluntary nonprofits are gaining traction to assist institutions with the measurement tasks for a price. A good example is CRIS — The Climate Registry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement, reporting, and verification platform, accessible at https://www.cris4.org. This tool is used by The Climate Registry (TCR) reporting members, TCR-recognized Verification Bodies, and the general public to measure and/or communicate the carbon impacts of organizations of all sizes across all sectors.
The analysis of public response to the Great Recession of 2008 reveals those errors compounded in the Pandemic of 2020. The failure to produce a system change from the private and public realm regarding these two instances is evident and a little frightening—the time has arrived for writers to demand improvements in critical thinking from every mountain top.
Financial service companies, insurance agencies, and families went underwater on bad loans and poor judgment. Thousands of people have become sick and face financial disaster. A high percentage of the most vulnerable to infections have died. Fire, flood, drought, and a rising sea is encircling cities all over the world. Ending what is beginning to look like tragic cycles of change requires a summary of the public response to correcting the “money” problem. Money, faith in trade, and its use for the oblivious accumulation of goods is the root cause of this trouble. The use of it dominates the argument and the conversation. It is real but a distraction to the purpose of consequence. More plainly, my super wealthy grandparents just said, you cannot take it with you, and we (all of us) should only get a leg-up on confidence with a dose of tenacity.
In 2008, the American business community won the case – use federal funds and reestablish aggregate demand, sustain liquidity for global trade, keep employment up, but income marginal in a high percentage of households. Attack tax rates, government interference, and expose public incompetence. Continue to reduce and weaken mechanisms for public oversight into private financial practices. These are highly persuasive claims and strategic practices from the business community. They draw values such as individual freedom and independence that took over two centuries to establish a Republic built on a foundation of slavery.
The struggle for freedom of all people remains unexamined. Civil rights, social justice, equity, and a basic “leg-up” is falsely claimed as a strain and a distraction. Despite the depth of the 2008 and 2020 global economic tragedies, several questions go unaddressed under the heading of disproportionality. Why wasn’t it disproportionate when eight percent of the households in a Georgia county were slaves? You will hear that isn’t the issue today, but I have comparable questions. Why does the world function as if the acquisition of equity is the only means of power? Where are their attempts to succeed with alternatives? Where are the dividing lines that tell us what separates the ability to meet human needs in the private marketplace from those essential to the validity of a public realm?
The difficulty of challenging and changing the last two hundred years of the American communication experience requires new leadership. Only one modern American hero has a national day of remembrance for the courage it took to lead that kind of challenge. His agony became ours, and his name was Martin Luther King. He was murdered in 1968 by something much bigger and more heinous than the racism of his era.
King’s anguish for justice held the U.S. Constitution to account first, but this did not extinguish his view on economics. He believed the solution was not in a “thesis of communism or an antithesis of capitalism.” His demand was for synthesis based on two facts. An economic system built on slavery and imprisonment will not change the rules. Change must, therefore, come from changing the system.
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income…” MLK
The economic crisis of 2008 and the health and financial crisis of 2020 has one word that tends to stop any discussion of system change dead in its tracks. That word is “debt.” Less understood is the concept of equity in our minds. An accountant will tell you that “equity” is a combination of your assets and liabilities. One of the first pre-eminent sources of it in the United States is homeownership. With the help of government mortgage guarantees, it is the prime asset held by most Americans. Still, confidence and trust in each household is the one thing that makes the liability expressed by a mortgage possible.
Recently the idea of retaining that trust and confidence was expressed by none other than the American Enterprise Institute in a map of the United States they tweeted to the world. The map illustrated the relative GDP of individual American States with other countries globally so that people would be more confident – to trust the system. I would call your attention to Wisconsin before you read the next paragraph.
In response to the pandemic, Europe understands the “system change” relationship between public and private equity. I have one example of why Wisconsin should have no difficulty changing the system if they were like Denmark. The Denmark government stepped forward to continue paying wages even when they are not working. People kept their jobs with their employers. Denmark retained some business and most family income and stopped the virus from spreading efficiently. The policy maintained the cultural status quo of the nation steady t anticipation of ending the crisis. The system allows business activity and production to restart with as little cost and disruption as possible.
I have a request in closing this bit of critical thinking about the need to produce a system change first with the idea that this would allow the rules to change. The first is to ask you to conduct a brief exercise, followed by taking the concept outlined above further in some way and sharing it with this blog – a link would do.
The habits of the mind that contribute to critical thinking involve the following types of thought. The first one should be on the word critical. In health, the word describes a “short term” condition. Here is a quick exercise. Run through the following ten words in ten seconds, asking.
If you had a rapid response to each one of them, know three things 1) you have some or all the skills listed below and 2) if it took even a bit longer than ten seconds, you need more work on them when “critical” thinking is essential and 3) they are just words — you can pick your own ten if you choose.
break the whole into parts to discover practical relationships
list the parts piece by piece
sort the things into things
judge using well-known rules
apply personal, professional, and social standards
compare and assess the means
recognize differences and similarities
rank things together or separate in groups
differentiate categories or decern status
basis of evidence
predicting if that then this
determine possible consequences
Pick Your Own
Critical thinking can be brief, momentary, temporary, short-lived, impermanent, cursory, fleeting, passing, fugitive, flying, and like lightning. It can also be transitory, transient, temporary, brief, fading, quick, and meteoric. Not being curious enough is a problem — inquisitiveness exercises human intuition. It helps a person run inference, seek integrity, and demand contextual change. Therefore, differentiating the language to become more demanding, improves hearing. To solve problems adequately, or ask more satisfying questions. I use the following chart to create a system change.
Just after the election of POTUS45, one message kept getting repeated about the need to produce change at the level of the local law that moved to the city, county, and state governments. Only then would a system change have a chance for federal legislation or be recognized as a new cultural norm. The example given most often was the demand to make laws governing marriage far more inclusive. The changes began locally but rapidly across the United States. The rules change issues regarding women’s rights and a voting rights act. All noted here because none of them go unchallenged, and all of them require leadership demanding a civil discourse and faith in the law. The following table or chart is one of the easiest to read summaries of the process.
When reforms and laws are passed to ensure that armed agents of the state cannot kill people of color without the consequence of a transparent indictment and trial, reform will occur. Do not add “all” people to that thought; it only means you do not understand.
The numbers do not lie. Spend some time with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (here). The problem presented is clear. Police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. Over the life course, about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police. Define this issue completely, and America could be on the path to inalienable, universal rights for all people, but we have a lot of work to do.
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrant’s scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
"Let America Be America" Langston Hughes
Police killings are the most exposed cause of untimely death. The risk of being killed by police use of force by age, race-ethnicity, and sex is described (here). There are hundreds of other causes and America has tried to ignore the roots of it for far too long. Inalienable, universal rights reform will not happen efficiently unless every American recognizes the impact of slavery in our history. The problem is not whether all of the events since 1619 are racist or not. The question is this: “How much racism was at work?
The lack of any positive measure of equity formation defines African-American life for four centuries. With the end of enslavement, an entire people with barely a penny found freedom without restitution. When equity was established, it was ripped away by acts of terrorism. The battle for the cultural and economic assurance of fundamental human rights is long, and the bend toward justice only began as an act of government in President Lynden Johnson’s War on Poverty. He recognized the strategic problems when he said,
“Negro poverty is not white poverty. … These differences are not racial differences. They are solely and simply the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice, and present prejudice. They are anguishing to observe. For the Negro they are a constant reminder of oppression. For the white, they are a constant reminder of guilt. But they must be faced, and they must be dealt with, and they must be overcome; if we are ever to reach the time when the only difference between Negroes and whites is the color of their skin.”
1965 Commencement: Howard University supporting Voting Rights Act
A project began in August 2019, marking the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. In 2020, Nikole Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for The 1619 Project. It traces black American enslavement as the central enabler of America’s vast material success and, through their efforts for freedom, assured our democracy. The United States may have a long history. Still, it was not a democracy until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act ensured all people’s voices could be heard in a fully representative government. In a June 2020 article. “What is Owed?” Hannah-Jones expects America to know in its heart how false definitions of race as “the other” and be turned easily into hatred. Her struggle leads to equality for us all. Most Americans really want to feel different about race and all the impacts of enslavement. They want to expel it from themselves and the lives of their children. That leaves one step left for all people, by skin color, positions of privilege, and wealth. The action required is to be different, every day, openly and freely.
The quality of speech and journalism continues to improve white America’s understanding of racism as a cultural disease and bigotry as a heinous character failure. When combined, these flaws lead to insidious political behavior far too easily disguised. The use of public policies from Jim Crow to Sundown Town or from Police Militarization to Mass Incarceration persists as a live-wire fear in America. The path to inalienable, universal rights for all people can be cleared of this rubble.
It will be in this decade, in a century of enormous challenges that all public actions allowing these character flaws to sustain a systemic racism culture will no longer occur without consequence. Perhaps the most important of them will be a continuous, broadly read, watched, and taught American story about freedom. It will reveal an unrelenting effort to achieve social and economic justice for enslaved people. It is a story that would change all of history for all people all over the world. Another take on this issue is (here).
It will be difficult to become different.
I have been writing this as Congressional Representatives debated the second impeachment of POTUS45 when one of them referred to a Supreme Court case that was compelled to allow hate speech (here) as a justification for the President’s misguided attempt to retain power with lies. I recommend listening to the oral argument below of the case the Representative used to defend the President. It will take you back to 1969. The case involved a conviction of Clarence Brandenburg, an organizer of the Ku Klux Klan in Ohio. If you are in a hurry pick it up at around the 29th minute. When one of the people’s representatives can stand before us and use this case, of all cases on the First Amendment it exposes the true horror of our time.
The Court’s Per Curiam opinion held that the Ohio law violated Brandenburg’s right to free speech. The Court used a two-pronged test to evaluate speech acts: (1) speech can be prohibited if it is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and (2) it is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
The court ruled that Ohio’s Criminal Syndicalism Act made illegal the advocacy and teaching of doctrines while ignoring whether or not that advocacy and teaching would actually incite imminent lawless action. The failure to make this distinction rendered the law overly broad and in violation of the Constitution.
The two tiers of the Brandenburg Test have become the standard for determining criminal advocacy. As a nation that respects the law, the courts and the legislature could also seek to judge speech as producing the test of a clear and present danger or as a test of direct incitement.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) gets into the impact of “dark money” on the Supreme Court. His introduction on 13 October is here or below, and important to see before you watch his 14 October follow-up here or below. Attention to the facts is why I am a Democrat.
13 October 2020
14 October 2020
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham scheduled a committee vote for 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, the morning of the last day of hearings.
Barrett’s nomination is expected to be brought up for a vote at that meeting and then delayed for a week, per committee rules to 22 October 2020.
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 throats? 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 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 build 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 be that way starting now and forever.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The promise of planning, architecture, engineering and construction is usefulbut not the way we think.
Designers, planners, architects, all of us, suffer from several well-documented cognitive failings that distort our ability to predict accurately. But, hey, it is the future, it is not that easy to predict, but this could be changing due to two causalities:
Are we more likely not to believe evidence contradicting a commonly adopted meaning of a bright-line, hot button event? The event is easy to recall, leading to the likelihood of overestimating such events’ incidence. We are, thus, less likely to accept contradictory evidence without the bright lines.
We know how to make events recur with increasing accuracy right along with the sunrise and the tide. But, the capacity to build for the future does not include knowing what it will mean to people or do to their lives?
Solid psychological evidence of these abilities and behaviors leads to one of my favorite things — inevitable conclusions. With human behavior data, governments and businesses use open database connectivity (ODBC) to build businesses. ODBC is a powerful alternative to firms making decisions based on an experts’ track record.
ODBC is complicated because we are all involved. Knowingly as well as without our knowledge, we are all participants in a huge regression to the mean experiment. New ODBC business partnerships bring unbelievably accurate tools to analyze/improve urban evolutionusing a benign participation process with some sticky privacy issues.
New kinds of knowledge capital are consistently built through curiosity and action. Known preferences are finely tuned essentials of routine design decisions predicated by the senses of the human body. The ODBC benefit builds on this framework for a reform movement in which designers, planners, architects, and engineers acquire the leadership role and loses their subservience to capital by capturing a higher level of control over its uses. Aside from the political challenges involved, the advancement of certainty is a forceful way to assure the quality of human life on the earth.
The Decline of Expert Discretion
I offer two examples as to why this decline is probable. In Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart, Ayres describes the replacement of the “expert” whose knowledge is built on experience and track record by step-by-step procedures with fact-holding computers for data modeling. He argues that anything can be predicted. Just before the publication of Super Crunchers, an equally popular book entitled Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, illustrated how extensive analysis of databases reveals hidden causes and new questions replacing the “firm expert” approach to community development services.
These writers explore new business structures that replace the expert. They skillfully illustrate how massive datasets’ quantitative analyses make hundreds of real-world decisions using algorithms for people asking better questions. The question posed here does not regard removing the role captured by traditional experts from the policy framework. The question is not when or if but how quickly it becomes inevitable. Is there any solace in this truth? It seems the answer is yes.
The remaining and most important human element is to guess. Guessing requires a test to discover the variables that should and should not be included in statistical analysis. In other words, to generate hypotheses remains ultimately human. To ask “what causes what” remains the most valid human act.
What Causes What?
Our present experience is coupled with a dense urban environment where the exponential growth in the number of variables affecting choice is now instantly available. These “sets” of information are beyond our “intuitive” abilities to use, let alone an individual or team’s skill at defining problems. However, tools, such as telescopes in space or microscopes in laboratories, force new observations. We thought they were stars, but they are galaxies, and we are a little blue marble in one of them. We can’t see the “atom” but know why they are objects of matter that are smaller than a wave of light. This quality of observational insight is now available regarding human behavior.
The selection of statistical inferences capable of building datasets that explore human behavior is a vital new policy tool. Hours of sleep, the expenditure of dollars on everything-everywhere, miles traveled, even tears shed, and a laugh out loud. It will help designers to see things never seen. Discovering novelty and asking questions will be the source of human insight in regression to the mean data. Still, the sources of data to establish commonality will define the ultimate decision-making structure of every individual. The trade-off could and must be equal. For example, have a look at this narrative on Earthdays (here).
Consensus on OBDC
Therefore, the consensus on this question is developing as follows: There is a lack of extensive knowledge regarding viable algorithms useful for defining the aesthetic of the urban living experience as weighed against the privacy sought. New questions:
How will people be added to this group to develop the super-crunching urban design discussion?
How will end-user experience data become a routine product for design and planning firms in dense urban and metropolitan areas?
How is urban design data produced, made accessible, and used to alter urban design practices?
“The attention given to the social construct of race and racism is four-hundred-year-complicated, the subject of multiple doctoral thesis, many excellent books, and legislation. On the other hand, there is an uncomplicated pre-systemic solution to racism for ordinary people available right now. Become a playful toddler again, and stay that way, We would just have new friends to play the game of growing up in the world. We could sustain the social context of newness without bias. The lesson here is we do not have a self-identity in these first years of our lives and that the bias now held is learned and can be unlearned.”
Rex L. Curry
Yes, white people do something. Everything we think we know about the world is wrong, and that is an excellent way to look at it if we expect to learn anything new. I found Corinne Shutack (also white), who found Kara’s work (above) to be a helpful image for distributing 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. Her list helped me get into racism as one of several American malfunctions I am working on and drafted for you to scroll through (here).
Shutack’s work helped me view recent events as having systemchange potential, a process described in five other posts (here).
Even though the world has been brought down by one innocent pangolin, the private lesson of the dystopian pandemic is the exposed super-power of a national strike for health and social justice in a wet market. Coupled with ongoing racial injustice events, I must now plead with you to gird your loins, gear up, and steel yourself for the return to normal.
Do Not Let That Happen.
One of her brilliant teachers said the problem is not whether the events are racist or not. Instead, the question is this: “How much racism was at work?” A regular person sensitive to this condition can tell you what that is personally (here).
It is necessary to recognize possible impediments to challenge inequality. Number one on the list should become the disparities of culture, race, and ethnicity that pose grievous imbalances caused by each of those obstacles. Those that are products of city, state, and national policy offer many opportunities for change. They aim at every human being from New York City to Los Angeles and from Minneapolis to Houston. Yet, each of them produces vastly different consequences for everyone on the diverse spectrum of America.
The blue note is coming for all to hear and understand (listen) (read). Common interest groups will form, and coalitions for change will be built by those groups. System changes occur all the time (here).
Love the One Your In?
A significant part of American history and perhaps of the whole world include patterns of race insecurity. The system we are in fosters that anxiety. The combination of insecurity and fear attracts opportunists of all kinds. Those with political power often seek out and exploit emotions to sustain or advance their position. Recognize the overarching pathway of this behavior as follows: Pick a group, ostracize them, identify a weakness to exploit or strength to fear, support false but agreeable “like-with-like” ghetto policies, and next, isolate and then criminalize the poverty of the marginalized people. Finally, find or select behavior to define as a crime, confiscate their possessions through forfeiture, and then seize and imprison them. As a process, this is a historical lineage nourished by hate and fear. Reform is a failure with this kind of unremoved, unexamined sickness in the world.
The history of this pattern is that of political practice. It reveals a design to fund and eradicate equality as a self-sustaining Apartheid. In America, the persecution of Chinese immigrants, the internment of Japanese citizens, the eugenic sterilization of the “unfit,” the criminalization of drugs vs. health treatment for the addicted are well-known political power moves. Justice speaks when these practices are exposed, the crimes are admitted, and payment for reparations is agreed upon. On a rare occasion, paid up.
Vox developed a story on the four times reparations were paid in America by Americans, six times. Think about that ratio. Vox also encourages close reading of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ case for reparations. Since the early 1970s, the genocidal aspects of American racial policy remain in the slow-motion systems associated with the so-called War on Drugs. Like all wars, the one on drug use has failed the people while enriching the businesses of war itself. Reform is a failure; a revolutionary perspective for change is on the horizon. The debate for me hovers over the idea called a “new era of public safety” vs. “the end of policing as we know it,” and that’s all right.
The two contemporary responses of enlightened leadership on race and cops can be considered pivotal. First, the wisdom and vision of Barack Obama to even tackle the subject and the far less known insight of Alex S. Vitale, a “critical criminologist.” Second, of the thousands of research efforts available for discovery, I recommend two of them as follows:
“…here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.” The whole 416-page full policing pdf report is (here).
Barack Obama 2020
The second response includes the excellent criticism of the Task Force’s thorough but modest volley toward a fundamental change in policy by Brooklyn College Professor Alex S. Vitale. His book, The End of Policing, reviews the multifaceted work in this field that recognizes the path on which law enforcement now stands has made it a significant contributor to America’s spiral into deeply racist and racialized practices. There is no double or triple bottom line; cops do more damage than good, and “protect and serve” is the exception to the rule. The bottom line is Fidelis ad mortem does not have to be the NYPD’s motto. It can translate as “faithful (unto or until) death, and there you have the poetic vs. narrative art of the blue wall.
