21 August 2011

Cities as a source of recovery from the Economic Crisis of 2008: How can cities initiate an economic recovery? Part IV: Strategy 1-Facilitate the “Green” Economy (Part A)

As a preface to a discussion on the proposed strategies that can be used by cities/urbanized areas to ‘bootstrap’ their local political economies, I briefly outlined the creation of the environment that would enable change (see Creating the Environment, Part A , Creating the Environment, Part B, Creating the Environment, Part C .) Cities have to be enablers of change and not reactors to public policy from higher levels of government, as the present leadership at the state and national level is unable or unwilling to devise solutions. Cutting budgets which filter down to local governments also having to cut their budgets is not a solution. It is retrenchment in the hopes that the economy will improve and things can go back to 'normal.' It is evident that it is not only the budgets are in trouble, but also the lack of intellectual resources and morality among our elected leaders to resolve these issues. It is very obvious to the vast amount of the electorate that these representatives only serve special interests and the extremely wealthy. To somehow think that there will be an enlightenment among them and they will favor the public good over those who pay for their multi-million dollar campaigns is fantasy. The recent riots in the U.K. are evident of this distrust of the elite who govern all the nations’ governments. The overturning of dictatorships in the Middle East is also indicative of the acknowledgement that the elite are unwilling and unable to come to grips with the growing realities of globalization. Will there be protests in the U.S. or will the middle class in the U.S. put their hopes in the lackluster and ill-formed ideas of the Tea Party and the liberal agenda? But, there is another path. One that will inspire whole nations and their population and transform our global political economy in a new direction. The solutions must come from the cities and their citizens and ‘bubble up’ to the top. In the blog entry of 9 July 2011, I initiated this discussion concerning how cities can be the source of the recovery and recommended strategies (see Cities as a Source of Economic Recovery, Introduction. and Stategies)

The “Green Economy” has been much touted as the solution to revamping and redirecting the developed and developing world. This term is usually in tandem with the idea of sustainability. These are laudable goals, but often difficult to implement given the present atmosphere of corporate led economies, special interests and other stakeholder allegiances to a dying and unsustainable view of the global political economy. The global economic crisis was brought about by these forces and to expect the same people to come up with a solution is wishful thinking leading to more of the same. A sustainable and a Green Economy must become the reality of cities and not some far-fetched dream. While I fully endorse capitalism, as flawed, as it is, it is far better than any other system thus far proposed and implemented. It is not capitalism that is the problem; it is the present direction and goals of capitalism that are the problem. We have ended an era in international politics and economics and things are in a transitional vortex. Cities must lead this transition. They have in the past and will in the future.

The economy of cities are based on individuals spending more, producing more, making more waste, and consuming more natural resources. Industries and commercial establishments are likewise geared around consuming natural resources, more growth, and more profit. The future is not a pleasant one if it continues in this direction. The question is: Can cities move toward an environment where natural resources are consumed less by individuals and commercial/industrial entities? I think we are moving toward this, but not rapidly enough so that we can gain out freedom from their economically crippling effects. In the next blog entry, I will discuss the definition of a green economy. (To my readers, these blog entries should be  considered as material for a later book to be further refined and expanded. Therefore, they may contain errors of which I must take full responsibility. Any suggestions or comments are welcome which will help me further develop these concepts.)

18 August 2011

The Quite Revolution: Going Green, Small Wind Power Generation

Here is a testimonial from a couple who has installed a wind generator at their home.

The company that sold the unit to these people is Southwest Wind Power. Go to: http://www.windenergy.com/products/skystream  for more information. On the website, one can determine if you property is suitable for wind energy and the amount of savings you will gain. I will discuss more about this in my later blog entry on the Going Green strategy for transforming cities via local initiatives.

17 August 2011

Cities as a source of recovery from the Economic Crisis of 2008, Part III (C): Establishing the Environment

An overall environment of change must be established. If one expects this change to come from political leaders from above, then one will wait until infinity for this self-entrenched power-brokers to create an environment of change. At this present time, the atmosphere for change is dreary and pedestrian. This is indicative in the Tea Party Movement in the U.S., the bumbling antics of leaders in the European Union, the lackluster leadership in the China and the stubborn retrenched attitudes of dictators in the Middle East. For change to occur there must be a rejection of the status quo and a view of a promising future. . The Tea Party Movement in the US represents cutting taxes, eliminating benefits, supporting capitalism run by financial institutions, large corporations and the wealthy elite and continuing the constant state of warfare that America has been waging in Iraq and Afghanistan. The diverse leadership in the European Union is confused and fumbling to address monetary problems in its member states, particularly Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. The leadership in China is attempting to maintain state controlled economy and society, but is struggling and realizing that they are in the cab of a runaway train. Likewise, the remaining dictators (including those in Saudi Arabia) in the Middle East instead of leading reform are attempting to maintain their power.

The creation of the environment of change in urbanized areas begins with recognizing the myriad problems in cities, such as crime, education, drug addition, unemployment, struggling housing market, inequitable treatment of minorities, air pollution, unsustainable energy consumption, inefficient disposal of solid waste, traffic congestion, poor public transportation, etc. This could be termed as the emergence of the environment of change. Afterwards, the recognition of the multiple solutions for these problems. Finally, is an up well of the notion that things can be changed, and it can be done despite the obstacles? This forms the basis for networked relational planning for any city. The next part of these blogs will focus on the strategies for change.


