Rainfall Flooding

“Hurricane Ida devastatingly impacted our area, the urgency to understand this kind of threat and determine the risk it poses became abundantly clear.”

RPA

Use the link below to see a full version of this map and the article. A strategy to protect the community from the likelihood of more intense rainfall is available now. Question the integrity of the E21 Street catch basins due to recent construction. (E21 Post) This is a reasonable first step. Would you please explore Portal311 (here) on this issue?


Source: RPA Measuring Flood Risk in New York City Housing and Basements

About 180,000 small residential buildings in NYC are vulnerable to rainfall flooding – 168,000 have basements, 123,000 below grade. In addition, the community is susceptible to “nuisance flooding,” however, the city’s data is incorrect regarding the “below grade” data.

Issue: The community has been made more vulnerable due to concrete and other material dumping into the catch basins at Kenmore and Albemarle. An investigation may be needed. However, AKNA would likely be at the lower end of a very long list of remediation actions under the heading of flooding resiliency.

A 311 Portal is available to call out this problem. A good first step has been to question the data. Note the new build is not on the map, and second, call out trouble with the catch basins on the 21st. I have observed three dumping acts that could have compromised catch basins along E21 Street. They were, 1) during construction of the new building on E. 21st. 2) during construction on Albemarle Terrace and 3) during sidewalk repairs along with the Dutch Reform Church. Only the new E21 construction was reported.

Every Problem is a Housing Problem

Providing community-based development organizations (CBDO) with insight into strategies of service for specific client constituencies is a constant challenge. The day-to-day tasks of program leaders and staff engage a variety of pre-determined reasonably funded activities. Executive Directors and program staff involved in social services intake need an analytical agent to help them describe existing conditions that could become critical. Here is an example of how such an assessment could work:

The Furman Center has produced multiple resources on housing issues with statistical evidence by neighborhood, as well as, combinations that reveal a wider spread of city-wide concerns. The array of eviction data from Furman is vast, requiring many hours of review on the predictive, mitigating, and direct service demands possible. The benefit of a summary of these resources is essential. It applies to an organization’s mission, operational issues, strategic outlook, track record on the subject, and the subsequent choice of tactics. A temp with planning research and analysis experience is economical yet strategic in its importance.

The following posts explore approaches to housing issues.

The overall distribution has remained roughly unchanged since 2016, as the order of the top five and composition of the top ten remained the same. The map above illustrates the concentration of high average property tax bills in the Northeast. In contrast, southern states (with the exception of Texas) boast some of the lowest RET bills for their resident homeowners. See post below.
Castling is an important goal in the early part of chess, and in the affordable housing game. In chess, it serves to protect the king by moving it away from the center of the board, but it has a more important role in releasing the Rooks power to advance pawns.

Power is in the hand of the governed.

Housing Economics

Even Texas, the state that added the most housing units, showed decreases in more than half (52.4%) of its counties — reflecting the concentration of housing unit growth in larger metropolitan counties, with declines more common in smaller non-metropolitan counties.

Spend some time looking through the 2020 Population and Housing State Data. The priority within the Bureau will remain in this area as it will direct the addition and subtraction of political representatives. The increase in metropolitan county density in states like Texas will reveal housing as a massive engine for growth. The lack of criticism for the quality of place-making should be observed very carefully as 2020 data rolls on to the nation’s micro-marketing platforms.

For example, criticism for using an archetypal housing structure (below) is warranted. The data on how housing production produces jobs and supports industries is important. That the data also reveals a metropolitan shift across the country is more so. The focus on jobs and industry is useful. however, the design of the new and restored communities is how lasting value is established in the new world of climate change roulette. Revealing the preference for the areas of the country that are becoming increasingly wet or dry under rapidly changing barometric domes of atmospheric heat threatens these gains. A shift in focus away from individual structures to the way entire communities produce jobs, support industries, and remain resilient is the core challenge.

In this context, the vast wealth of American households is generated by where Americans want to live or are forced to live. This is followed by the type of structure available and the cost of acquisition. The result remains a choice limited by income and the transfer of equity from one generation to the next. Thousands of other factors are involved, all of them well documented. The issue remains the general unwillingness to build a different society.

A national policy regarding the location of home equity is strengthened by a metropolitan strategy where inclusion is sustained as a high priority. The urbanization of the New York and Houston metro areas presents an important basis for comparing land-use policies that yield the greatest benefit. One example built into the libertarian argument of Texas where the idea of historic preservation was attacked by a lawsuit suggesting it violated the city’s “no zoning” rules –turning that city into a sprawling megalopolis of virtually uncontrolled land uses (here).

The numeric change at the state measure is vast, while the metro comparisons are statistically similar. The opportunity to understand metropolitan development in the context of climate change and resilience, public cost, and private benefit will be found in these two dynamic housing environments.

State and Core Based Statistical Areas

New York State
Population Density (2020): 428.7 people per square mile
Total population (2020): 20,201,249
Total population (2010): 19,378,102
Numeric change (2010–2020): 823,147
Percent change (2010–2020): 4.2

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area
Total population (2020): 20,140,470
Total population (2010): 18,897,109
Numeric change (2010–2020): 1,243,361
Percent change (2010–2020): 6.6

Texas
Population Density (2020): 111.6 people per square mile
Total population (2020): 29,145,505
Total population (2010): 25,145,561
Numeric change (2010–2020): 3,999,944
Percent change (2010–2020): 15.9

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area
Total population (2020): 7,122,240
Total population (2010): 5,920,416
Numeric change (2010–2020): 1,201,824
Percent change (2010–2020): 20.3

Thanks! I ripped this one into text like a bandage, and fixed most of it, but thanks again.

The Climate Requirement (II)

The current public investment scheme is labeled the American Jobs Plan (here). A primary purpose of jobs through the proposed infrastructure framework is a contract to build or rebuild something. But, unfortunately, what Congress has written is a catalog of pointlessness entitled “The Same Old Story.”

Every urban planner and economist must recognize this public investment proposal as a misallocation disaster. An effective plan for jobs that includes resilience must include unbuilding. Without a deconstruction approach, the commission to ‘build back better” is a vulnerable policy offering little more than sustainable corruption. The single reason for this is not merely old story politics. It is the ridiculous relic of state boundaries represented.

The Infrastructure Framework establishes a bias towards known projects like roads and bridges because they are profitable for the builders. The environmental benefits are, at best, arguable. At worst, an acceptance that nothing changes but the slices of bacon. Positive results require decades to measure, not terms of office. The addition of jobs will be meaningless if the same world is rebuilt for future generations. The serious problem is not choosing new things to do but stopping what we have done.  Here is an example.

Sources of U.S. Electricity Generation – 2020

Based on 4.12 trillion kilowatt-hours in 2020

Electric vehicles will run on coal and gas. Not including nuclear power, fifty-nine percent of the electricity generated for electric vehicles is from fossil fuel. Add a source of dangerous radiation, and the percentage rises to 79%. However, two positive factors are possible.  The first is a centralized source of production capable of a conversion to clean sources. The second is revealed in the basic lessons learned by making room for human-powered vehicles.

The Alternatives are Coming

A straightforward, low-cost green infrastructure policy would be to re-imagine and re-invest in existing rights of way through deconstruction alongside effective investments in social change. For example, the goal demanded by the Climate Requirement (here) is to create fast, efficient mobility services to high-value locations. Its achievement is fueled by investing in infrastructure that leads to social change. The foundation that will help demand this kind of investment is to confirm an inherent human right to the freedom of movement. The objective to prove progress in achieving this goal is to provide more choices in ways to move.

Planners and economists recognize the high value of places created by service concentrations in dense urban settings. For instance, technological cultures, university campuses, health facilities, and business hubs serve large regions with highly prized specializations. In addition, the economic demand for these goods and services is strong enough to produce transit centers linking multiple forms of movement. An effective green plan would recognize the high value of city-center to city-center mobility by recognizing well-established competitive differences. The problem is identifying the high cost of free parking due to the sheer expense of dependence.

The “center-to-center” specializations are not limited to dense urban settings offering high-value services. Effectively re-imagined, a similar place to place destination service could include access to a world of forest trails, lakes, and natural environments. Trips lasting hours, days, or weeks for recreation provide the nourishment that only large open spaces can provide when untouched by private vehicles.

Making it Persuasive

  • Creating fast, efficient mobility services to high-value locations provides for the management of human environmental impacts. But, more importantly, managing that investment includes where public funds are not allowed. Examples are along river basins and their flood plains, green fields used for food production, forest and wildlife habitats, even the simple pleasure clean natural sources of water.
  • The USA benefits from biodiversity. However, infrastructure is the primary driver of habitat destruction. To reduce conflict, a creative, re-crafting of American transportation is far more than saving a species of butterfly. It is about bringing lives of quality to future generations who will meet the challenge of living in new ways.
  • The builders of structures in low-density environments between city centers will recognize a significant center-to-center investment policy as a threat. For example, there are fifteen transit-linked places between Boston and New York. A federal, regionally structured infrastructure strategy will offer “as is above, as is below” resources designed to produce fast, efficient transit services within these sub-regional centers.
  • High-speed linkages between NYC, Boston, Newark, Washington DC, and Philadephia have similar links. A stop at Newark could have the same connections planned for communities throughout N.J.  Transit sizing existing roadways would link an range of neighborhood downtowns where the same degree of specialization could occur between small businesses, local cultural offerings along the shore, and into the hills of the Garden State.
  • Supply-side incentives and demand-side subsidies would illustrate how to increase value by undoing a long list of practices that will weaken reinvestment in the decades ahead. The policy does not threaten low-densities, it produces a powerful center-to-center alternative.
Amtrak’s Proposed Northeast Corridor NextGen High-Speed Rail Lines in 2040

The basic transit example is an undoing of single-purpose roadways designed to serve everything everywhere using cars and trucks. Instead, a federally led regional infrastructure plan offers a competitive alternative.

