Publications by Jon Davis

Jon Davis is a writer with HiredPen which offers social media services to research institutes and nonprofits. A freelance journalist in Chicago, he has covered municipal government, transportation and development for 21 years. He also worked with the Congress for the New Urbanism on its Emergency Response & Street Design Initiative. His stories have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, New Urban News, and Planning Magazine.

“Eds and Meds” and “Walkability” Are Not Always the Right Answer to Economic Development

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

6.20.2013 | In what topic would you associate Buffalo, NY, and Orlando, FL? Go ahead; we’ll give you a few minutes.

In “Homogenized Diversity: Economic Visions in the Great Recession,” BRR members Margaret Cowell, of Virginia Tech (Alexandria), Juliet Gainsborough, of Bentley University in South Waltham, Mass., and Kate Lowe, of the University of New Orleans, compare and contrast Buffalo and Orlando against the backdrop of the increasingly accepted idea “that the resilient region of the future is an economically diverse one.”  Looking at how the two cities fared in the recent recession, the story they uncover raises some questions about the popular “eds and meds” and “walkable cities” approaches. (more…)

The Things We Assume Contribute to Resilience in a Metro Region Might Not

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

6.18.13 | Are things like a metro region’s business climate, education levels, affordability, and income inequality critical to its ability to rebound after an economic downturn? That’s the question Nancy Augustine, Mara McMillen, and Hal Wolman of George Washington University, and Howard Wial of the University of Illinois at Chicago, examine in their BRR working paper, “Regional Economic Capacity, Economic Shocks, and Economic Resilience. (more…)

Could Federal Funding Be Exacerbating Regional Disparities? A Case Study in Transportation Funding

Friday, June 14th, 2013

6.14.13 | Federal funding is critical to metro regions’ sustainability and progress, particularly when budgets are tight as they are these days. But some metro regions seem more successful in nabbing this money, making one wonder, could an ostensible attempt to reduce regional and local disparities through federal funding actually be exacerbating them?

In their recent working paper, “Capacity or Equity? Federal Funding Competition Across and Within Regions,” Kate Lowe of the University of New Orleans, Juliet Gainsborough of Bentley University, and Sarah Reckhow of Michigan State University examine “how federal transportation awards interact with metropolitan capacities and inequalities across and within regions.” (more…)

Local Governments’ Response to the Suburbanization of Poverty in Denver and Chicago

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

6.11.13 | Continuing our in-depth look at working papers presented by BRR Network colleagues at the closed-door symposium at the Urban Institute on May 31 (full list of papers here), we now turn to the question of suburban poverty and its effects on regional resilience, and vice versa: a resilient region’s response to poverty.

In “Governance and the Geography of Poverty: Why Does Suburbanization Matter?” Margaret Weir, of UC-Berkeley, and the Urban Institute’s Rolf Pendall and Chris Narducci compare how the Chicago and Denver metropolitan areas dealt with the expansion of poverty into suburbs—regions that culturally have long been seen as the polar opposite of “poor.” (more…)

The Connection between Inequality and Economic Growth

Friday, June 7th, 2013

6.6.13 | Last week, the BRR Network gathered in Washington, DC, for a closed-door symposium at the Urban Institute to discuss several new working papers (listed here).

Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a closer look at the papers, starting with “Buddy, Can You Spare Some Time? Social Inclusion and Sustained Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions,” by UC-Davis’ Chris Benner and USC’s Manuel Pastor.

Like much of the BRR work in general, the authors were examining which factors in a metro region make it resilient—able either to withstand economic or other shocks or at least bounce back quickly from them. In this case, the authors looked at factors that allowed a metro region to sustain steady employment growth for at least three consecutive years.

As they write, “the headline of this work … is that regions that are more equal and integrated—across income, race, and place—are better able to sustain growth over time.” (more…)

Participatory Budgeting Give Residents Voice in Municipal Spending

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

5.9.13 | We’ve discussed participatory budgeting as an example of place governance, and last weekend in Chicago “PB” and “PG” climaxed as residents in the four wards (out of 50) that have adopted PB voted on lists of neighborhood infrastructure projects to be funded in 2013.

Not so coincidentally, the Participatory Budgeting Project hosted its 2nd Annual International Conference on Participatory Budgeting here at Loyola University, drawing activists and the interested from across the United States and Canada, and the globe. As of May 7, no summary or presentations from the conference had been put online. If they go up, I’ll note them here in future posts. (more…)

Evolutionary Resilience and the “Micro Urban” Community

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

5.3.13 | This may seem an odd question for a site dedicated to building resilient regions, but what is resilience?

To be sure, it’s a buzzword that’s made its way around myriad academic and urbanist circles, but resilience comes with myriad definitions and meanings that apply with very different degrees to the actual building of resilient regions. That, in brief, is the discussion in a six-paper “Interface” titled “Applying the Resilience Perspective to Planning: Critical Thoughts from Theory and Practice” and published in the June 2012 edition of Planning Theory & Practice. (more…)

What Will Our Urban Landscape Look Like in the Future?

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

5.1.13 | If our understanding of regional resilience resembles the evolutionary resilience model, then a quartet of recent articles suggests to me we’re in one of Gunderson and Holling’s “reorganization phases” (described here by Simin Davoudi; more on this paper later this week), characterized by both turmoil and opportunity.

Leading off, Patrick J. Kiger provides an overview, Imagining Land Use in 2063, which seems more grounded (sorry, no pun intended … much) in better reality than Robert Moses ramming cross-Manhattan highways through buildings or Hanna-Barbera’s Jetson-ish future of flying cars and robotic Rosies cleaning cloud-topped apartments. (more…)

Why Regionalism is Important for Disaster Relief

Friday, April 26th, 2013

4.26.13 | As much of the Chicago area, and large swaths of the Midwest dry out from last week’s deluges and continue struggling with flooding rivers, it seems only apt to consider resilience in the face of natural disasters.

Two papers of particular note at this site (as we noted earlier this week, courtesy of Routledge Planning & Urban Design) examine urban planning in Hungary following severe flooding in June 2010 the Miskolc metropolitan area, and resilience planning after the 1906 and 2010 earthquakes in San Francisco and Concepción, Chile, respectively. (more…)

Resilient Cities Are Adaptable Cities

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

4.24.13 | The intersection of structural/architectural resilience and regional resilience is rather busy these days.

In Measuring Building Adaptability and Street Vitality — one of many papers available at this site, courtesy of Routledge Planning & Urban Design (part of the Taylor & Francis Group) — authors Alan March, Yogita Rijal, Sara W. Wilkinson, and Ebru Firidin Özgür measured street vitality and building adaptability in downtown Melbourne, Australia. They conclude that “adaptability, when translated to actual adaptation, facilitates sustained vitality.” (more…)