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New Book — ‘Life After Carbon: The Next Global Transformation of Cities’ by Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland

December 21, 2018 Books, Environment, Featured Comments Off on New Book — ‘Life After Carbon: The Next Global Transformation of Cities’ by Peter Plastrik and John Cleveland

It usually takes me weeks/months to post about new books I receive, but another book arrived earlier in the week — just when I needed a subject for today.

The future of our cities is not what it used to be. The modern-city model that took hold globally in the twentieth century has outlived its usefulness. It cannot solve the problems it helped to create—especially global warming. Fortunately, a new model for urban development is emerging in cities to aggressively tackle the realities of climate change. It transforms the way cities design and use physical space, generate economic wealth, consume and dispose of resources, exploit and sustain the natural ecosystems, and prepare for the future.

In Life After Carbon, urban sustainability consultants Pete Plastrik and John Cleveland assemble this global pattern of urban reinvention from the stories of 25 “innovation lab” cities across the globe—from Copenhagen to Melbourne. A city innovation lab is the entire city—the complex, messy, real urban world where innovations must work. It is a city in which government, business, and community leaders take to heart the challenge of climate change and converge on the radical changes that are necessary. They free downtowns from cars, turn buildings into renewable-energy power plants, re-nature entire neighborhoods, incubate growing numbers of clean-energy and smart-tech companies, convert waste to energy, and much more. Plastrik and Cleveland show that four transformational ideas are driving urban climate innovation around the world, in practice, not just in theory: carbon-free advantage, efficient abundance, nature’s benefits, and adaptive futures. And these ideas are thriving in markets, professions, consumer trends, community movements, and “higher” levels of government that enable cities.

Life After Carbon presents the new ideas that are replacing the pillars of the modern-city model, converting climate disaster into urban opportunity, and shaping the next transformation of cities worldwide. It will inspire anyone who cares about the future of our cities, and help them to map a sustainable path forward. (Island Press)

The primary chapters are divided into three parts:

Part I: On the Innovation Pathway

  • Innovation Proliferation
  • Urban Climate Innovation Laboratories
  • Goals, Systems, Clusters, and Waves
  • Making a Better City
  • The Rebel Alliance

Part II: Toward Global Urban Transformation

  • The Power of Transformational Ideas
  • Carbon-Free Advantage
  • Efficient Abundance
  • Nature’s Benefits
  • Adaptive Capacities

Part III: Challenges of Urban Evolution

  • The Edge of City Climate Innovation
  • Assembly Required
  • The Next Urban Operating System
  • Going Global

Here’s a three and a half minute video from their website:

I do think cities that resist changing will suffer as the next century nears, whereas those that innovate and adapt will fare better.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey

December 17, 2018 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey

I have one last book on my desk to post about as 2018 is coming to an end: A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society by Marc Fleurbaey:

At this time when many have lost hope amidst conflicts, terrorism, environmental destruction, economic inequality and the breakdown of democracy, this beautifully written book outlines how to rethink and reform our key institutions – markets, corporations, welfare policies, democratic processes and transnational governance – to create better societies based on core principles of human dignity, sustainability, and justice. This new vision is based on the findings of over 300 social scientists involved in the collaborative, interdisciplinary International Panel on Social Progress. Relying on state-of-the-art scholarship, these social scientists reviewed the desirability and possibility of all relevant forms of long-term social change, explored current challenges, and synthesized their knowledge on the principles, possibilities, and methods for improving the main institutions of modern societies. Their common finding is that a better society is indeed possible, its contours can be broadly described, and all we need is to gather forces toward realizing this vision. (Cambridge University Press)

This is an academic book, not a quick read or a pretty coffee table book. However, serious topics often require academics to offer solutions to societies big problems.

The following is a list of the 8 chapters from the two sections:

Part I: Sources of Worry, Reasons for Hope:

1. Global Successes and Looming Catastrophes

2. Globalization and Technology: Choices and Contingencies

3. The Expanding Circle of Respect and Dignity

4. The Big Challenge

Part II: Acting for Social Progress

5. In Search of a New “Third Way”

6. Reforming Capitalism

7. From the Welfare State to the Emancipating State

8. From Polaritics to Politics

Chapter 6, Reforming Capitalism, is a favorite topic of mine. I began scanning this chapter last night, but was too tired to absorb much. Will need to try again when I’m more alert.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — ‘Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places’ by Jeff Speck

November 23, 2018 Books, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on New Book — ‘Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places’ by Jeff Speck