The stylized map above shows comfortable high-speed rail through the region. A similar approach can produce clean energy, water, and fresh food. It does not directly undo what is being done, but it establishes a competitively new way to Transit-based living with a few practical examples. Yet, without a national policy, that is all they will become. Creating more center-to-center choices utilizing the well-understood functions of regions can sustain the quiet life of low-density neighborhoods while providing unlimited opportunities for growth through density.

Deep-End

The reshaping of the urban landscape is a high priority. Therefore, it should not be surprising that organizations focused on changing will come from Infrastructure.org for a complete review of everything capable of changing the roadway. You can find insight into a simple question: Will the infrastructure bill 2021 make my subway/train service better? This article from a transit specialist in Portland, OR will show you how very hard that will be to discover (here). Or from Streetsblog.org this comic gem on the deep-end mess of the car culture. Voting is closed, but have a look (hither).

The transformation of roadways into multiple vehicle service corridors began in post-war Europe.  The fastest way to establish a sense of this right-of-way change is by watching three short videos on how the bicycle transformed three cities. Next, I included a look at the deep end involving hundreds of other vehicles. Finally, I selected a few to examine the potential of small vehicles in dense urban settings.

Amsterdam

Groningen

Utrecht

Other Payload Alternatives

Citroen Ami 

Renault Twizy

Point A to B

All of them demand smooth roads. More data on the long-term savings accused to their management and maintenance. Stumble through the following. Somewhere, there must be a thread of principle in the following:

The Climate Requirement I

Dr. Christopher Jones is a Professor at UC Berkeley and the Director of the CoolClimate Network. Like many who have examined the climate crisis thoroughly, he has told everyone the truth. The problem is well defined, conditions are critical, and a global solution is at hand. In other words, we know what to do. However, a more useful definition of the problem is to find out why global implementation will not occur.

The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.

EPA

After a half-century of work by esteemed scientists, the paradox of self-interest continues to allow for thousands of successful micro-projects to be funded. Yet, at the same time, the implementors consistently agree to a global failure. Despite tangible micro-efforts and these life-affirming successes, it seems the global breakdown is not regulatory, nor is it architectural or engineering. It is not due to the inadequate investment in technology or the lack of enforcement. The truth is far more fundamental.  Members of the fossil fuel industry passively accept a different path regarding global action on climate change. They will play the barometric-bomb game on a rapidly spinning climate roulette wheel. This is a strategic business decision well outside of tactical public controls. Perhaps a nonstrategic approach is an essential complement to the required response of science. After all, since the very first crack of lightning threw Homo sapiens to the ground, wind, rain, and thunder have been numinously controlling.

Now that sustainability is lost, what is being done? First, the psychology of resilience is supported as a hedge on all standing and proposed assets. Second, four business drivers provide an evaluative framework for daily decisions. These monitor 1) regulatory changes, 2) litigation trends, 3) technological transformations, and 4) specified barriers linked to market operations associated with climate change. Third, these steps involve advanced practices associated with the large businesses undergoing consolidation against significant dislocation threats and climate risk. The top example involves the operations of 20 fossil fuel companies linked to a third of all GHG emissions in the modern era. With precise data, the mysterious Doppelgänger of Climate Change is presented. The climate requirement is to grapple with this knowledge. We are not in the presence of weather as an expression of divinity – it’s twenty fuel companies.

Fingers and Toes Solution

A fingers-and-toes acquisition is available to reset reinvestment patterns to 100% clean energy. This is not a radical step. According to Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute, as reported by Matthew Taylor and Jonathan Watts for The Guardian, twelve of the 20 companies are state-owned. Climate accountability is possible because the problem is well defined, conditions are critical, and a global solution is at hand.

Actual climate impact costs are embedded in evasion processes. They are challenging to discuss openly due to the presumption of confidential business information and its exposure. The solution at hand is an eminent domain style acquisition of the industry. Acquiring one-third of the industry would eliminate the complaint of unstandardized metrics within and across GHG-producing fossil fuel industries. The global acquisition resolves the data obfuscation problem and reduces portfolio risk factors associated with environmental and social issues. A global taking of just one-third of the industry is possible as mitigation today, as it is inevitable and dispositive. The requirement is to force recognition of three facts. The problem is well defined, conditions are critical, and a global solution is at hand.

Fingers

The global and national policy framework states all people live with risk. That policy includes recognizing a scale that exhibits risk levels by location, occupation, socioeconomic conditions, and many other factors. This, too, is an evasion process. The actuarial tables are available to anyone capable of conducting a premium price check by zip code. In a grueling process, a team of public-interest research individuals can work with web-crawling sites such as Policy Genius to analyze sophisticated pricing that obscures the public cost.

Toes

The American Risk and Insurance Association (ARIA) is a worldwide group of leaders in insurance risk management. Reading the “walking papers” of the two presenters tells a story between the lines in their 2019 Annual Meeting presentation entitled: Rethinking Risk and Resiliency (here). Large swaths of the country are not hazard insured. FEMA, the national guard, and other public entities are the single-payer in this system. The federal and state agencies are the ones who will be called to that number on the roulette wheel in response to a hazard. In all cases, the response will be too little, post-trauma, neatly administered under the Grace of God policy banner regarding your place on the climate change roulette wheel.

Solution

Once again, the problem is well defined, conditions are critical, and a global solution is at hand when research (here) proves that 20 fossil fuel companies account for 480 billion tons of GHGs, representing 35% of carbon emissions since 1965. Yet, as the climate continues to collapse, the current policy allows individuals to perish alone in that notch on the roulette wheel. Next, it will be whole neighborhoods and island nations. It is a trend. Searching for research papers on the subject reveals how and why public policy is weak. One of those papers will be found here.

The climate requirement is clear. Conduct an appropriate remix on the mathematic and the mysterious. Some insight into the remix issue is (here). It is an examination concerning how people live is about where they live. Added motivation on this point is (here) on the issue of fire and the stumbling leadership in architecture (here) that includes a modest pitch for hope from Peter Calthorpe.

On the other hand, this new assignment has aimed at the writers, videographers, policy wonks, and strong modern activists regarding the existential crisis handed to succeeding generations. Thank all of you for sharing (here).

Fire

“Bring Your Own Brigade” HERE

Lucy Walker captures the horror of California wildfires and explores the “global fire crisis” in a CBSN two-hour documentary.


After the first hour, the horror of fire is well established. Then another source of horror in the documentary begins. Reconstruction with the presumption of resilience with new re-building standards accompanied by comprehensive resistance to all forms of mitigation. Only the fire is permanent. Everything else can be taken to ash.

Embers function like a virus.


Destruction produces an unusual libertarian contract that Ms. Walker describes as a form of “self-immolation under the mantra of personal freedom,” Her European values are carried in no small part due to two horrifying wars of fire. This American reaction made her California experience seem “insurmountably foreign.”

Last word. The Westcoast fires may seem insurmountably foreign in the Northeast as well, but it is not.

Creating a Living Place

Search Places to Live, and billions are available, enter /NYC for 1.3 billion places, enter/Des Moines, and you get 16 million locations.

The question asked here is, why do practically all of them suck?


Living places are no longer designed or defined by individuals expected to be permanent or even temporary users. The villagers are no longer the village builders. It has been that way for a very long time, even though the first curriculum in architecture wasn’t written until the late 186s.

A generous estimate is only two percent of households in the U.S. have contact with an architect, a place-making professional. Is that place all they want it to be? Is the purpose of fulfilling the private dreams involving their access to capital and nothing else?

The villagers can be a restoration force with modest levels of capital and support fundamental quality. New residents are often called “the gentry” to distinguish there more comfortable access to capital and historic ownership. Still, it could be any group working to care for and keep control of legacy resources. Despite being without capital, others recognize unique ways to control quality as essential.

As a resistance force, either willingly or not so, the fight against forced displacement is opposition to a set of known, but uncontrollable forces. Inadequate maintenance, high rents, badlands, drought, fire, unenforced protective ordinances, and so on describe a few of these “other” powers.

Once in a community meeting opposing a new residential tower, a resident lightened the mood with a story. She said,

“You know, this isn’t a unique experience. It dates to the early 1600s. Picture two men on a boat who were immigrating to America. The first asked, ‘Why are you going to the new land?’ The second guy looked up and said, ‘I’m primarily coming to America for religious freedom, but my long-range plan is to go into real estate.'”

The laughter was good, but not the groan of recognition. Understanding forced displacement and how to fight it remains a battle of centuries. How can a place become a living one, one that is not built on the tragedy of others?

How is it Built?

The designs and definitions of an urbanized place as good, or excellent, or beautiful are controlled by those who may never live or work in them. Nevertheless, it is a practice embedded in American history because they are built to a niche, a specific market segment in a region believed capable of holding a fifteen to thirty-year loan to maturity. In this context, everyone may consider a place desirable given the elasticity of price. In contrast, residents still consider the niche where they are economically assigned by their economic power (or lack of it) a failure for the lack of control of the designers, architects, planners, and engineers. Lower-income households, for example, are held by categorical malfunctions directly attributable to the people involved in the place’s creation or title. The global mega-cities that have emerged since the 1970s are pushing the poor to the favela-fringe of informal housing.

Over the last two centuries, society has accepted “place creating” professionals, architects, and engineers. They work for other built environment leaders composed of real estate developers, planners, and urban designers with one motivation before all others — acquire a contract. Pubic regulatory partners carefully examine questions of safety and quality from a physical standpoint. At this point, the contradictions emerge clearly.

