Regional/Greater Community Development News – July 23, 2012

    Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs.
Top 10 Stories

It's been 22 years since Jacksonville has seen a mass shooting like the one in Colorado on Friday.
"If we got a situation where there is a shooter, then law enforcement is in charge, as we want them to be," Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Marty Senterfitt said. "They understand our needs. There are plans not only in the Fire Department, but with law enforcement on how to deal with that, how to get the quickest medical care to the victims and yet still secure the shooter. We don't talk about those plans, obviously. They are very much out there, and we practice them and we know what we are going to do in that situation."
"Our officers train for such events as this, and stand ready to defend and protect," Sheriff John Rutherford said in a statement. "We are…also strengthened by our regional security task force and the intelligence gathering and sharing done in concert with many other agencies."
Those plans are not only for shootings but also for severe accidents, …
For all its sprawl and global impact, the greater London area is astonishingly efficient: A mere 34 government entities look after all the public safety, services, transportation, zoning and schools. Greater Toronto has only 28.
Paris, by contrast, ranks among the most fragmented and duplicative of the world's metro areas, presiding over 1,400 units of government in its city and suburbs.
But when it comes to overlap, unnecessary taxpayer spending and political fragmentation, the Chicago-Milwaukee metroplex is in a league of its own. The two adjoining metro regions are conjoined by common industries, highways and shoreline but splintered into a profusion of 2,155 separate entities of government.
That welter of inefficiencies and jurisdictional rivalries - with Wisconsinites proudly poaching Illinois companies and balking at joint transportation policies - undermine what otherwise could become a vibrant economic bloc with the potential to lift both regions in international rankings according to findings this year from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Southwest Regional Development Commission welcomed rural optimist Ben Winchester as a special guest speaker at its annual meeting…
Winchester is a research fellow at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality and was invited to speak to the nine-county regional association about the "brain gain" in rural Minnesota.
Winchester has been studying population trends in rural areas of the region, and he says the news is good in spite of a lot of gloom-and-doom about the death of small towns foretold by the closing of businesses, hospitals, schools and churches.
"The research base does not support the notion that if X closes the town dies," Winchester said. "Only three Minnesota towns have dissolved in the past century. It's not our fault the rural economy is restructuring due to globalization. Not every town can be a regional center."
What the data shows is…the number of people living in rural areas has been increasing in terms of absolute numbers since 1970…
OCLC, the library research and services corporation based in Dublin, Ohio, has published a report on Print Management at "Mega-scale": A Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America:
"This report explores a counterfactual scenario where local US and Canadian print book collections are consolidated into regional shared collections based on the mega-regions framework. We begin by briefly reviewing the conclusions from the Cloud-sourcing report, and then present a simple framework that organizes the landscape of print book collection consolidation models and distinguishes the basic assumptions underpinning the Cloud-sourcing report and the present report. We then introduce the mega-regions framework, and use WorldCat data to construct twelve mega-regional consolidated print book collections. Analysis of the regional collections is synthesized into a set of stylized facts describing their salient characteristics, as well as key cross-regional relationships ...
In 2011 the Washington region was the second most prosperous Metropolitan Statistical Area in the country when ranked by the average annual wage. But adjust wages for the cost of living, and the region fell to 18th place among the nation’s largest 51 largest MSAs, according to an exercise conducted by economic geographer Joel Kotkin.
Richmond lost ground, too, falling one notch to the 22nd place, while Hampton Roads fell four notches to 42nd place. Virginia, it appears, has a cost of living problem. We celebrate our relatively high incomes but tend not to ask what quality of life those wages bring us.
These findings touch upon a point that I have made off and on at Bacon’s Rebellion for many years. There is more to building prosperous societies than maximizing incomes. A balanced strategy for building more prosperous, livable and sustainable communities entails increasing incomes and restraining the cost of living.
While I agree with him on that fundamental point, it’s important to root around in the weeds to gain a more acute understanding of metropolitan dynamics. Kotkin is a big defender of the suburban status quo. …
I don't own a car. In fact, I'm among the 26 percent of America's 14- to 34-year-olds who don't even have a driver's license, a number that has increased from 21 percent in recent years.
I take transit everywhere, or walk. And I'm not alone: There are hundreds of thousands of "Millennials," as our age group is called, in metro Atlanta with commuting preferences distinctly different from our parents'. When metro leaders are considering long-range transportation planning, such as the July 31 transportation vote, they ought to keep us in mind. Because if they fail to create a metro Atlanta where there are transportation options — bus, rail, bike paths and pedestrian access as well as roads — we Millennials will take our education and skills and talents to create jobs and businesses elsewhere.
