Walking the Walk


Urban design from the front lines

Kevin Klinkenberg

Using urban design to make our lives more enjoyable and create wealth

This site is for all those interested in the making of cities and towns, and especially the lives of the humans that inhabit them. Kevin Klinkenberg is an architect and urban designer who's practiced from coast-to-coast. 

Recommended Reads: Policy

Tuesday, May 13, 2014:

An old picture of Ben Brown that makes me happy

In a long, thoughtful (and to some: controversial) Ben Brown compares tea party advocates to hippies. Money quote:

I’ve been here before. I’VE BEEN THIS BEFORE.

If you strip away the extraneous stuff — the firearm fetish, the rabbit hole excursions into U.N. plots, vaccine conspiracies, fluoride poisoning and all the rest — these guys are hippies. Their platform planks are bumper stickers from a 1972 VW van: “Do your own thing.” “Question authority.” “F*#$% the Man.”

I say this ‘cause I know from hippies. I was there. I inhaled. I had the hair, the in-your-face attitude and, most of all, the sense of entitlement.

Ben has many good points, and I'm glad some in the planning world are standing up and saying what needs to be said.

Image by GreaterPlaces

GreaterPlaces imagines how cities could be organized differently. Quote:

Like streets and roads, there is a better way, suggested by (ironically enough) Walt Disney.  In 1943, Walt Disney Studios put out an organization chart to explain how the company was organized to deliver their products.  The chart is less about who-does-what (thought he chart can accommodate names), but the process and where the process is going.

This line of inquiry is on to something important. It's not exactly a revelation for me to state that we still carry over many, many management and organizational principles from the industrial era. And, that a great deal of society has moved on from those ideas. 

Larger institutions, such as governments and corporations are the last to adjust when big changes happen, and this post gets to the heart of some issues with local government. City governments may be small in comparison to state or federal, but in many communities they're in the top three in terms of employers. So, relative to a local job base, they are large.

Rethinking what the actual product is that cities should deliver is a great exercise for cities to undertake. It's at the heart of comprehensive planning, though often unstated. I recognize some may bristle at this, but cities are in fact corporations. They have corporate limits and a Board of Directors elected by the members (voters). It's not at all out of line to take a step back and ask, "what are we trying to deliver?" And, "how should we be organized to do it, versus how we've been organized in the past?"

 
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