Professional Failure

The professions of law and health provide significant levels of responsiveness from a social standpoint. Unlike the builder’s society, they have established exceptional nonprofit institutions rightly focused on the rights of individuals and, through them, the communities in which they live. Their successes and failures have acquired an expansive public debate. No such debate swirls above the head of architects and engineers. Furthermore, the built environment professionals advise that place-making remains a matter of market forces, caveat emptor. A place is little more than a spot on a grocery shelf offering a choice of Caviar or krab sticks.

Lynch, Alexander, Jacobs, Ching, Gehl, Calthorpe, and hundreds of others provide typologies and processes for deliberation on places’ material quality and cultural impact. Some of the good news is the pressure of these critiques is beginning to take effect, but not as a result of brilliant arguments. Climate change, global population, desertification, loss of groundwater, and so on press hard against the place-makers. Most recently, principles of sustainability and resilience have entered the “how-to” dialogue; however, ideas attempting to inject social justice and diversity principles remain in the quagmire of policy debates. The failure to develop professional institutions focusing on the needs of whole communities is the responsibility of these built environment professionals. It fails because they deny it as a task and do not seek partners or social change allies.

Policy Failure

More recently, the public regime produced concepts for economic integration, such as NYC’s zoning law, known as mandatory inclusionary housing (MIH). This approach to placemaking as social responsibility is now under constant attack. It is on the table as a production failure, averaging just 500 dwelling units per year over the preceding four years. Nevertheless, MIH became law in 2016. It is also under attack for using well-established zoning laws as a policy framework to achieve economic integration (here).

The history and implementation of zoning, building codes, and related land use regulation have a social impact component. They were implemented to protect the public from physical harm. Nevertheless, the social cost of system failures and malfunctions by place-makers is due to the lack of a comprehensive institutional response. The argument for a nationally powerful institution of place-makers has precedent in law and health, but it needs to catch up.

For example, health and science institutions have been able to respond efficiently to the pandemic crisis. However, for the lack of a similar institutional effort, more households were displaced and lives destroyed when great swaths of cities were left to ruin in cities across the country. The impact on low- and moderate-income people today has only changed from the urban disinvestment at the end of the 20th to the 21st, where hyper-investment and the rising cost of housing ironically allows a moderate-income household to invest in their own displacement.

These system failure costs fall to the end-users of a place in succeeding waves until the last group is left to die in the wake of all those before them. On the other hand, the urban environment with a hyper-sensitive government can build a kind of undulant maturity that exhibits how well it adapts to opportunities and restraints. The critical juncture is to know how well the people are informed by the challenges posed by the weaknesses in a community and failure to use its strengths (SWOT) to win battles.

The material quality of a place is relative to economic demand and nothing more. The reason for this is known but remains arguable dollar per dollar, year by year, end-user by end-user. Prisons, shelters, public housing are living areas that shape places and influence people. So are billionaire mansions embedded in the hills of Montana and the towers of Manhattan. All of them shape communities. The political problem is an American value system that says it has to be that way as a force of capital.

The condition of lifetime place quality is primarily relevant to the professional class of placemaking professionals. Nevertheless, as a professional class, they face the raw acceptance of urban decay as an enormous political problem that cannot be confronted or resolved in the midst of a contract for altering a place. Whether a bridge or office building, a parkland, or a housing estate, the job is to design and build it. The work of resolving all of the problems associated with its programming, development cost, operational management, and long-term maintenance is a function of capital and nothing else.

Force Fallacies

Search “unknown force,” and a mix of mysticism and math is revealed. Seems accurate.

The forces, policies, practices, and processes that separate places are well-known. Those that would argue for ways to bring them together are judged ideological fantasies. The locations of people by economic class, race, religion, even typography are merely the practical decisions of investors and the simple desires of people to be with those they know. Some succeed, some fail only to be replaced dollar for a lesser dollar, year by year.

The entropic disarray of a place is not a reinvestment strategy. It looks that way, but the failure is in the eyes of those trapped in the wake of a place’s end. One thing must be made super clear at this point. These forces are built on ends established by social values, and when it comes to them as ends, the reason is silenced. The only invisible hand is the one that holds all the important things that go unsaid, unacknowledged, and, if they are, shamelessly devalued with misinformation.

Change agents will need a new game with new rules to successfully confront this enraging, frustrating, hurtful political reality. Creating positive change for the sequence of end-users of a place, on the other hand, is not fiction. The criteria for positive change include generations defined by community health, jobs held, businesses developed, and the type of support systems that reveal and build on the human capital resources available. Strong societies form as they survive challenges and thrive if they figure out how they succeed. Where are the mechanisms that reassure the victories?

Every community is different for distinct reasons. Pragmatic distinctions between societies within these communities are fundamental but poorly understood. In an extreme example, a community able to establish subsistence from natural resources builds a culture of survival. On the other hand, a community sustained in poverty through financial transfer policies or oppression experienced by women and people of color includes a sense of unfair subjugation and containment. The subsistence culture will build with partners for resources to add layers of resilience. Despite the self-canceling effect, the community sustained by suppressive financial mechanisms considers escape and resistance the only viable opportunities. 

These two exaggerations are stated for one purpose, to reflect a body of anthropological knowledge that is unused in modern community development practices. Regardless of the location of a place, its end-users represent a reservoir of formal knowledge and informal understanding. Whether wealthy or poor, it is human nature to demonstrate satisfaction and dissatisfaction towards the conditions of specific locations.

Examples would be. “I am fearful of the poor everywhere,” or “The concierge takes care of everything.” Other examples would be, “We live in a child care desert.” and “The building (or neighborhood) includes space for grandparents to be grandparents.” Establishing a balance between reducing the bad and finding the good is a source of power to sustain a living place. Consequently, it is essential to recognize all of the terms and demands used to build pathways to the full potential of a place. The resource needed will only come from a better understanding of the human mind.

Emotional Intelligence

The science journalist Daniel Goleman. Goleman defined emotional intelligence (EI) as skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance. Cognitive anthropologists, as an example, attempt to discover how systematic and non-random transformations of culture occur. Attempts to draw answers from Darwinian theory to such questions are popular. However, the need to learn how the diversity of urbanized cultures interact and change is in its infancy. The following suggests the question of improving this kind of intelligence is correct. However, sufficient data is unavailable for assigned action.

Shortly after the rapid change in Afghanistan in August of 2021, a television interview with a three tour veteran answered a question.  “Was being a participant in America’s longest war worth it?” The answer was direct. “The people experienced American’s face to face. There were more civilians there than warriors, so many people experienced our sense of independence and our understanding of freedom for twenty years, so yes, it was worth it.” Moreover, twenty years in Afghanistan will produce data concerning cultural exchange in a force control system over several decades.

The ability to view evolution in cultural practices will remain rudely speculative in the short term. However, what is known in the record involving many thousand years to all other biological species development is less uncertain. Twenty years in Afghanistan will produce data for cultural exchange in a force control system over several decades. Perhaps with a minimum of a half-million years of cultural data, cultural anthropologists and historians will know something.

Despite intuitive and augmented abilities, science has difficulty comprehending complexity. The primary reason is a “system” can only be described by a higher level of sophistication of a larger system or in parts in which broken connections and linkages can only occur in theory. Examples of complex systems include cities adequately described by region or nation or economies best expressed through trade. Exchanging all goods and services in a civilization within a vast historical and cultural context can now include thought. Again, examples abound. Our nervous system is understood as part of the human body, the Internet a repository, and ecosystems in terms of global networks by region and the earth as an object that orbits the sun. All of these things have been newly injected into our emotional system in just the last two decades.

Organizational Justice

Walt and Selby Kelly were right.

Organizational Justice Fixes Intolerance.

The central assumption is people what to live in a living place, one that holds virtue, with the capacity to reject corruption. Exceptional mechanisms that enable a combination of physical and social changes are available but undervalued and poorly deployed. So when the Kelly’s came up with, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” They said two things, get the human impact on the earth solved, and the enemy was male. The message was accepted, viral for its time, and it slipped easily into the world of clichés.

The power to improve user control over a place belongs in all community development practices before, during, and after an urban development or restoration process. But, unfortunately, the current approach is to wait. Planners call it “catastrophic resolution.” It is a bankrupt financial structure for solving problems in this century.

New community development practices combine tools for expanding personal self-knowledge as participants in various interpersonal relationships. With skilled professionals, the practice will expand both individual and group capacity for sharing realities. One of the odd catchphrases in this practice is you only see what you think is there. A way of saying we tend to fill in data during an experience. One of the best is we are only as smart as all of us. A way to encourage human perceptions in specific terms that other people can trust as real but not experienced personally.

New business “start-ups” have processes available that are useful to neighborhood-based organizations seeking improved controls and capacity for problem-solving. A link to start-ups examines one of these practices (here). The means and procedures necessary for solving a social issue or a marketing problem from a specific place to a regional or global view are in every configuration imaginable and very similar in content. The missing element for these practices is a trusted integrator of the choices available in specific places. The B corporation idea (here) is similar to LEED and SEED certification to inject a broad set of social change values (here).

Examples of these integrating policy structures range greatly. In New York City, a newly built multistory 100 d.u. Residential buildings would contain 20 to 30 apartments are made affordable to households with incomes at $80,000 (family of four). The building is a product of inclusionary zoning. It could be across the street from a 1957 multi-story public housing location where a single mom with a child earning $38,000 as a clinic receptionist can also live affordably. Across the nation, differences of place remain by acreage, building type, involving segmentation and separations of a vastly different nature from Louisiana to New York.

