"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
-- The Red Queen talking to Alice, Lewis Carol's Through the Looking Glass
Cities across the world are stepping up their efforts in building a more resilience society that can adapt to a dynamic and uncertain world. Yet as technology changes, new problems are inevitable. MURP student Peter Swinton shares his spring externship experience at the recently established Office of Resilience in Washington D.C. and provides thoughtful insight on the advent of the "smart city."
We, as urban planners, are shifting toward cities that offer more diverse means of transportation. Ideally, our cities should be walkable so that we may 1) reduce our carbon footprint; 2) assure that goods and services are accessible to our most vulnerable populations, and; 3) reduce our spending on expensive infrastructure that is eroded by heavy vehicular use. But what does an ideal walkable city look like? MURP student Colin Brown argues that Madrid, Spain is one candidate that is sometimes overlooked when compared to global cities like London or Paris, but shows firsthand how this city has many lessons to offer cities around the world.
Economic development too often becomes a large-scale balancing act. On the one hand, communities wish to invite wealthy investors, developers, and young professionals to bring the resources that they offer in order to improve quality of life and public services. On the other hand, such development can bring unintentional consequences that make the neighborhood unrecognizable and unaffordable for long-time residents. For some people, these consequences are quite intentional. Graduate student Brianne Brenneman focuses on the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, emphasizing the consequences of unaffordable housing and what can be done to ensure people a decent quality of life.
Affordable and public housing has been an ongoing intergenerational battleground in the United States with no clear end in sight. While the road is still long and arduous, our current progress would not be possible were it not for early champions who defended the poor and most vulnerable. First-year planning student India Solomon offers a historical account of Catherine Bauer and Josephine Gomon, two incredible women who were ahead of their time in their fight for dignified public housing.
Many small towns throughout the United States were once characterized by bustling downtowns and exuberant social life during the 1950s. Unfortunately for many of these towns, those times have been replaced with job displacement and economic stagnancy. While many major cities in the U.S. have experienced various degrees of economic success in revitalizing their downtown corridors, small towns face unique challenges due to limited resources and assets, requiring considerable creativity and commitment from local planners and economic developers. Bradley Kotrba discusses the economic challenges facing his hometown area of Bay City... and what work has been done to address them.
Educational inequality continues to be a growing problem in the U.S. Poor-performing schools often result in community disinvestment, creating a vicious cycle of seemingly inescapable poverty. Establishing school-community partnerships may be one possible strategy toward changing this cycle. Karen Otzen, a second-year MURP student and Agora's Editor-in-Chief, discusses these school-community partnerships, the different partnership models currently used, and how they may simultaneously enhance both community development and educational opportunity.
Second-year Taubman urban planning student Julie Tschirhart offers a postmodern reading of Detroit, writing that the city has simultaneously become a symbol for society's yearning for the past and the urban crisis of the present, neither of which do justice to the people who make the city what it is.
Taubman graduate Kristin Baja, Climate and Resilience Planner for the City of Baltimore's Office of Sustainability, returned to her alma mater last week to offer advice on preparing cities for climate change while prioritizing their most vulnerable residents.
In Agora's second partnership with UNC-Chapel Hill's Angles planning journal, Libbie Weimer explores the controversy surrounding Silent Sam, a monument to a Confederate soldier on the Chapel Hill campus. Taking into consideration the university’s history, its values, and the relationship between its built environment and its social environment, Weimer advocates for the statue's relocation.
Agora staff editor William Doran offers a personal reflection on wildfires, and why they represent a daunting, meaningful challenge for planners of the 21st century.
Though not a silver bullet, inclusionary zoning is one tool cities can use to diversify neighborhoods, expand access to low-poverty municipalities for low-income residents, and ultimately increase access to higher-quality education for low-income students. Despite cost-based opposition on part of developers, inclusionary zoning is a sensible first step to facilitating economic integration and promoting more equitable access to quality municipal services in Michigan.
Washington, D.C. just instituted the first major revision to the city’s Zoning Regulations and Zoning Map since 1958. This article explores how the District's approach to zoning reflects its self-referential ideology, which is rooted in the concept of ideology itself.
Agora editor Rich Bunnell's love of urban planning initially took root as urban wanderlust, specifically a love of taking long, meandering walks through great American cities. The peak of this obsession came in late spring 2012, when he vowed to walk 100 miles in all five boroughs of New York City — and a little bit of New Jersey.
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man weaves a narrative through New York City’s urban spatial structure to map how race is physically built into the city’s neighborhood composition, street networks, and utilities. UNC-Chapel Hill urban planning graduate Danny Arnold highlights Ellison’s argument alongside “Monopolated Light & Power,” a paper sculpture he built to visualize the interplay of visible versus invisible; being versus non-being; and access to city life versus segregation.
The siting of Ford’s Highland Park plant in the 1910s literally transformed the geography of work in Detroit's greater urban region, with workers forming ethnic enclaves and in the process expanding the geography of the city. Ford itself played a guiding role in this expansion through the provision of housing for its workers, and its two visions of worker housing represent what the city became and what it could have been.
During the summer, along with three other students from the School of Information, I worked at the head office of the Haven Night Shelter Welfare Organization, the largest network of centers for homeless people in Cape Town, South Africa. From this experience, I learned that housing homeless people at shelters is by itself not enough to solve homelessness — it is just a solution for houselessness.
On Tuesday, residents of Southeast Michigan have the opportunity to vote on a tax associated with the implementation of a regional transit plan. When does transit work? Where does transit work? And how does transit work? We challenge you to ask yourself the same questions, to read about the regional transit plan on the November ballot, and to vote responsibly.
NBC's Parks and Recreation came into its own when Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope evolved from a hapless dope into a champion advocate — and in a strange but telling way, the show's evolution reflects the actual evolution of U.S. planning as a profession over the 20th century.
Master’s students at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Urban and Regional Planning (colloquially referred to as MUPs) tend to spend their summers applying their knowledge in locations throughout the globe. A few MUPs shared their experiences with Agora over the summer.
Autonomous vehicle technology is exciting, cutting edge, potentially life-altering, and ultimately terrifying. My fear doesn’t come from the typical “oh no, robots are taking over” attitude, though. Instead, I see a lot of parallels between our current excitement about autonomous vehicles and past urban planning decisions fueled by progress for the sake of progress that had staggering and unforeseen implications.