Healey, P. (2006) Urban Complexity and Spatial Analysis Strategies: Towards a Relational
Planning for our Times. London: Routledge.

Lewin, R. (1999). Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos. Chicago: The University of Chicago

Vassoler-Froelich, I. ( 2007), Urban Brazil: Visions, Afflictions and Governance Lessons.
Cambria Press: Youngstown, New York.

15 August 2011

Fractal Leadership

I 'googled' fractal leadership and this link appeared:  http://www.fractalleaders.com/index.html , The consulting company sponsoring this web site offers to train managers in fractal leadership. Thre is not much information about their methods. It would be interesting to find out. This is another example of how the concepts of complexity are creating a quite revolution to counter the rigid manner of operations of all levels of society.

Minnesota’s Martin Olav Sabo Bridge

This is the new bicycle bridge in Minneapolis. Cities can do incredible things within a condusive environment. Go to the following link for more information: http://www.streetfilms.org/breathtaking-bike-infrastructure-minnesotas-martin-olav-sabo-bridge/

Cities as a source of recovery from the Economic Crisis of 2008, Part III (B): establishing the environment

It would appear that the ‘spark’ or the ‘embryo’ , taking from the example of one of the most successful cities in the world, Curitiba, Brazil, is the presence of a charismatic leader, such as Jaime Lerner and a group of dedicated professionals, citizens and others stake holders committed to changing an urban environment. This is not a ‘talk shop’, but a ‘contracted’ group, which will make things happen once they are planned. This group could be considered the ‘vanguard’ or ‘intelligentsia.’ Every movement starts in this way. There was a ‘vanguard’ for the spread of Christianity and Islam, War of American Independence, French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution, Velvet Revolution, the independence movement of India, Civil Rights Movement, and now in the Middle East Spring. Thus, to make significant changes in any urbanized area is the necessity of a vanguard.
The other element is the establishment of an inclusive and expanding network. The vanguard can start things in motion, but eventually it must let go, allowing for the natural development of chaos and complexity. Whole communities which may be first a city and then later other scales such as a region, state/province, nations and the entire globe have to ‘buy’ into the ideas. This may be both through formal or informal networks, perhaps by-passing the formal structures of political subdivisions such as counties, states/provinces, the nation- state, or formalized supra-national organizations such as the European Union, or the G-8. It is quite apparent when one group tries to maintain rigid control that disaster on a massive scale is surely to follow. Examples would be: the state terrorism following the French Revolution; genocide by the Stalin régime in the former U.S.S.R; the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward in China, the creation of the Nazi state in Germany; in Cambodia, the revolution led by the Khmer Rouge; and the list goes on. The great leaders in the world led by their influence and not by force. Just think about leaders in our modern age that brought about major change: John Paul II, Lech Wałęsa, Václav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. They formed networks that transformed a decrepit environment into another healthier environment.

14 August 2011

Falling Medium Incomes in Metropolitan Areas

The Brookings Institute has an interesting study,The State of Metropolitan America, which includes an interactive map. (Go to:http://www.brookings.edu/metro/StateOfMetroAmerica.aspxfor the full report.) The link title of this blog entry will direct you to a map portraying median incomes by urbanized area since 2000.In all cases, with a few exceptions--mainly the D.C. area--medium income has decreased in all Metropolitan Areas. Wealth is not being generated, so naturually a recovery which is based on increased consumer spending, will not be forthcoming soon.

02 August 2011

Cities as a source of recovery from the Economic Crisis of 2008, Part III (A): Establishing the Environment

Before the strategies that were mentioned in Part II can be discussed, it is important to discuss the environment or foundation that must be established as a prerequisite. I will divide this section into three parts for readability on the blog.
One of the problems has been with traditional planning methods and other means to bring about change in an urban area is that it has been done from the top down or elitist planning. As discussed on this blog and in my published articles, the entire premise of rational comprehensive planning is faulty and ineffective to address post-industrial urban development. The ‘new’ planning environment s based on the concepts of complexity theory should be: incremental, scale less, networked, inclusive, non-hierarchical, dynamic, creative, on the edge of chaos, and ‘tinged’ with utopianism or hope. Ultimately, establishing the most fertile environment for change is more important than the proposed strategies themselves, which may change radically once the process is started.

Creating an environment for change can be seen to be akin to the construction of “the rules” in fractal generation. When generating a fractal you can start with one rule or formula that will manifest itself into a design. It is the same when creating an environment or conditions for a new type of urban planning. It is similar to the match that starts a flame which leads to the burning of logs in a fireplace. The flame is the start of creating a fire that will warm your house and make you warm and happy. But, if there is not dry wood or kindling to begin the fire and if there is not enough wood, it will soon die. Alternatively, to look at more ethereal concept—the Big Bang Theory-- we see a similar, but different analogy. Before the first second of the beginning of ‘Reality’, there was contained in one miniscule mass all the elements that would lead to the creation of stars, galaxies and ultimately my being here being able to write this blog entry. Likewise, consider how most animals, including humans come into existence. All animals start with an unfertilized egg and once fertilized the egg divided into more cells specializing to form various organs. However, within this egg are all the instructions to form a living being. Thus, the establishment for the environment of planning is more crucial that the plans themselves or the projects implemented.