Small Cities Feed the Knowledge Economy | Wired.com
Case Study: Omaha, Nebraska
It’s only the 42nd-largest city in the US, but over the past two  decades, Omaha has been transformed into one of the Midwest’s most  vibrant cultural hubs. Here’s how the rebirth happened, starting in the  ’90s.

Small Cities Feed the Knowledge Economy | Wired.com

Case Study: Omaha, Nebraska

It’s only the 42nd-largest city in the US, but over the past two decades, Omaha has been transformed into one of the Midwest’s most vibrant cultural hubs. Here’s how the rebirth happened, starting in the ’90s.

Things I want for Christmas (in a new transportation bill)

SAFETEA-LU, the funding and authorization bill that guides federal transportation spending, expired last year and a new bill is in the works. With each subsequent iteration, federal transportation bills have made more provisions for alternate modes, but highway spending still dominates. $40 million in the highway account is allowed to be used by states as flex funds for alternate modes, but the ultimate decision of how this money is used is up to state DOTs.  Though I’m no expert in federal transportation policy, here are the things I think should be included in the next bill:

Gas tax alternatives – a vehicle miles tax (VMT) is an equitable way to tax people in proportion to how much they use our roads. The bank account will also take less of a hit as more fuel efficient vehicles fill the streets. It makes sense to charge people in proportion to the amount they use a service or good.  Fuel consumption will soon be an outdated proxy for road usage. 

Mandated multimodal funding – SAFETEA-LU marketeers made a big deal about flexible spending for alternate modes.  Big deal. These spending decisions were mostly left up to state DOTs.  This is fine if you’re in a progressive part of the country, but many state agencies still think highways are the bee’s knees (I love 1920′s slang).  This is like giving a blank check to a crack addict. Just as there are dedicated funds for highways, there should be a mandated percentage of funds going to walking/biking/transit. Or give more power to MPOs and cities to decide how to spend the money.

Increase federal match for transit - say you want to build a highway. No problem. The feds will give you 90% of the cost. A new transit line? You’re lucky if you get a 60% match. This is partly due to the huge demand of the New Starts program and the dearth of funding available for such projects. Oh yea, and highways don’t pay for themselves, and transit shouldn’t be held to a more stringent standard which requires unrealistic “cost effectiveness” goals. Show me one cost effective highway.

Incentives for more domestic light rail/commuter rail car manufacturers. All this know-how is in Europe and Japan. We need to bring it here and base our manufacturing sector on sustainability instead of waste.  Lately, when I walk by cars stuck in traffic, I see a racket.  Huge subsidies given to car manufacturers, who in turn spew out millions of cars on asphalt roads which employ millions of contractors and engineers so even more people can have their own steel box which shuttles them around in the most wasteful, environmentally and physically harmful way possible. Why not put these subsidies into a product which has a future and is actually good for people?

Mark R. Brown
Baltimore, MD
www.carfreebaltimore.com
nac
transportation

Fighting ‘food deserts’ with groceries at the library!

utnereader:

Gocery cart

From the Governing magazineIdea Center:

Two Baltimore libraries now have another service to offer their patrons: grocery ordering and pickup. The City Health Department’s Virtual Supermarket Project (VSP) lets patrons living in “food deserts”—areas without shops offering healthy food at reasonable prices—order and pickup groceries at the library. Once a week, library visitors place their orders online with a local grocer and pay with cash, check, credit or food stamps. Patrons can pick up their orders the next day without paying a delivery fee.

Related reading at Utne.com:

Poster art for the food justice movement

Detroit Rock City: Farmer’s Paradise?

Food Among the Ruins: An Interview with Mark Dowie

Source: Governing (article not yet online)

Image by House of Sims, licensed under Creative Commons.

Technology is the power tool of today. The City of Chesapeake is less than 50 years old, but those founders inherited hundreds of years of infrastructure. Until now, we haven’t had a quick or convenient way to look at the City’s assets and make smart decisions. To succeed, we must be efficient in the way we work and transparent to our citizens.

- Quote by Peter R. Wallace, Chief Information Officer, City of Chesapeake.  IBM and City of Chesapeake Build a Smarter City

Chesapeake

(via horizonwatching)