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New Geography

Read an interesting piece on new geography that talks about Detroit's struggles and its potential as a lab for cutting-edge urban planning ideas. I especially dug this rendition of a concept of a "green" Detroit put forward by the American Institute of Architects...

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I really hope that city bigwigs like Mayor Bing are paying attention to cutting-edge ideas and visions like this. I'm not saying these AIA guys are all right -- and certainly the illustration above amounts to little more than a broad sketch -- but I'm hopeful that our city leaders are at least mindful that we need a better plan for the layout of this town than what's on the books now.

During a recent interview with the head of the Detroit chapter of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), I was dismayed to find out that a master plan for the city that had taken eight years to create was now more or less obsolete. And I was also a little disappointed not to hear more during the campaigns about land issues in the city or about how they impact everything major issue from crime to Detroit's structural budget deficit (but I also realize that explaining land banks doesn't play as well as to voters as denouncing crime or promising to create jobs).

Now that the elections are behind us, though, I'm looking forward to seeing fresh land-planning policy ideas from the fresh faces. I've heard some OK suggestions from our new leaders about tackling crime and reducing a structural budget deficit estimated at $300 million. But I also think that, in order to really solve these and and almost any of the other problems that Detroit faces today, leadership needs to articulate a clear vision of what our city needs to be tomorrow.

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