News and Views: February 10, 2017

Solutions to the challenges our communities are facing today and in the future will depend on bringing perspectives together and thinking differently about how we approach development and infrastructure in our neighborhoods. We hope this weekly snapshot of what our VERDUNITY crew was discussing this week will help inspire more communication and sharing of ideas.

Featured on the blog this week:

Natural systems are infrastructure, too: Verdooner Jordan Clark argues for making maintenance and restoration of natural systems a key part of our infrastructure planning.

What we're reading this week:

Finance/Economy

Necessary evil or job creator? Texas Governor wants to keep the corporate payola comin' (Dallas Morning News)

Texas' Enterprise Fund has been a key component in the state's economic development and job growth, especially in north Texas, where more than $237 million has been awarded since 2004. There's room for improvement though, as oversight and reporting on the actual success of these incentives has been lacking.

A Nation of Flints (Boing Boing)

Flint is not the only facing water contamination issues. America currently has 1.2 million miles of deteriorating lead pipes and they'll cost $1 trillion to fix.

Environment

The Profitability of Green Infrastructure (ZME Science)

This article is a great companion to our blog post this week. Carefully planned green infrastructure strategies are vital for a community's economic well-being

The New Fondy Park in Milwaukee Set to Transform Lindsay Heights Neighborhood (Urban Milwaukee)

Milwaukee moves forward with implementation of initiatives created by the HOME GR/OWN program that seeks to 'convert neighborhood liabilities into neighborhood assets'. Fondy Park is the latest initiative that will create a public space that also serves as a stormwater management facility. VERDUNITY has developed similar concepts for neighborhood revitalization and enhanced environmental performance throughout the North Texas region.

Learn About Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's HOME GR/OWN Initiative

Learn more about the HOME GR/OWN public private partnership in Milwaukee that seeks to transform targeted neighborhoods to increase public open space, make it easier to access local food, improve the environment, and promote economic development.

Event: Water quality training in Denton

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service in cooperation with the City of Denton is presenting a free watershed steward workshop on water quality in the Hickory Street watershed on March 8.  Residents who want to learn how to improve and protect critical water resources in North Texas are encouraged to attend.

Social/Quality of Life

A Housing Crisis for Seniors (New York Times)

Too many of our communities are designed in ways that ignore the needs of seniors. A key passage from an overall terrific op-ed:

"But suburban homes were originally designed, and for the most part still are, for young families — and for drivers. They are typically surrounded by other single-family houses. Lacking a fitter partner or a network of helpful neighbors and caring family members, older residents can end up feeling isolated, unable to do basic errands or keep up their property. Further, most suburbs are zoned to prevent any non-single-family housing from being built, whether multiunit projects or the seemingly benign granny flat.

We’ve got to change this paradigm."

The Secret to a Happy, Healthy City? Places for People to Protest (Wired)

Great public spaces are a key to healthy communities. There is great social value in having open places to gather naturally, to socialized, and, sometimes, to protest. 

37 days: Corpus Christi finds lessons in mayor's political implosion (Texas Tribune)

Water and infrastructure challenges led to a political outsider Dan McQueen being elected as Corpus Christi's mayor. 37 days later, he resigned. There are lots of lessons to be learned from Corpus Christi's ongoing experience.

Resources

Podcast: Simon Sinek on Design Matters

Simon Sinek (author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last) joins host Debbie Millman to talk about the fruits of good leadership. One snippet from the discussion: "To see your team achieve more than they thought they were capable of, that they will advance the organization further than you even imagined—because they believe, and they are grateful, and they're inspired—it's all worth it. All the sacrifices. It always is."

Book: Happy City by Charles Montgomery

A hopeful and practical take on how to retrofit cities for happiness and tackle urgent challenges of our time. 

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