Home » Books » Recent Articles:

Newish Book — ‘ Recast Your City How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing’ by Ilana Preuss

December 11, 2021 Books, Downtown, Economy, Featured Comments Off on Newish Book — ‘ Recast Your City How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing’ by Ilana Preuss

It’s possibly human nature that causes us to look for a magical silver bullet to fix our cities, towns, and villages. Examples might include a sports team, corporate headquarters, even a monorail.  Lasting success is never that easy, it takes more effort.

Too many U.S. cities and towns have been focused on a model of economic development that relies on recruiting one big company (such as Amazon), a single industry (usually in technology), or pursuing other narrow or short-term fixes that are inequitable and unsustainable. Some cities and towns were changing, even before the historic retail collapse brought on by COVID-19. They started to shift to a new economic model that works with the community to invest in place in an inclusive and thoughtful way, with short-term wins that build momentum for long-term growth. A secret ingredient to this successful model is small-scale manufacturing.

In Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing, community development expert Ilana Preuss explains how local leaders can revitalize their downtowns or neighborhood main streets by bringing in and supporting small-scale manufacturing. Small-scale manufacturing businesses help create thriving places, with local business ownership opportunities and well-paying jobs that other business types can’t fulfill.

Preuss draws from her experience working with local governments, large and small and illuminates her recommendations with real-world examples. She details her five-step method for recasting your city using small-scale manufacturing: (1) light the spark (assess what you can build on and establish goals); (2) find and connect (get out of your comfort zone and find connectors outside of your usual circles); (3) interview (talk to people and build trust); (4) analyze (look for patterns and gaps as well as what has not been said); and (5) act (identify short-term actions to help build long-term change). This work is difficult and sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary and critical for success. Preuss supports and inspires change by drawing from her work in cities from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Columbia, Missouri, to Fremont, California.

In Recast Your City, Preuss shows how communities across the country can build strong local businesses through small-scale manufacturing, reinvest in their downtowns, and create inclusive economic opportunity. Preuss provides tools that local leaders in government, business, and real estate as well as entrepreneurs and advocates in every community can use. (Island Press)

St. Louis still has manufacturing downtown, TUMS is the example that comes to my mind. We certainly could use more downtown and throughout the region.

This newish book has a video trailer featuring the author!

As usual, I like to use the contents to show how the author makes her case:

Chapter 1: What it Means to Recast Your City
Chapter 2: Why We Need a New Economic Development Model
Chapter 3: A Stronger Economic Development Model with Small-Scale Manufacturing
Chapter 4: Five Steps to Recast Your City
Chapter 5: Step 1: Light the Spark
Chapter 6: Step 2: Find and Connect with New People
Chapter 7: Step 3: Start the Conversation and Get Great Information from Your Interviews
Chapter 8: Step 4: Analyze the Input and Understand What it All Means
Chapter 9: Step 5: Be Impatient and Act Now

As Preuss said in the video, this book is for local leaders that want to change the economic outlook where they live.  Any of you might be the local leader to make it happen here.

You can get a link to download the first chapter emailed to you here.

Steve Patterson

 

New (ish) Book — ‘New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Transportation Technologies’ by Todd Litman

November 18, 2021 Books, Featured, Transportation Comments Off on New (ish) Book — ‘New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Transportation Technologies’ by Todd Litman

Mobility is very important to our lives, and humankind continues to consider new/different modes of transportation. Both of my grandfathers were born in simpler times: 1886 & 1899. The latter was my maternal grandfather, he lived until the age of 97. He saw and experienced many forms of mobility in his lifetime. Though he died just 20 miles from his birthplace he flew to both coasts and drive/rode to many places in his long life….including visiting me in St. Louis in his last few years.

How we all get from A to B is so important from a technology, environmental, policy, etc perspective. A recent book from a transportation expert Todd Litman explores the subject:

New transportation technologies can expand our world. During the last century, motorized modes increased our mobility by an order of magnitude, providing large benefits, but also imposing huge costs on individuals and communities. Faster and more expensive modes were favored over those that are more affordable, efficient, and healthy. As new transportation innovations become available, from e-scooters to autonomous cars, how do we make decisions that benefit our communities?