The call from the President of the United States to serve is a compelling and personal honor. A review of the task force report and toolkit reveals a set of thoughtful, experienced change agents. The movement for racial justice in America must call upon the task force’s people to confirm progress, if any, and consider the next steps.
To fully understand the task force report’s failings, excellent insight is offered in Vitale’s book and through his media interviews (here). In addition, thePolicing and Social Justice Projecthas an implementation arm for the movement. Finally, life-long learners on the subject should subscribe to The Criminal Criminologist (here), where he interviews scholars and activists. It is a great way to meet people you have yet to work with or encounter.
The relationship of policing to racism requires using the inverse proportion rule. It occurs when one value increases (more people working to solve non-police problems), decreasing another (i.e., the incidence of unproductive police tasks). Adding more workers to a scheme to reduce the time to complete the task is inversely proportional. Reducing the time to get law enforcement less harmful is now critical (meaning short term) or back to the same old and seriously wrong-normal.
The best relationship between Americans and neighbors should be about a child’s structural, materially unequal experience when entering the world. Instead, the systemic inequality of life chances for newborn children of color is exposed decade after decade. The facts are exhibited as shameful but continue unchanged, even though it would be good for every kid.
The use of law enforcement tends to be the hammer that helps to silence criticism. The rightfully enraged also hold a hammer. The better question is, who and what put that hammer in both their hands? Why is the hammer the only tool available? Much of the problem is already well understood, and solutions can be implemented using financial levers and a social fulcrum, but not with a hammer. Wilson (below) can tell you in a few seconds with perfect intensity.
Since the early 1970s (Nixon), the severe problems (the ones requiring a sophisticated toolbox) got fully embedded in racism. Ever since Nixon, every President has presented to the American people ideas with an air of cultural sensitivity. They are truisms such as the need to improve ties, strengthen lines of communication, and make right past wrongs. But unfortunately, all of them are politically calculated half-measures and part of the problem. A social reflex in America is to hide from its history while acknowledging our nation as immigrants. However, ignoring the record of formal attacks on the “value” of every new group requires exposure and condemnation from every leadership position available on slavery.
Marginalizing the oldest mass immigration group explicitly enslaved since 1619, to build the nation requires uncovering the cover-up of all cover-ups. The failure of remedies for yet another century of repression angers the mind and fills the heart with hopelessness. Neither form the basis for a system change.
Perhaps the violence of human history and centuries of brutal intolerance that the American Constitution sought to purge from people’s governance. Instead, it aims to enable and encourage people to sustain the hope for change outside of the system by establishing a false representative government using majority vote rules to kill compromise. The idea is that excesses of either could be no longer be rendered invalid by the other.
Nevertheless, America’s social and economic power continues fueled by slavery and imprisonment. Moreover, a governance system appears unwilling to entirely deactivate rules that encourage and support racism even though the incidence of injustice persists. Change must, therefore, come from changing the system.
The system changes, and for an hour and a half, I ask you to please watch white folks talk about the bifurcation of America by Robert Putnam and friends regarding the subject of “our kids.” Beware, the time spent here is informative, but it can make you a little crazy. They know, they really do know, and have the numbers and the argument for change, so why are we supposed to think they will? They do not create change. Is it because they are just “talking points?” Have we failed to empower them to turn their power into change? Do not let it go back to normal.
Watch: Eugene Jarecki’si “The House I Live In” and Ava DuVernay’s 13th(here) and stay on that path for a while until you get to her presentation on Colin Rand Kaepernick‘s experience in a dramataized autobiography.
One last thing. If you believe in the power of working-class greatness, remember the super-power revealed the 2020 pandemic – a national strike for health and justice could get health and justice. If a bug can bring capital to its knees and put some in your pocket, that bug is telling you something. So encourage everyone to have three to six months of savings to cover the basic, essential living costs. This is challenging, but it is doable and intelligent for many reasons.
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.
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 Buildings; Public 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.
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 Climate, Shock 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.
Software, digital hardware, and the life-science industries can add jobs indirectly to a local economy as multipliers, in much the same way as the manufacture of autos and appliances contributed decades earlier with one significant difference. The education of the workers.
Research and development firms in physical, engineering, and life sciences were the first to take full advantage of information management’s technological revolution. As a result, these industries deposited economic growth into regions with innovations in software and hardware. Perhaps the best-known example of this marriage of technology and science is our understanding of DNA would have been impossible otherwise, leading to exponential growth in these industries into exclusive new fields.
Economists have several explanations, but two words get to the multiplier effect for business and jobs – supply chain. The 2020 pandemic revealed specific concerns regarding breaks in this chain, reflecting national security concerns. The logistics of technology for refining material acquisitions into “just in time” cash-saving packets fail miserably during periods when critical conditions demand everything “all at once” to avert a crisis. Global terrorism, climate change, and pandemic conditions more than hint at this issue. Each occurs like an hour hand, but it is the second hand that sweeps the planet with a new reality regarding readiness. Frightening concerns as these are recommitting Amerian policy to jobs and education may be the only way for the economy to stop shaking. It is time to stop looking at the promise of a chrome future and think of it as something a lot more fleshly.
UC Berkeley Economics professor Enrico Moretti’s The New Geography of Jobs examines places in the United States that illustrate the critical difference between economic growth and decline in the context of winner/loser locations in a rapidly globalizing economy. Using U.S. Census Bureau data, Moretti’s book exhibits maps of the United States to reveal the system change’s location impact. The growth areas were those with a high percentage of college-educated people. He shows a decline in the regions that still have many “smart people” to this day but failed to produce, keep, or attract educated people in the newly growing system change businesses.
Scholarly observers labeled “the losers” as shrinking cities, pointing to Detroit, MI, and others of the Northeast “rust belt” following their 2000 and 2010 Census analysis. Studies of similar “shrinking” conditions throughout Europe focused on this as a phenomenon of industrial globalization, regional deindustrialization, and suburbanization. In all cases, the winners were those who had in residence or could attract well-educated people. The analytical resources are available for the ordinary observer to dig into these changes as a dynamic force and one affected by public policy. In 2020, the importance of easy access to vital information and re-establishing confidence in the small business and banking community was more important than ever. As the history of the Bureau of the Census shows in its “understand America” mission, it has grown to become a major business subsidy for nationalizing businesses. Moving forward is how to make the Bureaus’ “jobs and education data” more widely available and easily accessible by the small business. Here is a quick look.
Geographic Support System Initiative (GSS-I)
For the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau’s reengineered address canvassing reduces costs. In December 2015, BOC published a 100-page report entitled, 2020 Census Detailed Operational Plan for the Address Canvassing Operation to describe this new Address Canvassing methodology. The practice has been routinely updated through 2018 (here) and eventually rolled into the GSS Program.
The maps (left) should be of interest to all Americans. Authorization constraints still hamper the advancement of this resource toward the routine use of a small business. The API from BOC has tutorials on how the data can help businesses. A tutorial of an analysis that links small businesses with congressional elections (here) is an excellent example.
The policy impact on regional economic growth or decline ranges from why Microsoft owners decided to move to Seattle to attract business policies two decades later. Microsoft took their small but rapidly growing 1970s company to Seattle because they were from and felt comfortable. However, the decision by the fledgling Microsoft is also like, but the reverse of public initiatives in regions hoping to find growth. Both are equivalent, as they are a roll of the dice, plus confidence. Federal officials would not learn of the software and hardware technology industry’s explosive growth until the early 1990s when various attraction-bets came logically into policy.
I doubt that Bill Gates went to the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system to select Seattle as the optimal location. The SIC was developed in the late 1930s as a New Deal-era initiative by the Interdepartmental Committee on Industrial Classification. His business was barely on the list and would not be there solidly until the reinvention of the SIC in 1997 turned it into the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). By that time, Microsoft had already put sad little Seattle on the wow-map, but it was not all by itself. It happened because of the enormous attractive power of the industry. Seattle was not a place with a high percentage of educated residents in the 1970s. Over the next twenty years, Microsoft attracted whole businesses, and they all attracted people with educations that met their needs.
The nerd factor here is essential in another way. The mayors of cities called up their planning, and economic development commissioners said, “get me some of that!” So they put the staff that loved digging into the nooks and crannies of the NAICS to define their regions for comparison to all others economically. As a result, more mayoral questions on the decline and what to do tended to get answers such as publicly investing in “cultural transformation” that led to the arts and a bet on people’s instinct not only to be creative but also productive artisans.
A search engine for NAICS (here) now takes researchers into a six-digit code that parses twenty industry sectors: five goods-producing industries and fifteen services sectors, all geographically searchable at the Bureau of the Census (here). Thus, in looking at the economic structure of employment, the basics are:
Jobs drive economic growth wherever they are located.
So, where you find around 50 percent of workers with college degrees, there is growth.
When the meaning of the word strategy is to get the advantage, examining sector-based development is a good idea. When it comes to isolating specific industries by region, this is especially true. Shared needs mean common supplies and mutually beneficial investments in human capital. Public “attraction” strategies that attempt to connect a worker to an employer are an abstraction. It functions well in the short-term, but in the long, it is a malfunction sustaining the myth that low-end employment leads to a ladder that has rungs. They are there, but very far apart if the business model is the provider, without public partners.
What works more effectively are efforts that alter the worker/employer relationship with massive investment in skills that add choices to the worker and their flexibility within a region. Flexibility has cards to be dealt into the public policy hand as well. The options range widely from help with a car, or specific procurement practice, to a fully paid training program or support for a master’s degree. An added benefit of worker-centered investment is that participants can contribute to the advancement of policy decisions in the future of meaningful work.
Whether that work is by a forensic accountant or a cashier, the purpose of a system change is to build on challenges, opportunities, and futures of them both into eloquent experiences in personal development. The idea of winners and losers will probably always be a macroeconomic point, but it should never exist as a community-based experience. Instead, what should happen in the heart of the cashier or the business owner is the opportunity for growth and knowing there is a higher education resource that is unquestionably and unequivocally available.
The national partnership between employment and education is a failure. In 2014 the Economic Opportunities Program of the Aspen Institute and the American Assembly (Columbia University) published Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies. It is a 500-page set of whitepapers. The paper to read in this book (pdf here) examined the February 2012 announcement of the Community College to Career Fund. An eight-billion-dollar investment was seeking to bring skills that lead directly to good jobs with the goal of two million workers. The program aimed at high-growth industries by funding regional or national industry groups tasked with identifying workforce needs in their fields and developing solutions like standardized worker certification, new training technologies, or collaborations with industry employers to define career pathways for workers.
When a 500-page document becomes available for the ordinary reader, parsing it for keywords is a powerful tool for skimming the material, searching for specific content using one or two words. I discovered the essay on public investment in a community-college program this way. This one brought out the economic “malfunctions” that affect connecting jobs and education to community development. The words below are ranked from most to least.
The word “sector” occurs 1,319 times and “national” 817 and “region 468 times. The word “federal” occurred 197 times but “federal government” just 14 times. Community College was 151, “university” 115 with cities at 86 and “suburb” only 5. I found “local government four times, and “regional government” just once. The use of the word “schools” – 20 with high schools getting only three mentions. The choices are many, “union” was interesting as was “interprofessional” and training.
Central to improving connections between job seekers and producers is the idea of fairness or balance. In a global economy where the imbalances are overpowering, local efforts can seem heroic. This is what is wrong with them. With this view, the use of the word “race” was a mere 36 times, that broke down to “African-American” 24 times and to Hispanics just 7 with the rest mixed in with the word “gender” 18 times. These are not hot-button words for the footnotes. The issues the people face with these labels must drive the conversation forward, not help it disappear.
Again, the brilliant, heroic work at the local level is not the issue. The megaregions of the nation hold over 85% of the nation’s GDP. Still, the usefulness of regional institutions beyond a structure of few mutual benefit corporations is nil. Malfunctions in jobs and education remain piled into a quagmire of State policy competition neatly encouraged by national policy scant.
In every developed nation in the world, children are considered the top national resource. In the United States, the policy appears to be the children of America are among the highest percentage of low-income whites amid towering imbalances involving people of color. Programs that look at popular fixes such as H1B visas and other short-term job filling policies fail to fully consider a thirty to fifty-year generational failure aimed at children from low- and moderate-income in America.
“The vitality of architecture does not stand on the strength of its foundations or the vision of its builders. It stands on the dignity of life formed in the heart of all of its creators.”
Rex L. Curry (Review of video by Mike Yellen for Ironworker Union 2017) Watch below.
The video above will also be found in a “system change” post on planning, architecture, and engineering (here). It opens like this: “Your bones tell you, you smell it, there is the challenge of unclear change on the tongues of the public speakers. The sticky multiple versions of the truth offered in our modern lives’ political-speech will be swept away by the clear mind of science. This is a call for help in that simple pursuit.”
Below: a sample of data available from U.S. Census Interactive Maps as described above.
The causes of the housing problem can give you a facial tick. Here goes one recent example; the housing market has added single-family-rental securitization. This specimen is made of our old friend mortgage-backed securities backed by inflated home value and a rising market for rental housing. Combined with the collapse of employment, a friend from Michigan put it this way, this could turn into a nasty brew of outraged and hungry people, all of whom have guns.
In 2016, 95 percent of the distressed mortgages on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s books were auctioned off to Wall Street investors without preconditions and few provisions. As a result, the market recovered but without homeowners. Instead, private-equity firms acquired over 200,000 homes. While cities like New York are attractive but expensive investments, a substantial percentage of these new acquisitions occur in middle-class and low- and moderate-income suburban neighborhoods. Single-family-buildings have been in the rental market for a long time, but only recently has this practice added volatility to the market with the public humiliation of eviction.
Matthew Desmond’s book focused on eviction as a cause and consequence of distress in low to high-density communities. Once considered a big-city problem where evictions occurred formally through the courts. Less known and understood are management practices using subtle displacement practices such as “rent to buy schemes,” where low rent is the “hook,” and high down payments provide the profit. Overall, the increased rate of housing displacement is driven by weak government policies attracted to quick fixes, leading to the rise of institutionally managed and owned rental housing, and a court system that does not recognize the rights of tenants as comparable to landlords or developed the capacity for mediation before calling a U.S. Marshal.
The tables below will look very different from 2020 onward. Eviction Lab’s website (here) may become one of the best places to keep an eye on America’s housing policy crisis. Ordinary citizens can help flatten their legislators’ learning curve by examining the Lab’s scoreboard of state policy changes in response to the pandemic. The continuing legacy of the 2008 crisis is directly reflected in the lab’s state-by-state and county checklist (here) and NYC’s Columbia Law School’s help. For example, new York landlords can’t file eviction orders against tenants right now – but they can after June 20, 2020.
The best source for monitoring policy changes in NYC is through the New York University Furman Center.
The market recognizes home value fluctuations with an increased number of tenants available to cover mortgages. However, the market could not recognize the collapse of renter capacity to prioritize shelter over all else. Another fly in the soup (aka malfunction) is the invisibility of increased corporate ownership in low-density areas whose legal systems heavily favor owner over renter. The table below shows how NYS is attempting to protect its 8.2 million people in rental households, of which 5 million are in NYC. The share of renter households whose gross rent made up more than 30 percent of their monthly pre-tax income is approaching 50% of households.
A 2018 study of New York eviction cases (Collinson & Reed, here) established a connection between eviction and homelessness in New York City. The malfunctions of the housing market go both ways. A similar graph showing the percentage of household income for rent would also move steadily up from a baseline of affordability at 30%, rising to over 50% in 2019.
America’s complicated housing market story includes a blaze of web articles (example here) that claim property management and rental housing acquisitions are good investments based on the volatility of sales (figure 3 below), offering the fun of bargain hunting coupled with the steady upward trend in asking rents (figure 2 above).
Wall Street as Landlord
Wall Street’s $60 billion real estate purchases have altered housing markets all over the United States. (NYT Story) The total funding for the Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8) was a third of that at $20.292 billion in FY 2017. As in the 2008 recession, the malfunction is not paying attention to the possibility that former housing policies put equity in ordinary families’ lives through homeownership have disappeared just as the public might have been ready to recognize the inequity built into the system since 1950 could be corrected for the damage to families of color.
New York City’s real estate market includes some of the most high-profile properties in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive in which to invest. This wrinkle in a hot market is smooth with the invention of publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs).
These outfits are companies that invest directly in real estate through properties or mortgages. The Internal Revenue Service requires REITs to pay taxable profits in dividends to shareholders. Companies with REIT status do not pay corporate income tax. It has developed adjudicative services with support systems that recognize the rights of residents as renters. Investopedia’s description of Investing In New York City REITs is recommended reading.
In 1968 the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Council of New York (CHPC) produced a little sixteen-page booklet on the housing problem with the above graphic on the cover. As a housing affordability advocacy group, they wanted people to understand what it took to build and operate affordable housing. So they put in the form of a five-room apartment in which the average cost of its development came to $20,000.
It is important to point out that this was considered reasonable and $20,000 in 1967, based only on the consumer price index changes that would be $155,000 in 2020 to yield a total inflation rate of 675% or 12.73% /year. The genius of the CHPC presentation is how the five rooms (image above) represented in the development was composed of 1) construction, 2) taxes, 3) land, 4) money, and 5) operating costs and then pointed out of the five which had the greatest impact on rent. Answer: the cost of money is the major factor. Today a change of one percent in the average interest rate from development through permanent financing could alter rents by $120 per month. Manipulate all of the other costs, and it will yield minimal impact on rent.
The affordability of housing is built entirely on Wall Street’s finance and banking industries’ desire to sustain both low (for them) and high-interest rates (for everyone else). Since 1967, or just over fifty years, the rate is based on the CPI alone, the trend toward high and almost 675%.
The lack of affordable rents and housing (a human right) sits squarely on government steps in handling the cost of money for the American people’s safety and health. A researcher on this question will find reasonably up-to-date data in another post (here).
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 they are now vs. where they will be needed.
The places to create a system change are disappearing into globalized digital fragments. In the former old range, growth moves outwardly, from the privacy of the bedroom to places where you cannot scream words like fire and larger venues where rights of passage allow you to be heard. There are places where you can yell as loud as possible, and no one would listen to 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 spoken, become music, fine art, or any of a thousand mediums of choice. There it is; communication tools are ubiquitous. Therefore, how do you find people who seek, receive, and impart information and ideas in a helpful way other than selling 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, recognized path, or place you can name or 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. Nevertheless, 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 ensure sound, temperature, and color do not assault and that gatherings are not disrupted. People can exchange views, trade ideas, or data and 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 sites. The way Lynch broke it down remains widely regarded as a good 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 valid, yet it is without the power to implement. However, it is now possible to achieve in the virtual space, and anyone can do it because everyone can have a role in implementation.
