Publications by Barbara Ray

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

Spring tornados and their devastation will test region’s resilience

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

3.6.2012 | As deadly tornados ripped through the Midwest and South last week, the trail of devastation they leave behind will challenge communities large and small. As USA Today reported, businesses are struggling to reopen and families are scrambling for shelter.

How resilient these communities are in the face of this disaster will determine how quickly they can rebound and return to a “new normal.” Working in their favor is the communities’ size. If a case study in resilience by BRR member Edward (Ned) Hill and colleagues is any indication, their smallness and tight social ties will likely help them to rebound–as is already evident from the flurry of chain saws as neighbors pitch in and get to work clearing the rubble. (more…)

Metro Resilience and Transit-oriented Development

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

3.01.2012| The city of San Diego is taking sustainable development seriously in its $2 billion mixed-used project, Civita. The development will blend in with an existing middle-class neighborhood in fast-growing San Diego and will focus on walkable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods anchored by mass transit. All commendable. But will it inadvertently create a “shock” to the existing neighborhood and will they be resilient to the shock should it occur? (more…)

New book on urban and regional policy by BRR members

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

2.28.2012 | Urban planners and policymakers will want to check out the new book, Urban and Regional Policy and Its Effects, newly released by the Brookings Institution Press.

Volume 4 in the series introduces and examines the concept of regional resilience. The authors–all BRR members– illuminate how the walls that now segment metro regions into political jurisdictions must be bridged in order for regions to cultivate resilience. In addition to a thorough overview of both regionalism and resilience, chapters examine how a regional perspective plays out in the foreclosure crisis, immigration policies, transit-oriented development, economic development, and in extending the social safety net to the suburbs, where poverty is increasing but social services are not.

What urban planners think of resilience thinking

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

2.21.2012 | The summer 2010 issue of Critical Planning asks urban planners to imagine their job in a new light. What if you replaced your current planning framework with a resilience framework? The results–based on a set of three workshops in Glasgow, Stockholm, and Melbourne— provide a fascinating look into the practical realities of rethinking urban planning. (more…)

Ohio towns could save 34% by consolidating public safety dispatch services

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

2.9.2012 | Duplicating effort is never efficient. So why do so many small cities in a region have separate municipal services like water management or fire and emergency dispatchers?

It makes sense to have fire engines nearby so they can get to the first fast, but the dispatcher? That’s what community leaders in three Ohio cities wondered when they asked the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University to do a feasibility study on combing services.

Their hunch was right. According to the study, by consolidating police, EMS, and fire dispatch services, Ashland, Wooster, and Wayne County could collectively save upwards of $330,000 a year, or about 34% if they banded together and had one central dispatch team instead of three. (more…)

Regional cooperation is key to revitalizing distressed suburbs

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

2.1.2012 | Distressed suburbs can find solutions to their struggles in a new study by Kathryn Hexter, Network member Edward (Ned) Hill, and colleagues. At the top of the list or recommendations is to “regionalize, repurpose, or restructure” government and services.

Problems of poverty, unemployment and foreclosure, typically associated with inner cities, have made their way to distressed, older suburbs across the country. “Revitalizing Distressed Older Suburbs,” provides a detailed portrait of the underlying forces shaping distressed suburbs and highlight a range of best practices they can use to improve living conditions, restore municipal budgets, and bolster housing stock. (more…)

Tips for Success in Regional Economic Development

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

1.25.2012 | One of the first things many regional economic development groups do is establish a set of benchmarks of success. It’s critical, after all, to know if the efforts are having any effect, especially in an era of tight budgets.

But Geroge Erickcek, a senior regional analyst at the W.E. Upjohn Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan, says that might be a little too hasty. While benchmarks are necessary, they come with some common pitfalls.  In an article in January’s “Employment Research” newsletter, Erickcek walks readers through some of those pitfalls–as well as ways to avoid them. (more…)

Regional industry clusters breathe new life into Rochester as Kodak’s legacy seeds new business

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

1.17.2012 | Two recent news items showcase the strength of regional thinking. In “Despite Long Slide by Kodak, Company Town Avoids Decay,” Peter Applebome chronicles the dangers of putting all your eggs in one basket when planning an economy. In this case, Rochester, NY, had relied heavily on Kodak as the backbone of its local economy. Yet when the technology changed (in this case, the advent of digital photography), it caught Kodak unaware. Today, Kodak’s stock price has fallen to below $1 and its employees are down to 7,000, off from a high of 62,000 in the 1980s.

As one former employee put it, “We felt we were working with the most capable people in the world. And then it all sort of crumbled.”

Yet this is not the typical story of decline. (more…)

We’ve fled to warmer climes! Back in January

Monday, December 26th, 2011

12.26.2011 |  Like school children everywhere, we’re on break this week, fleeing the chill for warmer climes. See you in January!