In New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Emerging Transportation Technologies, transportation expert Todd Litman examines 12 emerging transportation modes and services that are likely to significantly affect our lives: bike- and carsharing, micro-mobilities, ridehailing and micro-transit, public transit innovations, telework, autonomous and electric vehicles, air taxis, mobility prioritization, and logistics management. These innovations allow people to scoot, ride, and fly like never before, but can also impose significant costs on users and communities. Planners need detailed information on their potential benefits and impacts to make informed choices.

Litman critically evaluates these new technologies and services and provides practical guidance for optimizing them. He systematically examines how each New Mobility is likely to affect travel activity (how and how much people travel); consumer costs and affordability; roadway infrastructure design and costs; parking demand; land use development patterns; public safety and health; energy and pollution emissions; and economic opportunity and fairness.

Public policies around New Mobilities can either help create heaven, a well-planned transportation system that uses new technologies intelligently, or hell, a poorly planned transportation system that is overwhelmed by conflicting and costly, unhealthy, and inequitable modes. His expert analysis will help planners, local policymakers, and concerned citizens to make informed choices about the New Mobility revolution. (Island Press)

Here are the chapters so you can see how it’s organized.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Arc of Transportation History
Chapter 3: The Context of Transportation Planning
Chapter 4: A Comprehensive Evaluation Framework
Chapter 5: Evaluating the New Mobilities
Chapter 6: Analysis: How New Mobilities Can Achieve Community Goals
Chapter 7: Recommendations for Optimizing New Mobilities
Chapter 8: Conclusion

I couldn’t find a preview, but the author participated in a webinar discussing the topics in this book.  This is a long presentation, but I found it interesting,

Like most new books I receive, this book isn’t a splashy coffee table book. It’s a “deep dive” into the subject. If you’re also a policy wonk then you’ll love Todd Litman and his latest book.

— Steve Patterson

b

 

New Book — ‘Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives’, by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

September 24, 2021 Books, Featured, Transportation Comments Off on New Book — ‘Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives’, by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett

This is the first of three books I received in July, so they’re newish. My health insurance is better now so I’m getting caught up.

I’ve posted before about my interest in electric cars, but also interest in and use of public transportation. My electric “vehicle” is a 2008 power wheelchair which I use in combination with public transit. The able-bodied can use a bike with transit, instead of a wheelchair.

Like so many others, I realize switching all internal combustion vehicles for electric ones isn’t going to solve the major problems with the automobile: they require a lot of space, for example.  Today’s newish book looks at reducing the number of cars on our roads and filling our cities on huge surface lots or parking structures.

In 2019, mobility experts Melissa and Chris Bruntlett began a new adventure in Delft in the Netherlands. They had packed up their family in Vancouver, BC, and moved to Delft to experience the biking city as residents rather than as visitors. A year earlier they had become unofficial ambassadors for Dutch cities with the publication of their first book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality. [see August 2018 post on their first book here.]

In Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett chronicle their experience living in the Netherlands and the benefits that result from treating cars as visitors rather than owners of the road. They weave their personal story with research and interviews with experts and Delft locals to help readers share the experience of living in a city designed for people.

In the planning field, little attention is given to the effects that a “low-car” city can have on the human experience at a psychological and sociological level. Studies are beginning to surface that indicate the impact that external factors—such as sound—can have on our stress and anxiety levels. Or how the systematic dismantling of freedom and autonomy for children and the elderly to travel through their cities is causing isolation and dependency.

In Curbing Traffic, the Bruntletts explain why these investments in improving the built environment are about more than just getting from place to place more easily and comfortably. The insights will help decision makers and advocates to better understand and communicate the human impacts of low-car cities: lower anxiety and stress, increased independence, social autonomy, inclusion, and improved mental and physical wellbeing.

The book is organized around the benefits that result from thoughtfully curbing traffic, resulting in a city that is: child-friendly, connected, trusting, feminist, quiet, therapeutic, accessible, prosperous, resilient, and age-friendly.