The ratio of work:
When inputs predict desired output, efficiency becomes measurable, but the former lose value unless an impartial application of conformity to what is right. Lynch points out that two primary criteria (efficiency and justice) are 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 the performance dimensions of a human settlement, the five criteria map onto ecological parameters for community survival. They may be employed in designing an urban place, an arboretum, or an aquarium. It is ecologically reasonable to assert that if we destroy a plant or animal’s performance dimensions, we tend to kill the organism. If plants and animals have value only in their use to people, then any non-conversion of land must consider these values lost. The value of new houses or shopping centers is greater than the opportunity forgone. If plants and animals 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, 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 their 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 are proved in Lynch’s urban analysis. The design and development of online participation platforms are developing rapidly, 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 links 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 central components will be found. A joining of assets linked to pathways passes 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. These places have experiences, familiar sights, signs, and monuments as markers.
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.
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 over 30,000 people [? population of Majuro, the capital city of Marshall Islands] [? population of Oranjestad, the capital city of Aruba] are 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 architects and planners as community advocates called design centers. The Pittsburg, PA design center also wanted to raise funds and encourage people to recognize one another with a bike route. A project known as Pedal Pittsburgh (now PedalPGH) was born, and it was verified to be a robust exchange that crossed through the 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 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 experience and the purpose of riding could be shared in a virtual space to 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.
Before examining the structure of system changes as facilitated by attacking a malfunction, it is essential to produce demonstrations that motivate the change agencies. 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.
Using passageways, conduits, and tubes to link one destination to another is a helpful 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 in 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 values various uses and functions to create 4) districts. Within these places, familiar sights, signs, and monuments 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 different observation of edge transformations. Connecting these two worlds with comparable pathways of participation requires a better understanding. Using a common language will help define the involvement choices that can improve control of 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 physical experiences. Both are directly affected by the quality of the place 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 helpful. 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 a 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.
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 helps understand 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 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 helps comprehend a 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 offering thousands of new types of engagement you can acquire by walking. An entirely new and rapidly developing business model aims to know the fine grain of who you are in 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 decision point, 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 briefly explains why you will find bicycle lanes on city streets throughout the country. The more difficult explorations for discovery are explored in posts on system change. The resurgence of the movement for civil rights or the termination of racism has complex sets of partial success and qualified failure. The definition of a growing list of malfunctions exhibits 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 well-known times when a group is 1) manipulated, 2) called an exhibit, or 3) treated as tokens.
Those who administer an exit poll during an election, 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 people will sense a lack of fairness when crossed. 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.
Perhaps you engage people (especially students) in community projects, a political cause, 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, you are 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, “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.
Becoming engrossed in complex community development issues such as human rights, sustainability, basic safety, housing, and education affects many people in 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 incident may be correct or incorrect but always 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 walking 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. This is apparent; society has valuable things to trade and information to deliver.
Some gatherings are regime–originated, 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 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 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.
Overall, the forms described above have one overall acronym – DAD (decide, announce, and defend), and it is produced 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. When being manipulated, shown for a cause, or asked to follow without the opportunity to question, the mind-shaping type has visceral, potentially violent consequences.
Testing participants’ breaking and balance skills occur with a nonlinear injection of possibilities. The desire for speed is disrupted but can be replaced with a similar emotion – discovering how to absorb different preferences and perceptions in the wind of everyday experiences. Help in assessing risk/reward conditions builds energy people can share. A review and exploration of five winding experiences suggest new engagement strategies. The first presents 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 control structures.
Someone or some group has gotten people’s attention, 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, or even when stuck in traffic on a commute. When something new is presented, the “projects” tend to define and solve problems in the same breath – elect a representative, and raise money for the scouts. When this kind of expectation fills a meeting place, ask and answer these accountability questions.
Who decided to seek public involvement, and how is it planned?
How is the involvement of people determined?
What measures are used to evaluate contributions to the program and projects proposed?
The discussion is guided by asking process questions such as:
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 freely borne membership that “self-assigns” the consultation process.
When will the experience, thoughts, and energy of people shape or alter these projects?
How will this help resolve the problems we have just described?
How will this help us to accept, reject, reframe, and define the opportunities offered?”
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.
Those who have control will make turns on or off the road. They have selected 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:
Members generate the program plan in the selection of project activities. (list, prioritize)
Resolve mistrust or confusion arising from the powerholders’ release of power.
Encourage access to independent technical resources to those implementing projects.
Compose groups implementing projects to define potential programs.
Explore the issues and problems raised with adequate tools. (testing, skill assessments)
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 the ability to exhibit the intelligence inherent to a collective enterprise. Top among them is to have a name for the various collaborations discovered to the time used.
For example, consider forming a “scouting team” to look further up the road to report views as a “research group” asked to examine the past by interviewing participants in a similar effort about their satisfaction and achievements. Thousands of examples of “never doubt” groups are possible. The operation composed consultation is to sustain interest in discovering new resources applicable to all and, in doing so, broaden and composition of recent conferences. The prevailing summary statement should prove that “no one is as smart as all of us.”
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. In many ways, a good partnership plays in a 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, protect, assist, 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 many benchmarks, portals, and passageways exist. 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, and reading dominate the game’s concept.
It isn’t the absence of the desire to be helpful 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:
Do the projects serve the interests and needs of individuals in small groups?
Are these various designs recognized as part of a whole?
Are quantified goals and objectives written about these projects?
Is there a feeling of strategic accomplishment in meeting goals and objectives?
Have issues of policy and priority been discussed?
Are sufficient resources available to accomplish the projects envisioned?
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 he 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 given and taken in delegating and sharing decisions. This form is undoubtedly 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 even guarantee the 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 valuable image of a “mountaintop” on the winding road regarding decision-making. Everyone can get there by seeing it, but not all simultaneously or for the same reasons. The fact that it exists and 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 with 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 drawbacks, 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 skills 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 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 data flow describes an organization’s capacity to achieve goals. Structured training experiences illustrate the importance of these types of events in real-life experiences.
Controlling “We Decide”
Control systems also recognize that organizations can establish definitive delegation power. As a result, control systems can have considerable influence over human conduct. Ask anyone with experience with New York City’s alternate side of the street parking regulations. While this example involves financial penalties for nonparticipation, active control systems are those fully embraced by community-wide value systems. After all, the New Yorker is experiencing 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 accurate 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.
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 exchanging knowledge and experience in 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 severe 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 delegating decision-making. The basis of managerial power every community can obtain in managing complex activities leads to a planned course of events. These games are intuitive within the community circle or geography of the neighborhood.
Research on issues is by the people concerned socially or economically by degree.
Research is a commitment to the individuals and their control of the analysis.
Research begins when a concrete problem is identified; and
We investigate the underlying causes of the pain selected so the members can address causes and solutions within a series of standard geographic reference points.
On the other hand, when specialists evaluate a point 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 of 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.
Two essays that influenced this post are well-known Sherry R. Arnstein’s 1969 article in the AIP Journal, 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, adding 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.
Change does occur by chance. Having a readiness for it, on the other hand, requires an eagerness to be fit for the job. Hitting a search engine with the phrase “Theory of Change,” you get something like the mosaic below. My favorite is the Theory of Change website from ActKnowledge and their offer of certification and use of their TOCO software.
Feedback is a response, reaction, or comment when you ask people for one. It is best when it is immediate, given freely, and on occasion fearlessly. The emphasis on this first creates an understanding of behavior changes in people’s education as it deepens knowledge in organizations. My experience has taught me that mission statements (i.e., uprooting poverty, ending the conflict, improving health) should be avoided until the power of evaluation is firm and established. These pools use feedback systems as basic as students working individually, pooling ideas in small groups. Structure from various institutional evaluation sources is available for use and essential to discovering and implementing standards.
In the three mission statement examples above, we can see the importance of these attainment measures. Uprooting poverty became a central component of the Civil Rights Movement. Along with the idea of ending sexual/racial conflict, the rise of Me Too and Black Lives Matter are building institutional coalitions for transformative change. Finally, the idea of improving the health of Americans due to a pandemic put a spotlight on the reluctance (perhaps denial) to examine structural inequality, social and economic conflict, and the health of people as the same.
One and the Same
Successful change agents work with people where they are found. The idea of “where” is locational as in a physical place with a view of something. A more complicated element is how the view includes the desire for outcomes defined by measures of outlook. Without the skills to work the language of outcomes, outputs, inputs, feedback, and some solid interpersonal communication instincts, it is challenging to develop “the same” into something vital.
Therefore, it is best to have some language to describe yourself, your community, and what you want to do to it or have it do to you because if you do not have these insights, this is when change becomes regressive. There are a lot of neat ways to keep from going backward. I like digging into change models, but it is equally important to look internally in the know thyself to know others’ kind of way. There is a “thyself” one you can use for just $50.00 or less in bulk if you are already in a never doubt group. Buying your own Myers-Briggs report allows you to acquire a four-letter MBIT type as listed below. You can explore that idea further (here).
Inspector – ISTJ
Counselor – INFJ
Mastermind – INTJ
Giver – ENFJ
Provider – ESFJ
Idealist – INFP
Supervisor – ESTJ
Visionary – ENTP
Agreeing to the proposition that you can be one of the personalities listed includes possible combinations because people do change, and we do have differences. Knowing an MBIT type in establishing goal-oriented relationships in the organizational setting is a useful “be open” experience. Being in an environment that sees change as an act that recognizes growth, personal advancement, new skills, and so on is useful, especially among the never doubters. As the mosaic below illustrates, the web and tons of print publications are replete with the fun of using personality types as communication and organizing tools.
If an activity is plausible or even feasible, it can lead to an impact. Knowing the content of that impact comes from your ability to test and confirm actions in short-term, micro-focused cycles. Once in motion, these facts create the long-term result known as a system change. The two search engine mosaics above illustrate a grand range of templates available for guidance. The only missing element is called the first step.
The selection of interventions that take you from the beginning to the middle and the end are changes that should be joyful and hopeful. Understanding people’s knowledge and then in their organizations establish the plausibility of a framework for creating change. Like a good film, there are many connections between the early efforts to begin a story and to start on a path toward something, to get near the end, to sense a climax and a possible denouement, but just like the movies, there is no big “The End” anymore.
Revelatory, that is what it was revelatory. Not the amusing face of God kind, more exact. It started when Thunderbirds and Blue Angles in their F-16C/D Fighting Falcons and their F18C/D Hornet Fighters trimmed out to conduct aeronautic acrobatics. They covered the entire city in a thirty-minute fly over the Boroughs. Fine, I said to myself, a good show, celebrating all the first responders of New York City in a salute to their courage in the fight against a pandemic. There are moments when a system change explodes into existance.
Read five explorations of system change. One is about discoveries, which lead me to malfunctions as the heart of the issue. Skills are needed, so the next three are about critical thinking, gambits, and pathways. I conclude with the idea that every change is a second chance.
Imagine a day in 3500 B.C.when a sculptor was chipping away at smoothing a stone and created the shape of a wheel. As a social creature, the sculptor shared this object with others who rolled it and laughed when one day, one of them asked for one with a hole in the center. That is the moment when a system change exploded into existence with the production of round objects made of clay on a wheel. Centuries passed before the wheel becomes a vehicle, but it did.
The battles of writers, sculptors, fine artists, and all other coders continue to this day for nothing more than joy and your attention, if not curiosity. Modern humans chip away at their vast capacity for system change by sharing information, exchanging ideas, and dispensing them to others who may also roll them and laugh. The second revelation is about the act of discovery upon which all the others rest. Have a look.
Recall my experience with the jet fighter flyover. The display of power like this can raise every hair on your body with awe, terror, and the fear of death. I know the fear well because it happened to me a long time ago in a roar that ripped something from my being. For me, the fly-over of gratitude recalled that lesson. In just those few minutes, I thought how easy it is in this world to turn every bridge and tunnel to rubble along with whatever else a dozen warships could do to destroy NYC. Trust is the fact implied. This is absurd and unlikely intellectually, but I felt it emotionally as if in a film I’ve already seen. The back of my neck sent me straight into logic models and the theory of change for answers, so I didn’t question the emotion. I just started.
Using code to cope with the unthinkable offers a range of content management systems (CMS) in our minds and places like this to share thoughts. You may recognize the CMS terms. Some of the most common are Java, Perl, PHP, Python, among many others. As code systems, they represent an accepted, partial existence drifting unseen in the Ctrl+Shift+I background of more familiar titles such as Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox. If the browser Netscape sounds familiar, think of the others as tribes sharing a new hunting ground. Through these surviving vehicles, the world is laid at your feet. You stand on platforms like WordPress, Medium, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of others you use to manage your content, get others’ attention, and perhaps make people curious.
In taking on a major malfunction, breaking it into smaller pieces is helpful, but it is hopeless when it comes to constitutional jargon, whether in big parts or the little ones. Observers of the jurist legislators watch tie knots in their tongues. The conclusion of these observers believes they need to be replaced with scientists. There are reasons to do homework on how this may be possible. Step one is to find the source of idiocy.
The Critical Legal Studies movement (Wiki) in the 80s examined liberal legalism of the late 1950s through the 1970s. Since then, observers of the conservative and progressive discourse are rebuilding the debate about our future under the law with discord and bad faith arguments. Science will find common ground needed in this noisy place, and that is my problem. It is yours too.
In the conservative constitutionalist’s view, normative or private social authority centers on localized jurisdiction, designed to guide the republic’s actions and protect against legislative or judicial encroachment. On the other hand, the progressive constitutionalists often critique these private sources of power (normative social organizations) as an unacceptable hierarchy to be challenged.
The pathway to social innovations among conservative and progressive views has a constitutional basis. The only common ground here is that both claim the right to system change. It is the pathway upon which they walk that requires clearing. I offer the following example.
Before proceeding with a system change effort, I recommend investing time to understand better two compartments in the same robe’s sleeves known as the Fourteenth Amendment. There are others, but you can see them from TIME magazine’s top ten list (below). The Fourteenth plays a significant role, directly and indirectly.
On June 21, 1788, the Constitution became the official framework of the United States of America’s government. Still, it was not until eighty years and nineteen days later when The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868. as one of the Reconstruction Amendments ending slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution “abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime, and on this point, I highly recommend Ava DuVernay’s 13th (here). The focus here is the subtle malfunctions of the Fourteenth that require equal attention.
The law tucked into the conservative sleeve holds the fire of civil war and the struggle against rulers, something the progressive sleeve shares and knows well. The fabric is the same, but as ideas move from one sleeve to another, the meaning changes. The only insight I have other than the overabundance of male intellectual hubris of legislators is as follows.
The law demands obedience with rules that either mediate or deactivate. The writers and readers of the U.S. Constitution then speak to normative claims differently. The table below illustrates how oppression was mediated between an owner and the people owned from 1619 to 1865. The conservative mediation of authority accepts and activates a wide range of institutions as separate from the citizen as a subject of law because the State defines a person’s legal status, relation to the state, and other persons.
The progressive view of authority reframes the rule of law in search of new conditions. A claim to power sources can become realizable and capable of deactivating specific evidence of oppression. That would be the list you see after 1865 as statements of that evidence.
Critical thinking about big problems builds on billions of local event moments, now accelerated with digital communications. Framed in the 402-year sweep of history, the list of post-1865 malfunctions that demand deactivation is a demand for equality with equity. The digital divide is a fact exposing and expanding the educational challenges of resolving these two issues. Still, the Civil War’s polarizing elements may be a strong contributor to today’s binary politics. It is now a digital freedom-ride world.
These actions of the last century and a half are mixtures of wins and losses. In a four-century framework, these events are brief, even seem temporary, impermanent, cursory, in passing, and can strike one down lift like the 1965 Voting Rights Bill and Fair Housing in 1968, as one of thousand other ways the arc of history bends toward justice.
The conservative’s and the progressives’ understanding of the Constitution supports empirical reasons but different ends. Down to a couple of basics, the constitutional outlook is as follows:
Imperative judicial restraint.
Defined by community traditions
Precludes race conscious decisions
Open to the necessity of choice
Defined by community ideals
Affirm eradication of hierarchy
The critical thinking outline I use (here) comes down to two items No. 6 – prediction and No. 7 – transformation. I can fully imagine these two components of thought as actual steps onto a pathway that seeks to create change. Not the imagination of change, the slap in the face, tearing of the skin variety.
The movie is well-known, as the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (published in 1900) differed. However, these two works neatly reflect half of the 20th century and the trends to its conclusion. By 1939 the original highly violent animal slaughtering tale in the Oz became a dreamy musical. As a result, the film and, more importantly, the re-write became more widely known than the book could ever accomplish.
No longer a satirical look at the gold standard, the focus became a hop and skip down a yellow brick road where you and the charming Dorthy (Judy Garland) go on an optimistic quest to get a strawman a brain, a lion some courage, and a tinman a heart. It is necessary to have relationships with people in a community with a common goal to serve these purposes well because there is no place like home.
The book’s transitional sentiment to the film follows the Gilded Age through 1900 (solidifying segregation), the First World War to 1918 (initializing the war/industrial complex), and The Great Depression to 1939. In this last phase of the century, the film seemed to propel the Federal Government’s power. It accepts a securitization role by taking responsibility for contractual debts such as residential mortgages and other investment obligations like a national highway system in the post-war era of the 1950s. The federal government’s “interstate commerce” power is built on a proven ability to establish the people’s trust to secure and support wealth as dignity. From the Great Depression to the Civil Rights Movement, the national response to these two forces for change should have propelled the American people forward for another century had it not built racism into the Constitution.
Despite the enormous capacity for social resilience and economic growth established in the 20th century, 21st-century America is losing itself in Constitutional jargon to straight talk on social justice. The cost will be the lost confidence and trust of ordinary people and investors throughout the world. Do not get trapped in this dialogue of the jurists. It is now time to turn to the scientists for the truth. The world recognizes us better than we do ourselves. To close, I offer one example:
“World Bank’s 2019 Migration and Development Brief, $529 billion in remittances were sent to low- and middle-income countries in 2018—an increase of 9.6% over the previous record high of $483 billion in 2017. This figure is significantly larger than the $344 billion of foreign direct investment in these countries, excluding China, in 2018. If we include high-income countries as well, the total amount of remittances jumps to $689 billion, up from $633 billion in 2017.” (Source)
The “rule” of this gambit is to connect all the dots with four straight lines by not allowing your pen/pencil to leave the surface of the page. Solving this graphic riddle will require some thinking and trial and error to be accomplished. Try it four times. Good luck.
When developing a plan, remember this exercise. We are all in one kind of rock, paper, scissors box, metaphorical or not. Use your experience to identify examples of thinking that get an idea of moving with some examples. Next, describe your thinking with other people (dots) as a creative or imaginative game. What are some examples of thinking or acting that get the dots of this box to work for you? This is a classic “connect” gambit. Use and share this little exercise with friends. Follow the rules four times and four lines. The pen stays on the page. The lines connect all the dots. The answer is at the bottom of this page.
Congratulations on a solution, or before you go for it below, take a moment to think of a problem or issue you/we would personally like to define. Use the sample questions below to guide a journalist’s six basic questions with some sampling answers. There are boatloads of these things available now. This meets the Occam’s Razor test.
“There are at least three parks in the community in terrible physical condition. They are misused and abused. Then, in the evening, teenagers hang out, sometimes all night, and they are making a horrible noise and a big mess, why I don’t understand how or why, and so on.”
