Thursday, July 21, 2011

Links Post #1

While I am still working on my post about the history of Albany's ill-advised highway system, I thought I'd pass along some links to other sites.  If you're interested in issues of the pedestrian experience, especially as it regards urban vibrancy and viability, you might like some of these:

1.  The Times Union Blogs:

Places and Spaces
Information Without the Bun: Roger Green (as a bus rider, Roger often covers CDTA.  See this blog for further discussion on the new route restructuring, including comments on the public meeting process and proposed route frequencies)
Getting There

2.  Metro Jacksonville:

This is similar to the Times Union Blogs site in that it's a comprehensive site with citizen input.  It differs in that it's pretty much all about the issues of urban revitalization, etc.  Click the "Learning From" link for a photo experience similar to what I put out here, only one that includes many major and minor U.S. cities.  This part of the site works by comparing other cities to Jacksonville.  They visited Albany at one point, too!  The rest of the site deals specifically with Jacksonville issues, and is very worth a read.  Some interesting stuff going on down there.  It almost seems to be a critical point for the debate over where we should go from here.

3.  New World Economics:

This site is by Nathan Lewis, an economist from upstateish New York.  Having lived in other parts of the world, such as Tokyo, he rates our system of building in general very poorly, proving numerous examples of the difference between a Traditional City (think Florence) and a 19th Century Hypertrophic City (think Manhattan).  He covers the issues of place and non-place, single family detached housing and how to do it right, and provides a unique view of how the suburbs came to be (Small Town America, optimized for automobiles).  The best part is that he provides a blueprint for creating the Traditional City that involves only 3 bullet points: 1. Really narrow streets. 2. Buildings side-by-side and against the street.  3.  No cars.  The first two take care of the third.

Lewis is a good read on the economic side of things, too, with another easy-to-follow plan: 1. Low taxes. 2. Stable money (gold standard).

4.  The KunstlerCast featuring James Howard Kunstler:

Not a website, but a weekly podcast.  The tagline is "A weekly conversation about the tragedy of suburban sprawl featuring James Howard Kunstler," author of The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency and The World Made by Hand novels, among others.  Most noted for his non-fiction material about peak oil, walkability and just how shitty our built environment is, he is also a resident of Saratoga Springs, New York, about 30 miles or so north of Albany.  The podcast is recorded in Troy and Saratoga by host Duncan Crary, who is also an occasional commentator on the Places and Spaces blog I linked to earlier.  Duncan has recently returned from the most recent Congress for New Urbanism, held in Madison, WI, where he recorded hours of audio from various presentations.  The show is currently doing a series in which James Howard Kunstler responds to or expands upon the content of the speeches.  They're over 160 episodes in, so there are hours and hours of archived content to pour through.

5. Buffalo Rising:

This site is similar in diverse content and local focus to the Times Union Blogs.  I am all about comparison, especially among the cities of Upstate New York, which are not created equally.  New York may be in good shape for many years to come, with the favorable topography and natural resources.  The fact that it has been neglected for so long may be one of its most important virtues (Troy is a perfect example of this).  It managed to avoid many of the mistakes of the 20th Century.  Anyway, it's in the spirit of comparison that I include Buffalo Rising.  It's very interesting to see how similar and different the comments in particular are between the two cities.

So there's the first set of links.  I'm adding all of these to the sidebar of this blog.  Every link that is added there will correspond to a post like this, with a write-up describing the site so you can figure out which ones you'd like to check out.  I plan to add quite a bit, so this is important, because not everyone has the time or obsession to check out all of them.

I want to do a similar series about films, including some reviews of specific films so I can get more in-depth.  If there's anything more fun than a site about urban issues, it's a film about them.

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