When I opened my email this morning I was delighted to see that the City of Flagstaff unanimously approved a SmartCode based TND ordinance. The ordinance, created to make a recent Dover Kohl designed project called Juniper Point legal, allows a more compact, pedstrian friendly urban pattern to be established within the City. This is a crucial step in providing alternatives to business as usual sprawl development. Fortunately, more and more cities - From Jamestown, Rhode Island to Miami, Florida, to Montgomery, Alabama - are making smart growth a legal and easy choice.
Over the past three months, my girlfriend and I have made three trips to the suburbs of Miami. Twice to the Whole Foods we desperately lack on Miami Beach (Yes, Wild Oats is okay, but for us food snobs it just does not compare) and once to the brand new, soul-killing, 283,000 square foot IKEA to partially outfit our 450 square foot South Beach studio apartment.
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~Ernest Hemingway
I am currently on charrette in Bryant, Arkansas. As a brief primer, Bryant is located approximatley 15 miles to the southwest of Little Rock and is currently the fastest growing city in the state. This is mostly due to a its proximity to major employment centers and its thriving LEED certified school system. Though I could regurgitate a slew of citizen comments regarding the city's lack of communal space and the recent impoverishiment of its public realm, the picture and brief explantation below says it all.
Photo Courtesy of Matt Lambert
Two years ago I saw John Norquist, former Mayor of Milwaukee and current President and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism, give a presentation on the state of America’s cities. During the slide show, Norquist used two sets of images to effectively convey a point about urban disinvestment in America. The first set of images was of Berlin and Detroit circa 1945. Unsurprisingly, the Berlin image displayed a war-torn and rubble-strewn city, while the Detroit image revealed why it was once called the Paris of the Midwest -- it was simply elegant. However, the second set of images displayed the same two cities 60 years later. It was as if Detroit had been through an epic war and not Berlin.