The GOOD 100: Bulldozing Cities

Small Is Beautiful: The case for shrinking cities The quality of a city is determined by what life is like for the people who...

Small Is Beautiful: The case for shrinking cities

The quality of a city is determined by what life is like for the people who live there-not by how many people live there.So why is my suggestion that my hometown of Flint should shrink-reducing the "built" environment-creating such a stir? Is our American obsession with growth and expansion so pervasive that a community would rather fail at being large than succeed and become a smaller place?Flint is the birthplace of General Motors. It was once the center of the automotive universe, with a population of 200,000 and more than 80,000 people working for that one company. Flint exported cars and imported cash-and we thought that it would never end. The company town's 1965 master plan, still the formal plan for the city, expected the population to grow to 250,000. But today, those GM jobs are nearly all gone; the population hovers at just over 100,000 and is falling.So, I have made a simple suggestion: that we redesign our city for the population that we actually have, not for the city we once were. Flint has lost 90,000 residents during the last 40 years, and those residents did not take their houses with them. Left behind is a city comprised of some vibrant neighborhoods, and some that are populated with empty houses, reminding the few residents still there that they live in a failed place.And there are people who live in neighborhoods that could go either way. It is mainly those residents that I want to help, so that rather than being surrounded by thousands of empty and abandoned houses, residents of Flint would have a choice: live in one of the dense and sustainable neighborhoods that our population can actually support, or live in a more rural part of the city, surrounded by a garden, or a meadow, or even a stand of trees.
The "free market" failed Flint already.
Critics of this idea span the political spectrum. From the right it's called social engineering, imposing the will of government onto the "free market." To some of my friends on the left, I am "anti-urban," giving up rather than fighting to repopulate my city.They're both wrong. The "free market" has failed Flint already, and the best way to make the city attractive again is to rid it of blight and abandonment. By making it attractive to the residents that already live here, maybe someday it will attract new residents as well.This plan would never force anyone to leave his or her home; rather, it would give residents choices where now they have one option only: to live surrounded by blight.I am not against growth. I'll be thrilled if Flint grows again. I just don't believe the only way Flint will become a better place is to somehow convince 90,000 people to move back to the city overnight. There has to be another way.

In 2002, I created a land bank, a public authority to take control of abandoned property. Since then, we have acquired 9,000 properties, comprising 14 percent of the land in Flint. We have demolished more than 1,000 dilapidated and unsalvageable houses, replaced that ugliness with neighborhood gardens, and expanded the "side lots" of hundreds of homeowners. And we have restored historic buildings that have long been forgotten. Shrinking the city does not mean surrender-we just rebuild where it makes sense to rebuild and return part of the city to nature.This system is self-financed. We re-engineered the tax-speculator system to create a system that redirects control of land and speculator profits to create public value from empty spaces.Flint can be a good city again, with vibrant, walkable neighborhoods interspersed with land that has been given back to nature, land that is beautiful. But to get there, we need a new map that does not rely on the false wish that everyone would come back. The current residents deserve better than that.Kildee is the treasurer of Genessee County, Michigan, the county which contains the city of Flint. His plan to remove abandoned houses in the city has come under fire from both sides of the political spectrum.Flint photo by flickr user (cc) karpov85

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

Keep Reading Show less
Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.