The Goal is Diverse Housing Choices

Housing has always been complicated; it’s just that most folks never really noticed until the decades-old pattern of increasing home construction and increasing home values came to a blinding, crashing halt. Now the complexity is abundantly apparent – rent or own, access to credit, overleveraged mortgage loans, accurate risk underwriting, affordability, proximity to employment, patterns

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The Active Living Imperative

The issue of obesity is oft discussed in the media and by healthy living figureheads like Michelle Obama as the cause for many of our country’s ills.  Mrs. Obama fights to introduce healthy, affordable produce into our food deserts (discussed eloquently in this recent blog post), and champions increased physical activity for children.  For adults,

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La Rambla de Barcelona

The first thing a visitor to Barcelona may notice is the time shift. At 7:30 in the morning, even the Starbucks is not open. In fact, the only people on the streets of the Gothic Quarter are the tourists streaming from their small hotels past the closed shops with the doors covered in graffiti. Even

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“New Urbanism”: What Does it Mean to City Leaders?

The term new urbanism brings about visions of the constructed reality of Truman Burbank—played by actor Jim Carey in the 1998 Hollywood movie, The Truman Show.  The movie depicts Burbank’s fabricated made-for-TV life in his made-for-TV small town and was filmed on location in Seaside, Florida. Seaside was master planned in the early ‘90s, and

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Harvesting the fruit begins with finding the tree

Getting started with, or ramping up sustainability initiatives can be a complex process. In a field teeming with ideas and options but perpetually short on funds, capacity, or clear guidance, emphasis has largely been placed on tackling initiatives considered to be on the low-hanging branches of sustainability. Yet even taking on these small-scale, incremental efforts

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Local Food for Economic Prosperity

Food is among the most relatable, and certainly most fundamental, issues facing our country.  Regardless of race or class, everyone has an agrarian heritage somewhere in his or her ancestry.  And regardless of culture or political leaning, everyone must eat. The modern food system is much more complicated though, with stakeholders, profits and politics muddling

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Meredith Whitney’s Misinformation Campaign

Almost six months ago, Meredith Whitney – the controversial financial investor who made her name by predicting the recent troubles for Wall Street banks  – set off a firestorm in financial markets by claiming that “social unrest” was coming in the form of ”50-100 sizeable municipal defaults.” She’s back this week with an op-ed in

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Places and People are Keys to Thriving Cities

Efforts at “place making” have seldom been so visible in both federal policy and local initiative.  But author Edward Glaeser in his popular work Triumph of the City, suggests that a focus on place is truly, well, misplaced.  “Invest in people,” Glaeser advocates, because at their best cities are job-creating engines that put talent to

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Building Affordable Housing is Risky Business

Please note: This post is a collaboration between James Brooks and Michael Wallace at NLC.  For the past two days, The Washington Post has lambasted the Department of Housing and Urban Development and local housing authorities and community development corporations for failing to adequately manage programs that build or rehabilitate affordable housing. There is a

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A Changing Paradigm: Cities and Regions Embracing Global Interdependence

Distrustful, inward-looking and even smug…U.S. local officials have been called it all when it comes to describing their attitudes toward strengthening global economic interdependence.  And this is part of a broader story about the U.S., that we are unwilling to look to global partners to help restore economic growth.  Perhaps in certain places at certain

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