For all the reasons implied, the methods for leaning-in vary greatly by the location where the desire and design to build and recognize greatness in a community can be established as policy. Nevertheless, work to achieve new goals in different places includes some common threads. The capital investment role of the government for services such as clean water and sanitation also includes various lesser-known techniques in the public sphere. These consist of an incentive/disincentive relationship with residents and private developers to simulate supply or increase demand where neither is working well but deemed most useful by residents and thereafter all others. An early but failed experiment is known as NYC “Community Boards.” They were initiated as the first step toward community government and as an extension of the planning and budgeting responsibilities of the city’s planning department. (See Planning Board Index here for a series of explorations.)

Professional Responsibility

A strong “before, during, and after” practice has a legal standing within the well-established environmental impact assessment regime. The “mitigation” and “do no harm” policy can be slowly changed to “don’t even go there,” but the road remains long and difficult to navigate. Place three words in a search engine: cumulative environmental impact.  The result will produce close to two million scholarly articles regarding current limitations on every aggregate impact imaginable. Whether dulled by lead or displaced by a forest fire, the irony is not lost on the widespread ability of science to be predictive and the inability to measure the whole in a political partnership with a community.

The physical environment’s urban image and pattern makers share less than two centuries of institutionalized professional development. Yet, they are responsible for the newly created, restored, or rehabilitated urban assets that surround us all. The profession is without an institution able to control or command capital. Compared to the social change influence of law and health institutions, the lack of impact is tragic. It has limited itself to chasing contracts. The professional members are not prepared to become accountable to the social economics of a place because the commitment to place is limited to building one. There is community development staff with social change skills in small and global firms, but for one purpose only – to close the deal to build.

In this discussion, the initial question is how a path to excellence and quality can occur for a specific community and location. First, it can happen before the inevitable and dramatic change is expected. Second, it can function with power while expanding the impact of that change. Most importantly, after the change, the resource to reflect on successes and failures is well provided.

Recommendations

First, readiness or resilience can become a planning initiative well before any significant capital development is modeled or natural disaster imagined. The public/private development of housing, institutions, and commercial real estate is predictable and responsive to stimulus and courageous disincentives. In addition, civic improvements such as parks, schools, roads, and bridges often make decades available to prepare before implementation. Therefore, it should be highly reasonable to provide every community with an anticipatory plan on prioritized issues from year to year. Two full-time planning and architectural professionals should be on the staff of a community district.

Second, several of the tools needed are held by the social and organizational development professionals functioning in the corporate sector. These institutions are well into the power of diversity and can reflect the communities they engage. However, today they are not focused on social change in the community setting. Why? Simple, they are not paid to be there. Nevertheless, they can be re-purposed to address these issues and provide concepts for building collaborative, innovative teams of people within a specific community. A partnership with organizational development firms can put positive change on the agenda. There is much more to a community than a vision of itself in spatial terms. The alternative to the first recommendation would be to have two full-time organizational development business services professionals on the staff of a community district.

Third, it is essential to consider a broader range of social change partners within existing institutions. For example, restorative justice practitioners, trainers in anti-violence techniques, and artists as leaders are examples of participants in a community that can establish a foundation for positive change. In another district, it might be composed of a housing rights specialist, tenant organizers, coupled with financial literacy programs. In another, a child care facility development consultant, a gang assessment group, and a civil rights attorney. A highly targeted, well-resourced response could be an alternative to the first and second recommendations.

Fourth, a citywide or regional training center would support these three components (design, organizational development, special issue teams). Every resource cannot be everywhere all the time and be efficient. Nevertheless, a core, locally trusted staff with a long-term commitment to the district is the essential “trust factor” composed of all three recommendations. The choice is based on local interests and need. The core staff, as individuals, would have the power to bring in strangers for a multiple-day or annualized program conducted over several months to offer its assessment of an unwanted condition or anticipation of a project’s impact.  The well-timed injection of a specific professional input would prove dispositive.

Old Paper


On Tuesday, that scary bump on the subway came at the exact moment a tall man sneezed violently. By the time I got to the last few steps to exit the 23rd Street station, I felt a different kind of ache in my legs. It has been nearly a year since I closed and reopened. Maybe I’m just out of shape.

The security gates along the row of stores to my gallery still sat tight against the blackened dots of forgotten sidewalk gum. The chill in the breeze swirled at me with bits of paper and leaves. I entered my shop, tossed my coat to the chair, turned back to scan the exhibit, and noted to mop the floor. I went back outside and took photos of the black dots. I tried to connect the gum with the footsteps that made them, but I couldn’t. By the next day, those uncomplicated, conventional actions shifted my outlook unexpectedly, and I was not fond of the way I was thinking.

Art must be allowed to die the way Sleeping Beauty did. That was my conclusion. No matter how writers twirl fine phrases into your mind or painters watch your puzzled eye, the paint will dry in the tube, absent the story’s truth. All the while, music plays and plays to the silent, moody listeners of its class. The tedious work of sense-making only consumes a lack of purpose with the fear of survival. Forgive me, I felt this in my bones all of Tuesday. Today is Wednesday, and I feel a bit better.

It was pointless to think of anything else that could be worse. I still had my joy of novelty, black dots on a sidewalk, red tail jets, the joy of getting a sudden smile, and sitting in playgrounds filled with giggles. My darling partner called this odd attentiveness my silly stupidness. The art I chose for the season reopening was fresh but steadily becoming more frivolous each hour since that Tuesday. The questions friends and lovers asked were the right ones. Still, I could not prevent a sense of meaninglessness from spreading amongst us. Science was injecting a different way of thinking about playfulness within the arts. But I wouldn’t say I enjoyed one bit of this intrusion.

I rattled my newspaper and spread it across my desk. I heard Leslie enter early, as expected. Up went the gallery lights to their entire “buy me” intensity. She nodded hello, sat across me, already reading strange tensions in my so-called “aura of the day.” I put up with that silliness. Having her back could save the shop. I never had a better managing salesperson and partner. Once after a profitable sale of several paintings, she said, “I could sell eggs to hens.” I made the mistake of asking something like how or why. Hand on hip, turning with a glint, she said, “Right after the rooster’s vasectomy.”

On the other hand, my aura was not vaguely humorous. Tapping my desk she said, “What are you reading in the dead tree press this morning.” She liked to say the word ‘this’ with emphasis. It was a sales thing. I want to hold a newspaper even at the cost of three dollars daily. So I looked up and said, “discrete-time crystals.” The ceiling became interesting to her at that moment. I continued, “I’m not silly. They may be a way to measure the parts of matter that oscillate in a repeating cycle for use in quantum computers, and that could improve everything.” No reaction.

The story told me that humanity needs quantum computers to solve today’s unsolvable problems faster. But, I am watching a long and terrifying list of them grow. And abruptly, like that sneeze on the train the other morning, there was the Sleeping Beauty problem laid before me. We are fearful of not waking up in a dream going bad. But, unlike this beauty, maybe we can find a way to permit a kiss from a quantum sovereign prince.

“Leslie,” I said, sitting there in my old paper world, “My aura, as you call it, is getting pushed into the new news. It is wrapped up neatly in a purple dimension of existence I barely understand. I wheeled to my laptop. “Look here,” I said. “It is a world without art, but there remains the need. This story is about truth and hope, instead of beauty, money instead of love, speed instead of rest, yet it is still about dreams. Innovation in a new brand of reality. Maybe it will wake us up, but for now, please give Gregory a call and see if he can clean up our sticky gummed-up sidewalk and put that nonslip polish on the floor before the weekend. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and for your information, I’m already feeling a little bit of red in the binary digits of my so-called aura.”

“Okay,” she said. Then, standing, she turned, walked out, waving her arm back and forth above her head. “Off, no, on to the deeds of the day.”

Source: Natalie Wolchover Quantum Magazine, Eternal Change for No Energy: A Time Crystal Finally Made Real

Startups

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

RLC

Here are those five views:

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

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


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

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

What is the Account?

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

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

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

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

What is Innovation?

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

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

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

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

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

Tools for Resilence

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

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

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


Draw Conclusions

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

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

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

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

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

Fast Sequence

Fast Measure

Fast Build

B Corporations

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

Is B Corp Certification Worth It?

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

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

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

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

Need a Laugh?

and Benign Violations 

Everything changed when the screen eye brought the horror of the world to you. To get over it, begin your day with a critical listen to Bill Hicks’ “Sane Man” on absurdities of American culture via Netflix and as you realize much of it shouldn’t be funny anymore, or go to YouTube for little of Samantha Bee’s political satire and then to the radar brilliance of W. Kamau Bell for a rush of the ridiculous truth on CNN.  Finish the mental easing exercise with the “release” offered by John Oliver and then go see Hasan Minhaj if you can find him.

If you are encouraged to add humor to your interest in social change take a look at the benign violation theory presented by Peter McGraw on TED

Basics

When you ask architects for a joke, or something funny, they say, “Sorry, I’m still working on it.” Urban planners, on the other hand, like acronyms. Here are a few examples: AICP: any idiot can plan, SLAP: for space leftover after planning: MCIP: my career is painful (Member, Canadian Institute of Planners) BANANA: build absolutely nothing anytime near anything and to more favorites, DUDE: developer under delusions of entitlement and BOHICA – bend over here it comes again. As far as urban design is concerned, I remember being told not to hurry around an old plotter because they can smell fear.

Megawatts for Megabytes

“New Yorkers, if the ride isn’t killing us; the megabytes might.”

These three books are among many that challenge our understanding of the world and the sense of place that we need. Builders still hope for a complete urban place, but face terrifying possibilities of failure. The cause of the troubles that David, Peter, and Charles attempt to define have one thing in common — the megawatts we want for megabytes? It is a conundrum – it is both the solution and the problem.

