Moving the Strong Towns Movement From Critic to Those in the Arena

20170728_065706[1]Over the last few days, I’ve enjoyed the conversation between Johnny Sanphillippo and Chuck Marohn about whether or not it’s possible for the Strong Towns paradigm to be effective in making real change happen in our country.  With that said, I personally walked away from this conversation unsatisfied.  I think it’s very easy for us to feel smart criticizing what is wrong with the world around us. This is especially true when we are able to articulate problems no one else notices in a way that draws attention. And while articulating the problem is the first step to solving it, it has to be just that, the first step, not the only step. Otherwise we merely become the critic that Teddy Roosevelt warned us about in 1910, Continue reading

Our Repair Economy: Are Low Prices the Enemy of Sustainability?

imageI was preparing for work one morning when disaster struck; my trusty beard trimmer wasn’t trimming. There was plenty of strange whirring but absolutely no movement of the blades. I spent a few minutes tinkering with it but to no avail. At this point, what are my options? It seemed to me that the problem was fixable. I have a two-year-old son who is fascinated with shaving; maybe he got a hold of it and dropped it, knocking something loose. If I couldn’t fix it myself, could a repair shop handle it? What would they charge me? How would that compare with the cost of a brand new beard trimmer? But maybe the biggest question was this: do repair shops for small electronics even exist any more? Continue reading

A Temporary Leave of Absense

As many of you know, one of my  favorite things to discuss on this blog is the intersection of the fields of urban planning and economic development, particularly as it relates to building strong local economies. This coming November, I have an exciting opportunity to prove my mettle in these areas by taking the American Planning Association’s American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the realization that the best time I have to prepare for this exam is the same one I use to research and write for this blog. Continue reading

Statistics for Financially Savvy Towns

imageWe are several years into a statistical revolution in the world of sports. Leading the charge is Bill James, who started the sabermetics movement and created a variety of new analytical tools to objectively measure success in baseball. While traditional baseball used statistics like batting average, runs, and runs batted in, Bill James was busy with runs created, win shares, and the Pythagorean winning percentage. Among those who put James’ statistics into action was Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics.  Featured in the book and film “Moneyball”, Beane was able to find the undervalued statistics that correlated to winning in order to make the small-market Oakland Athletics competitive year in and year out with the financial giants of the game. Continue reading