A. Issue/Problem Defining Questions
Who is responsible for the management/maintenance/budget of these parks?
What is, are the causes of poor conditions, the noise, and the mess?
Where are these parks and other recreational places?
When does the “misuse” and disturbance occur all the time, often, infrequently?
Why do these disturbances occur?
How many complaints been made?
B. Asset/Opportunity Defining Questions
Who are the parents? Who else can we work with to further define this issue?
What are the resources available in the short and long term to “x” or “y.”
Where should we direct our research or take our first action(s)?
When should we get directly involved?
Why must I/we work to define and solve this problem?
How can we work with park management/maintenance?
The Box Gambit Animated GIF.
A graphic illustration of system change produced by Melanie Rayment is discussed in detail in System Change Part Four: Critical Thinking Pathways (here). When I noticed how Ms. Rayment put “system change” outside of her description, I remembered this example from one of my old training courses on creative thinking pathways.
The impact COVID-19 presents one of the most serious recovery challenges New York City has ever experienced. It will require a system change as it will, without doubt, reveal a previously unknown range of malfunctions.
A practical example of how never doubt groups of strategic economists, civil rights activists, and social service leaders decide to tackle the following set of problems linked to the pandemic. The pandemic changed New York City’s world. Its impact is diving into the city faster than a Peregrine Falcon ripping into the entrails of a Central Park squirrel.
COVID-19’s blow to the economy led to abrupt job losses and business closures. The New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) prepared a preliminary report on economic impact projections defined by job loss and tax revenue declines compared to previous estimates. Every urban person knows how serious this is going to become. But, on the oddly positive side of the issue, a super-power is revealed in the Pandemic – a national strike for health and justice could get health care and social justice because if a little bug can bring capital to its knees and get the government to put some in your pocket, that bug is telling you something about a national strike. Get prepared.
As the pandemic remains a moving target, the provision of this IBO readiness report could give the deep network of nonprofit community-based organizations time to prepare strategies responding to needs in their community. Read the details here: PDF HTML. See the summary and tables below.
The local economy will shed 475,000 jobs for over 12 months.
Large drops will be in personal income tax and sales tax.
Property tax will “lag” the next few years through 2022
Impacts on real estate values will occur in 2023 and beyond.
The U.S. economy in recession through 2020; GDP falls 4.5%.
The shortfall of $9.7 billion in tax revenue from major tax sources fiscal 2020 and 21.
The contraction will last through the first quarter of 2021, and job growth will be slow through to 2022.
New Yorkers will need a system change. Most major cities do, and it will not happen anywhere else before it is too late.
The information in the IBO report (summarized above) can stimulate a long list of questions following the critical thinking path outlined in Part Three will be highly useful.
How can small “never doubt” groups be encouraged to begin?
Where do they get to begin? Who do they work with in the government to establish a role?
How would they find each other, get started, and coordinate their activities?
Can they be organized in networks of expertise?
Is it possible to organize networks of a neighborhood, borough, and city-wide economists?
How about local social science workers conducting interviews?
Can they feed local data (testing, food, rent protection, transit, job access, IRS, SBA) to a city-wide source?
Help confirm the efficacy of aggregate stimulus payments.
Identify and implement innovative assistance services.
Here are just a few of the facts that stimulated restorative action questions above.
System change builds on the psychology of transparency in human relationships. In this openness, we find friends to love and leaders to trust with our tithings and taxes. The chart illustrates a heuristic method for building awareness, trust, and confidence whenever a “never doubt” group decides to change the world.
In 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott launched the beginning of the most unparalleled system change in America since the authors of the U.S. Constitution finished their work. Martin Luther King was twenty-six years old when the boycott began. He would have just twelve years and four months more to live. Identifying when a system change will occur reveals an unpredictable set of choices in our history. That means the only thing to do is begin. The only way to discover what you need to know is to act.
Two more examples, on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment ratified the women’s suffrage movement. It occurred as a product of 54 ballot measures in 30 states. It took decades of work and hundreds of small group efforts to produce national law prohibiting governments from denying or abridging the right to vote on account of sex. After another half-century, the Voting Rights Act (1965) expanded to include the destruction of segregation with the vote’s power. Proof came in 2016, roughly another half-century later. A recent documentary tells another story of system change that involved just six months that changed the world forever (here).
Tossed up for all to see are the grand assumptions and harmful practices in our world that appear to be malfunctions. We say, “Do something about ending this tyranny or meeting that unmet need.” Democracy is supposed to be one of the best ways to solve a stubborn problem, especially when events threaten many people‘s well-being. But, unfortunately, the argument to “do something” also includes authoritarian structures such as raising an army, running a business, oppressing a people, or ending a pandemic.
At the center of both methods circles the question of efficacy. Is delay due to squabbling and bounded rationality, or is it due to the utter fear of error and power? The discoveries can be positive or negative in our efforts to define problems. Most of our findings concern the value of predicting and mitigating an adverse event’s most probable cause, time, and place. Individual circumstances cannot be assigned effectively in this way and lead to the acceptance of the unknowable as something more easily attached to an actuarial table of risk in anticipation of a long list of malfunctions assigned to social practices few natural events. The losses are, therefore, attributed value and paid to victims post-trauma.
It is occurring to us all that more engagement on questions of global impact events demands an entirely new regime. These events are grounded in climate change and the probable recurrence of global pandemic infections in which there may be other connections beyond comprehension. The risk to “all” in a post-trauma evaluation is an insufficient duality. Losses are measured in blood and cash, by good or bad locations, as lucky or unlucky, in life or death, for cultural survival or existence as subsistence. The trauma is further parsed into black and white, rich and poor, knowing and unknowing, educated or not. It divides young or old, able or disabled, using percentages drawn with an unknown, shifting denominator of dissuasions to proportionality. Tossed it up for all to see is the confusion of our times. (See: Crisis Management)
Still, much of our practical solutions come as a post-trauma payment to reduce future risks. Individual households and governments also pay individually with resources drawn by regional needs. For example, a volunteer fire brigade works in one place, while another site requires a professionalized firefighting force. Predictable malfunctions reveal investments in first responders and a standard set of institutional providers. In these cases, the assessment of risks and costs and the selection of management protocols establish readiness levels defined by the tools required.
Finding Steppingstones to New Pathways
How can the world move steadily and permanently away from post-trauma payouts toward levels of resilience and enduring sustainability? How can the extensive democratic debate be grounded with more power in the equally slow and painstaking science rules? Will it be possible to make science lawfully capable of overriding the procedures used solely to sustain political power? Given these practices, I can accept authoritarian rules to protect us all on the promise of a system change as structured in the Pathways to Malfunction Identification chart below. This is a failing system.
The chart below describes a bubble-up process established as components of local governance composed of “never doubt” groups. As small organizations, they will select a needed change based on self-interests. Examples are quality of life issues by residents or scientific groups to analyze specific problems. The chart also recognizes the formation of interdisciplinary groups skilled at acquiring and injecting capital resources. It anticipates coalition groups charged with aligning policy and program implementation schemes built on trial and error evaluations.
The final system change events in this model (upper right) are as unknown as their seminal beginnings (lower left). They will become known as the initial efforts bubble up, and shared ideas spread like Whitman’s leaves of grass across the landscape of personal change. The bet is a simple one. People in small groups can pick their experience with a problem, become a never doubt organization, and build toward a system change of great value to themselves with recognized results. Should the malfunction be shared widely and require a more productive agency for an action, the process acquires funds. It encourages never doubt coalition groups to seek higher levels of investment that implies a regional area of operation. Finally, if the malfunction has national effects, the proposed system change will have widespread consensus agreement as it is already in place and well-practiced locally.
The chart above suggests that social system changes utilize the energy in the “never doubt” idea. The widespread knowledge of “never doubt” comes from the work and words of anthropologist Margaret Mead regarding cultural transformations or transitions.
Whether the change sought is significant, dangerous, beautiful, or hideous, the cause of a difference (major or minor) can be the work of a relatively small group of people with an idea. The factor often left out is that the change sought could be twelve apostles or twenty violent supremacists. Claims that this is the only way a system change occurs are logical and historically accurate, but it may not be a lasting one in the digital world. Given the flow of ideas, it is possible to conceive of a thousand groups that might identify and act on a common view of change that will alter everything all at once, whereby the source becomes irrelevant. Rosa Parks knew she was not the first person to be insulted on a public bus in Montgomery. She is known for saying, “I was just tired.” But, it became “one and all” who wanted her to be the last person insulted and arrested on a Montgomery bus. Historians can only speculate why the sit-in at the Woolworths in Greensboro, NC, in early 1960 by four untrained college students set the tone for the decade. Sit-ins at segregated lunch counters are well documented throughout the South, but this one began in February and ended in July.
Therefore, the purpose of the chart (above) is to trust in our better selves. It lays out a belief in discovering malfunctions for two extremely well-known reasons. First, power concedes nothing without a demand. Second, the limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. That was Douglass (1849). He was writing about getting more comfortable with change, even if every turn seems to be for the worse. Sensing the end of misery in the world is a powerful feeling and opens the mind to wonderment and recognizing beauty.
The failures of power occur in its acquisition and thereafter in the keeping of it. Thus, in seeking change, it is logical to examine how public appropriations become private holdings. Here are three widely known global examples:
Vast personal capital accumulation among a small percentage of people is now common knowledge. That the rate is fantastically beyond a measure of any one person’s productive capacity firmly suggests an economic malfunction worthy of analysis and action.
Fossil fuels are irreversibly altering the thin layer of gas encompassing the earth. These added gases are causing climate change and several malfunctions.
The endogenous formation of organic molecules capable of endangering all human life as a virus may be a natural occurrence. However, the failure of anticipation, prediction, management, and mitigation might be the most serious malfunction of all.
The chart has seven letters (GOS-3P RE) in the upper right corner. I developed it to describe a process for defining big problems like the three listed above. I use them to support the never-doubt group idea with steps that mean something in the immediate sense that can be put to practical use today and shared or joined with others on a similar path. Before this process can begin operationally, the issue must be continuously well defined and researched. In writing a GOS-3P RE, the “future perfect tense” as a verb form of communication is best.
Establish goals that address the problem(s) as defined.
Form objectives that will measure purpose (s) as stated.
Construct strategies (tactics & activities aiding goal and objective success)
Select a broad range of possible projects (creatively imagine the future).
Determine policy (the values and principles that will guide future decisions).
Decide on priorities (which projects go first? what is the governing policy?).
Budget the resource implications of the plan (projects, cost? and;
Evaluate (is their measurable progress?)
A “never doubt” group can process and implement these steps with the cautions offered by Alasdair MacIntyre, a Scottish philosopher whose book After Virtue (1981) brings insight to our modern problems. One observation remains especially useful now, “Questions of ends are questions of values, and when it comes to values, reason is silent; conflict between rival values cannot be settled.“
In this sense of change, it seems far more reasonable to focus the world on its malfunctions. They can be found among the powerful, among rivals, and even in our regular day-to-day lives. People worldwide joyfully engage a problem when confronted with a self-interest grounded in something as complicated as community survival or as simple as improving physical comfort. Before us, the task is to broaden this personalization of our place globally and broaden it with digital communication tools at our disposal.
Communication action is occurring now, every minute and hour of the day. But, will these face-to-face experiences spin our lives into the shadows of our home-based comforts? Will they be used to share stories of survival more aggressively? Will they help build the knowledge with the action needed to define and solve common problems?
From the mathematical genius of interpreting regression to the mean data to the inspirational voices of political activists, we can likewise fall to the floor in laughter at our ridiculous selves in a barrage of satirical media presentations that seem (and often are) far more accurate than a news broadcast. We are awash with the language for change, but finding a pathway to a real change, please think about the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the sit-in at Woolworths in Greensboro and don’t look back.
Research into the idea of malfunctions requires the insight of the arts well ahead of the imaginable political strategies around which there is so much negative sensitivity. Expanding “our reality” through others’ eyes and experience is often too esoteric and not goal-driven. Not to worry, there are lots of ways to work on community-building issues.
The visual literacy of our society, on the other hand, is expansive and growing. Because of this, a useful phrase in critical thinking is to say, ‘no one is as smart as all of us.’ Words are used to describe and share what we think we know with others, adding pictures to terms in structured settings will always enrich conversations about change.
We are experienced watchers, but everyone can be a better listener. Another useful phrase to use is “listen to be heard.” The habits of mind that manage ‘your thoughts,’ the sound of your voice, and the voice of others in conversation, represent three distinct wavelengths. Each one of them can block or overwhelm the other, building the skills for a disciplined separation of these frequencies produces a useful conversation.
In discussions of health, the word “critical” describes a “short term” condition. In economics, the phrase “short term” is a shareholder supremacy issue briefly discussed in discoveries (here). That led to lead to some ideas about malfunctions (here) in the second part. The third part had some fun on creative thinking. This one opens to a brief examination of critical thinking that speaks to the origins of the first three build trust and confidence in taking direct actions in the fourth part. These are exhibits of “crisis” under the heading of what I like to call, pick your own malfunction.
I take a brief “readiness” look at ‘thinking’ clearly when selecting a process. There are hundreds of them for sharpening up, so pick one, adapt as needed. Here is a quick exercise to run on yourself, with friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators in getting woke on a problem.
There is little need to discuss this exercise as the point is to cause a moment of reflection. If you had a rapid similar word definition response to each one of them know three things 1) you have some or all the skills listed below and 2) if it took even a bit longer than ten seconds, you need more work on them when “critical” thinking is essential and 3) they are just words you can pick your own. Breeze through the following:
break the whole into parts to discover correlation
list the parts piece by piece
sort the things into things, like with like
judge using well-known rules
apply professional and social standards
compare and assess the means
recognize differences and similarities
rank things together or separate in groups
separate into categories or decern status
basis of evidence
predict (if that then this)
plan in the future perfect tense
determine possible consequences
Pick Your Malfunction Caution
A brief, am I thinking critically outline like the one above is a fine thing between you and your own head. However, you will need a very different use of your thinking ability if you are contemplating a step directly into the change suggested by No. 6 – predict and No. 7 – transform.
Pathways to Justice
Not being curious enough is a problem. Inquisitiveness will take on the full exercise of your intuition on how to run some inference, demand integrity, and put contextual change in the imagination of ordinary people. Perhaps, the language used becomes more demanding or more visually inspiring to help people hear better to be heard well. Perhaps, direct actions and experiences help define and solve problems more directly because they can be given by the people who share them. In these cases, the process forces sharing experiences with reflection to lead to knowledge and getting better at new questions.
Observers of this concept are encouraged to share the use of the Pathways Design. The one above is by Melanie Rayment. The design was published (here) and inspired the “never doubt” design on the idea of identifying malfunctions in parts two and three in this series. Be encouraged to share its use as part of the Creative Commons approach to social change globally, as has the Social Design Pathways network. Who knows, perhaps this too is a system change.
The chart captures the process perfectly. It is one of the easiest to read graphic illustrations of system change I have seen. It is the inspiration describing system change using malfunction identification in part two (here). Social Design Pathways offers its use, with attribution and the hope that changes and adaptation in initiatives are shared with them.
Closing Thoughts on Critical Thinking
Just after the election of POTUS45, the message about the need to produce change at the local law level was a loud one. The term system change is not often used, but ideas like “ranked-choice voting” could become law in the cities and expand to county state legislatures. The proponents can then argue for it to become part of a national election system as federal law. On the other hand, in localities throughout the nation, the conservative idea of “resentment” or that something’s being taken away leads strongly to a “ends justifies means” set of policies concerning regulations governing voting and voting districts.
The system change example given most often was the demand to make law governing marriage far more inclusive. The changes began locally but rapidly across the United States, concluding with a Supreme Court ruling. Marriage, women’s rights, voting, health, banking, consumer rights, and so on have important actionable components that go from local to national or global.
The progressive changes tend to get the most attention, less well known, and impact are changes law (or new law) that alters or removes environmental, financial, and business accountability and liability regulations. Not one effort toward a more civil society vs. a free one goes unchallenged in law or legislation. All of them require the leadership needed to demand improvements in civil discourse and faith in laws that protect people, not just values.
System Change Part Five: Pick Your Malfunction is next. As an added source of motivation, I offer the following twenty-six minutes as a parting thought for reflection.
The writer’s exhaustion as an agent of change is described in a post submitted in January 2019 (here). This post attempted to write about and seek writers on the future of democracy. The post reviews Ta Nehisi Coates, David Runciman, Stein Ringen, Philip Coggan, David Post in a search. It looks at one-hundred billionaires who may live in the altered state of blind anticipation of goodness and starts to list hot buttons and fades into exhaustion.
System changes occur in an environment of malfunction. Four were recently recommended to “The Albemarle Report” for exploration. They are developed only partially below and in more detail (here).
The response to the Great Recession of 2008 reveals errors compounded in the govern m ent sector response to the Pandemic of 2020. Both failed to activate critical thinking skills at the highest levels, and those who did and reported warnings were squelched. The first crisis occurred due to highly over-leveraged bank entities (35 to 1) using derivatives drawn from the insured but hideously unregulated and suspect (NINJA) mortgage market. All well-known pre-crisis facts. The solution became a sloppy private-sector bailout of $700 billion
The 2020 crisis analysis will take more time to conclude, as we are in the midst of it. However, the CBO 2021 report of the 2008 bailout should be fascinating. Early signs from early 2020 economic impacts suggest a reversal of shareholder supremacy might occur because 2008 was highly predictable and poorly resolved.
Profit-taking on a crisis is the thematic first serve culprit in the 2020 crisis based on similar failures to respond before it was too late. Uncomplicated Health Care 101 resources could not succeed for the lack of a clock and trigger and a national testing regime. An Ounce of Evidence (is worth thousands of pounds of opinions) by Ashish K. Jha will be an excellent place to return for useful facts and recommendations.
The Atlantic and ProPublica are outfits that like to walk us through the weeds careful; journalistic documentation errors can be helpful as well. Nevertheless, the dizzying structure of facts will more than likely, spin into history and fall throughout the American landscape into little piles of hopelessness. For this terrifying reason alone, I think the facts’ importance is secondary because we expect them to become as invisible as a greenhouse gas or a virus.
Like 2008, observers of 2020 will offer a valid list of avoidable errors available for review that will only encourage the MEGO effect (“my eyes glaze over”) that regularly clouds accountability with details far too complex for ordinary voters. The reviews will say we knew the answers for an effective response and didn’t let go with anything remotely resembling a system change capacity. That is the problem to dig into because we are dancing around the facts with the wrong music. The following is an argument for pulling out the dissonance, malfunctions, and blockages of system change.
The lack of critical thinking in the private and public realm regarding these two global instances (2008, 2020) is evident. I believe a sharp focus on malfunction and not the details of every rolling crisis should be at the core of this kind of thinking. The corners and edges of the American economy have become troubled assets, subject to a relief program, again. How do you set a piece of paper on fire? Edges and corners, shocking, I know, the because feds threw TARP on the 2008 fire, but it still keeps burning, albeit quietly outside of the nation’s corporate boardrooms. The Great Recession critics warned us to develop much higher sensitivity to the malfunctions of capitalism, often referring to it as the American-style.
