Subject: Communities

  • It’s Our Race Relations, Not the Economy, That Need Healing

    Last Thursday, I was listening to Bruce Katz on NPR talk about Detroit’s recent bankruptcy and the set of metropolitan oriented strategies/practices that he thinks represents the way forward for the troubled city. Before I get too deep into my…

  • Who Owns That Vacant Building? Scan the Art to Find Out

    In a brilliant mash up of classic protest/beautifying strategies and state-of-the-art data management, artists are painting murals on abandoned Baltimore buildings  . . . complete with QR codes that bring you to data about those who own them. The data…

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    Are Poor Families Stuck in Place?

    A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of a new book by the Brookings Institution called Confronting Suburban Poverty in America that highlights the growing number of poor people living in suburbs and small cities across the nation. While…

  • The Tenacity of Dysfunction

    The word resilience has different meanings in different fields. In the field of material science, it refers to the ability of a material to regain its shape after it has been stressed.  A rubber band, for example, will regain its…

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    To Move Forward, Richmond Must Confront Its Racist Roots

    Successful cities adapt. They do not achieve success by remaining static. Adapting might be thought of in terms of building a new economic base or welcoming changes in the city's demographic makeup. But some cities need to go deeper. They suffer…

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    Collective Empowerment or an Invitation to Vigilantes?

    Jeremy Liu's post on combining "proactive" and "protective" services to both give people a greater sense of agency and help control costs for municipal budgets was an opening to discuss the ways community development can be a part of lowering…

  • Can Community Development Solve the Municipal Budget Crisis?

    Oakland, Calif., like many cities, is beginning an annual or biennial budget process and coming to terms with the stark realities of structural problems with its municipal budget. An overwhelming percentage of the budget each year is allocated to the…

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    Life Without Fossil Fuels

    Last fall, I wrote on Rooflines about people in intentional communities who engage with the market economy, even as they live a communal lifestyle that contrasts with the mainstream. When I moved to Louisa, Va., a couple years ago, there were…

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    3 Reasons We’re Not Reaching Rural Communities

    Rural communities are being ignored. Again. As discussion of the federal sequester and fights over funding dominate the news channels as well as policy discussions, key gaps in our ability to respond to individuals and households in need are being…

  • Police Train in Public Housing, Terrorize Neighboring Residents

    When Lauren Manning, a resident of the Ida Yarbrough Homes in Albany, NY, posted this public photo on her Facebook page, she probably didn't imagine that a week later it would have been shared almost 900 times and have generated…

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    5 Things Cities and CDCs Don’t Get About Code Enforcement

    In most circles, all you have to do is say "code enforcement" and people start mumbling about previous engagements. As I’ve been increasingly immersed in thinking about the future of urban neighborhoods, though, I find it looming large in my…

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    Places of the Heart

    Everyone has a story about third places—those gathering places that are not home or work—in the communities they have lived and worked. I wrote about some of mine in my editor's note for our package on the topic. We also…

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    More than Hair: Barbershops

    Last year when I was walking my neighborhood, flyering for the Tale of Two Cities march and feeling out of place as writer trying to be an organizer (in other words, I was feeling shy that day and daunted by…

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    Do Denser, Poorer Areas Need More Third Places?

    In Kibera, the streets are truly the public spaces, and people are out all day, every day: selling, socializing, trading. People make their living—they live their lives—right out in the streets. Having safe and adequate places for that activity is…

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    “Where Are They?” Do We Think of Third Places When We Make Decisions?

    "No community should be without these kinds of spaces. Therefore, when we think about planning or revitalization efforts or development, we [should be] saying, 'Where are they?', because it’s that important." —Neeraj Mehta "Maybe [cities] ought to have 'no net…

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    Hearts of the Neighborhood: “Third Places”

    Several years ago, the family-owned florist two buildings down from my house closed. There was great consternation in the neighborhood about what would happen to the building. The small red and white cottage sits on a decently sized corner lot,…

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    Sacred Places

    What makes a place sacred? That was the question posed by a recent study that involved a group of East Texas residents. The answer, as it turns out, is that just about any place or building can take on a sacred quality, at…

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    Writing About Recovery

    Watching the scenes of devastation coming out of New York City and New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy, it's hard not to think again of Katrina (despite their many differences, certainly) and what we have and haven't learned since then. I…

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    Disaster and Recovery

    Dear Reader, I’m writing to you from Man About Town’s Brooklyn redoubt – where we have been spared from the very worst of hurricane Sandy.  We never flooded, and we never lost power.  Like so many of you, Mrs. Man…

  • From Farm to Subdivision to Farm… or Forest

    Soil is an important word in rural places, for many people's livelihoods have historically depended on it. From good soil comes vegetables, fruit, and grass and grain for livestock. Agricultural Extension offices in rural towns and counties across the country…

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