Thursday, June 19, 2008

It has been too long...

It has been a long while since I have written anything on these here pages. I thought about writing, and how I had to write something extremely profound to make up for the two months of nothingness. Then, I realized that a) so few people read this and b) no one cares, whether they did read, would read, or have read in the past. Therefore, no proclamations of trying harder or grand hopes of writing more.

What pulled me out of my blogging slumber, you ask? Well, this story (h/t: Creative Class) from CNN about the failure of suburban housing and the return to "walkable" urban neighborhoods. This hit especially close to home, considering I study the effect of the built environment on health (and walking in particular) and residential choice. Naturally, I was intrigued. In particular this tid-bit caught my attention:

This change can be witnessed in places like Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, Michigan, and Dallas, Texas, said Leinberger, where once rundown downtowns are being revitalized by well-educated, young professionals who have no desire to live in a detached single family home typical of a suburbia where life is often centered around long commutes and cars.

Instead, they are looking for what [Christopher] Leinberger calls "walkable urbanism" -- both small communities and big cities characterized by efficient mass transit systems and high density developments enabling residents to walk virtually everywhere for everything -- from home to work to restaurants to movie theaters.

Leinberger reports that 40% of people from selected metro areas want to live in walkable urban neighborhoods. On the one hand, I think that is about right and maybe even a little low. But, on the other, of course people want to live in walkable neighborhoods; but if I asked if they wanted good schools, good city services, and convenient transportation they would also say yes. The real question is, how high of a priority are walkable neighborhoods compared to the other desires of homeowners -- and given that it is very difficult and costly to build, from scratch, a "walkable" neighborhood (at least compared to suburban expansion) it is necessarily a limited market of people who would be able to afford such locations.

And, finally, let's not forget that there is one thing that is not mentioned at all in this article - race. I think that people want to profess strong egalitarian motives and racial composition does not matter as much to younger people as it does to older, but it matters. Places like the Kentlands in Maryland so that suburbanites can have it all - a suburban house, excellent schools, lots of space and the ability to walk to the grocery store without having to deal with the problems of the poor, largely minority populations of not only D.C., but also older suburbs like Silver Spring and Rockville. Of course, then the city or state government will just pay a ton of money to completely tear down and rebuild the place -- and in the process remove any "undesirable" elements.

And, as a final note, I thought that I should share reader NewWorld's insightful comments:

This is just another of countless examples to show that man cannot govern themselves (Jeremiah 10:23) The Bible teaches that God's government, ruled by Christ, will intervene in earth's affairs and repair the damage done by humans. This government will solve housing problems, economic issues, food shortages, end crime, violence and all abuses and injustices, prevent natural disasters, end sickness and even death.

We have much to look forward to!


Kendrick Pullen said...

Save the Date
July 24-25, 2008
New Orleans

When it comes to building successful, next generation cities, you are the future. You're young, talented and can live anywhere you choose. Urban leaders all over the country are working 24/7 to get you to their cities.

And in your city, you're making things happen, working passionately to improve the place you call home and to get others to do the same.

What would it take for your city to become a magnet for people like you? And how can you and urban leaders in your community work together to create the conditions for success?

Those are just two of the questions a select group of 25- to 34-year-old professionals will be talking about when CEOs for Cities and NOLA YURP (New Orleans Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals) convene the first-ever Urban Next Summit.

We hope you will be part of this gathering in New Orleans, July 24-25, 2008.

The work of this group will be shared with mayors, business and civic leaders and foundation and university presidents to help formulate strategies for urban success.

The draft agenda can be seen here.

The summit is free, but space is limited. Interested in attending? Click here to fill out the online application by June 23, 2008.

Looking forward to having you with us in New Orleans.

Kendrick Pullen
Director, NOLA YURP Initiative
137 N. Clark St., NOLA 70119
504-267-4004 office
504-428-9154 mobile

Erica said...

Yes it has been too long!

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