Publications by Barbara Ray

As owner of HiredPen, Barbara specializes in social media and strategic communications for nonprofits and research organizations.

New Book on Community Development Points the Way to Solutions

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

10.23.2012 | If you want to learn about the history of community development–what has worked, what hasn’t, and why– as well as where the field needs to go, check out this new book, Investing in What Works in America’s Communities.

Produced by the Low Income Investment Fund and the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, the book is a collection of essays by leaders in the field, both practitioner and academic. The ideas are not run-of-the-mill. They truly push the field forward, with a rich understanding of where the field has been, and a vision for where it can go. (more…)

Promoting Equity through Social Impact Investing

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

10.11.2012 | In this unending campaign season, when everyone seems to have taken their marbles and gone home, it’s tempting to throw up your hands and think nothing can be solved, especially when it comes to intractable problems like poverty or inequality. But then you tune in to people who are working on the ground and you see a glimmer of hope.

I recently watched a video of Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink, speaking to a group at the recent ICIC Inner-City Economic Summit and my hopes were restored. Inequality is not an easy topic to tackle, and at times it feels like the “same ole, same ole” approaches just aren’t making a dent. But the fresh approach she talked about might just breathe new life into these critical issues. (more…)

Justice and Equity in Urban Planning

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

10.9.2012 | While on vacation last week, I took two books with me– a John Connolly mystery and a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time now, “Justice and the American Metropolis,” a volume of essays edited by BRR’s Todd Swanstrom and Clarissa Rile Hayward. I finished both–which attests to the quality of the poolside amenities. Oh cabana boy.

Being new to the urban policy field, but long immersed in the social welfare field, I found that “Justice” expertly ties together the threads of both fields in a way that made me see new connections between life on the margins and regional politics and policies. (more…)

Can “Regionalism” Promote Equity?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

9.26.2012 | Clogged freeways that snake through several suburbs, smog that thoughtlessly crosses municipal borders, urban sprawl that draws people and jobs out and away– all these are increasingly regional concerns. Globalization requires new forms of cooperation across political boundaries, internationally and within the U.S. These conditions, scholars and others are increasingly arguing, require new forms of governance that reimagine political boundaries. Locally, it means that the metropolitan scale is a key level of economic work.

Yet in a metro area with multiple governments and jurisdictions, who is responsible for fixing these issues, for setting economic policy, and most important (and overlooked) for doing so equitably?

Such questions are among those that Network member Sarah Reckhow and her colleague T. William Lester explore in their new article, “Network Governance and Regional Equity: Shared Agendas or Problematic Partners?” In it they meld the research on the increasing salience of the metropolitan scale with the growing amount of work on  “network governance” processes. (more…)

Will Millennials Stay in the City?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

9.18.2012 | Network member Rolf Pendall has cities on his mind. Over at Atlantic Cities, he worries aloud about their future. We’ve heard for some time now that Millennials are flocking to cities, and many see cities’ futures as hinging on this generation. But as Pendall wonders, will they stay?

I’d read the news coverage of this trend toward cities, but until I moved just recently from the rather geriatric downtown “gold coast” to Chicago’s South Loop, I didn’t realize the extent of this transformation. (more…)

BRR Research on Foreclosures Wins Award

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

9.11.2012 | Kudos to our own Todd Swanstrom. The urban politics section of the American Political Science Association named his paper on foreclosures the best paper at their 2011 conference in Seattle. (more…)

China Tops the List of “Most Dynamic” Cities of 2025

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

9.5.12 | The world is urbanizing at a pace and scale that takes your breath away. In China alone, the country is undergoing the largest urban migration in human history. The rate of urbanization is happening at 100 times the scale of Britain in the industrial revolution, according to the September issue of Foreign Policy.

By 2025, the world population is expected to reach nearly 9 billion. Take a moment and let that sink in. And here’s another tidbit to grab on to: The vast majority will live in cities–many in the developing world. Our planning now will determine how sustainable those cities are for future populations.  (more…)

Legacy Cities Offer Creative Examples of Resilience

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

8. 22. 2012 |  A recent report by the National League of Cities, “Resilient Cities in a Transforming State” [pdf] showcases resilience in action in Michigan. Hit hard by job, property, and population losses during the past decade, local and regional leaders and community members are coming together to forge solutions on a regional scale.


Taking on the Question: What is “Resilience” Planning?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

8.7.12 | “Resilience” as a concept gets a lot of buzz., but it’s also one of those terms, like “sustain ability,” that is a bit fuzzy.  So what does it really mean on the ground, in action? Kevin C. Desouza and his colleagues at the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech are exploring that in weekly meetings, and have arrived at a early list of six key findings, which he shared on Planetizen.

As the writes, the goal of the weekly conversation is to discuss ”what exactly it means to be resilient in a planning context, whether this is a laudable goal, and, if so, how we can achieve it.” (more…)

Foreclosures Fall but Many Communities of Color are Still at Risk

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

7.31.2102 | As the news reports today, housing sales are up, and even better news for struggling neighborhoods, foreclosures are down 24% in June compared to last June, according to CoreLogic. That’s good news for sure, but good news is always relative. (more…)