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34 articles

Sustainable Mayberry.

Impeded by byzantine zoning regulations, compliance with historic preservation standards, or anti-density community activists (aka NIMBYs), infill development is typically challenging enough to implement in an urban setting.  Auto-dependent cities in America—which are the majority—remain littered with parking lots wedged between two older, surviving structures that pre-date the car.  Those lots serve as a reminder

It may take a village, but what if the village is the taker?

Virtually every metropolitan area in America, both large and small, consists of more than one incorporated municipality, usually with a shared boundary.  Typically the “core” city after which the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is named is the oldest, most industrialized, and the most populous city.  The surrounding, contiguous cities—the suburbs—are the inverse: newer, lower population,

Massaging the main street.

I had hoped to get one more lengthy blog post published by the end of the month, but I’m unfortunately getting bogged down due to a persistent problem I have: the photos for the essay I have prepared are not sufficient, nor is the quality good enough, to get my point across.  Hopefully I will

Surgeon General’s warning: “It’s Mail Pouch Tobacco. Treat yourself.”

I’ve gotten in the habit of dropping the word “meme” into blog articles as though it has become a part of common parlance.  (Come to think of it, I probably overuse “parlance” too.)  The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “meme” is that it is “an element of a culture or system of behavior passed from one

One road—two bodies politic.

Inevitably, communities evolve to reflect the personalities of their inhabitants.  Such an assertion may come across as glib, and it probably is, but it’s far better than the opposite—when a character of its community seems at odds with its constituents’ goals.  A fundamental goal of an effective representative democracy is that local governments allow people

Photo upgrades.

I routinely snap photos of a landscape with the expectation that I will eventually transform it into a blog topic.  Many times these photographs are spontaneous and lack much foresight.  Because, until recently, I was in Afghanistan living under somewhat challenging conditions, I bought a reasonably cheap but durable camera.  Sometimes the photos I take

Enticing visitors downtown…and then incarcerating them.

As much as street-level engagement for large projects in city centers should, by this point, seem like a foregone conclusion, it continues to amaze how many big ticket items—in cities of widely varying size—either engage in terpsichorean negotiations around it or neglect it completely.  When developers confront a zoning ordinance or design guideline that insists

One commodity still selling well after the real estate bubble burst.

In this extended period of blogging dearth, it occurred to me that I’m long overdue for a certain type of article that I haven’t featured in awhile: the mini-post, or the snapshot. Time shortages during a busy period within our squadron make this seem like an opportune time for a quick read. Most of the

Streetscape enhancements in a spray can.

Most of us living in reasonably large metropolitan areas have witnessed the fallout from the bursting real estate bubble—one of several, successive machine-gun misfortunes to befall our economy during this ruthless recession. Even if you don’t live in a city that has suffered as greatly as Las Vegas or Phoenix or Naples, Florida, you most

Repelling criminals and just about everyone else.

A few years ago I was assigned to collect demographics on the downtowns of a number of different American cities of varying sizes, from Detroit to Lafayette Louisiana, using carefully defined census tracts that correlated as well as possible from 1970 to 2000. We were hoping to find similar characteristics to the downtown dwellers across

Sustainable Mayberry.

Impeded by byzantine zoning regulations, compliance with historic preservation standards, or anti-density community activists (aka NIMBYs), infill development is typically challenging enough to implement in an urban setting.  Auto-dependent cities in America—which are

It may take a village, but what if the village is the taker?

Virtually every metropolitan area in America, both large and small, consists of more than one incorporated municipality, usually with a shared boundary.  Typically the “core” city after which the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

Massaging the main street.

I had hoped to get one more lengthy blog post published by the end of the month, but I’m unfortunately getting bogged down due to a persistent problem I have: the photos for

One road—two bodies politic.

Inevitably, communities evolve to reflect the personalities of their inhabitants.  Such an assertion may come across as glib, and it probably is, but it’s far better than the opposite—when a character of its

Photo upgrades.

I routinely snap photos of a landscape with the expectation that I will eventually transform it into a blog topic.  Many times these photographs are spontaneous and lack much foresight.  Because, until recently,

Streetscape enhancements in a spray can.

Most of us living in reasonably large metropolitan areas have witnessed the fallout from the bursting real estate bubble—one of several, successive machine-gun misfortunes to befall our economy during this ruthless recession. Even

Repelling criminals and just about everyone else.

A few years ago I was assigned to collect demographics on the downtowns of a number of different American cities of varying sizes, from Detroit to Lafayette Louisiana, using carefully defined census tracts

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