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50 articles

Provisions for our peccadilloes.

Virtually every top-down policy yields a bottom-up response. And is there any policy out there that isn’t to some degree top-down, at least in the nature of its implementation? This isn’t rocket science, but if we learned from the undesirable consequences elicited by well-intentioned policies, we may be far charier to legislate. But then there

Who’s YOUR state’s prime mascot?

When a highly localized slang term pops up in an environment far removed from its natural home, it’s inevitable that it will cause some heads to turn. And that’s exactly what happened when I passed this sign along a fairly busy stretch of highway:People who follow college basketball—and particularly those who followed it in the

Social deviation: when tables and maps say more than our eyes.

My previous article, on the Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel, illustrated perfectly how demographic differences can play out spatially. Kiryas Joel is an uncharacteristically high-density settlement filled with individuals who share an orthodoxy, whose high birth rate and dependence on federal aid often incurs the anger of the upper-middle class suburbs that surround it, known

MONTAGE: When the pursuit of all things suburban becomes a religion, Part II.

Part I of this photo-heavy blog article provided an overview of the history of the Village of Kiryas Joel, a rapidly expanding enclave of Satmar Hasidic Jews tucked in the woods of Orange County, about 60 miles north of New York City. Surrounded by what would appear to most viewers as pretty standard post-war suburban

MONTAGE: When the pursuit of all things suburban becomes a religion, Part I.

It has been a long time since this blog has included a fundamentally photo-driven article, so this one is long overdue. It’s a novelty in a few other ways as well: my first article in the State of New York, and the first since Afghanistan where I was entrenched in a community where I was

Because public art can tow the party line.

In many American cities, the most prominent murals emerge on the blank sidewalls of old buildings, often through months (if not years) of well-calibrated civic collaboration. Philadelphia, the national—and perhaps the global—leader in this art form has its own long-established Mural Arts Program, a well-staffed organization that not only vets the content and creators of

Fencing in the human will.

Driving westward from the suburbs to downtown Grand Rapids earlier this year, I came across an unusual road sign.   Needless to say, it wasn’t easy to read, but it clearly wasn’t a conventional one. In Grand Rapids (as in many cities), most street signage uses a bold, white sans-serif lettering against a green background, as

Time to shake hands… now that you’re on your way out the door.

While traveling one of the main thoroughfares in metro Detroit, I came along this modest little billboard. I call it modest because the one behind it and above it—of Detroit’s omnipresent powerhouse litigator Joumana Kayrouz—is a little bit bigger. In fact, from a moderate distance, Ms. Kayrouz not only dwarfs the Target Corporation, but the

Retail’s retreat from risk.

Forgive the hiatus.  I just relocated to the city featured in this article.  Set in metro Detroit (the first, no doubt, among many), it’s straightforward enough that it doesn’t really demand a long introduction or exposition. From the outside, this unusual shopping center looks like it’s on the fritz:   No signs above any of

Speed surveillance scamming spreads statewide.

I don’t usually highlight topical events, and certainly not in a way that they become central to a blog post.  But in this case, I just couldn’t resist—the news is too timely, and it eerily echoes a subject I’ve covered on this blog as well as a rewrite at New Geography: the jurisdictionally defined speed trap. 

Provisions for our peccadilloes.

Virtually every top-down policy yields a bottom-up response. And is there any policy out there that isn’t to some degree top-down, at least in the nature of its implementation? This isn’t rocket science,

Who’s YOUR state’s prime mascot?

When a highly localized slang term pops up in an environment far removed from its natural home, it’s inevitable that it will cause some heads to turn. And that’s exactly what happened when

Social deviation: when tables and maps say more than our eyes.

My previous article, on the Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel, illustrated perfectly how demographic differences can play out spatially. Kiryas Joel is an uncharacteristically high-density settlement filled with individuals who share an orthodoxy,

Because public art can tow the party line.

In many American cities, the most prominent murals emerge on the blank sidewalls of old buildings, often through months (if not years) of well-calibrated civic collaboration. Philadelphia, the national—and perhaps the global—leader in

Fencing in the human will.

Driving westward from the suburbs to downtown Grand Rapids earlier this year, I came across an unusual road sign.   Needless to say, it wasn’t easy to read, but it clearly wasn’t a conventional

Retail’s retreat from risk.

Forgive the hiatus.  I just relocated to the city featured in this article.  Set in metro Detroit (the first, no doubt, among many), it’s straightforward enough that it doesn’t really demand a long

Speed surveillance scamming spreads statewide.

I don’t usually highlight topical events, and certainly not in a way that they become central to a blog post.  But in this case, I just couldn’t resist—the news is too timely, and it