Planners, public officials, and citizen activists should have a greater understanding of the consequences that building for cars has had on communities (of all sizes). Curbing Traffic provides relatable, emotional, and personal reasons why it matters and inspiration for exporting the low-car city. (Island Press)

This isn’t about eliminating all cars, just moving to fewer cars than today. Here are the authors explaining their view:

You can read the full introduction and much of the first chapter (The Child-Friendly City) on Amazon. (Kindle preview is longer than the softcover preview.)

— Steve Patterson

 

 

New Book: ‘Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges’ by June Williamson & Ellen Dunham-Jones

April 12, 2021 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: ‘Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges’ by June Williamson & Ellen Dunham-Jones

One of the most important issues facing regions in the coming decades will be the enormous amount of land around the inner core that was developed in a manner that exacerbates current & future problems. Suburbia everywhere will need to be retrofitted.

In 2009 I posted about a new book addressing this topic, see: Book Review; Retrofitting Suburbia, Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.

Now June Williamson & Ellen Dunham-Jones are back with 32 case studies where the retrofitting principles have been applied.

This amply-illustrated book, second in a series, documents how defunct shopping malls, parking lots, and the past century’s other obsolete suburban development patterns are being retrofitted to address current urgent challenges they weren’t designed for: improving public health, increasing resilience in the face of climate change, leveraging social capital for equity, supporting an aging society, competing for jobs, and disrupting automobile dependence.

Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges provides summaries, data, and references on how these challenges manifest in suburbia and discussion of successful urban design strategies to address them in Part I. Part
II documents how innovative design strategies are implemented in a range of northern American contexts and market conditions. From modest interventions with big ripple effects to ambitious do-overs, examples of redevelopment, reinhabitation, and regreening of changing suburban places from coast to coast are described in depth in 32 brand new case studies.
• Written by the authors of the highly influential Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs
• Demonstrates changes that can and already have been realized in suburbia by focusing on case studies of retrofitted suburban
places
• Illustrated in full-color with photos, maps, plans, and diagrams

Full of replicable lessons and creative responses to ongoing problems and potentials with conventional suburban form, Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges is an important book for students and professionals involved in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, development, civil engineering, public health, public policy, and governance. Most of all, it is intended as a useful guide for anyone who seeks to inspire revitalization, justice, and shared prosperity in places they know and care about. (Wiley)

University City’s plan to replace a strip shopping center and modest houses with a big box Costco isn’t what the authors are advocating.

Here are the 32 case studies examined in this book:

  1. Case Study II.1   Aurora Avenue North, Shoreline, Washington
  2. Case Study II.2   Hassalo on Eighth and Lloyd, Portland, Oregon
  3. Case Study II.3   Lake Grove Village, Lake Oswego, Oregon
  4. Case Study II.4   Phoenix Park Apartments, Sacramento, California
  5. Case Study II.5   Parkmerced, San Francisco, California
  6. Case Study II.6   The BLVD, Lancaster, California
  7. Case Study II.7   TAXI, Denver, Colorado
  8. Case Study II.8   Guthrie Green, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  9. Case Study II.9   La Gran Plaza, Fort Worth, Texas
  10. Case Study II.10 The Domain, Austin, Texas
  11. Case Study II.11 ACC Highland, Austin, Texas
  12. Case Study II.12 Mueller, east Austin, Texas
  13. Case Study II.13 Promenade of Wayzata, Wayzata, Minnesota
  14. Case Study II.14 Maplewood Mall and Living Streets, Maplewood, Minnesota
  15. Case Study II.15 Baton Rouge Health District, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  16. Case Study II.16 Uptown Circle, Normal, Illinois
  17. Case Study II.17 One Hundred Oaks, Nashville, Tennessee
  18. Case Study II.18 Historic Fourth Ward Park, Atlanta, Georgia
  19. Case Study II.19 Technology Park, Peachtree Corners, Georgia
  20. Case Study II.20 Walker’s Bend, Covington, Georgia
  21. Case Study II.21 Downtown Doral, Doral, Florida
  22. Case Study II.22 Collinwood Recreation Center, Cleveland, Ohio
  23. Case Study II.23 The Mosaic District, Merrifield, Virginia
  24. Case Study II.24 South Dakota Ave and Riggs Road, Fort Totten, Washington, DC
  25. Case Study II.25 White Flint / The Pike District, Montgomery County, Maryland
  26. Case Study II.26 The Blairs, Silver Spring, Maryland
  27. Case Study II.27 La Station – Centre Intergénérationnel, Nuns’ Island, Verdun, Quebec
  28. Case Study II.28 Bell Works, Holmdel, New Jersey
  29. Case Study II.29 Wyandanch Rising, Town of Babylon, New York
  30. Case Study II.30 Meriden Green, Meriden, Connecticut
  31. Case Study II.31 Cottages on Greene, East Greenwich, Rhode Island
  32. Case Study II.32 Assembly Square, Somerville, Massachusetts