Many Baby Boomers and older Atlantans are opposing this transportation referendum because it does not do enough for them. They've forgotten, conveniently, that their parents paid taxes to build transportation system that has driven their prosperity — and it is their obligation to do the same next generations. It's as if they are stuck in time. They argue that the BeltLine is a boondoggle, oblivious that it is exactly the kind of transportation Millennials want and will demand.
John Sherman of the Fulton County Taxpayers Association recently argued that the project list has too much transit, stating again that only 5 percent of commuters in the region use transit. But Sherman seems blind to the preferences of a younger generation that will benefit most from these projects. He ignores that the average number of vehicle miles traveled by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped 23 percent between 2001 and 2009, according to the National Household Travel Survey.
Twenty-seven leaders have stepped forward as the first wave of Regional Transportation Champions today, joining the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance to give people a say on what a better transportation system means to them, and what they're willing to do to make it better.
The group's reach is broad, collectively representing over 2 million employees, students, customers, and members across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
"We need to move people and goods quickly and easily for our region to be a great place to live, work, play and invest, and yet we're decades behind in making that happen," said John Tory, Chair of CivicAction. "Everyone agrees we have a crisis on our hands. We want to give residents a way to say, 'we need a better system, and we need to find sustainable ways to pay for it'."
Campaign this fall: CivicAction, together with its Regional Transportation Champions Council, will launch a campaign this fall to kick-start a region-wide conversation. ...
Greater Vancouver is the most congested metropolitan area in Canada, and the second-most in North America behind Los Angeles, …
On average, it takes 30% longer to travel through Greater Vancouver than it should were traffic flowing freely. During evening rush hour that time grows to 65% longer, the TomTom congestion index study showed. It also said the average Vancouver driver with a 30-minute commute is delayed 83 hours per year.
But the report is heavily skewed, warned urban planner Gordon Price. Because it only takes data from people in cars, the bulk of the data comes from areas where vehicles are heavily used, such as South of the Fraser.
“It’s a good reflection of people stuck in cars who have no choice. The study shows if you build around the car, you turn into Los Angeles.
“The part of the region reflected in the TomTom study is the part that built themselves around wide arterials, freeway interchanges, parking lots, big box retail, single–use low density suburban development.”
There's a lot going on in a recent Star article about deputy Toronto Mayor Doug Holyday saying he doesn't think downtown Toronto is a good place for families to raise their children.
… article frames this as a left/right divide…
The real divide is between councillors who understand how cities work and councillors who don't - or won't.
Cities are by necessity diverse, eclectic and messy. They bring a huge number and variety of different things into close proximity, producing unpredictable combinations and novel inventions. They allow for much wider personal expression and allow distinct subcultures to form.
They thrive on tolerance - tolerance of different ideas, different values and different ways of living. The more diversity that can coexist in a city, the more opportunities there are for that city to produce new ideas.
The leaders of great cities tend to transcend narrow political orientation. Think of Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson extolling the values of bicycles and bragging about a "communist scheme" to deploy a city-wide bike share.
In his book The Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser writes extensively about what he calls “self-protecting urban innovation, cities' ability to generate the information needed to solve their own problems. …
Historic Italian cities such as Pisa and Lucca, which have been feuding since medieval times, are to be forced to coexist under cost-saving measures to slash the number of provinces in half.
Mario Monti, Italy's prime minister, hopes to shave the country's two trillion euro national debt by reducing the number of provinces from 110 to just 43, in a redrawing of the country's administrative borders.
Only provinces which have a population of at least 350,000 and a land area of 2,500 square kilometres will be spared, as the government tries to tackle Italy's bloated bureaucracy and its four overstaffed tiers of government – national, regional, provincial and local.
But the austerity-driven reform will throw together ancient towns and cities which boast different food, architecture, cultural traditions and dialects, and whose inhabitants often resent their neighbours just down the road.
"Better a corpse in the home than a Pisan at the door," goes a saying from the nearby town of Livorno.
Rival towns swap insults over the quality of their cuisine and the beauty of their women, and regional identity is often stronger than the sense of being Italian.
Extra –
What is Seven50? Seven50 (“seven counties, 50 years”) is a blueprint for growing a more prosperous, more desirable Southeast Florida during the next 50 years and beyond. The plan is being developed to help ensure socially inclusive communities, a vibrant and resilient economy, and stewardship of the fragile ecosystem in what is quickly becoming one of the world’s most important mega-regions.
Spearheaded by the South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils and the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership (SFRP), a unique collaboration of more than 200 public, private, and civic stakeholders, Seven50 is mapping the strategy for the best-possible quality of life for the more than six million residents of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.
The plan is being devised through a series of public summits, workshops, online outreach and high-impact studies led by the region’s top thinkers. ...

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