The megawatts needed for megabytes could become a serious source of Green House Gas (GHG). Wally Broeker would know. He is the Columbia University chemist who coined the phrase “global warming.”

“The climate system is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks.”

Wally Broecker (here)

God rest his soul. There is the more optimistic Peter Brannen’s, The Ends of the World: (Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions) who says,

“Life on earth constitutes a remarkably thin glaze of interesting chemistry on an otherwise unremarkable, cooling ball of stone, hovering like a sand grain in an endless ocean of space.”  

He was an optimist about life, not humans.

The consciousness-raising chronology of Earth Day 1963 to the recent present (here) began with Earth-rise — the Apollo 11 photo of the earth from the moon. Earth Day reminds us that our sense of place today is about a tiny cooling 4.5 billion-year-old rock. Our sense of time on this rock has become the last few “seconds” on a geological clock. The place and time of the earth are now defined by the warming of that glaze of chemistry we call air. To change that from the negative it appears to be today to a positive in the future would be a first in all these billions of years. There is nothing like a “first” to get humans interested in change.

The density of urban life lowers energy costs per capita, and the energy systems put in place will become containable and capable of 100% GHG capture as renewable sources bring increasing promise. Nevertheless, the world of 5G energy includes acknowledging the cost goes up to 1,000 times. Energy is a design problem in energy use, and solutions are evident when the dense urban world is measured separately. This simple step of separation puts a significant portion of the world on a renewable, reinvestment, and resilient path. It sets up good examples for replication. An excerpt, from “Density,” describes growing recognition of the earth as a whole due to the Apollo photographs (here).

Concerns over energy efficiency are occurring in conferences about 5G deployments, and methods for reducing energy consumption have begun, only after the facts. Even the political forces surrounding net neutrality are those that seek to create price structures connected to solving this problem, but there are no laws on the subject. It therefore slumps into the demand for resetting priority. The most well known is the call to eliminate the rank unfairness in the world’s social structures defined by the newest indicator of stress. That would be access to data and the capacity to share our common problems.

In brief, it is possible to recognize devices whose energy consumption scales with traffic, and devices (including the end accessories) measuring energy intensity in energy per data and in energy per time (i.e., power only) as load. An electrical load is carried by a component that consumes electricity.  Internet energy intensity (energy consumption per data transferred) have estimates differing from 136 kWh/GB (Koomey et al., 2004 – here) down to 0.0064 kWh/GB (Baliga et al.,2011 – here), a factor of 20,000.

Reviewing this literature through 2020 is similar to the tobacco lobby talking to Congress, the discussion is different, but the addiction is similar. Finally, it is in the Uninhabitable Earth that David Wallace-Wells says we have assembled, “out of distrust of one another and the nations behind the ‘fiat currencies’, a program to wipe out the gains of several long, hard generations of green energy innovations.” He was talking about the immense energy requirement world is demanding from the full implementation of 5G to the operation of electric vehicles. We are addicted, but as full implementation is likely by 2050 the world can read about 200 million climate refugees at 20 Gig per second or more. Silly, are we not?

Si se puede

Set aside the question of how much of the earth can or should be urbanized. There is one lesson that helps us make the right choices with just three questions.  Regarding the business of making the urban structure sustainable, the first lesson might begin this way:

  1. If I am not for a limited urban presence on the earth, who will be?
  2. If I inform myself on this question in solitude, will it make it so?
  3. If I do not act now, when?

The long history of the phrase si se puede is spoken by people that require action in the fierce urgency of now. It can be recognized in the “Yes, you can!” and ” Yes we can” (si podemos) of President Obama’s first presidential campaign.  In my life, it was “What do we want? Peace!”  When do we want it? Now!”   The most useful actions create stories that assure the tale is taken home.  Whether the actions seek social justice and economic progress or ice cream and cake, it is the narrative that matters.

Exciting narratives track individuals who embrace effectiveness and error, efficiency, and miscalculation.  The three initial questions above are useful for building a stance that respects the individual globally, but they lack the mechanisms to change the phrase “If I” into “If we.”

Recurring trial and error experiences yields an organizing structure.  The main elements are, 1) willingly accepted delegations and 2) responsibility for the impacts of implementation.  Currently, the depth of this strategy is strong on delegation and weak on post-enactment accountability.  When both are fully active, combinations of skill in distributing tasks increase the potential for exchange and trade.  In turn, this broadens authorization and allocation cycles that fund increasingly successful plans.  In all of this, life-long learning becomes strong.  The lessons are frequent enough to continue the implementation with confidence.  As kids, we learn to swim, but first, we learn how not to sink.

Two other structures keep an organizing process functional – 1) the way information is transmitted and the most problematical – 2) access to it and the resources it describes.  Decisive questions such as; can mass replace cash? or 
can an a concerned activist, public produce a resource for establishing truth as effectively as cash to protect self-interest?

Authority is diverse, flexible, open, and temporary when “groups” create and control social structures.  The size remains in question, but in the democratic sense of consensual participation, a group will also be read as “a cell,” which carries very different connotations.  Margaret Mead settled this question by telling us not to doubt that small groups change the world because it is the only way it has ever happened.  Yes, decisions in the interest of a group or cell can be good or bad.  Finding ways to assure a greater number of the former over the latter is the central challenge.

Income <=>

Obama defines the problem extremely well.

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

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

EPA Saved Cities

11 Ways the EPA Has Helped Americans

March 17, 2017 by

This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.

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

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

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

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

1. Patching the Ozone Hole

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

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

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

2. Cleaning up America’s Harbors

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

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

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

3. Cracking Down on Lead

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

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

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

4. Making the Air Safe to Breathe

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

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

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

5. Cleaning Up Industrialism’s Legacy

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

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

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

6. Making Water Safe to Drink

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

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

7. Controlling Pesticides

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

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

8. Attacking Acid Rain

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

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

9. Paving the Way for Indoor Smoking Bans

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

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

10. Building a Cache of Public Data

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

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

11. Beginning to Address Climate Change

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

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

The Vehicular Pedestrian

Making way for the Vehicular Pedestrian will be more than a critical mass issue due to significant changes in dense urban land use and dimly recognized design problem that must be solved. As a result,  Personal Urban Mobility Assistants (PUMA) and power assist vehicles (HPV) will begin to reshape urban design decisions the hard way. Unfortunately, the city remains poorly prepared for this change.

For some time, the rule demanding the separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic has required extensive revision.  The reason is the emergence of the “vehicular pedestrian”  in small, lightweight vehicles. As they continue to arrive on the roads far more quickly than the current supply of re-designed or de-vernacularized roads can manage, trouble is inevitable. Moreover, HPVs and PUMAs are ecologically appropriate and efficient for urban use yet confront a dangerous interface with the American fascination with the truck chassis beneath a sports utility vehicle.

HPVs and PUMAs are well-known as bicycles, in-line tandems, and power-chairs. They now include power assist recumbent, side-by-side tricycles, and standing boards.  These and many others fly along the roads with impressive power and speed.  All are causing urban designers to examine a brand new set of “right-of-way” challenges. Regrettably, they are not successfully awakening the need for lawmakers to pave the way. Transit leadership has responded with paint for lanes, moved auto parking a bike lane away from the curb, and posted “share the road” signs. The campaign has included not-so-subtle reminders on bus ads that tell you that it is a felony to knock a person of a bicycle. If the speed is over 30mph, the rider’s death is more likely. Finally, NYC took a “Vision Zero” view of NYC’s speed, lowered the limit to 30mph and then to 25mph, and added speed cameras with priority placements near public schools.

Only a tiny part of the regulatory way is established in the American Disabilities Act (ADA).  Practical, if not elegant, design solutions serve physically disabled travel on pedestrian routes and “low-speed roadways” where various wheeled “cart” vehicles are available.  Use does not require registration or licensed use. Still, much is unclear about proceeding from this modest standard of care framed by the ADA.  These design solutions have made it easier, but the problem remains well beyond improving access. New forms of mobility will completely reshape the way we live in cities with more ways to move to get things done as individuals, families, and businesses.

New forms of mobility will completely
reshape the way we live in cities.

The mobile web is built on mobile devices with processors running on faster networks that access cloud services described in thousands of publications entitled the internet of things (IoT).  The two most common outside of the home, the smartphone and personal vehicles. 

The Mobile Web

The mobile web changes everything. Finding your way, the acquisition of connected things nearby translates into dramatic changes in business technology toward user-centered design in the context of every possible use.

For decades, development practices and residential investment behaviors have produced what the planners, urban designers, and architects often refer to as “non-place” landscapes.  They are deeply intertwined with the public’s demand for personalized transport – a car. 

These vehicles offer multiple destination flexibility, abundant storage, and varying levels of self-expression, from practical to exuberant.  With this as a given, it is logical to seek ways to encourage movement from a school campus to a train station, hospital or shopping district by other means such as walking or cycling. The destination should determine the choice of vehicle if the option was available.  To do that requires an improvement in public policy on mobility systems driven by the mobile web.

Vehicular Diversity

Vehicular diversity is controlled by the pathway offered. The vehicle is of little use without a public right of way. The power to alter it should be shared equitably, but it is not.

The planning and urban design approach involve partially or completely de-vehicularized roads or routes that add alternative vehicular capacity.  This dual approach is gaining added attention for two key reasons.  First, it serves public safety due to the increase in human-powered-assist vehicles (HPVs).  Second, mass transit can accommodate the addition HPVs. They are as benign as folding bicycles or power boards, but it stops there.  Therefore, the problem includes encouraging the routine use of HPVs as life-affirming, turf-sharing, circulation, and vehicular portage.