I’m usually unbiased when publishers send me new books, but I’m a huge fan of Jeff Speck’s work as a New Urbanist planner. His latest book focuses on one of my favorite topics: walkability:

“Cities are the future of the human race, and Jeff Speck knows how to make them work.”
—David Owen, staff writer at the New Yorker

Nearly every US city would like to be more walkable—for reasons of health, wealth, and the environment—yet few are taking the proper steps to get there. The goals are often clear, but the path is seldom easy. Jeff Speck’s follow-up to his bestselling Walkable City is the resource that cities and citizens need to usher in an era of renewed street life. Walkable City Rules is a doer’s guide to making change in cities, and making it now.

The 101 rules are practical yet engaging—worded for arguments at the planning commission, illustrated for clarity, and packed with specifications as well as data. For ease of use, the rules are grouped into 19 chapters that cover everything from selling walkability, to getting the parking right, escaping automobilism, making comfortable spaces and interesting places, and doing it now!

Walkable City was written to inspire; Walkable City Rules was written to enable. It is the most comprehensive tool available for bringing the latest and most effective city-planning practices to bear in your community. The content and presentation make it a force multiplier for place-makers and change-makers everywhere. (Island Press)

I received my review copy last month

He’s done two Ted Talks — back to back 5 years ago:

This newest book suggests 101 rules to make cities more walkable, organized in the following 19 sections:

  1. Sell Walkability
  2. Mix the Uses
  3. Make Housing Attainable and Integrated
  4. Get the Parking Right
  5. Let Transit Work
  6. Escape Automobilism
  7. Start with Safety
  8. Optimize Your Driving Network
  9. Right-Size the Number of Lanes
  10. Right-Size the Lanes
  11. Sell Cycling
  12. Build Your Bike Network
  13. Park On Street
  14. Focus on Geometry
  15. Focus on Intersections
  16. Make Sidewalks Right
  17. Make Comfortable Spaces
  18. Make Interesting Places
  19. Do It Now

Streetsblog has been posting full text of some of the rules:

Some of the rules of interest to me are:

  • #6: Invest in Attainable Housing
  • #14: Fight Displacement
  • #20: Coordinate Transit and Land Use
  • #37: Keep Blocks Small
  • #75 Bag the Beg Buttons and Countdown Clocks

However, all are interesting. I’m planning to use the upcoming holidays to read through all 101 in detail.

You can see a preview at Google Books.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Three New Books on St. Louis: Brewing, Timeline, & Quirks

October 29, 2018 Books, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Three New Books on St. Louis: Brewing, Timeline, & Quirks

When I receive new books I post it to Facebook & Twitter that day, but often it takes me a while to writing a blog post about them. Today’s post is about three books from local publisher, Reedy Press. How local? Their offices are on Chippewa near Ted Drewes’ frozen custard.

All three books are 2nd or 3rd editions of earlier books.

St. Louis Brews: The History of Brewing in the Gateway City 3rd edition
By Henry Herbst, Don Roussin, Kevin Kious, and Cameron Collins

Few cities can tell the story of beer in America like St. Louis can. In this third edition of St. Louis Brews: The History of Brewing in the Gateway City, St. Louis’s brewing history is brought to life. Accompanied by hundreds of historical images and canvassing more than 200 years of brewing history, St. Louis Brews journeys through lagering caves, malt houses, and beer gardens alongside legendary brewers named Lemp, Anheuser, Busch, Griesedieck, and many others. The book details how St. Louis has shaped the brewing industry and how brewing shaped the city in return. Finally, as America embraces a new craft beer movement, St. Louis Brews introduces readers to the brewers that will take brewing into the future. Updated with maps, additional images, and plenty of new St. Louis breweries, the third edition of St. Louis Brews provides an in-depth look into the story of beer in St. Louis. (Reedy Press)

This is a beautiful hardcover book, with an enormous number of photos and interesting history.

