Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Welcome, CoolCleveland readers!

CoolCleveland has been kind enough (cool enough?) to link to The Gross Report both last week and this week. Given that you, Constant Reader, may in fact be reading this humble blog by way of Mr. Mulready's newsletter, I figure it's a good idea to give you a quick introduction to what-The-Gross-Report-is-all-about.

Basically, I write about cities. More specifically, I write about the practical realities of living in cities. Even more specifically, I write about how the built space of cities influences (impacts?) one's day-to-day experience of a place. "Built space" means pretty much anything that people can construct (or destroy, for that matter): roads, bridges, telephone poles, buildings, parks, swimming pools, iron-ore refinement facilities, office space, playgrounds, prisons, etc. Broadly speaking, this is the field of urban planning. Furthermore, I wrote about the intersection of urban planning and urban policy. Urban planing, in a rather simplistic way, addresses physical spaces. Urban policy, on the other hand, addresses human action (and, more specifically, government action).

To better understand the distinction between the two, it's helpful to think about the fields in terms of what questions they ask.

Urban planning asks questions like: Where should we build houses? Should they be big houses or small houses or maybe even apartment buildings? Do we need wider roads? Do we need fewer roads? Is light rail more efficient that busing? How can we get electrical infrastructure delivered to the whole city without tearing those this or that neighborhood?

Urban policy asks questions like: Why do so many people hang out at [insert place name here] ? Why are they drawn there? Can government change its zoning laws to better encourage some kind of development? Can we help poor people move up the economic ladder?

My contribution to this discussion focuses mostly on an ordinary citizen's quotidian experience of a city. I dwell on Cleveland a lot, since I live here. I travel here and there, and you'll see posts on other cities as well. There's a lot of compare-and-contrast work on that note. I've got a few (crazy?) ideas about things I'd like to change in Cleveland, as you'll also see. Most of all, I'm interested in hearing your feedback! What's your daily experience of Cleveland (and abroad) like? How does the physical space shape and craft that experience?

Ok, I've rambled enough. Thanks again, CoolCleveland. If you want to email directly, my address is Thanks!


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