The demand for HPV route designs is significant. So much so that the lack of “parade” permits has been used to prevent “future now” or “critical mass” expressions by cycling interests eager to demonstrate for added safety.  The image below is drawn from a Community Design Center in Arkansas (see website: here). 

The Yellow Brick Road in Arkansas

The “mall culture’s” unintended social and environmental consequences reveal opportunities to expanding access to destinations that increase urban development and density. The demand for transportation options between “big box” retail exposes mass parking lots as “ex post facto” land uses.

Perhaps the most visible choice of personalized vehicle is the fully-powered Segway and competitors serving security at the “mall.” At this point, they are classified as neither a motor vehicle nor a consumer product. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a preliminary opinion that they should be considered a “consumer product.” Therefore, they remain unregulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This designation will change as more personal mobility devices become common due to necessity.

The initial result driving the change envisioned in Arkansas was market-driven regulation arising at the state level to protect citizens.

  • Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation allowing the use of Segways.
  • Five states (CO, CT, MA, ND, and WY) have no legislation permitting the use of Segways.
  • Two states (AR and KY) have no statewide prohibitions against Segways, but local regulations may exist.

Choices that do not require new regulations or added government oversight are broadening rapidly in the HPV/PUMA business in general, thanks to the aggressive marketing efforts of Segway. The range of vehicles entering the market is, in fact, staggering.  A review of what Segway and others are launching is aggressive, only hampered by the CPSC list of recalls. The NHTSA’s focus on adding automobile connectivity can reduce collisions, but the NHTSA has yet to focus on alternative vehicles. The following runs through a brief search of what’s “out there.”  The short answer is not much.  Not yet.

The B-cycle has gone electric in its locations, the Citibank’s bike has captured NYC and remains human powered.

The B-cycle offers a “what if” link that is based on zip codes.  At one time, a researcher could experience a marketing effort for New York City. Put zip-11368 on the website, and you are asked if you want Flushing or Corona, Queens.  Choose Flushing, and the program tells the reader is in an area with just over 1 million people that could use about 380 bike stations and nearly 5,000 bikes.  It suggests that if just 10% of residents participated for just 30 miles per year, the following dramatic results would occur. 

The vehicle miles traveled would be some 3.5 million.  This translates to reducing carbon emissions by about 1,700 tons; it would save over 170,000 gallons of gas and produce $2 million in savings for other expenditures.  In addition, the use of an HPV would help reduce traffic by over 100,000 cars, and the users would burn around 162 million calories or the equivalent of 47,000 pounds lost or 0.403 pounds per cyclist.

This particular “bike-share” idea is a partnership of three industries. Humana. Trek Bicycle Corporation and Crispin Porter + Bogusky.   A health services corporation and a bicycle manufacturer combined resources on the bet that people are looking for new ways to move around their city. However, people are being motivated by the vague influence of climate change data, the addition of health providers, transit planners, and urban designers are seeing an opportunity to make the roads human again.

Market-Driven Change Failed

The big boys on the block all also have their ad-eye on the advancement of HPVs.  These companies are directly tied to selling more stuff in more ways than ever with ads called faces.  HPV stations and bus shelters meant getting faces on more places as close to eye level as possible. When web-connected, each face could project the newest stuff, like rain gear that enhances the joy of a wet bike ride.

Cemusa, Clear Channel and Decaux

JC Decaux reported over $5,000,000 in losses related to its Paris bike-share fleet over eighteen months.  Some have suggested this is a negotiating ploy for aid from local governments eager to earn green points.  Another leading company the expressed an early interest in the bike-share field is Clear Chanel.  In the mid-1970s, this industry claimed a significant share of New York City’s public space.  At the time the New York was in a recession and severe financial crisis.  They offered a share of ad revenue from “faces” on bus shelters that Clear Channel would provide and maintain.  Unfortunately, their shelter design and management solution proved to be a failure on many levels.  Cemusa has recently taken the NYC market share with a bus shelter and/or newsstand upgrade and new technology. They are also interested in the placement of bike-share kiosks or stations as sites for ad space.

Opinions, from the average person to the head of the Federal Reserve, the more stuff we buy, the better off we will all be, except for the contradiction that over the long term, this is not possible.   Confronting inherent contradictions in wealthy society is difficult. Exponential growth cannot go on forever in a finite world that demands adherence to sustainability principles. Those who promote the idea of exponential growth are either quite mad or economists, as Kenneth Boulding once noted.  But, it was Marshal McLuhan that reminded us that only the little secrets are protected. The massive ones are kept secret by our own incredulity. The one we live with now is that our economic system must fit itself into the ecological system.

Yes, buying more and more stuff may not be good, yet reversing life to spiritual self-fulfillment, is not as easy as riding a bike. Does it come down to something as simple as an HPV and the new kinds of urban environments they would shape?  It is not about more stuff but choosing more rightly in a newly designed “waste nothing” world.  Therein lies the classic contradiction when company sponsors use bikes to encourage consumption. An HPV minimizes consumption to maximize rider well-being—leadership in advancing the law on landscapes for public health and safety is needed. The investment compromise is obvious, and it is possible to list where ads are allowed on what retailers call “faces” and expand the use of slower places for riders.

Public Interest Design Explorations

In 2008, a modest step in the direction of encouraging bicycle use was taken by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and Transportation Alternatives.  The promotion of the CityRacks Design Competition admitted a need above the existing 5,000 bike racks in the city.  However, tossing more bikes onto the streets is not placemaking.  While welcomed, the entire process missed a key point addressed by the Forum for Urban Design.  The Forum is a New York-based membership organization to advance awareness of best practices and confronting urban design challenges. The New York Bike-Share Project was one of its initiatives.  Here, place-making was emphasized as a “bike station” for personal bike storage and bike rentals in the Red Hook Competition.  In turn, this opens the discussion productively in the “best location” area and, after that, to the public responsibility to promote placement incentives.  Perhaps, the lesson to date would find an “urban design” and an industrial design process beginning the more supporting community design process is not developing well.   

Test Cases

Today, cities have a few slightly heavy, modestly well-branded bikes free for 30 minutes round trips but rentable for any “station-to-station” travel.  Beyond the initial hype, they are a feel-good utility in the service of touring hotspots. Still, they are unlikely to shift the paradigm to general public use of HPVs as viable or zero-carbon transport for modern urban living.  So if leadership in this area delivers ad companies, what are the other choices?

Advancing good business practices by outfits such as  Sustainable Business Consulting offer an understanding of the metric tons of carbon dioxide produced by staff activities.  The reduction of harm is beneficial. It sets goals and measurable objectives for CO2 reduction reducing water use or sending zero waste into landfills.  The steady flow of metrics into the process is an appropriate push on public policy.

The New Equity is Energy Used Well

The interplay between transport systems and urban design is evident. Whenever a system can deliver 9,000 people to a place per hour, the responsibilities go well beyond appropriate circulation and way-finding.  It is exhibited everywhere, from suburban sprawl to new cities that have adopted transit-oriented development. 

Adding alternative transportation concepts to the system has begun.

  • The power to provide “the way” is in the public domain.
  • Making way for newly competitive low-cost public transit from HPV to a bullet train only requires two components: lanes and destinations.
  • In older urban centers such as New York City, transit-stationed neighborhoods are equivalent to entire towns in other parts of the nation.
  • Efforts to produce transit-oriented villages remain in the planning stages.  In New York City, multiple public transit hubs are recognized for robust economic returns.

The lesson learned by newer places such as Portland or Seattle is to add value by defining transit stations as whole places.   The American Public Transportation Association’s (TPTA) work on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) develops in various local and international case studies. The central issue is how to frame development benefits sufficiently to assuage the perceived loss of market share by reducing auto parking to minimal yet reasonably accessible levels.

Measuring the public benefits more broadly (i.e., carbon cap and trade systems) will be helpful, and legislation has stumbled for over a decade.   Nevertheless, improvements in the health of the walking/cycling community are genuine savings.  Ultimately, the household pocketbook issue remains central to effective change.

Infrastructure Change is Too Slow

Put Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) into any search engine, and the data for nearly every website concerns trucks and cars. Not cool.

September-October 2008 issue of World-Watch explored alternative transportation ideas. Gary Gardner wrote When Cities Take Bicycles Seriously (World Watch 11, no. 5 (1998): 16-22) cited increases in bike commuting and its growing prestige. He suggested that if five percent of the 1.5 trillion miles consumed each year in cars and taxis were taken by bicycles, it would save its consumers $100 billion. Moreover, if ordinary people could safely choose five percent of their trips using an HPV, it would easily and consistently move upward in urban areas alone just that five percent is the break-even point on the investment, more on the subject (here).

When redefined as urban “hubs,” the train or subway station becomes a prime asset.  Obviously, they cannot all be “grand central’ in character yet sufficiently equal in charm to encourage social capital and enhance the public’s sense of well-being.  NYC’s lesson from these newer urban cities is less about real estate value than effective leadership in five-point placemaking. 

  1. Efficiency: The average cyclist travels at about 12 mph.  This is faster than the average driver during peak hours anywhere in New York City. The peak is around 2:30 PM and bracketed by the morning and evening rush.
  2. Equity: The low infrastructure cost of cycling is obvious.  An HPV uses one-twelfth of the mid-sized car space. Transit systems with infrastructure for all forms of HPVs generate more efficient point-to-point destination volumes.
  3. Exercise: Biking uses more muscles than walking. It invokes the release of endorphins — natural renewable energy that includes a strong sense of well-being.  Riding as little as five miles each day improves health.
  4. Affordability: A bicycle is more than affordable.  Public transit in NYC cost fours dollars round trip (2009) and $5.50 (2020) and rising steadily.  Three months of bicycle use for commuting would equal the average acquisition cost of a bike and now deductible as a business expense for employers.
  5. Sustainability:  Public knowledge of sustainability concepts will grow if walking and HPV are used to acquire goods and services.  Extending new access modes to regional centers expands competitive positions.

