A few things to know this week: August 2, 2019
Happy Friday! Every week, we round up some of the things we read, listened to, or watched that really caught our attention. Here are 7 things we think you should know this week:
This week's things to know:
In case you missed our discussion this week, you can still get caught up on Monte's answers to some great question about how cities can encourage incremental development, how to deal with local banks, and much more. Monte was joining us as a follow-up to our podcast discussion with him. If you haven't checked that out either, it might provide some good context for the Q&A.
What does the phrase "family-friendly city" mean to you? There have been a growing number of white papers and articles like this one that talk about how our larger cities are not kid-friendly and what could be done to make parents more comfortable raising children in urban environments. Aaron Renn's commentary on some of the things cities can and must improve is spot on. But recently I've found myself asking similar questions about the suburbs. Families flock to suburban communities for "good" schools, affordable (and larger) homes with private yards, and organized sports and youth activities, but when you really think about it, are they really that much better and safer for our kids? You could make the argument that suburbs have their own challenges as it relates to kids being able to safely and conveniently bike or walk to school, or to a park or a friends' house. And is it really healthy for a family if the parents are spending 60 minutes or more commuting to work and the rest of their days and evenings driving their kids to school, play dates and activities? So yeah, our urban cities have to improve if they want more families to live there, but let's not let the suburbs off the hook. – Kevin
Michele Reeves reminds us why "third places" are so important in our cities. Much of our lives falls under some other category than what planners might call "live" and "work." That's easy to forget in our fast-paced, never-disconnected world. In celebration, I'm going to go spend some time in a couple of interesting third places today, and you should do the same! – AJ
I'll be the first to say I don't know enough about financing. I do know, however, that one thing small-scale local developers often have trouble with is convincing the banks to lend them money for a project that looks different than the typical formula store or housing subdivision. Could city-run public banks change that dynamic? If a bill being discussed in California passes, we might be closer to finding out. (Key quote from the article: Right now, “half of the total cost of some current infrastructure projects … goes simply to cover bank interest and fees on loans,” the California Public Banking Alliance, a group sponsoring the bill, estimates.) – Jordan
5. Will Opportunity Zones in North Texas leave some residents behind?
In all the talk about Opportunity Zones, consistent concerns have been expressed by many (including my own) that the program serves to benefit developers, but not necessarily the people within the zones. This article from the Dallas Business Journal includes some good points from a number of experts, great data and illustrations to prompt additional conversation on the topic. Tips for avoiding the acceleration of gentrification and integrating improvements into the community are included as well. It's a good read, check it out! – AJ
This one is a bit dated, but relevant given the recent news that Crowdus St, between Main St. and Elm St., in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas will be converted from a seldom used cross street to a permanent pedestrian plaza. Given the efforts by the Deep Ellum Foundation, that laid the groundwork for this development back in 2016 with a temporary plaza "pop-up" that tested the feasibility of a permanent placement, this new pedestrian plaza will be a spot for street wide pedestrian leisure. This new development goes to show that not all parklets or conversion ventures for streets need to be a blind leap of faith. Thinking of ways to engage the residents and the surrounding communities through events and design, like the Deep Ellum Foundation did in 2016, can lead to new opportunities and greater insight into the way that citizens will receive and utilize a newly converted space. – Ryan
I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. Read this. Think about it. Pray about it, if you're into that. Then read it again. Then discuss it with your spouse, your kids and your friends. Most importantly, I hope it inspires you to take action in some way to make things better. – Kevin
Hey, friends in local government:
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* The network is currently only for those wonderful folks out there who work in local government. If you’re not currently working for a city, town, or county, we still love you (and are sure many of you would add value to the community), but we want to keep our commitment to making this a community focused specifically on our friends working in local government. Thanks for understanding!