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.

Why Education Matters for Regional Resilience

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

4.16.13 | More studies reaffirm the links between the quality of education and regional resilience — a point noted last week with the mention of an interesting experiment in Port Townsend, Wash., linking education, local history, and a regional economy.

In Human Capital and Regional Development (pdf), Nicola Gennaioli, Rafael La Porta, Florencio López-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer examine regional development and educational quality across the globe and conclude that education “is a critical determinant of regional development, and the only such determinant that explains a substantial share of regional variation.” (more…)

Are Compact Communities and More Locally Produced Foods the Way of the Future?

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

4.11.13 | Patrick Doherty’s Jan. 9 article in Foreign Policy lays out “A New U.S. Grand Strategy” aimed at reviving our national resilience on the global stage, invoking themes that will sound familiar. He starts from a deceptively simple premise: “The status quo is untenable.”

“Simply put, the current U.S. and international order is unsustainable, and myriad disruptions signal that it is now in a process of collapse. Until the United States implements a new grand strategy, the country will face even more rapid degradation of domestic and global conditions.” (more…)

Placemaking Starts with Each of Us, Plus an Update on Participatory Budgeting

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

4.9.13 | When last we looked in on the Project for Public Spaces, they had posted the second part of a three-part discussion of the links between placemaking and economic growth within a community. Part III is a new discussion on “How to be a Citizen Placemaker: Think Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper.”

The gist is JFK-simple: Picture in your mind your favorite public place, and all the things that make it so, and then, “the million dollar question: in that vision, what are you doing to add to that bustle?” (Emphasis in the original.) (more…)

Is “Near Public Transportation” the New Real Estate Mantra?

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

3.26.13 |More evidence that strong public transportation is critical to regional resilience arrived last week in the form of a new property values study by the American Public Transportation Association, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the National Association of Realtors, which found that homes near fast, frequent transit lines performed 42 percent better than those further away.

(The resilience of my 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket, we shall definitely not discuss. It dissipated after opening weekend, never to be seen again.) (more…)

Can Driving Less Lower Crime and Build Community?

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

3.22.13 | Global climate change is forcing a shift in the conversation about regional resilience at the extremely local level—how (and whether) individual buildings stand up to increasing weather extremes fueled by rising temperatures.

The Urban Land Institute‘s Rives Taylor laid out a checklist for real estate investors to consider when looking at buildings in their portfolios, or ones they’re considering adding to their portfolios, and how to make them more weather-resilient. The list is instructive for local governance because it identifies some of the categories investors—the smart ones thinking long-term, anyway—are or will be considering when wondering where to put their money down. Among them: local regulations and resilience planning, and infrastructure. (more…)

Placemaking Spurs Economic Development by Building Community Voice

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

3.19.13 | Over at the Project for Public Spaces, they’ve posted the second part of an ongoing discussion on the links between placemaking and economic growth within a community, leading up to the Placemaking Leadership Council meeting April 11-12, in Detroit.

Part One lays out the basic premise that creation of great public spaces is an economic driver, but only when it’s truly community-driven, open, and inclusive. Moreover, the more attached to a place people are, the higher a city’s or region’s GDP: “Placemaking, in other words, is a vital part of economic development.” Part One also rejects the placemaking-is-just-gentrification argument. True placemaking involves an open process that welcomes everyone who wants in, which provides the opportunity for neighbors — who may or may not know each other — to share ideas and be heard. (more…)

Not Your Grandfather’s Shop Class: Job Training and Manufacturing in Chicago

Friday, March 15th, 2013

3.14.13 | A new report from BRR member Howard Wial points to the Chicago area’s potential and promise as a national manufacturing policy leader. Locating Chicago Manufacturing: The Geography of Production in Metropolitan Chicago examines the fact that although Northeastern Illinois (along with Kenosha County, WI, and a quartet of counties in Northwest Indiana), has suffered a decade’s worth of severe sector losses overall, (A) the region is nationally a major manufacturing center and (B) locally, manufacturing has become a specialized job sector. (more…)

A Renaissance on the Rails?

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

3.13.13 | Two new reports from the Brookings Institution suggest that contrary to conventional punditry, a couple of Obama Administration initiatives to boost regional economic resilience (and coincidentally, the nation’s) are working.

First up, the new relationship between Amtrak and the states to revive and expand passenger rail is doing just that, especially in what Brookings calls “intermetropolitan” trips—those connecting major cities along corridors of 400 miles or less, which carry 83 percent of Amtrak’s passengers. Amtrak’s ridership has exploded since 1997, growing 55.1 percent overall, and more than double the passenger growth rate of airlines, vehicle miles traveled, and even transit trips. (more…)

Why Replacing Elevated Highways with Boulevards May Be Good for Cities

Friday, March 8th, 2013

3.8.12 | How’s this for placemaking and economic rebounding: Tearing down an elevated highway that destroyed a thriving neighborhood when it was built, and replacing it with a boulevard that reconnects what the highway sundered and opens the way for local economic revival that boosts property values and tax revenue?

That’s the debate in New Orleans, where an effort to tear down the elevated Claiborne Expressway (I-10) and restore the oak tree lined boulevard and African American neighborhood it destroyed moves toward a decision on whether to rebuild or replace the edifice. (more…)

The Future of National Housing Policy

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

3.5.13 | A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center calls for a complete overhaul in the federal government’s housing policy — from housing finance reform that eliminates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to more targeted rental assistance and a “more targeted comprehensive focus” on the growing need for housing that allows seniors to “age in place.”

But given what’s going on in Washington, DC, these days, will anybody notice? (more…)