NYC Planning Department website describes mandated bicycle parking in privately-owned public spaces (here). Grasping the budget and regulatory pressures in New York City is difficult. Why does it take over 25 years to get 70% of the way toward increased HPV use and safety? The 1997 Bike Master Plan, by the City Planning, set a goal for 1,800 miles. The Department of Transportation celebrated getting to 1,000 miles in 2020 (described here). For a brief comparison, spend a moment or two on the Tokyo bike storage system for up to 10,000 bikes.  

The (Bike) Path Ahead

A place HPVs creates a highly strengthened transit-oriented system.  European examples abound in this area.  The Tokyo system is one example. In the United States, the empirical insights of Jane Jacobs remain a compelling argument for the diversity of use inherent to the dense urban grid.  

This is because the city makes the bicycle and HPV vehicles extremely useful. Therefore, policies that make the city more efficient in this way will release design creativity.  Three locations in NYC are manufacturing sites for HPVs.  The only element missing to bring this market forward are places for the vehicles on the streets of NYC.

Policies that make a more human-powered city:

  • Ban or reduce automobile traffic lanes from streets: Just three lanes of Manhattan’s north/south avenues could serve over 100,000 bicycles per/hour per/block.  Steps for increased HPV/bicycle safety require a design solution.  In NYC, a street closing caused stress.  The strain of a complete conversion is spread to all north/south streets can be made permanent by the current design.  HPV dedicated cross-town routes can work as well.  Imagine pleasure riders but see a vast increase in business-to-business deliveries. Extend the policy to the boroughs.
  • Replace car lot space with bike lot space: Obviously, bicycles are a better fit. A law to provide a tax-free pricing system for bikes can be absorbed by increasing rates for cars.  Is there room for “bike stations”. 
  • Increase tax on trucks/cars: The gas tax in Europe is five times the USA.  Congestion pricing to push truck deliveries into night schedules is common.  While regressive in the short term, it is worthwhile to stimulate “pedestrian-oriented” cities across the nation.   Places like the Netherlands have thousands of miles of a dedicated bike path. Still, they are New York City’s routes growing correctly – to assure success?  Have you been “doored” lately?
  • Walkable city: Reduced auto use increases transit and design efficiencies once well-placed mass-transit development centers are identified.  Where is the leadership at this point in NYC?  The term “woonerf” is Dutch.  It describes streets as dominantly pedestrian.  These are tree-lined routes with culvert drainage systems and “neck-downs” open enough for local traffic and emergency vehicles.  Implemented for residential life, they were quickly adapted to commercial settings.
  • HPVs for long or short-distance transit routes: Trips from Midtown Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn, as “HPV ride would add seats to the train. Mass transit needs the low-impact of the vernacularized rider. 
  • Arrivals and Departures: Zoning bonuses and related tax incentives should emphasize space for showers and bike storage. More people would ride a bicycle to work if they could do so in a designated bike lane, park their bike in a safe place, and clean up a bit on arrival. 

Existing urban design solutions promote “pedestrian and bicycle-oriented” travel reasonably well.  A row of parked autos protects pedestrians. The same solution now serves human-powered vehicles.  Turning the dominance of the automobile readily available to manipulate into a source of added HPV use.  The college campus or other large regional parks already also offer clear bike transit that does not require reinventing the wheel. All that is needed is safe passage and the opportunity to build a brighter, cleaner, sustainable neighborhood, city, and world.

An excellent summary of the issues associated with the “critical mass” bike ride occurrences in NYC and the response of the NYPD was prepared in 2006 by the New York Bar Association.  The Association criticized the legislative role of the NYPD on HPV.  It advised the City Council to discourage using the police power to pre-determine constitutional issues based on vague rules defining “a parade.”

Legislation based on basic economics, triple bottom line science, ecological footprints, happiness indexes, and accurate cost accounting are emerging.  All seek the means to press for more sophistication in measuring and confirming sustainability principles in the city.

David Steindl-Rast

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

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

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

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

Federal Agents

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7252a-dotsinarow.png
Project Question: What is the strategic relationship that links each of these cabinet positions.

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

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

Denise Meadows

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Limits To Growth

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

How does density fit in?

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

?

People

Kundera describes ways people want to be recognized.

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

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

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

Housing Map
Are you a member of one of these organizations – on the staff, a resident, volunteer? Write a review.
Startups
Startups are efforts to plan and deliver a new project, program, product, or service under conditions of uncertainty. To examine the precariousness implied, pay close attention to five well-recognized organizing …
B Corporations
The B Lab Company (B Lab) is a nonprofit (IRS Form 990 N.E.C. (W99) that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.  Located in …
Income <=>
Obama defines the problem extremely well. https://youtu.be/iY05U7GaU5I He actually answers the question about how and why we are in this fix. https://youtu.be/aSpogyoh_3Q This one looks at implementing a political agenda …
EPA Saved Cities
11 Ways the EPA Has Helped Americans March 17, 2017 by John Light This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com. The budget proposal Donald Trump’s administration announced yesterday will slash the …
David Steindl-Rast
The differences between fully institutionalized poorness such as that established by prisons or prison-like conditions are often countered by the cultural experience of modest, joyful lifestyles of poorness. Another difference …
Federal Agents
Established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the Cabinet's role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to each member's respective office duties.  …
Denise Meadows
The Club of Rome and the Smithsonian Institution's Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet hosted a one-day symposium on March 1, 2012, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Limits …
David Orr
David has been right for a decade or two, but this is the first time he's made me laugh. A key to education is hope. Hope Is an Imperative: The …
Bucky Fuller
The World Game Report (1969) shows Buckminster Fuller before a map he designed to eliminate distortion and represent an accurate global scale. A half-century has passed, and the demands in this little report …
Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs’ first reference to density called out the mixed-use character of Boston’s North End and its infamous reputation, and yet in many ways, it had the power to un-slum …
Frank Lloyd Wright
MoMA, New York, Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal The American city of the 1920s and 1930s was European with less form. Frank Lloyd Wright presented the …
Diversity/Density
Twentieth-century urban and technological development events represent immense power. Yet, whether they are judged superficial, highly significant, or isolated and irrelevant, all share the common ground of small self-interest groups …
Elizabeth Warren
This Fight is Our Fight “We used it all—tax policy, investments in public education, new infrastructure, support for research, rules that protected consumers and investors, antitrust laws—to promote and expand …
George Monbiot
Self-fulfilling prophecies are tangible, especially destructive ones. In this sense, the assignment of evolutionary principles to lifetime or generational human behavior is a common mistake. The teachings of evolution involve …
Becky Bond and Zack Exley
Rules for Revolutionaries We know that every action has an alternative that can be opposite and equal.  You are going to need this book. This rule holds in the universe, …
Van der Ryn and Cowan
Challenging smart-growth-talk has seemed impotent until recently. Perhaps this is why it might change. A decade ago, Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan contrasted sustainability defined technologically and ecologically in …
Whitney M. Young
Whitney M. Young, Jr. “You are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights.  I am sure this does …
Alain Bertaud
Meaning is in People Alain Bertaud is an inquisitor. He pokes at data with experience and reflection to help us understand the way the world works, how it will change and …
News Source
The major networks C-Span, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, etc., are plentiful. Those who broadcast to the nation for free (with ads) are asked to follow the fairness doctrine. But, on …
Alexandria Stands
George Monbiot is a writer that is paying attention. The news from …
Truth or Dare
You can get something from new representatives about the truth, even a …
Managing Change
We the People Series: The following paragraph summarizes history’s “maleness” through the …
Truth in a Hurricane
Wealth above all other social factors can push the door closed on …

Bucky Fuller

Fuller World Game

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

RLC

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

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

Climate Central

Changes in weather or global averages in sea levels and temperature from year to year are popular tangents for discussion but only as useful as a local sports talk show. The real news is how improvements in energy generation demanded by the dense urban environment are now responsible for most GHG emission reductions. However, the motivation to change urban conditions in response to climate change remains weak, but envisioning tools by Climate Central that show logical sea rise levels is a step foward.

RLC

The threat alone is not enough. The word “climate” is also used to define a human relations condition of importance in community development. For example, New York City produced 48.02 million tons from all energy sources to reflect a 19% reduction from 2004 to 2013 in three main categories. The main GHG producers are buildings plus street lighting, transportation of all kinds, GHGs connected to urban wastewater treatment, city landfills, and solid waste removal out of the city categorized as fugitive.

climate

Solutions come from the urbanization of energy.

Cities are effective at measuring and then decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) into the atmosphere. The urban focus on energy varies by economic sector and social choice. The choice of fuels that reduce carbon intensity remains economic. However, the lack of choice in controlling external factors is the most problematic. External factors that control the amount of energy needed are population growth by location and the weather in “degree days.” Still, the distinctions between energy and its users are diminishing rapidly for the first time in human history.  Energy use includes the ability to visualize a set of futures based on fact.  The presentation below is not sophisticated climate science. The elevation above sea level is “a,” and the sea-level rise or a storm surge is “b” a long list of coastal cities will have seawater as predicted.

The political readiness for the advent of a new ocean/human/earth “oneness.” is the most disconcerting due to the “fear itself” effect.  The extreme sea level via a vision reveals more than the risks. It exhibits the lack of capacity for a public decision-making process in a privately-held world.  The hidden data involves changes in value. The effect can go one of two ways.  It can push every investor of every square foot into climate change denial for the lack of any other plan, or it can draw every investor into a plan with the capacity to confront the paralysis embedded in such projections.