 

St. Louis: An Illustrated Timeline, Second Edition
Author: Carol Ferring Shepley

With vignettes and vintage photographs, St. Louis: An Illustrated Timeline takes a wide-angle look at the story of a fur-trading outpost that grew into a major American city. The second edition delves deeper into the mix of politics, personality and culture that make up the Gateway City. Building on the award-winning first edition, new research reveals how the entire city came together for the best World’s Fair of all time, as well as why forces of racism aligned in Ferguson. New tales of visionaries such as Gyo Obata, who escaped Japanese internment camps by studying here and created the country’s largest architectural firm, and Dwight Davis, who fashioned Forest Park to embody his belief that athletics develop character, enliven these pages. Guided by historian Carol Shepley, we meet legends of sports, entertainment and crime, including the Gashouse Gang, Egan’s Rats, Branch Rickey, Stan Musial, Scott Joplin, Miles Davis and Nelly. Heroes and villains, saints and rapscallions, innovators and obstructionists, all have shaped this city. (Reedy Press)

Another hardcover book packs with photos & information. It’s easy to sit with and just flip through the pages to learn about St. Louis chronologically.

What’s With St. Louis?, Second Edition
By Valerie Battle Kienzle

Why are turtles incorporated into the wrought iron fence at The Old Court House? Can beaver be eaten during Lent? Why are pieces of metal track imbedded in some local streets? Who is Sweet Meat, and should he be avoided? These and other questions about St. Louis routinely perplex both natives and newcomers to the area. In this updated version of her 2016 book, author Valerie Battle Kienzle continues her quest to find answers to some of The Gateway City’s most puzzling questions, digging through countless archives and talking to local experts. Part cultural study of The River City and part history lesson, the book reveals the backstories of more local places, events, and beloved traditions. Want to know why St. Louisans are so obsessed with soccer or why the acclaimed Missouri Botanical Garden contains a Japanese garden? Look no further. Dig into this informative and entertaining update for answers to those and dozens of other questions. (Reedy Press)

This is a less expensive book than the previous two, so images are black & white in a smaller softcover format. It does have a few color images in the center. Like the others, the information is well-organized and fascinating.

I still have a couple more books on my desk, just wanted to get the St. Louis books caught up first.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — ‘Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality’ by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

August 31, 2018 Bicycling, Books, Featured, Transportation Comments Off on New Book — ‘Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality’ by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

Here in the U.S., St. Louis in particular, bike lanes are a cheap way to use up extra road width. A little paint here and there, with unresolved intersections that often place cyclists in the wrong place — especially for a left turn. In the Netherlands bike infrastructure is on a different level entirely.

In car-clogged urban areas across the world, the humble bicycle is enjoying a second life as a legitimate form of transportation. City officials are rediscovering it as a multi-pronged (or -spoked) solution to acute, 21st-century problems, including affordability, obesity, congestion, climate change, inequity, and social isolation. As the world’s foremost cycling nation, the Netherlands is the only country where the number of bikes exceeds the number of people, primarily because the Dutch have built a cycling culture accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ability, or economic means.

Chris and Melissa Bruntlett share the incredible success of the Netherlands through engaging interviews with local experts and stories of their own delightful experiences riding in five Dutch cities. Building the Cycling City examines the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch while also presenting stories of North American cities already implementing lessons from across the Atlantic. Discover how Dutch cities inspired Atlanta to look at its transit-bike connection in a new way and showed Seattle how to teach its residents to realize the freedom of biking, along with other encouraging examples.

Tellingly, the Dutch have two words for people who ride bikes: wielrenner (“wheel runner”) and fietser (“cyclist”), the latter making up the vast majority of people pedaling on their streets, and representing a far more accessible, casual, and inclusive style of urban cycling—walking with wheels. Outside of their borders, a significant cultural shift is needed to seamlessly integrate the bicycle into everyday life and create a whole world of fietsers. The Dutch blueprint focuses on how people in a particular place want to move.

The relatable success stories will leave readers inspired and ready to adopt and implement approaches to make their own cities better places to live, work, play, and—of course—cycle. (Island Press)

Here’s the contents:

  • Introduction: A Nation of Fietsers
  • Chapter 1: Streets Aren’t Set in Stone
  • Chapter 2: Not Sport. Transport.
  • Chapter 3: Fortune Favors the Brave
  • Chapter 4: One Size Won’t Fit All
  • Chapter 5: Demand More
  • Chapter 6: Think Outside the Van
  • Chapter 7: Build at a Human Scale
  • Chapter 8: Use Bikes to Feed Transit
  • Chapter 9: Put Your City on the Map
  • Chapter 10: Learn to Ride Like the Dutch
  • Conclusion: A World of Fietsers

You can see a preview here. The authors live in Vancouver and write about walking, cycling here.

If cycling as a mode of transportation interests you and you’re not impressed with our half-ass bike lanes, Building the Cycling City should be on your reading list.

— Steve Patterson

 

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