If this the “sensitivity” at the edge is acquired, how can it be more useful? Perhaps this is the time for a band of writers to create improvements as a never doubt group. I would ask individual writers to leap among the language art professions to build a reservoir of ideas so beautifully stated that it will uplift the American-spirit.
I started my own list of writers (here – excerpt below) to search for that language and not wait for it to arrive. I am adding more names, finding those who are building the conversation, publishing “the papers,” and producing the literature for the never doubt groups throughout America that are help bent on good changes. Read them deeply, and watch them find ways to make the data yield results and where truth can mean something again.
“All journalists need to be understood in the context of action demanded in the vitally important vision of the world held by Ta Nehisi Coates. I spent some time with Vann R. Newkirk II, Adrienne Green, Adam Harris, Reihan Salam Gillian B White, and Matt Thompson. I cannot speak to Ta-Nehisis Coates’s experience. I can read his books or any essay and fully understand the power of his voice and my hope for his influence. Meet him here 2018 and here 2017.“
The facts show financial service companies, insurance corporations, and a million families went underwater on bad loans and poor judgment. The facts show, millions of people became sick with a virus that killed a high percentage of the most vulnerable due to lung infections and other underlying conditions, and they died alone.
The national to local response 2008 and 2020 to fix the “money” problem focuses on the wrong problem. Americans are confronted by comprehensive “health” concerns affecting the cells of their bodies; there are shortcomings in the entire cognitive outlook. Exploring the reasoning skills of Americans is what should dominate the argument and the conversation. That is where the malfunctions will be found. The money is important, but it crowds out critical thinking on a long list of concerns. Here is a 2008 example.
In 2008, Wall Street won the case – use federal funds and reestablish aggregate demand, sustain liquidity for global trade, keep employment up, but income marginal (paycheck to paycheck) in a high percentage of households. Attack tax rates, government interference, and expose public incompetence. Hide wrongdoing and continue to reduce mechanisms for public oversight into private financial practices and kill debate. These globalists arguments are persuasive and claimed by the strategic financial practices of the Federal Reserve System on down to your 401(k) fully exhibit a malfunction.
Recently (April 2020), several hundred other private businesses and publicly traded companies dipped into that malfunction. However, Shake Shack and that steak franchise didn’t return a combined $30 million in 0% interest loans to reduce public outrage. Assuring all workers’ employment on the government dime is distasteful to investors as it does nothing for a balance sheet or the tax code and lacks flexibility. As billion-dollar companies, they know the only way to recapitalize during a full-blown depression of unknown duration is to wait and reduce payroll far more quietly down the road. The bonus is to align the business with American values of freedom and independence that still takes blood to establish and use them to get good public relations.
Despite the depth of the 2008 and 2020 global economic tragedies, other questions that attempt to define and identify the malfunctions of sound reasoning in America go unaddressed. The financial crisis of 2008 and the health and economic crisis of 2020 has one word that tends to deaden discussion of system change, and that headliner is “money.” Failing to understand alternatives to money is a malfunction of American cultural thinking.
For example, why is it so uninteresting to wonder out loud if the world could operate as if wealth is not the only means of meaningful communication? Is becoming an outlier, a monastic monk, or an entire monastery the only pathway to sustainability? What are the alternatives, where are the well-celebrated successes? Some many places and events have proven capital to be meaningless in the achievement of human dignity. Those four college students had just a few dollars between them at the Woolworths’ lunch counter when somehow they galvanized an established, ongoing “sit-in” movement across the South.
These questions and events exhibit an ingredient of enormous importance to life. A clear dividing line separates a private marketplace solution for serving a human need from those in the public realm that want to create change. The line that says on this side of it, the use of debt as a cost of money, is irrelevant, where the purposes of care keep us all well and sustaining the simplicities of life are priorities that reign supreme above all others?
For Fairness and Equity
The last two hundred years of American-style capitalism is about growth. The next century will need to observe fairness and equity more accurately. This fight requires a search for leadership that Democracy should be best in finding. Only one modern American hero has a national day of remembrance for the courage it took to lead a fairness and equity challenge. His pain became ours, and his name was Martin Luther King.
King’s interest in justice with equity held the U.S. Constitution to account first, but this did not extinguish his view on capitalism’s economics. His demand for change is based on two facts. An economic system built on slavery and imprisonment will not change the rules. Change must, therefore, come from changing the system.
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income…”
Resisting the pressure to create change weakens your outlook and idles your voice, yet the sadness built into this silence is a powerful force in creating a new and powerful narrative. For those whose interests lie in connecting the dots with visible lines between the confluence of the 2008 and 2020 crisis will gather their strength by recalling the heart of King’s outlook – that the arc of human history may be long, but it bends toward justice.
The concept of equity in the minds of most people is a good place to begin. Any accountant will explain “equity” as a combination of assets and liabilities. One of the first sources of wealth in the world and pre-eminent in the United States has been to support individual families’ acquisition of assets. Homeownership, with the help of mortgage guarantees, is the prime example. It also formed the perfect storm for converting government-insured mortgages into derivatives in bundles of mortgage-backed securities. Confidence and trust in each household and the economy in which they function is the one fantastic thing that makes the liability expressed by a mortgage possible.
In the post-2008 recovery, millions of families realized they were sold a dream, but not a house. The narrative used said they just tripped into the caveat emptor bucket where all of American-style capitalism’s inequities are poured. That is not the malfunction. The third malfunction is far more disturbing. It was how easily and rapidly a vast amount of capital shifted into serving rental housing demand. It was as if the purpose of the crisis was to slice yet another sizeable chunk of households out of the ownership market, but who will put equity into the pockets of the housing investor-class.
The fourth malfunction’s signal worthy of exploration is a failure of the senses to hear the beep. All of us have the ability to know when someone “feels” trustworthy, a person in whose recommendations you would feel confident following based solely on initial impressions.
Confirmation bias is a proven human behavior. It is as if there was only one emoji for every expression. It is illustrated repeatedly in the communication between people – it is documented with race, religion, age, a whole set of facial expressions, and all kinds of body language. American’s are a highly sophisticated, visually literate group of people far too easily siloed and willing to stay there.
I say it over, and over, the meaning of everything is found in people, not books, newspapers, or TV reporting. Meaning is putting trust in the instincts we have about the people we give power over our thinking-lives, and therefore we are entitled to a judgment. Where is the narrative, the journalism, and reporting that openly explores the hair-raising ease with which the writer and reader are privately manipulated into being managed per story?
There is “same room,” empathy, but never one that could be hand-to-hand in visual reporting. Judgments are, therefore, personal. The following are mine, no one else. In the discussion of economic recovery policies, I find one group of leaders exhibit a distinct arrogance with a hint of condescension (Mnuchin of Treasury and Ross of Commerce, for example) and other groups who are recommending preventative treatments and therapies for me and the nation exhibit authenticity and sincerity. Dr. Fauci, the face of COVID-19, and Adams, our Surgeon General, come to mind.
I think all can see a sharp difference between these leaders and their styles. Those with extensive experience in managing unimaginably massive amounts of capital in their personal lives and those with extensive experience in managing services and policies that protect human health represent our society’s bifurcation. I can take these impressions as personal and symbolic as a guide to strengthen my critical thinking skills.
For example, I have a positive sense regarding Warren Buffet, even Bill Gates, that yields the humanitarianism that I give to Dr. Fauci. Mr. Buffet also freely acknowledges selling 100% of his substantial holdings in airline stock, and in the same March 2020 breath, he is widely quoted for saying, “Never bet against America.” Mr. Gates’ charitable experience with spending millions fighting infectious diseases in the world led him to practically yell out unequivocal warnings regarding lack of readiness to respond to pandemics. I argue that their humanitarianism is not enough as it fails at system change by changing nothing. What are we missing?
Confidence in Change
Recently, the idea of retaining the world’s confidence in the United States was expressed by none other than the American Enterprise Institute in a map they tweeted to the world. The map is used to illustrate one message for all to see — your wealth belongs here. Illustrating the GDP of individual American States in relationship to fifty other countries in the world is designed to make people confident – to trust the systems that are in place now. Before you read the next paragraph, I call your attention to Wisconsin on the map below.
This BEA/IMF map is blatant public relations. It was published in the April 2020 phase of the pandemic as an unabashed claim of massive economic power, nothing else. Frankly, I know not where this thinking lands on the index of malfunctions. The following is how I am trying to work it out.
In response to the pandemic, a “system change” relationship between public and private equity is something Europe understands and Denmark in particular. I have one example of why Wisconsin should have no difficulty in system change if they were more like Denmark. Hartland, WI, for example, is known as the nuclei of one of the most important regions of Danish immigration in the United States, but there is a stronger point to be made.
The Denmark government stepped forward to continue paying wages for their people even when they are not working. People kept their jobs with their employers and stayed home. Denmark retained some businesses and most family income and stopped the virus from spreading with efficiency. The policy maintained the nation’s cultural status quo with steady, confident anticipation of ending the crisis. The employee’s program is the arrow program’s tip from a full quiver of medical and economic tactics. The system change is rapid. It allows business activity and production to restart with as little cost and disruption as possible. Instead of a half-baked business paycheck protection program, this was a well prepared Protect Denmark strategy.
Please spend a few minutes with Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, introducing her nation’s work opening the Climate Summit in Copenhagen (here) and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardin on COVID-19 (here) then (here) then Trump on Climate (here) via NBC. There was a surprise until the NBC video told me that he could read a prompter well – so stay with it long enough for proof. I leave it to your cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias instincts. Mette’s every word rings with truth to me that Trump ends with the testimony of a bait and tackle shop owner from Port St. Lucy on ending toxic tide is the only part that rang truthfully.
Remember Port Huron
Consider the four malfunctions summarized below and remember Port Huron if you are of a mind to develop more detail. All of the above brought to me a recollection of the Port Huron Conference because the answers were there and beautifully identified a half-century ago. (here). I am stunned, by their revelations.
First, fully recognize and prepare a narrative that describes how America has a comprehensive health problem that includes the inability to use our wealth far more effectively in self-study. Second, figuring out the importance of equity for all Americans requires a system change that clearly shows equity flow. The “one percent” copy line has failed to capture the imagination or the curiosity of people. Third, capital is more fungible today than in the entire history of civilization. Ordinary people like me barely understand how quickly markets change. A specimen, such as a variable stock holding, can be mutually interchangeable (replace or be replaced) at the speed of light solely for the holder’s benefit in charge of the change. The pensioner will not notice what was taken until it is gone forever. The fourth and most perplexing malfunction examines how trust and confidence are broken as agents for change. Is it for the lack of a hard “in what?” do I trust, and in whom am I confident? Could it be a failure to face the clear signals of confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance? Is there no one helping the American people figure it out?
Aside from my deep belief that the purpose of time is learning how to get the next moment right, the serious malfunctions in communication and, therefore, persuasion will not self-solve. Courage will be required. Examine our country’s health as a cognition issue, that the perception of all people, from the homeless veteran to the owner of a hundred Manhattan towers, should agree to one central point? The creation of equity for both comes at the cost of the other that the vet’s pain is removed when the powerful owner becomes a partner in a change to the system. What could make that happen?
Recognize the malfunctions sketched out here are not the “have vs. have not” situations that shaped the lives of these two people. It was for the lack of a system change that eliminated inequities between the “knowing” and the “unknowing” of them both as they look out over the landscape of their country.
Thank you for reading System Change, Part Two: Malfunctions. Comments are appreciated on these ideas, references to other readings, and the practical steps needed to bring them into sharper view. Conference recommendations and notifications are appreciated giving that it has been far too long since the insight of Port Huron and the work of Writers Wanted.
I have offered a brief gambit in Part Three. It is a bit of instruction from the teacher in me, but if you still want to know what that is, click (here).
No doubt that urbanization has been a messy business. The rapid pace of development over the last couple of centuries has led directly to life-threatening conditions in a rush to mechanize every aspect of life. People were packed into camps to harvest forests of wood, mountains of granite, and every available mineral with trade value. For thousands of years, absolute command over the environment has been the central organizing force, from tribes roaming the prairies for fruits, grains, and meat to the construction of massive urban towers to sustain these endeavors across the globe. I am therefore comforted with the knowledge that it has only been fifty years since we noticed the mess and began efforts to make improvements.
Whenever infection has taken a life, it did it wherever people gather. In strict epidemiological terms, the more significant the diversity of people in a natural gathering area, the more likely the subtle protections of the human immune system will protect all. Concerning human medical history, this is relatively new data. Today, more people know the biology of DNA finds all humans to be identical. They are learning that physical differences are unique, beautiful, even exciting but fundamentally meaningless. In just the last few decades, this knowledge is filtering an entirely new value system into American culture and mostly in urban areas.
There is no stable connection between urban areas and coronavirus impacts. What is significant is how cities manage an infection with compact actions and resource preparedness. Dense cities such as Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, and Berlin have contained COVID-19 very well. Where greater preparedness is needed, suburban cities such as Detroit, Michigan, Macon, Georgia, and New Orleans, Louisiana, suffer right alongside dense areas like New York City with a similar impact.
In past attempts to solve urban social problems, the focus has been on eliminating inhumane physical conditions, it also had a tendency to place blame on people trapped in them. The effort to uproot the causes of their plight and poverty was intellectually criminal because good people did little on the larger issue. The failure to criticize the social and economic order as a principle reason continues to this day. It was fully expressed by the inhumanity of two world wars. The enormous successes of the nonviolent anti-war revolution for civil rights through the end of the 20th century reveal the courage of ordinary people. It also exposed an increasingly reactionary American culture due to the mere tinkerings from the top down on the edges of greatly needed reform.
Only recently, has relief from the view of urban life as unhealthy begun to fade. Hundreds of new and exhilarating urban places found expression in cities like New York throughout the country. For decades the history of urban success builds on the city’s capacity to identify and resolve the causes of potential disorder. These causes can be intense or subtle actions, but all are well-studied and tightly defined by deeply funded social science institutions and economists. Leadership and the flow of information in urban areas through interagency communication efforts allow course corrections and rapid policy changes in response to community demand. While many of the city’s top leaders have been taught hard lessons over the years, they remain well served by the deep structure of nonprofit city-wide and community-based institutions throughout the city. Without this structure, the distribution of essential resources during a city-wide emergency of any kind would be impossible to deploy.
The deep structure of urban governance produces trust in its diagnostic capacity for defining problems and then acting to get solutions. The city has taken its lessons in neighborhood economic disinvestment to create new kinds of banking institutions. Other social innovations help purge deterioration in rental housing before it spreads or in the case of the city’s public housing stock expose the failure of city and federal commitments in exquisite detail. Most recently, the city has focused on the depth of its communications resources to slow the spread of a pandemic with efficiency. Holes in its safety net are recognized with laser-like first responder precision and with this exposure repaired with the substantial institutional depth the city can muster.
Public institutions produce solutions to attacks on the quality of life by helping us to understand in highly sophisticated ways how and why we attack one another. The lessons through decades of urban crisis at various levels of impact continue to reveal the need to prevent and respond dramatically to the “tragedy of the commons” problems. The shared commons of the city are easily recognized by residents as our public health, education, open space, and transportation systems. On this point, there are futures all dense urban areas must carefully evaluate in the aftermath of every crisis.
Public Health and Education
There is no doubt, improvements in human health and education systems occur by fully defining the health concerns produced by commonly used environments. With this responsibility, a deepening in our common understanding of the issues depends enormously on the quality of public education. Today the practice of investment in health and education is grounded in policies to eliminate inequality and build better pathways to equity. We know as an undisputed fact this eliminates a long list of the health and economic disparities in life for all people. We have benefited from previous generations who also demanded reform with a noble cause. Nevertheless, we also know that many of the actions for transformation failed by forcing displacement and rehousing few. In the last fifty years of the 20th century, attempts to demolish homes, cultures, and the economies of entire neighborhoods produced a valuable urban institutional resistance defined by two words, “never again,” but as political leaders (as all of us) admitted to errors and vulnerability, the entire city learned to accept a new kind of strength.
Parks, open spaces, and transportation networks of the urban public realm are assets of the reform movements and business interests of previous generations. The so-called ‘lungs of the city,’ expressed by an extensive park system, and tree-lined streets are also like the city transportation infrastructure. Neither is a static or unchanging system, and both desperately need to improve as a safe, seamless, and unfragmented component of urban life. The well-tended park reminds us of the self-cleaning capacity of nature, the same role for mass transit can occur with the same principles of self-protection.
The Way Forward
The COVID-19 crisis offers many opportunities for reflection on the importance of national moral leadership and responsiveness, but there are more pressing issues. First, this recent crisis brings to the world a second major challenge to the quality of life on earth. Second, the vast landscape of human knowledge is at our fingertips. Third, this should make us all reasonably pleased, and this is why.
The science of geology states with confidence that the earth is about halfway through its 18 to 20 billion-year life cycle. For all the analysis of all the other “x-ologies,” we value; this alone should give people good reasons to take a deep breath and reflect.
New pathways for the growth of humanity in cities we are building all over the earth for the next few thousand years are here today, waiting for continuous improvements. Long waterfront parks will expand urban resilience as each reaches to extend its pleasures in an unfragmented, linked urban park system from the hills of the wilderness into the valleys of every neighborhood. All the massive structures constructed by our forebearers for public education and health await reinvestment and re-invention as centers for learning. We can make them all cleaner, brighter, and more beautiful than ever before. We will move with confidence onto the swift, super-clean, and revitalized mass-transit system for access to these exciting new resources. Every crisis tells us just one thing. We have more work to do.
Know the following things:
It Is too late for sustainable development because the public discourse has difficulty with subtle, conditional messages so realize that.
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.
This is why the term resilience is now used more often than not. The main changes are upon us and Dennis Meadows who say the above is right. It is time to invest in resilience.
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.
Geopolitical challenges such as a pandemic or the multiple impacts of climate change instruct humanity’s genius to bring about systemic change and resist and reverse “them not us” policies and strategies. These are tests for leadership without national borders that rage against the intolerant behaviors most likely to kill or hurt anyone at any time. Again, anyone at any time.
Recognize human vulnerability as a powerful strength. It instructs societies on how to share a threat or resolve an issue. The logic that prevention comes at the cost of an ounce must also resist demands for buying pounds of warehouses to manage death. Science offers useful and lasting solutions to problems that often require decades of complex analysis. In the stirrings for a more robust form of global leadership, the nationalized political rush to cures and deficient reaction to climate change will cause death. In the process, it weakens the direction and leadership of science.
Finally, science belongs to us all. Darwin was a scientist without professional degrees; he was curious. That is all anyone needs. Significant global challenges, such as climate change and pandemics, are vast and complicated. What can one person or a small group of friends do? Here is a brief example.