Given these conditions, the demand for an evidence-based, performance-measured, and outcome-driven protocol that can reach the local need for global effect is now an indispensable policy requirement. People can understand basic units for analysis such as building floor area and total population and apply a per unit/per capita analysis to provide a reliable basis for trend and regression analysis. Energy coefficients established during study periods help determine the change in carbon intensity for each energy source in each sector to yield the percentage of each source contributing to the GHG inventory.

While dense urban cities are the largest producers overall, they offer the best environment for protocol analysis and comparison among all other resilience/mitigation measures that may have an impact on global conditions. Three “get started” sources are here:

  1. GPC – Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  2. LGOP – Local Government Operations Protocol
  3. Climate Central – Download the free Surging Seas CRS Guide

Index Density

Personal growth is the main stimulant of culture and a balancing agent against the excesses of power. We slowly realize the stimulants are here and now when this growth is offered to all people freely. The next fight for freedom will be to sustain our ability to share what we know. The very first place to test for truth will be right outside your front door and where you can walk from there.

RLC
Isolated this song may sound like a warning, for those of the dense urban world it has a joyful tension.

The Ranking

A broad new set of factors injected into the urban scale expresses a numerical value such as “top ten” as if a place has a price, and therefore comparable. These factors are used to index urban “livability” across the rapidly changing structure of cities. The index aid policymakers in rating the sensibilities of ordinary working people or retirees about those who seek to profit from their labor, skill, insight, capital, and productivity.

Two ranking styles are popular; the first puts a high value on economic and financial services supporting trade in material resources and economic measures. The second index lists environmental pleasures such as the climate, interesting scenes, cultural experiences, and the general absence of discord. This yields the appearance of objective criteria to implement a marketing response to a specific human need or general desire regardless of wealth or station.

Search “Livability” for Thousands of Ranking Agents

The demand for policies that measure and react in short, precise cycles has begun. As a mathematical matter, the city’s economic value now includes specific environmental conditions such as costs associated with aesthetic perspectives. Voila! More parks, green streets, more room to walk. The mathematical value associated with vibrant or viable space is different than sustainable or resilient or secure and stable. Aesthetic measures associated with sociocultural conditions such as recreation and entertainment are used as a ranking. The mathematics of such ratings on all of these things center on the idea of weight, whether weighted equally or in a framework for preferences.

Undoubtedly, these value conditions continue to produce a dense urban form for people, yet it remains an abstraction of consumption weighted by per capita spending. The new flurry of numbers means one new thing, “they know” and “we know they know,” so now what? What is the impact? Measures of equity will become highly visible. It is now possible to index racism, even sexism, by place for scoring.

The driving factor for these new index factors will involve three-quarters of the earth’s population, who will have an urban life of some description by the year 2050. Most will be holding smartphones. The demand for an urban life has created this 3:1 ratio of “attraction,” leading to self-fulfilling urban development that continues without checking for the balance required. For example, the demand for a set of values that express diversity as one cherished over the concentration of wealth would be useful. Those who remain far outside the urban region may be recognized as those most important to sustaining that realm and keeping its ability to be wild as its stewards.

Density

Our one purpose is to participate in a forum on the complexity of urban density and examine its makers worldwide. In the research for Density, we are reading hundreds of websites, books, and articles. Most are online.  We are not stepping completely away from the dead tree press, but new opportunities are exposed with more than one thing in hand at a time. This is wide open network team. Privacy remaing permanent. Expectations are listed below.

RLC

  • The objectives implied by this purpose will require the expertise of many contributors with various skills and thousands of locations. For example, the development and use of KML code will add an important online function.
  • Our team envisions regionally and city-based writers willing to establish a long-term research effort on opportunities created by urban density, The product will describe the problems density helps to solveby analyzing issues, various approaches, and action ideas.
  • The partnership aims to produce a continuous, worldwide exploration of dense urban environments’ successes (or failures).
  • Additional excerpts from a working draft of Density includes an offer to join in developing this “partnership project.”
  • Begin by sending an inquiry below or for a different approach on the policies and politics of Density see Writers Wanted.

Posts: New to Old and Old to New

Housing Economics
"Even Texas, the state that added the most housing units, showed decreases in more than half (52.4%) of its counties — reflecting the concentration of housing unit growth in larger …
The Climate Requirement I
Dr. Christopher Jones is a Professor at UC Berkeley and the Director of the CoolClimate Network. Like many who have examined the climate crisis thoroughly, he has told everyone the …
Fire
"Bring Your Own Brigade" HERE Lucy Walker captures the horror of California wildfires and explores the "global fire crisis" in a CBSN two-hour documentary. After the first hour, the horror …
Extinction
Extinction "The purpose of the organizations listed in this section is unified by one-word "extinction." It is an event that occurs daily all over the earth. It is a difficult …
Megawatts for Megabytes
“New Yorkers, if the ride isn’t killing us; the megabytes might.” These three books are among many that challenge our understanding of the world and the sense of place that …
The Vehicular Pedestrian
Making way for the Vehicular Pedestrian will be more than a critical mass issue due to significant changes in dense urban land use and dimly recognized design problem that must …
Climate Central
Changes in weather or global averages in sea levels and temperature from year to year are popular tangents for discussion but only as useful as a local sports talk show. …
Index Density
Personal growth is the main stimulant of culture and a balancing agent against the excesses of power. We slowly realize the stimulants are here and now when this growth is …
Road Density
The Global Roads Inventory Project (GRIP) dataset describes 60 geospatial datasets on road infrastructure worldwide, covering 222 countries and over 21?million?km of roads. The dataset is split into 5 types: …
Black Rock
Black Rock City In 2010, Black Rock City (aka Harveywood) was the fourth largest city in Nevada, but only for a short while. The total population was 51,515 paying guests …
Diversity/Density
Twentieth-century urban and technological development events represent immense power. Yet, whether they are judged superficial, highly significant, or isolated and irrelevant, all share the common ground of small self-interest groups …
Tale of Two CTs
City Center Lincoln Square Robert Venturi once observed Las Vegas as the only uniquely American expression of architecture. No one ever says it is a product of thoughtful planning. In …
Getting on Track
The Ties Make the Track Three factors have brought about the demand for global, multilateral change in national societies with varying impact degrees, and all of them are tragic. First, …
Self-Analysis
In 2006, New York Magazine identified 50 projects and commissioned the "world's best architects" composite. In 2006, the most active and closely watched areas were: Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn, 2010 & …
Mega Region Design
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 …
The Elements of Four Problems
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 …
The Urban Planet
"The social contract for authority is at the center of money, politics, and religion. No surprise there. Each center’s loci has confirming elements such as the high priest’s temple or …
Catastrophic Resolution
Dense Cities are Self-Renewing
Cities are Different
"One number above all other metrics suggests a housing affordability and infrastructure emergency is pending. In New York City, one emergency is around 40,000 people living permanently in shelters, with …
The Synergy Project
The plan for compacity
Earthdays
Metro = Megacity/Megacorp + OBDCEarthday, urban land use, and management in the 21st century Without a national land-use …
Planet of Cities
This history of human settlements is a story of continuous growth and increasing urban densities that reduce per …
One Bryant Park
In thoughtful research reporting, the requirement, to sum up, should become a higher priority. In Skyscrapers and the …
Zoning GHG
New York City's newest set of proposed zoning changes will re-write rules to remove impediments to constructing and retrofitting …


    Jane Jacobs

    Jane Jacobs’ first reference to density called out the mixed-use character of Boston’s North End and its infamous reputation, and yet in many ways, it had the power to un-slum itself. The failure of urban reform, urban planning, and architecture of her time, on the other hand, was in how they failed to expose racism fully and openly. To the everlasting credit to her insight, she accepted this point in her last book (2004).

    RLC – OCCUPY

    Jane Jacobs Medal
    First Awarded in 2007 to Barry Benepe & Omar Freilla

    “…the death or the stagnated moribundity of formerly unassailable and vigorous cultures is caused not by an assault from outside but by an assault from within, that is, by internal rot in the form of fatal cultural turnings not recognized as wrong turnings when they occur or soon enough afterward to be correctable. The time during which corrections can be made runs out because of cultural forgetfulness.” Dark Days Ahead

    Jacobs saw self-renewing practices in urban districts occurred due to a sense of containment that sustained connections to the city as a whole and the quality of diversity that served many purposes. The urban structures of these districts would be full of corners and small useful places. Structures would vary in age and size across these districts with “hard-working streets” from “specialty store to animated alley.”

    With these main elements, dense concentrations can form a living city in successful regeneration and constant repair of a failure. This was a duality captured by the title of her first book, “Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Chapter Eleven, entitled “The need for concentrations,” closes the argument.

    Density is a framework that supports high levels of diversity and resists the predisposition toward social regimentation.  This was 1961. A half-century later, it is possible to recognize the complexity of promoting new forms of social density in an urban form. Jacobs recognized her city as a place that could provide for everyone. It could do so because it creates opportunities to be creative large or small.  Yet, in the nation’s capital in 1963, these words were spoken by Martin Luther King, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Much has changed in reducing sensitivities to the quality of social change driven by urban diversity. Still, much of the Jacobs’s argument for creative urban development tools that support social justice remains a poorly developed part of the city.

    The Rockefeller Foundation offers the medal.  To nominate a New York urban visionary, participants are encouraged to send an email describing the nominees’ accomplishments and how they relate to Jane Jacobs’s work and legacy. Nominations are considered on a rolling basis. janejacobs@rockfound.org

    Frank Lloyd Wright

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


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

    RLC

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

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

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

    Frank Lloyd Wright, Mile High, Chicago. 19560

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