Friday, July 15, 2011

Meanwhile, back at The White House

From The White House blog:

President Obama knows that the hard work of strengthening American communities and revitalizing the American economy happens at the local level – in neighborhood schools and community colleges, at town meetings and neighborhood associations, through new start-ups and small businesses. That’s why the White House is excited today to announce the launch of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative.

Strong Cities, Strong Communities is a new interagency pilot initiative that aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies. Strong Cities, Strong Communities bolsters local governments by providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and creating new public and private sector partnerships. By leveraging existing assets, providing new resources, and fostering new connections at the local and national level, Strong Cities, Strong Communities will support towns and cities as they develop comprehensive plans for their communities and invest in economic growth and job creation.

If you visit the blogsite, you can watch the "launch video" and read more about the community intiatives.

Jamie Baker Roskie

 

July 15, 2011 in Community Economic Development, Federal Government | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Healing Cities

I recently learned about the Healing Cities movement. From their website:

Healing Cities is an integrated approach to planning and design for the natural and built environment that values holistic health and wellness of people and ecosystems. It explores how to address planning processes and design of our living environments to keep us healthier and more whole.

The healing process in the human body is the ability to rebuild, repair and regenerate cells; regeneration in this case draws upon the body’s innate intelligence to heal itself. What would it then mean for a city to be “healed,” and what methods and processes would support cities to facilitate healing? Is it possible to have cities that then, in turn, can heal and take care of us?

They're also holding a conference in October in Vancouver, BC. While they're calling for "planners, developers, architects, transportation professionals, massage therapists, physicians, counsellors, energy healers, [and] spiritual leaders" to attend, presumably they wouldn't turn away land use profs!

Jamie Baker Roskie

 

July 14, 2011 in Community Design, Conferences, Smart Growth, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

House Appropriations Votes to Eliminate Office of Smart Growth

According to the folks at Smart Growth America, the House Appropriations Committee has passed legislation that would eliminate the EPA's Office of Smart Growth.  You can visit the Committee's website to learn more about the bill.  SGA has a website that allows you to e-mail your congressional representative, if you're so inclined. Presumably this is part of the campaign to defund the administration's Sustainable Communities Initiative.

I've blogged several announcements from the OSG, which co-hosts the annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference, and gives smart growth implementation assistance and grants and awards to local and state governments each year.

Jamie Baker Roskie

July 13, 2011 in Budgeting, Federal Government, Smart Growth | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

City Videos

For those of you who like to use video as a teaching tool, check out "The Coolest and Best City Videos" on The Urbanophile blogsite.

Jamie Baker Roskie

July 12, 2011 in Teaching, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pennsylvania, Fracking, and Academic Politics on "This American Life"

Check out the main story on public radio's "This American Life."  Entitled "The Game Changer," the piece is about the controversial practice of extracting natural gas by "fracking," but it goes beyond the usual coverage of the economics and the environmental cost to discuss the involvement of academics in the controversy:

A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, to discover that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to revolutionize how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. Two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences.

The professor with the "revolutionary" calculation is getting rich and famous. The one with the "troubing conclusion" recently lost his job.  Fascinating, if not completely surprising, stuff.

Jamie Baker Roskie

July 12, 2011 in Clean Energy, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 11, 2011

NIMBY Beverly Hills

In a kind of ultimate "not in my backyard" move, the City of Beverly Hills is setting aside $350,000 to fight the LA Metropolitan Transit Agency's attempt to run the subway under Beverly Hills High...

Jamie Baker Roskie

July 11, 2011 in California, Local Government, NIMBY, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Closed Pools a Sign of Deeper Local Problems

From The New York Times, an article about the struggles local governments face in keeping their public pools open:

There are few things in life more doleful than a child looking at a closed pool on a steamy summer day, and yet that sad scene has become as common as sunburns and mosquito bites as struggling local governments make the painful choice to shut their pools to save the budget. The list of locales where public pools have been in jeopardy in recent years includes some of the sweatiest spots in the nation, including Central Florida (90s and humid on the Fourth), Atlanta (90), and Houston (97)...

The question of where pools are closed often raises issues of class and race. In the case of Houston, one of the pools closed in June was in Independence Heights, a historically black neighborhood where the median household income in 2009 was about $27,000, according to city statistics.

The city councilman for the area, Ed Gonzalez, said the loss of a pool there would sting worse than in more well-to-do neighborhoods. “There are no other true community assets out there,” he said. “Your neighborhood park and your pools are the only real amenities that some of these communities have.”

Mr. Gonzalez, a former police officer, said it was not just a matter of letting people beat the heat. The lack of a local pool, he said, could have an impact on public safety. “If kids do not have a productive thing to do, like swimming or community centers to go to,” he said, “it’s more idle time they have on their hands.”

Here in Athens the Leisure Services department seems to be doing a good job keeping the pools open, but we went without a public fireworks show this year due to lack of sponsorship.  While these types of amenities are hard for local governments to support in tough economic times, they are also key to a community's quality of life.  It will be interesting to see how deep communities will dig to maintain the rituals of summer in these difficult days.

Jamie Baker Roskie

July 10, 2011 in Budgeting, Financial Crisis, Georgia, Houston, Local Government, New York, Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)