Scientists will show you how inside of the big problems, there are hundreds of other smaller ones trying to get out. Those are the ones to work on, dig into, maybe even solve. The accelerated rate of species extinction puts all human life in peril. There are hundreds of ways it reversed by paying attention by the human hand at “wild urban interface.” The growth of citizen science through internet partnerships is the counterbalance. Sharing observations can connect our personal experiences with the reality of all Earth’s life forms. Think of something in nature that you enjoy, and it can be anything, a particular kind of tree, or bees and butterflies, ferns, and orchids. There are billions of life form interdependencies between you, your children’s future, and the community that is not understood and need ordinary people to discover, document, and recover the forgotten. To get started, have a look at these great ideas:
One argument often stuffed into questions on how to build common ground and a good society or even the capacity to sustain positive change in bad times is the proposition that logic with goodwill solves problems. Logic is science, goodwill, nothing but untrustworthy feelings that destroy the former.
American’s have simple-minded, or perhaps merely unexamined adolescent confidence about what and who we are among one another and in the world. The tension caused by this lack of examination may be psychological, political, or economic. The 19th century was said to be about Hope and the 20th c. of GreatExpectation. The paradox of this as a trend is how it tips the 21st century toward the claim of Despair.
We recognize in ourselves the hopeless questioning gaze in the distress of a suddenly wounded child. We also see that it is not a dishonest experience, but one capable of reversible insights regarding exuberant, competitive, playfulness of our growth into freedom. The principle that, it is only business or it is just politics, accepts harm without limits as mere spoils.
The day-to-day experience of our time has become distrustful, but not only of one another. We are becoming hostile toward human nature. We can see in ourselves and Nature a capacity for spreading acts of unrepairable self-affliction. Readily accepted public controls to reverse these conditions come with a moody resistance and the repression of irrational, empty of analysis, without one moment of reflection.
Because of that, “reflect” for a moment.
One cannot exhibit judgment if statistics dominate decisions. In this context, true judgment is lost. Organisms need energy, water, shelter, and reproduction to exist in one of two places. Some will travel thousands of miles across the earth to acquire resources. Others will glue themselves to rock to acquire needed resources. If an organism or a nation loses the mysticism and belief in a philosophy of hope and expectation in which each is born, the capacity to conduct strategy meaningfully evaporates into the dust of poor judgment.
Three factors have brought about the demand for global, multilateral change in national societies with varying impacts, and all of them are tragic. First, climate change is an umbrella disaster held over nasty little wars, floods, and firestorms followed by infectious diseases. Second, inevitability is well recognized as a fact for centuries leading to questions about when. The necessity to had context is important. For example, the entire universe will die in a few trillion years, give or take a few trillion. Third, the world’s leadership is beginning to understand that much of the horror on the path to the inevitable remains preventable in each new global cycle only for the lack of enforceable world-wide agreements.
Ironically, a fourth global factor is a conservative viewpoint expressed as the tragedy of the commons. The negative impact on a common pasture and the relationship among households raising grazing animals is real. The rules will change if the entire earth becomes that metaphorical pasture. Losing entire coastal cities worldwide to surging ocean tides and entire biomes (forest to coral reef) will become a lived experience. If millions of people could see billions of tons of waste that float and sink in the global ocean, would it feel like a shared resource? Would the “dead zone” of the Gulf of Mexico procure a voice? Instead, societies pay for these disruptions with children starving, the scream of a helpless parent, and the stunned dismay of families who falsely believe they are saved with compensatory access to wealth.
The global climate has been stable for only the last 2,000 to 3,000 years. There should be no expectation that it would remain constant. The global climate is in many ways barely stable as a system, and a single push of added gases, heat, would make change inevitable yet still feel inconsequential as a threat. The demand for alternative ways of living is unimaginable as the swell of cheap energy continues to make everything, including faith in a quick tech-fix, easy to expect. In this psychological climate, finding replacements is difficult. Forcing amelioration by changing the price with substitutes violates the status quo. When assessed in the “commons” framework, two new categorical thinking patterns emerge as environmental and emotional intelligence. Try to find the “commons” in “energy explained” (here).
Ostrom’s Answer is Occam’s Razor
A problem in the future has two elements, one to design a defense, the other is to alter the future to make that unnecessary. The leaders involved may have had the skills of the lawyer and personality for political leadership, but to produce solutions essential to create trust, the science professions will form a new commons. A scientist can tell you the future is already here, just not everywhere. To do that, the change in the mode of problem-solving begins with a process that Elinor Ostrom has already figured out in a Nobel prize-winning way.
Our ancient brains in various shelters for the night knew of beasts, enemies, and trouble. That sense of big trouble is real, but the community may never experience its pain because of that sense alone. From the cave to the laboratory, we have done what we have done to define problems we believe might be unlikely to occur, but we solve them anyway. The quality of thinking, in this instance, is an old tactic still in use by scientists today called Occam’s Razor. As Albert Einstein notes, a theory of a threat with the fewest variables requires problem-solving work where “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
The first of Elinor Ostrom’s core design principles began in Governing the Commons (1990). Regarding implementation, she is optimistic as an economist in her research for the World Bank. In 2009, her paper, A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change, considers a non-tragic global commons (pdf here). It is here that she gives her life-long partner Vincent Ostrom an attribution to a central observation. She quotes his definition of polycentric as “one where many elements are capable of making mutual adjustments for ordering their relationships with one another within a general system of rules where each element acts with an independence of other elements.” It is an excellent definition of the inner workings of catalytic cooperation and was written with Charles Tiebout and Robert Warren (Economic Base and Local Expenditure Theory).
Ostrom’s work with problems uses clearly defined boundaries because they are well understood. In economic terms. Boundaries are needed everywhere for everything but are difficult to implement without the consensus of the parties involved. On the other hand, this first rule is essential to working with big global problems such as thermonuclear war, climate change, and a pandemic threat. Defining a boundary categorically offers promise as the concept is simple and easily understood as a system condition altered from one state to another.
Because purely economic solutions are easy to argue and difficult to implement, start with a simple physical entity such as a city as that category. Cities are places with a fixed boundary and a legal process for expansion or contraction. Thus, the city is an excellent place to implement the remaining seven parts of Ostrom’s solution. It is a “back to the future” type of problem.
A city is an outstanding place to begin implementation. The city with a boundary offers proportional equivalence and a clear, constantly improving data stream to monitor processes beginning with measuring benefits and costs in every imaginable center capable of giving itself a boundary. It is ongoing but without mutual benefit consent. Proportionality within multiple geographies of a dense polycentric city of neighborhoods, cultural groups, ideologies, genders, and so on can become a transparent way to understand variables fully. In this way, it is possible to put the equality sign (or not) between two or more social and economic expressions.
The city also offers multiple platforms for “collective choice agreements.” The center of Ostrom’s argument recognizes the practical use of carefully implemented sanctions. The city’s boundary offers a set of measures from price restrictions to penalties, incentives, and subsidies designed to meet goals such as a good balance of affordable housing or lower per capita energy use. In New York City, neighborhood-level participation in governance is voluntary and advisory, but it expands the central government’s capacity to understand issues experienced locally. As these practices contribute to local autonomy, they are also capable of interpreting them globally. Coming to the resolution of problems begins with the kind of efficiency and quality of data feedback that empowers local autonomy through participatory governance.
The last piece of Ostrom’s change-the-world puzzle looks to resolve existential threats with the ability to grow a polycentric rulemaking authority so that global rules are instantly recognized because they are already well-organized and in use locally. The only element missing is the lack of political recognition of this as an urban fact. Ostrom’s groundbreaking approach is not built on how people think but on how they will eventually organize their thinking. Hopefully, this work will escape its decade of discussion where it floats in the partial oblivion and trappings of its academic Nobel Prize (2009). It needs to find a city to live in as a permanent place of proof. I recommend New York City, and you know why. If you can make it here, you can make it everywhere. Again, the city with a strong existing boundary has these systems in place. The only element is the lack of political recognition of this fact.
The following introduces trends in professionalism. It is an excerpt from a more substantial project entitled: The Four Problems. The focus of that effort is on planning, architecture, and engineering. The challenge to all professionals today suggests that the dance with the bear has begun, and we can’t stop until the bear stops.
Three Steps of a Four-Step Dance
There are three steps in developing “professionals” in meeting human needs, interests, and concerns. Historically, professional services began in response to a widely accepted set of cultural functions such as healing, leading, and building. A millennium or so later, these functions become more specialized. For example, the healer becomes a surgeon, leaders become law officers, and builders become architects and engineers. Finally, as the culture matures, licensing and certification assure compliance with well-established standards of practice by governing bodies with enforcement power and policies that support internal and external niche functions.
These stages suggest a fourth – the rapid development of interprofessional education to support radically new and deeply needed practices. The implication is an increase in technology transfers between professions with advanced applications and the exchange of data sets for quantifying everything by gram per second in the erg economy. Examples are (political) (economic)
The ability to manage change from minute to minute and, in some cases – milliseconds or decades is a new professional capacity. It is possible to imagine a flawless transportation network, zero-waste systems in building practices, and net-zero energy use with this power. Substitutions and commutation of data between these activities lead to rapid improvements in every aspect of urbanization. We only need to solve the four problems mentioned above (here).
In just the last half of the 20th century, the service economy grew to nearly eighty percent of employment in the United States. In just a few generations, highly trained professionals have discovered an array of new specializations. For example, access to the technology of interprofessional education allows physicians to build a digital model of a patient’s beating heart and petition for the power to prescribe safe housing. Likewise, law officers can replace the prison and chain response to choose hundreds of new intervention tools for building a culture free of fear.
As 2020 began, communities worldwide became confronted with the task of redefining problems in a categorically different fashion. The contagion expressed as SARS-CoV-2 (the one that causes COVID-19), MERS, EBOLA, and others are real symbols in the broad context of climate. The climate of threat is known, but without direct experience, unease becomes the primary evidence of the senses.
The ill-feeling of separation or polarization by forces not fully understood can be relieved. An effort to understand the usefulness of that feeling grows because everyone has it. The central lesson of the first 21st c. pandemic will be to figure out what this sense means to help make it good and not bad. Given limited knowledge of the epidemiology of a viral contagion, it is logical to consider dense areas as to cause but, more importantly, as a source of cures.
Over half of the population of the world is urbanized very poorly. Here, a well-thought-out protocol for ending or expanding the threat of global contagion is effective on multiple fronts. First, the rapid deployment of a testing regime within a limited area with extended containment is possible yet considered unlikely. Second, the source of a good defense is in the bodies of those held for care or distributed lethality. The deployment of serological tests can be as quick as a McDonald’s drive-thru to identify an infected person. Third, serosurveys figure out how widespread a virus is among people who remain asymptomatic. Fourth, define the human antibody response and the possibility of an immune reaction or not becomes Combined. This “urban health data” can lead to stopping the potential of a pandemic. (see details in Contagion (here). It comes down to a question of readiness.
Dense urban areas such as New Jersey (the densest suburban State) and New York City may be hard. Still, they also offer the best capacity for intervention fueled by data and backed with the ability to initiate clinical trials as proof rapidly. The issue was summed up succinctly when State Governor Andrew Cuomo pointed out that we knew COVID-19 was identified in China as early as November 2019. Still, they did not confirm until early January, and so he made a demand.
“…the federal government should decentralize testing and give it to the states. I have 200 labs in this State. Let me use my 200 labs. Why am I waiting on the FDA and CDC?”
(News Conference 16 March 2020)
The State of New York acquired the authority to proceed. Most of those labs are in New York City. The element to remember is the concept of readiness and the effective use of unique human power – the ability to analyze, understand and act. Because events with a global impact can occur without significant warning, the lesson already learned regards the first-level response to energize analysis, define the problem, and determine urgency. All of us know this as a well-known national defense protocol – DefCon One to whatever. Unfortunately, the professionals in microbiology labs got nothing; action did not occur at the national level until a State Governor demanded it.
In the urban world, well before a large construction project begins, technology provides the architect and engineer with services to model highly complex systems in virtual environments envisioning entirely new frameworks for social and economic interaction. For example, these systems suggest the ability to document and envision the impact on a hospital system during a health care crisis; it can mark the flow of every ounce of water, watt of power, and a liter of air in every tube, wire, and opening serving urban life.
Systems with such data authority for day-to-day use or crisis are not a fantasy as their integration is already more fully imagined than a dream. Moreover, these practices have tangible demonstrations that allow any attentive person to conduct their Bayesian inference regarding forming the harmless city. Recognizing the three stages of professionalism as essential to creating new professions establishes the fourth level of enormous importance, but it must be aggressively defined. Ending the isolation of specific professional skills will lead to the active implementation of anti-silo tasks capable of fully developing the city as a single, fully integrated, undamaging earth entity.
Too many technical proficiencies are organized vertically like silos; they symbolize data segregation because they give their occupants special impact abilities. Examples are seeking competitive opportunities, targeting specific clients or competitors, isolating geographies, and insulating technologies for business purposes. As such, the lack of encouragement or opportunity to negotiate new elements that function laterally within governments, businesses (or groups of them) can be damaging, possibly deadly. An often-used phrase by planners to describe problem-solving is a policy (mostly public) that must end. It is called “catastrophic resolution.”
In attacking the downside of these practices, the four problems I have begun to define call for the city’s recognition as a single construction and rehabilitation problem. It will engage the entire social and economic context of the urbanized earth. With this view of the city as the essence of human existence, I address the need to radically alter the traditional contract arrangement responsible for building cities and connective tissues. The urbanizing earth is singularly crucial to the quality of every aspect of all life. In this context, I attempt to define the professional realignment problem more thoroughly.
If you want to know when the first phase of this effort ends – let me know (here).
I found this on what the 2030 report was supposed to create. I noticed a comment I made regarding the process that they picked up. If they were serious, they would disclose the process used to accomplish one of their basic goals. Goal: Get a park/recreation facility within walking distance of everyone, say 880 yards.
Challenge: Identify those locations that do not meet this criterion. It would help if you implemented a strategy to accomplish the goal of walkable access, and then talk about how it was accomplished with examples and what still needs to be done. The alternative is to tell people what they don’t have and then fail to produce.
Running from the Bull or Riding One – same thing.
Real and imagined unknowns are part of our embedded information society. Yet, despite the call for transparency and more open society, government officials, business leaders, and human rights advocates share the mantra of the bull rider that says, “don’t get killed the moment the gate opens.” The preference for advanced knowledge for planning includes knowing that the bull will throw you off regardless. How and why New York City keeps its planning secrets is the stuff of its greatness. Or is it?
There are many ways to look at the advancement of an idea; you can bring advisors, experts, and consultants to test the bull for weaknesses. It is the most predictable move that might suggest counterbalances. A good example involves the advisory council members the Mayor’s office used for the 2030 PlaNYC.gov project. A large group was asked to hear it first, keep it quiet, and prepare their respective constituencies with ideas about radically changing the city to solve problems, meet needs, or produce higher confidence levels. These advisors entered New York’s version of a time-honored practice known as the run from the bulls. What we all know, it occurs knowing or unknowingly.
All advocates for community planning, housing or environmental activism, business or labor, have their own bull to ride. They also have some foreknowledge about successful placement within the arena. They can be part of the crowd or on a balcony above the fray. This is an OK part of participation. It is the burden of either leading or getting out of the way. The observation to make is that it is not always clear which is which. The decision to ride resembles the three most famous bulls in the world. They threw every single rider who attempted to last eight seconds presented metaphorically as follows:
Bodacious – Climate Change
Blueberry Wine – Sustainability
Bushwacker – Resilience
Whether the 2030 Plan got called the Olympic plan in a green dress, or the World’s Greatest Bull ride, or the NYC version of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, every resident should be encouraged if one single truth is made clear from the onset — take the increments proposed for change and raise them by accomplishing one thing. The truth seems far too elusive these days for short-term use. It seems riskier than ever for decision-makers who use the truth and make a change. On the other hand, raw data gathered for use by anyone can expose a truth in which all can share. I offer an example as follows:
One person, who is without a doubt brilliant in the Bushwacker Class, gave us a map. As buildings are the single greatest producers of GHGs, and the goal in the world (for now) is to get to net-zero, I was hoping you could study the Emissions Mapby the aforementioned brilliant person Jill Hubley. So I can find myself on this map, and someday I might be able to add my emissions data, and in trade to this data, I will be advised on what I can do that I can afford to do for me and the next owner of my home, my city, and world.
Face it. All ideas begin the secret of a few before they are shared. This is the essence of all ideas. When they emerge in a public forum such as the 2030 Plan, they arrive in a city that will argue its merits on a central principle expressed by this question. “Will this help make a better life for all our residents regardless of household income?” Is this the truth? It takes work to make it so that a great city like New York becomes one of beauty and greatness.
New ideas must meet this first test of actionable power. It is important to know whether actions to remove dangerous foods and air from our lives or to bring all New Yorkers and the region into a synchronous transportation model are doable. Try this last thought out for a second. All of us have experienced the shocking realization that the cost of running the MTA is a financial responsibility that travels well beyond that paid by its riders. But, how on the good green earth can does removing the burden that sits substantially on riders alone become a probable outcome? It seems consensus cannot occur or even be considered without crisis.
We cannot pretend that the burden of financing NYC’s glory in the American sense or its survival in a global sense is the exclusive responsibility of the Mayor, his team, or our political representatives. It is every Jack One of us. The simple, uncomplicated truth may therefore have nothing to do with the facts. Our absolute responsibility is to protect vulnerable families in a vulnerable city because that protection is needed for everyone regardless of wealth.
How long will the simple measures of our accountability continue to be dismissed as a truism? The real proof of our work and our time in the making and re-making of this city is to measure to value the change. If this measure is not “people,” what could it possibly be? The hard questions about this responsibility are like secrets. The real test is upon us all to start talking about Bodacious, Blueberry Wine, and Bushwacker.
There are about 1,200 members in this section, and the activity level is low, but the networking is strong. LinkedIn is known for its job networking services, but its “group function” makes this system available to members to share articles, post questions, and define issues affecting New York City and the Region. Anyone can view group content, request an invitation to join, become managers or set up a subgroup on an issue.
There are about 1,200 members in this section, and the activity level is low, but the networking is strong. LinkedIn is known for its job networking services, but its “group function” makes this system available to members to share articles, post questions, and define issues affecting New York City and the Region. Anyone can view group content, request an invitation to join, become managers or set up a subgroup on an issue.
NYC Waterfront Plan 2020
The details on a Reach by Reach basis are well worth some urban design quires and perusals. We have long known that we see what we think is there and that this can be correct or incorrect at any time but always considered correct, and we know that not every observation we make is exact. We know errors in perception and measurement exist. These elements of the human condition are fundamental and accepted collectively in science and psychology. The more important issue is our responsibility to seek or develop statements of fact that have such lasting clarity in describing the conditions of our time they will continue to make sense in the distant future despite these errors. I want your opinion of the waterfront draft on this basis (or, how much jargon can plan one take?).
Armed with this knowledge, please read the Waterfront Plan for recommendations and procedures most likely to reduce error when discussing measurements. Second, suggest ways to find these errors during the implementation of plan components that provide for adjustments.