I’m familiar with two of these, I experienced the “before” of #1 years ago, and #16 in 2012. Aurora Avenue in Seattle and the suburb of Shoreline is like arterial roads everywhere: awful. When I last saw it we drove to a Home Depot. From reading the case study I know the portion of Aurora Ave in Seattle is unchanged, but a stretch north from the city line has been improved. To a motorist driving by you might not notice the physical changes, but pedestrians will immediately tell it is less hostile. Motorists will notice more humans actually walking.

When I drive back to Oklahoma City to visit family & friends, hopefully later this year, I’ll stop in Tulsa to visit an aunt and see #8 and sites in adjacent Greenwood (site of the Tulsa race riot). I’d love to visit each of these case studies.

If I hadn’t had a stroke in 2008 I would’ve enjoyed working on retrofitting suburbia.

— Steve Patterson

 

The St. Louis Region Needs a Moratorium Stopping Construction of New Gas Stations

March 31, 2021 Big Box, Books, Central West End, Featured Comments Off on The St. Louis Region Needs a Moratorium Stopping Construction of New Gas Stations

Earlier this month a city in Northern California has done what other municipalities should do: ban the construction of new gas stations.

The city of Petaluma has become the first in the nation to ban the construction of new gas stations in the city, as part of its aggressive goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

On Monday night, the city council unanimously approved the measure with a second reading of the ordinance, effectively adopting the ban immediately.

The ordinance was widely embraced, as the city council said it faced no opposition.

In a city of some 60,000 residents, covering 14.5 square miles, Petaluma currently has 16 gas stations with another previously approved filling station on the way.  (Source)

It’s foolish to keep devoting more and more land & money into a business model that’s in decline. As vehicles have gotten more efficient gasoline sales have been in decline, as electric vehicles begin to  flood the market gasoline sales will continue falling off. One estimate is 60%-80% of existing gas stations could close by 2035.

Petaluma California is similar in land area & population to the St. Louis suburb of Florissant. By my count Florissant also has 17 gas stations.

Our region has food deserts, but not gas station deserts. Gas stations, mostly large convenience stores that also sell fuel, are everywhere. Former gas stations, vacant & repurposed, are also everywhere.

These will not be repurposed later into EV charging stations as EVs are recharged overnight, at home. Yes, eventually EV batteries will be able to be charged significantly faster, but by then cars will either be owned by ride share companies or it can go off on it’s own and park on a charging pad while you work.

Newer has station in the suburb of Rock Hill, MO replaced a historic stone church.
A closed gas station on the NE corner of Compton & Chippewa.
Former BP gas station at Lackland & Midland, it closed sometime between 2008 & 2012.
The vacant gas station at 2418 N. Florissant was built in 1972.
The urban Arlington Grove Apts as seen from the auto-centric gas station across the street.

Gas stations are a blight, a big hole in the urban fabric. They’re anti-pedestrian. These should no longer be built in the city, county, or region. A big part of why Petaluma banned new gas stations is a grassroots organization called Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations — we need a similar effort here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe