Monthly Archives: September 2008

Creative Cities Summit 2.0 in Detroit on Oct. 13-15th

The Summit features an incredible lineup of talent that will discuss the complex issue that is our cities. Keynote speakers include:

* Bill Strickland, MCG-Bidwell Corp.
* Richard Florida, Author Who’s Your City
* Charles Landry, Author The Art of City Making
* John Howkins, Author The Creative Economy
* Majora Carter, Sustainable South Bronx
* Doug Farr, Architect and Author Sustainable Urbanism
* Ben Hecht, Pres. & CEO Living Cities
* Tom Wujec, Fellow, Autodesk
* Carol Coletta, CEOs for Cities
* Giorgio Di Cicco, Poet Laureate, City of Toronto and Author, The Municipal Mind
* Diana Lind, Editor, Next American City magazine

Additionally, there will be a wide range of breakout sessions on topics such as:

* Race and the Creative City
* Cities, Universities & Talent
* Marketing, Media and the Creative City
* Measuring New Things – ROI in the Creative Economy
* Creative (Small) Cities
* New Ideas in Urban Amenities
* Community Vitality: The Role of Artists, Gays, Lesbians & Immigrants
* Midwest Mega-region: How the Midwest Can Compete
* Transportation Innovation for Cities
* Making the Scene: Music & Economic Development

Check out Full conference registration is $300 for the two and half day event and we just added an economy minded “no frills” registration that is only $100.

Majority of Americans now have broadband at home.

The Pew Internet Home Broadband Adoption 2008 Report is now available and contains interesting and useful information.  Here’s a summary table from the report:

Americans with broadband at home 2005 2006 2007 2008
Yearly adoption
All adults 33% 42% 47% 55%
Male 31 45 50 58
Female 27 38 44 53
18-29 38 55 63 70
30-49 36 50 59 69
50-64 27 38 40 50
65+ 8 13 15 19
Race /ethnicity
White (not Hispanic) 31 42 48 57
Black (not Hispanic) 14 31 40 43
Hispanic (English speaking) 28 41 47 56
Educational attainment
Less than high school 10 17 21 28
High school grad 20 31 34 40
Some college 35 47 58 66
College + 47 62 70 79
Household income
Under $20K 13 18 28 25
$20K-$30K 19 27 34 42
$30K-$40K 26 40 40 49
$40K-$50K 28 47 52 60
$50K-$75K 35 48 58 67
$75K-$100K 51 67 70 82
Over $100K 62 68 82 85
Community type
Urban 31 44 52 57
Suburban 33 46 49 60
Rural 18 25 31 38
Source: Pew Internet Project

Tax Incentives Bring More Shows (and $$) to NYC

Lots of states and cities have enacted laws in the past few years to bring in more movie and television film crews to their localities.  Most have been successful, but I wonder if there is a point where so many incentives are offered by so many states and cities that we in effect go back to square one.  At any rate, New York has done just fine this year.

According to a New York Times article, “The tax incentives have also been a financial boon to the city: the mayor’s office estimated that city-based shoots contributed $957 million in spending between April 23 and Sept. 23 of this year, an increase from $452 million during the same period last year.”

Also, the local film office expects 19 prime-time shows to be filmed in the Big Apple this year, versus 12 last year.

Southern District Supreme Court Candidates Speak on Monday, October 6

Oliver Diaz and Randy ‘Bubba’ Pierce, Mississippi Supreme Court candidates from the Southern District, will speak to the Stennis-Capitol Press Luncheon on Monday, October 6, 2008.  The event is open to the public, however registration is required.  Registration details are on the luncheon’s Web site.

Here are the candidates’ Web sites:    

Oliver Diaz
Randy ‘Bubba’ Pierce

Do people trust each other more – or less – in diverse communities?

E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century, The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture, was authored by Robert Putnam, Harvard University professor and author of Bowling Alone (plus six other books).  The paper is very lengthy, but a summary and link to the article appears below.  For those who work in community development it is must reading.

The more diverse the community, he finds, the less its members trust each other or the government, and the less they participate in collective life or believe in their own power to change their communities and politics. He notes that there are exceptions, but ultimately, more diverse communities are less trusting, less cohesive and less participatory places to live as people tend to “hunker down” and withdraw.  More…

Gasoline Report: Atlanta to Jackson

I’m home, and I must say that it feels good.

Atlanta’s gasoline situation was not good, but I left there with 3/4ths of a tank because I filled up on the Alabama/Georgia line the night before (right before the police pulled me over).  I decided to top off the tank in Oxford, Alabama so I pulled off the interstate only to find that all the service stations were closed.  A lady at Cracker Barrel (where I exchanged books on tape) informed that that she “thought” that the Wal-Mart at the next exit had gasoline.  I stopped again in Anniston and found one gas station open and it only had 89 octane for sale at $3.99 a gallon.  I decided I had better top off the tank.  Just to check, I pulled off again on the western side of Birmingham at a busy intersection to find that none of the stations had gas.  The clerk told me that he hoped it was on the way.  I then drove on to Newton, Mississippi and stopped at the Texaco.  It had only unleaded, but it was $3.59 so I filled up.  What was so strange was that there were no lines at all at any of these stations.  I suppose that’s a good thing that people are not getting panicky.

Anyway, it was a surreal experience.  I will continue to practice the credo of a road warrior: A half tank is an empty tank, so keep it full.

BOOK REVIEW – The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart

Do you live near people who think like you?  Does your precinct vote for the same candidates at election time?  Or how about the bigger metaphorical question:  Do birds of a feather flock together?   Does all of this matter?  If you answered “Yes” to these questions then I recommend you read what I believe is one of the more important books of the year –  The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart ( Houghton Mifflin) by Bill Bishop.

In this book, Bishop provides plenty of evidence that people have become very adept at discovering neighborhoods and communities that think like they think.  While most demographers study things like age, race and socioeconomic factors to explain population migration, Bishop looks at voting data to show that people find others who are more alike from an ideological standpoint and how this is changing politics in America.  He devised three tests to check the influence of the big sort:  First, he measured voting patterns of communities over several Presidential elections to determine if majorities in communities were growing; second, he looked at religion and geography; and finally, he looked at demographic movements of Republicans and Democrats over the past 36 years.  The results and his conclusions go a long way explaining our society and why its people do what they do.


How to bankrupt a city.

In his September 11, 2008 Washington Post column George Will discusses the City of Vallejo, California and its very real possibility of bankruptcy.  In Vallejo, a “police captain receives $306,000 a year in pay and benefits, a lieutenant receives $247,644, and the average for firefighters — 21 of them earn more than $200,000, including overtime — is $171,000. Police and firefighters can store up unused vacation and leave time over their careers and walk away, as one of the more than 20 who recently retired did, with a $370,000 check. Last year, 292 city employees made more than $100,000. And after just five years, all police and firefighters are guaranteed lifetime health benefits.”

It is a column worth reading.

Outside Magazine Picks Best Places to Live – One is in Mississippi

The best places to live now: 20 great American towns that have withstood hard times and reinvented themselves as havens of the good life. Why not make a move?  To find out which one is in Mississippi click here.

Poor people, new streets.

Recently, a grant of over $500,000 was awarded to a poor community in a poor state for repaving of streets.  The town has less than 500 residents, and is losing population. Median household income is less than half that of the state average.  Economic and health statistics are deplorable.

I did the math. That’s over a $1,000 per person.  Then I did the wondering.  Could a half million dollars be spent on something better for the people of the little town that has so many socio-economic problems?  Is this how the community would spend the money?  If another half million was available how would it be spent?