There are no design police. Nevertheless, the New Yorker only needs to recall the Sixth Avenue commercial office bonus scheme to realize the limitations involved in the public’s regulatory interest in extending Central Park a bit to the south with urban plazas along the avenue. Likewise, one only needs to look at the “restrictive declaration” used in Astoria to recognize a public access failure when you see it. Both represented a straightforward and honorable desire, but one that was interpreted very differently by the developer’s bottom line of that time. Today we have a double bottom line approach. Please bring this do no harm value to your review of the plan’s revision as follows:
The New York Department of City Planning website asks you to get involved withVision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. It offers a set of links (below). Each seeks thoughtful people to reflect on the new public realmâ€ and deduce the purpose of the update from its 1992 version under Wilber “Bill” Woods. Unfortunately, all of the links seeking participation died, and the most recent update is November 2018, as seen below:
Updated Policy 6.2 Guidance Document and Flood Elevation Worksheet are available below.
The connection of New York City’s 500+ miles of blue-interface to regulatory entities such as the NYC Building Code, the Clean Water Act, and the long list or labyrinth of permits demand site-t0-site complexities. The call for waterproofing every new structure within a few hundred feet of the waterfront at 14 feet above mean high tide is a “code” example.
Another is the use of the word elevated about the inevitable rise of sea levels. It suggests the need for other measurements to sustain the basic value of public access that sits as the foundation of the public interest. Perhaps it would be a good thing to see NYC function and Venice, has in the centuries to come, or to plan as well as our friends in the Netherlands. It would seem prudent in a ten-year plan to outline factors in NYC interest as far into the future as reasonable.
Note: The word elevate in the DRAFT is found twice as follows: Provide elevated views to the waterfront in Reach 2 Lower Manhattan and Explore the creation of elevated viewing deck overlooking cruise terminals in Reach 3 Lower West Side. What exactly is the measure for elevated, and how might this carry over or affect the entire waterfront.
Unlike the folks in the Netherlands that have confidently stated the count to be climate-proof, NYC-DCP selection is climate resilience. It says:
While Vision 2020 is focused on the next ten years, the plan recognizes the need to plan for a much longer time frame. The New York City Panel on Climate Change. See 2010 Report (354 pg) from the NY Academy of Sciences. It has been projected that sea levels are expected to rise anywhere from 12 inches to 55 inches by 2080. In addition, severe storms and the floods associated with them are expected to occur more frequently.
As a coastal city, many New York neighborhoods experience flooding and storm surges. These risks are expected to increase as the effects of climate change are felt. The Department of City Planning is working with other City agencies on assessing the risks associated with the sea-level rise to develop strategies for the city to increase its resilience. Strategies include regulatory and other measures to improve the flood resistance of new and existing buildings and explore soft infrastructure approaches to coastal protection.
There are about 1,200 members in this section, and the activity level is low, but the networking is strong. LinkedIn is known for its job networking services, but its “group function” makes this system available to members to share articles, post questions, and define issues affecting New York City and the Region. Anyone can view group content, request an invitation to join, become managers or set up a subgroup on an issue.
The New Museum, Chelsea. It’s done. Good neighbor? Bad neighbor?
80 South Street, Downtown, future (changing) approved in 05, so now what?
IAC Headquarters, High Line, 2007 (ceramic pebbles in the glass to save energy)
Silvercup West, Queens, 2009
Freedom Tower, Downtown, 2015!
Now approaching twenty years later for these areas time set aside for an assessment will prove instructive. Comments on the products regarding the social, economic, and environmental concerns are due. The public process used to promote the plans requires comparison with the end product requires analysis. The image source is New York Magazine 2006.
The Edge Stephen B. Jacobs; Master Plan FXFOWLE and TEN Arquitectos, Sept. 2008
Palmer’s Dock FXFOWLE, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009
North 8: Greenberg Farrow Architecture, spring 2007
Domino Sugar Site: Rafael Viñoly Architects, Park opened in 2018, ArchDigest: FEMA flood plan ArchRecRev (payportal)
Schaefer Landing: Karl Fischer Architects, 2006
Freedom Tower, David Childs/SOM; World Trade Center Transit Hub Santiago Calatrava; Tower 2, Sir Norman Foster; visitor center, 2011
William Beaver House; Developer André Balazs, no completion date
Staten Island Whitehall Ferry Terminal; Fred Schwartz, 2005
Battery Maritime Building; Renovation, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, 2006
Beekman Street Tower l Gehry Partners, Ismael Leyva Architects
80 South Street: Santiago Calatrava
Pier 17; Beyer Blinder Belle, no completion date
Drawing Center; Architect TBA, 2011.
East River Waterfront; SHoP and Richard Rogers Ken Smith Landscape Architects, 2009
Brooklyn Bridge Park; Michael Van Valkenburgh, 2012
One Brooklyn Bridge Park/360 Furman Street Creative Design Associates, fall 2007
Javits Center; Rogers FXFOWLE Epstein, 2010.
West Side Rail Yards No completion date.
Moynihan Station David Childs/SOM, late 2010
High Line; Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009
Chelsea Arts Tower Kosser & Garry Architects, Gluckman Mayner Architects, HOK, Fall 2006.
Vesta 24; Garrett Gourlay Architects and James D’Auria Associates, April 2006.
Marianne Boesky Gallery Deborah Berke & Partners Architects, September 2006.
West 23rd Street building Neil M. Denari Architects, Marc Rosenbaum, Gruzen Samton, 2008.
General Theological Seminary Tower The Polshek Partnership, no completion date.
High Line 519; ROY Co., late 2006
West 19th Street building Ateliers Jean Nouvel, no completion date.
IAC Headquarters Gehry Partners, March 2007.
516 West 19th Street Selldorf Architects, 2008
The Caledonia Handel Architects, 2008.
Chelsea Market Residence Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects
The Standard, NY The Polshek Partnership, 2007. High Line Club Developers Charles Blaichman and André Balazs, no completion date
Pier 57 Michel De Fournier and Gensler, no completion date
Dia High Line; Roger Duffy/SOM, 2008.
The health and prosperity of the world are at stake in this century. Planning, architecture, urban design, and engineering must become one discipline. It must take power to build connections to a far broader set of responsibilities. The need to produce so we don’t fail our kids, and their kids are now. Are the steps taken by these projects enough?
Are public agencies overwhelmed? Can they force the building of the city that should be built, or managing the one that can be built by those this limited imagination and concise term interests. Our public bodies have enormous authority. They miss opportunities to correct imbalances, leverage resources, and eliminate errors for the lack of political will and the ability to take power?
Anyone what to upgrade this with a starchitecture review?
Since 2010, 100 rural hospitals have closed, and another 430 are at risk, yet 30 million Americans cannot get regular care, of which 63% are racial and ethnic minorities. These are the facts, the American health care crisis ends when everyone will routinely see a doctor regardless of their income.
A crisis is composed of two “hanzi”– danger and opportunity. Now more than ever in American history, everyone needs primary and mental health care, dental, and low-cost prescription drugs. To help make that happen, the Defense Production Act authorizes resources of the National Guard, the Army Corp of Engineers, and others to assist providers in opening shut down hospitals, support existing facilities and expand community health centers in every community. Activating the Medicare System to pay for all COVID-19 emergency and related medical bills is the way forward. Do it now. Don’t argue with zombies.
The Real Test: Solving the Economic Crisis
No layoffs, a livable wage, equity to the government, and workers on corporate boards
Use Federal Reserve under section 14(2)(b) will buy short-term municipal debt securities.
Stock buybacks and bonuses for executives will be banned
Ensure no corporation profits from the economic pain of COVID-19 people
Ensure every employer in crisis gets emergency credit extensions and loans
Suspend all Farm Service Agency loan payments
The government will price all prescription drugs developed with every known form of tax code/taxpayer dollar and take patents from pharmaceutical companies for emergencies and for cause due to violations, give license to generic companies.
All crises are opportunities, even COVID-19. Many small and medium-sized businesses will go out of business. The large corporations will seek and take new markets. We need resources to document our prevention failures in health and economics. We will need to know who, how and where these failures occur, region by region, state by state. The unintentional impacts of ‘for the good financial care’ need to be understood because it can suppress thoughtful interest and protest movements. It also provides time for “big-capital” to choose what it needs and take what it wants even as it adds public resources to continue downward pressure on American wages.
Consider how direct-cash-payment for small and medium-sized businesses payrolls extends the economic crisis if it includes $2,000 cash payments per person/employee every month as needed. That 40% of our people who could not afford a $400 emergency is moot as it is unlikely to occur all at once, and yet now seems possible. A moratorium on bills due (i.e., evictions, foreclosures, utilities, mortgages) could be one of those everything all at once $400 problems so again, to “who, how and where,” we must add when.
More capital and expanded capacity for existing safety net programs are desperately needed, but ineffectual for systemic change. Unemployment insurance to cover 100 percent of prior salary with a cap at $75K/year could also command some brain-power participation by advancing a job/GND/health corps challenge. Do not waive the payments on student debt held by 45 million Americans due to the COVID-19 crisis without paying down a sizeable chunk of the principal on the $1.6 trillion we now hold. On that point, set a precedent with that down payment in a way that will assure a future of tuition-free public colleges, universities, and trade schools.
The single greatest asset in my Congressional District (CD9) is a vast combination of health service and education institutions that are in part, a testimony to the chaos of the American Health System on the one hand, and a story of extraordinary health service heroism in the United States on the other.
The American Community Survey ACS estimates a total of 691,000 people have health insurance of which 430,000 have private insurance, and 318,000 have public coverage. About 65,000 people are without coverage. The Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Kings County Hospital Center and the Downstate Medical Center are the district’s largest employer and an excellent partner in seeking the means to provide effective service to low- and moderate-income households. Because of this economic fact, they struggle mightily to provide essential ounces of prevention too often highly distressed population, and for the lack of prevention, hemorrhage frightening levels of debt in the pounds of cure we call our hospitals.
The above was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. It was a great run, Senator Sanders. There is no reason to slow down now, just point yourself in a slightly different direction. You would have been a great President of the United States. You made a new path by walking for all of us. Thank you.
In November 2007, Bruce Katz presented the challenges of the “mega” urban world. 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. They will need walkable communities, or they will ask to have everything delivered.
Where will the majority of this population decide to live? Economists think it will be in warm places that are becoming hot and dry or hot and wet. This brings many critical questions. One of them confronts an enormous labor shortage expected to begin around 2025. However, perhaps the most compelling policy question involves the demands of this population for elder care services concerning the quality of its provision in the marketplace. The impact everything urban where the efficient use of energy depends directly on density.
Knowing how this population will decide to live also goes a long way toward knowing where density can work and be well received. In order of preference, the following answers are probably accurate – people will be:
living the same way since settled, and will stay there until we drop dead, or
seeking a village-like setting with easy access to leisure– theater, movies, dining, and health sports such as running, cycling, golf, tennis, or name it
moving closer, but not too close to the kids, their kids, and some friends
be living with the children in their house as they become caregivers or receivers
be looking for 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. So say it is 2025 – you have a few years to arrange policy and resources.
Change the Subsidy and Alter the Incentive
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 or links to centers of density most likely to provide specialized services. 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 event, including COVID-19. The choices also involve a broad landscape of existing housing, large to small retail districts, office parks, and industrial areas. All megaregions will require analysis of the historically contrived municipal boundaries organization with rapidly changing demographic characteristics.
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. A guidebook called Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs documents those who have taken this approach. (see: Ted Talk by Ellen Dunham Jones). She observes how planners can diagnose low-density areas for possible problems. The failure of grey-field office parks, dead or dying malls, and housing subdivisions altered by illegal or loop-hole conversions are good examples. 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.
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 down 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:
a residential environment that is safe and walkable to meet convenience needs
design solutions that allow for the routine use of human-powered and power assist vehicles
provision of mass transit access serving all comparison goods, needs, interests, or desires
zero footprint impact and plus-grid (micro) energy, natural and technologically advanced waste (of all kinds) management systems
integration of open space systems responsive to natural environmental conditions of wilderness (preferably not fragmented).
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.
The failures of planning, architecture, and engineering are vast. Only a third of the earth’s landscape is urban. It holds over half the human population, and its growth will not stop until forced. The following seeks a new value system for three professions. These are the professions of architecture and engineering and the public disciplines of city and regional planning. Your bones tell you, you smell it because these professions enable the destroyers. The undisciplined confusion in the eyes of the political speakers adds to these aches and troublesome aromas. It is not necessary to sweep away the sticky multiple versions of the truth offered in the political speech of our modern lives. The clear mind of science will rise in the wake of these failures This is a call for an acelleration of action in that simple pursuit.
The densest regions of the human habitat are near natural resources and the ocean. These locations are instructive of an adaptation to restraint as well as, the failure to do so. Their locations and populations range from heartbreaking failures to soaring enclosures of fully actualized human potential. This duality is now squarely before the change-makers who are builders. The rationalized contradictions of “have” and “have not” have become the tragedy of the knowing and the unknowing.
Core Elements of Planning, Architecture, and Engineering Practice
The following components describe the foundation of the builders
The practice knows that humans experience the world through their bodies.
The practice focuses on specific purposes for buildings and built environments for humans to provide experiences of the world.
The practice builds environments made of materials drawn from the earth’s crust, for which there is a timeless responsibility.
The quality of an architectural solution derived from demonstrations of extraction processes includes responsibility for all human experiences in creation, use and disposal of each product.
Demonstrations of quality derive from combinations of functional and technical requirements.
Brining finished materials into coherence produces an aesthetic experience assigned by its users.
Standards of practice develop through deliberate periods of training, reflection, evaluation, and routine performance tests to establish a measure of expertise.
The desire to build a city of gold or a shed in the forest does not require the expertise of architecture and engineering (A&E). It does require the confidence presented by preexisting, demonstrable products of builders. Regretfully, the solutions are, therefore, retrogressive on all aspects of economic and social change.
The fundamental failure of the design function is how it produces experiences, generally known as aesthesis. The result can range from a sense of safety to the hedonic However, the ability to love, like, or appreciate your environment, yourself, and other people as part of that experience is vital. This function requires the A&E professions ignore levels of psychological and physiological knowledge. This is due to a “first” principle of A&E. Remaining accountable to the desires of the bill payers and only as accountable to government as the law requires. The responsibility for design has been allowed to remain indeterminate, weak, and at best damaging. The twenty-first century will require far more aggressive leadership.
At the center, the human ability for profound learning can anticipate and empathize with knowledge. For example, Whitney M. Young Jr raised racism in A&E in 1968 at the 100th convention of the American Institute of Architects. A few years before his accidental death (1971), he put a deck of cards on the table and explained that they were the problem to the AIA membership.
“Now, you have a nice, normal escape hatch in your historical, ethical code or something that says, after all, you are the designers and not the builders; your role is to give people what they want. Now, that’s a nice, easy cop-out.”
Whitney M. Young Jr. Read the complete speech here.
Providing the service of design expertise to meet severe challenges such as “sustainability” exists, but it is weak. The desire to end development practices that contribute to racism is supported, but with actions subservient to the historical, ethical code used as an escape hatch.
Demands to improve the human experience with the world require steps well beyond establishing the coherence of place. Confirming a sense of safety, comfort, accessibility, mobility, novelty, color, harmonics produce a long set of demands for consistency in recognizing human rights. The designer’s spatial and aesthetic productions require a new social resonance in the 21st century. An open and uncertain intelligence essential to understanding every human need is far more than the physical. The space-makers knowledge of existence will need to grow in service to a higher cause and purpose in service to humanity, not the bill payers. In failing to take the professional unity required by these steps, architecture and engineering will not improve the human condition, and the world must ask why? You must ask.
The following four topics summarize research and analysis of social and economic issues affecting the professional and non-professional urbanization of the United States. It began with the idea that a small laboratory on the idea of breaking some rules in one medium-sized A&E firm could reveal the brilliance of design as power. The topics outline an Occam’s Razor set of four simple steps by the professions of city planning, design, architecture, and engineering that might save us all.
Planning, Architecture, and Engineering Practice
Topic One: The Arc of History Is an Act of Construction
For the last few thousand years, humanity has gathered and shaped materials from the earth’s crust. It now occurs at a rate unprecedented in any other period. Yet, from Fordism to now, history does not describe the cost of this change as safe practice in any sense of the word, but as one designed to be continuously more profitable.
As a national policy, this practice pushed manufacturing labor out of the United States to less regulated, lower-cost areas in trade for lower-cost goods at home. Globalization is a well-documented force of history; however, its impact on the city-building trades is a research and development task tossed like a ball to the city-builders, the designer, planner, architect, and engineer, and they can’t catch.
Yes, individual projects represent extraordinary exhibits of design and technical expertise. Still, they are caves in the storm of urbanization history as it spreads the poisonous mass of human endeavor “as construction” across the surface of the earth.
Cities cover the earth’s prime locations, and yet they remain little more than a vague notion. As a stimulant to further discussion on this topic, I refer readers to “How cities took over the world” (here). The project experience of the A&E firms expressed by those in the graphic (below) and as many other contributors would care to recommend is needed. The Guardian (here) offers readers an extensive review of the earth’s urban reality. A video illustrates (here) the explosion of cities in the last two seconds of a three-minute presentation covering 4,000 years of urban development, or 9,000 if you want to go Neolithic.
The growth of architecture and engineering as a professional force surpasses all others in city-building, yet it remains undistinguished in its expression of political power. Management companies such as McKinsey & Company noticed this as a productivity problem in 2017 (here). Its city-forming capacities and influence are self-suppressed in preference for the praise of management as an art. The construction problem is one of productivity lagging behind all of the other major economic sectors. In 2017 productivity became different. It also justifies the significant benefits of some rather hefty billing for the fix as follows:
• Reshape regulation and raise transparency.
• Rewire the contractual framework.
• Rethink design and engineering processes.
• Improve procurement and supply-chain management.
• Improve on-site execution.
• Infuse digital technology, new materials, and advanced automation.
• Reskill the workforce.
A careful reading of these seven ideas will introduce tensions that pull in opposite directions. You can point to the conflicts down the list, the grinding spasms of cultural injections on the themes of social justice, efficiency, and the twists and turns of new technology.
Over the last four thousand years, from Alexandria to the Erie Canal, the practice has turned away from recognizing how it shapes the world as a disabling force in preference to its services as an expression of the imaginations of capital. This behavior needs to stop.
The global A&E practice has developed in service to those whodesire to build cities at a development rate rightly criticized as endangering the well-being of life. In this context, the thousand-year arc of history exhibits urban life brought to its knees many times in countless submissions to the destructive forces of black death, war, resource overreach, and the anticipatory ignorance of central governance. This behavior needs to stop.
The thread in this demand for discussion asks participants to examine this history with the presumption of a continuously urbanizing, global system, structurally and destructively embedded in or alongside another world that uses only what it needs, wastes nothing, and obtains its energy from sunlight. Looking forward and back, questions regarding the medium- and long-term must recognize the incompatibility of these two systems as currently intended. How can the destructive forces of each establish balance, and at what cost to human life?
Preceding our few thousand years, millions of species have come and gone over the last four billion years. In this context, the genius of time is the formation of well-informed and reflective humans, capable of explaining and understanding the universe well enough so as not to become its victim. The first question of history that points to this future of knowledge must discover an urban world generous with the earth with near-perfect information. The history of urban construction needs to change. Finally, can the powerful development expertise of actors such as those exhibited above become more mindful of this challenge. What forces are needed to get more effective thinking, and where necessary, force corrective action?
Topic Two: Erase the Contract
Architects and engineers have defined a set of professional restrictions on themselves. They also accepted limits demanded by investors (public and private). As the classic phrasing in the contract documents describes, A&E work shall be limited work. A&E provides two services design and construction documents, or more directly, build design expertise reputations to “get the job” and “documents” that get a project built.
When a building is to be built, the process begins for the construction manager when there is an agreement between the owner and the architect followed by a separate agreement between an owner and the architect called the B132 agreement between the owner and a construction management adviser. This agreement follows the A232 that outlines the general conditions of the contract of construction. Following this step, the litigious nature established by these first two agreements sets into motion the possibility of many other contracts designed to avoid complaints.
The climate warming crisis has encouraged a process for implementing the concept of “sustainability” into every project as an exhibit (E 235). The process for change orders and the steps necessary to acquire certifications for payment, new construction change directives, and ultimately a certificate of substantial completion sets forth the final payment elements of the initial contract between owner and contractor.
After these two tasks (get the job and sign documents), A&E is without power and trapped in binding contracts of its own making. It can observe well-paid union workers in conflict with the non-union worker through strategic “divide-and-conquer” tactics to accomplish a profit. Profit, of course, is essential. It is only the term and structure for defining returns and accruals that are in question — the result involves the intervention using public funds for supply-side subsidies and demand-side incentives of public policy.
Change in response to unmet human needs is injected into the city-building process to lower the cost of money or support efforts to produce better and safer environments through various zoning and construction regulations. The result is a maze of contractual requirements. Finally, A&E remains relevant in examining a long list of issues and concerns related to the use of building materials and construction practices to maintain public welfare and prevent litigation on a project-by-project basis. In addition, the knowledge drawn from the application of technology in planning, architecture, and engineering in city-building has the power to prove that humanity is not an infestation but an instrument capable of understanding the full complexity of all the conditions in which a building is made, not as an object in space, but as an addition in a community where much more needs to be done and with whom new partners are needed in a very different type of contract.
Efforts to change the system from within have introduced technology and law to produce contracts, such as presented by the Integrated Project Delivery introduced by the American Institute of Architects in the mid-2000s (AIA pdf here).
As a stimulant to further discussion on this topic, refer your readers to the implementation of IPD ( pdf here) that reviews a dozen projects in the United States. I also ask you to refer project experience of A&E firms expressed in the graphic (above) as it relates to the construction trade organizations exhibited in the graphic (below) along with as many other “workers organizations” as you would care to recommend with one additional component – add your focus on the expertise of the construction trades as exhibited by their union representation and by spending about three minutes with some people talking about their life-experience in construction.
I offer the following change tactically aimed at a far more significant change in the city-building contract than exhibited in the well-intentioned tinkering offered by the IPD program. First, I would include a demand to recapture a resource such as building information modeling systems (BIM) as a public responsibility. It is adopted widely and somewhat inappropriately by construction management firms in contracts with owners and developers. It belongs elsewhere in a new partnership.
If significant improvements in system management toward a practice of architecture and engineering are to occur, it must defer to people’s lives in priority over the property. In response to demands for resilience, it must meet sustainability goals to weather the next storm, fire or rage. A new relationship between the construction trades, their unions, and A&E can produce the balance needed to move forward as a force for political change. Accepting this idea may be essential to eliminating the destructive forces of raw capital at work globally.
An improved concept of change that gets well past the profitability of managing time is needed. The cold industrialization of construction awaits on the global factory floor. In this writer’s mind, a new alliance of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) are the best means toward retaining the art and humanity of architecture with the precision of science and engineering sustained by the heart and soul of its human builders. Technology makes many contributions to city-building that offer exhilarating promise. The embodied energy in building materials is sustained for centuries if they are recyclable. All surfaces would collect tactile and energy from the sun, the movement of people and goods occurs seamlessly. When events are made to recur, there is proof of control. With these proofs, one other human problem requires careful examination in the United States because it is the most diverse society on earth.
The argument in this brief look at changing the city-building contract must occur between design, the technology of architecture, and engineering with the construction trades and its workers. Without this change, the city-building professions will fail in their contract with humanity.
Topic Three: Change the Concept of Change
Open processes that value human dignity, fair wages, health, and safety occur in countries with the capacity to make a democratic change. Instead, over the last fifty years, public regulation and litigation regarding the safety of construction sites have made them marginally protected. Elsewhere in the world, the record shows construction labor as a struggle with death, and if not death, despair.
Investors know creativity is in the major urban centers, and the time to capture it is now. When business and government leaders put options on the table that don’t create change, the policy is not to create change. The CEOs from small to massive A&E firms recognize the prevailing narrative of a nation’s white, male, racial preeminence and how it is represented in their businesses today. However, they should see it in the context of a rapidly changing American value system aimed at high levels of fairness that eliminate wrongs, thereby opening an exponential capacity for growth through innovation.
As the more responsible power holders take a good look at the nation today, they will discover how to shift the subtle and corrosive ideology of gender and racial pre-eminence that is white and male toward greater inclusion. They will learn how it creates the invisibility of all others. The first step is to identify the privileges that have enabled past “rights” to continue for so long that they have become today’s “wrongs.” In the light of a society that seeks to improve its understanding of itself, the demand (while painful) for a “facts are friendly” approach to solving problems is paramount.
Nearly 40% of the U.S. population are people of color. Yet, their lack of representation in many influential fields reveals obvious “white race preeminence” that remains unchallenged. Department of Labor (DOL) numbers to back that up are:
From 2009 to 2018, the percentage of black law partners up from 1.7% to 1.8%.
From 1985 to 2016, the proportion of black men in management at U.S. companies with 100 or more employees barely budged–from 3% to 3.2%.
People of color held about 16% of Fortune 500 board seats in 2018.
A 2018 survey of the 15 largest public fashion and apparel companies found that nonwhites held only 11% of board seats and that nearly three-quarters of company CEOs were white men.
In the top 200 film releases of 2017, minorities accounted for 7.8% of writers, 12.6% of directors, and 19.8% of lead roles.
As a stimulant to further discussion on this topic and resistance to it, I will refer readers to two discussions on the implementation of diversity (AIA pdf here, a research article here) that addresses a range of issues. First, the task of linking A&E to the Construction Trades experience offers lessons in race and gender in both of their ranks.
At first glance, architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms have improved gender balance, significantly influencing education and training programs. The construction trade unions have improved racial access and trust in diversity with added strength in the transparency of pay equity and negotiations for health insurance services in their ranks. There is a strong win/win potential in developing this relationship through education.
An alliance of knowledge and choices in career ladders between the building trades and city-building professionals can produce more participation levels from designing a building to building one. The enrichment for a cross-disciplinary engagement in the challenges faced in city-building is infinite in its possibility. It is capable of crushing the intellectual silos in which the trades and professionals find themselves trapped.
Topic Four: Realign City-Building
Until recently, the history of the construction industry regarding change issues has been not to allow social change. The history of A&E, however, illustrates policies more responsive to demands for change. For example, the focus on education serves greater gender-balance positioned to achieve equity; A&E policies are also eager to adopt new technologies to their portfolio of problem-solving tools.
Few evaluation systems address social change and sustainability beyond the capacity of marketing to claim “steps.” Departments of Commerce (Census) and Labor produce measures for evaluating business and industry responses to social demands. Agents can claim modest advances in broad areas such as social justice and point to specific areas such as sexual harassment. However, steps in preventing environmental damage do not quantify threats to future generations effectively. Vague, and in many cases, unverifiable measures are used on a project-by-project basis with impunity. Draw a line around the city. Inside unlimited growth is on offer if nothing damaging can go outside that line. With this alignment, there may be enough time to make it work. If not, I fear doom awaits full expression in the screams of the impoverished.
Leadership is Available
Spend a few minutes with Peter Calthorpe (TED)
On the question of accountability, these issues concern any thinking person. The design professions and construction trades can take a more substantial leadership role in public policy. There are more questions, and please offer them, but the best of them to seek opinions as follows:
Please contribute facts, names of places, numbers, sources, and resources to help this little think tank community explore some ideas and define the problems presented in each of the following questions. Our focus is simple — no one is as smart as all of us.
Should the A&E community enter into alliances with the construction trades industry to make both more responsive to social and environmental challenges?
an alliance with the construction trades is not considered possible at this
time, what strategies might you offer or what purposes might this action serve?
Is it possible for you to envision forming a highly trained architecture, engineering, and construction industry as a highly advanced technological force in the city-building world? If yes, what national and global structures would you deploy (real or imagined).
Knowing that the top annual billing rate for the world’s largest A&E firms falls short of a billion U.S. Dollars, consider your answer in terms of taking full development control.
Through legislation and changes in central governance policy, will it be necessary for A&E to develop the capacity to establish a controlling and deciding role in every expenditure related to urban preservation, re-development, and construction?
presumes an inability of nation-states and global regulatory bodies to
establish ground rules for managing the displacement of millions of people over
the next half-century.
The question imagines
the availability of substantial capital to resolve coastal and southern border
disruptions in new multi-national business partnerships designed to define
specific levels of design expertise rapidly when needed.
Will A&E lead in its capacity to design and plan environments that respond to the vast creativity embedded in the social and economic diversity unique to the United States?
The representation of the American population’s multi-cultural, ethnic, and racial composition is considered a valuable asset. Can A&E in the United States respond effectively in resolving issues?
Will AEC envision new ways of life that focus on the humanity embedded in our shared realities that produce new forms of comfort in life and health in living with the knowledge that we sustain the joy and laughter of all those who wait in the deep future?
Asking for your theory of change in this closing question seels reflection on all previous answers with the idea that some elements of hope for leadership in the profession will become possible, if not in your heart, then in your imagination.
The challenge is to combine design skill and construction knowledge and the progressive nature of labor unions, architecture, and engineering to create the opportunity to save us all or save anyone who looks into the eyes of a six-year-old to know that we had better try hard and start now.
Tweets from housing advocacy groups warned of the 2008 Recession for five years (here). They see another housing crisis forming in America caused by raising public awareness. It is about how equity was kept away from people by Americans against themselves. It is an issue defined by the nation’s 400 hundred-year heritage of enslavement, cold, racist terrorism, and bigotry. These facts also describe the world’s history, but it is the U.S. Constitution that had some ideas about how moral people could change immoral societies.
RLC – OCCUPY
Housing is Equity
Problems that hurt people and go undefined and unanswered create a climate for authoritarian solutions. The often-told answer is an old retort of hard work, healthy homes, communities, and families. The response is correct but blind to the history of privileges extended to white America as it became the United States. For centuries rights and freedoms were extended to all people. Yet, policymakers made denial of pathways to equity routine. The bias crime barred the accumulation of wealth from property to serve succeeding generations. The quiet yet insidious reduction and denials of opportunity from education are proven. The lack of equity is significant.
Over a half-century has passed since the idea of forming nonprofit housing development corporations was established by concerned residents and city officials. In Brooklyn and throughout New York City, this emergent network of housing rights advocates works as nonprofit partners with housing developers drawing on various financial mechanisms to defend low- and moderate-income households from the myth of “market rate” access to housing. Formed in the early 1970s, the Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers (ANHD) initially sought to bring equity to families by acquiring publicly owned (in rem) housing and converting it to various local ownership structures. The idea began during the great wave of housing vacancy and abandonment that started in the 1950s that destroyed entire neighborhoods. The pathway to equity remains narrow, easily recognized in the subtle name change of ANHD from developer to advocate. It is now the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (here).
A public map listing of Brooklyn organizations is (here). One question is whether equity is created for low- and moderate-income households? Brooklyn’s housing rights and development organizations will struggle with the pandemic-stimulated crisis in rental housing. Yet, in this crisis, there is an opportunity to create new partnerships toward equity in housing because the issue is straight forward as this heading states:
In the centuries that led to the rise of American hegemony, not one person, not W.E.B. DuBois or even Martin Luther King, fully articulated the loss of equity. The voice of Ta-Nehisi Coates is the most current (here). He stands on firm ground because the U.S. has participated in reparations six times. The seventh time should take a long hard look at housing as linked to the displacement challenges posed by climate change.
Ending the Wherever Movement
After WWII, localities keep a hold on the tail of the revenue bull while blind to the beast. As a result, in the last century, millions of households benefited from federal housing policies with only one location principle – housing wherever you want. However, in this new century reducing the mortgage interest subsidy on the demand side and weakening a long list of development incentives on the supply side has severely weakened federal leadership in housing preservation and development to continue the “build wherever” policy.
A new housing crisis is in the air for reasons other than systemic racism in America. Every issue connects to a housing problem. For some time, the equity crisis re-establishes classicism under headings such as “culture wars,” but the results change little. The metaphor is weak. Using resilience principles, the facts on every “next disaster” can be different. Technology offers opportunities to build a broader coalition on equity with justice that includes race by correcting past wrongs yet moves forward to circumvent long-established rules of “divide to conquer.”
The surge of affordable single-family housing in America continues in the hot wetlands of the south with periodic drought and the flat drylands of the south- and northwest with asymmetrical flash floods and fire. However, the onset of climate change will drown the wetlands, scorch and burn the drylands, and cause enormous disruptions in every region of the United States.
Denying the annual recurrence of this possibility is a repudiation of science and a political endorsement of catastrophic resolution. I will not be surprised if we experience a bout of biblical pestilence in the narrative of the resistance to this long-term, permanent threat. Long before the direct links to climate change formed, the impacts of disastrous choices in land use development are rightly defined as “environmental racism” by pointing directly at the disproportionate number of low-and-moderate-income people losing equity. The damage and despair reveal a broad swath of painful historic bigotry, but now the dangers are thrown at everyone.
The opportunity to write national housing policies occurs routinely. The 2020 decade began with unmet demand for five million new homes.
The opportunity to write national housing policies occurs routinely. The 2020 decade began with unmet demand for five million new homes. It is possible to re-establish national housing development policies as the leading edge of a new strategy re-focused by climate protection. First, it can build on resources that combine restoration with resilience. Second, a new housing policy will create sustainable equity in communities. Finally, the procedures are in place to help people survive the hatred and bigotry injected into the threat of high water, drought, sickness, and fire.
It is possible to re-establish national housing development policies as the leading edge of a new strategy. First, climate protection will be re-focused on resilience and restoration. Second, it will create sustainable equity in communities. Finally, long standing human rights policy will help people survive the hatred and bigotry far too quickly injected into the threat of high water, drought, and fire.
Two Centuries Out
Living way up in Maryland’s Appalachian blue ridge range, it is easy to find seashell fossils. When a friend built a house up there, they removed a boulder covered in Trilobite fossils, and there was a shark tooth that said to me the sea was here for a very long time, and it will be back.
The following summary of Tweets is from this site’s Tweet-O-Rama (July 2019.
The idea of a summary is that it may be possible to find threads of principle in policy that alter pervasive opinions.
One example is the purpose of a large national government.
As a result, it will be possible to forge new policy from environmental protection as a national defense strategy forced by the bright light of survival and a much more severe focus on the big picture. I offer one example.
The ocean’s tide can flow up and into the Great Appalachian Valley from Maine’s ports to South Carolina’s shores over the next few centuries. The ancient geological record proves it has been there before. Given a long-term view, getting ready should be a top priority. Preparation for this kind of “sea change” in all its meanings is the most critical action of this century (the original map as shown below is here). Issues like this are just the beginning:
Hundreds of practical policies governing housing equity and location can be surmised with a review of the location of vulnerable households.
The percentage of elderly who reside in coastal locations as provided by a Climate Central study.
Take your pick of issues for building a constituency on housing development and location. If the Gulf of Mexico’s fate is an alga thickened swamp, we need policies for what that means. If the Pacific Ocean’s vast torrents alter the Gulf Stream, El Niño yields unsurvivable surface heat or hundreds of tornadoes and hurricanes. Not being ready is a super bad idea. Whether friendly or with horrible force, heed the words, “the water will come.” The plan seemed different when time itself became for sale, and that is not a surprise if you know how non-fungible tokens (NFT) and blockchains changed all financial transactions.
Please enjoy looking at the national Tweet-O-Rama organizations focused on housing (here). With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to look at politics as a sport and as a practice that is now very different from the role of leadership that it implies. A growing number of elected national representatives now complain of a system of government that appears to ignore the will of the people.
Buildings and Energy
Improve energy incentives in buildings by centralizing incentives. Update the State Energy Code swiftly and expedite “climate-friendly” projects. Prioritize energy efficiency initiatives for affordable housing.
The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) should be raised from 25% to 30%.
The Public Service Commission should be permitted to require time-of-use pricing, which allows the price of electricity to more closely track the actual cost of producing it on an hour-by-hour basis.
Provide incentives for installing a “smart meter” to allow for data exchange between the electricity provider and the customer’s electric meter.
Sub-metering should be required in all buildings to allow building owners to bill tenants for individual electric usage.
The State Energy Code should be amended to cover more building renovations; currently, only renovations that involve the replacement of 50% or more of a building’s subsystem must comply with the Code.
All new or substantially renovated school buildings should be required to meet green building standards.
Water and wastewater treatment plants should be required to adopt energy conservation requirements.
Reinstate the State Energy Planning Board
The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) regulations should be amended such that GHG emissions are considered for projects that are subject to it.
GHG emissions should be factored into local comprehensive plans.
Wind projects, including those offshore, should be encouraged and New York should adopt a statewide wind energy goal as part of its RPS requirement.
Vehicles and Transportation
Continue to strive for a 10% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) below business as usual within 10 years; to this end, New York should initiate a VMT Task Force.
Consider imposing feebates on the purchase of new vehicles with low fuel economy and offer rebates on the purchase of vehicles with high fuel economy.
Encourage the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.
Include Energy-saving vehicle maintenance techniques as part of the vehicle registration process.
Encourage the expansion of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by promoting the adoption of an economy-wide cap on GHGs; in addition, consider lowering the existing cap.
Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology should be pursued provided that adequate federal funding is available.
Green workforce development should be promoted by enhancing educational and job training programs throughout the state.
Encourage the Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement to be aggressive in setting green specifications for certain goods that are purchased by State agencies.
Promote methane capture by requiring or encouraging it in all municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills.
Improve its floodplain mapping system by taking into account future sea level rise.
New York State Bar Association Task Force on Global Warming reviewed New York’s existing laws and programs, including existing and pending federal laws regarding climate change. The Task Force is chaired by Professor Michael Gerrard, Director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University School of Law. (Jan. 2009.) The proposals are organized into four categories: buildings and energy, land use, transportation, and others. In addition, the following was edited from the Executive Summary excerpted in the Law of the Land blog.