Thursday, June 12, 2008

Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism

Richard Longworth, an international correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, traveled for thousands of miles across the Midwest to understand how the region is grappling with, or failing to grapple with, the challenges of globalization. Globalization has utterly transformed manufacturing and agriculture, undercutting the stability that in some ways defined the Midwest. Longworth argues that regional leadership, increased immigration, investments in higher education, and fostering an ecology of public/private linkages that commercialize research are imperative.

New kinds of communication spaces will be required to refine and implement a Midwestern response to globalization. The Great Lakes Urban Exchange a blog that regularly posts information about urban initiatives and builds connections with 50 or so regional blogs may become an important communication resource. The Heart of Peoria as an online charette, supports citizens efforts to collectively craft a vision for the city.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

City Lights from Space

The photographs of Earth taken by the Apollo astronauts, which framed the Earth as a whole in the lonely context of space, helped foster an environmental ethos--that every place on the planet was made visible for the first time. Technical innovations accomplished by NASA and NOAA create a new level of clarity, allowing us to see for the first time the shape of our urban footprint.

Women in the City

"Women in the City" is a viral public art exhibition spread throughout the streets of Los Angeles that began in February 2008.

Double One Way Communication

Given the density of the city and advances in communication technology, it is unsurprising that the environment we live in is being saturated with communication flows. These flows could support all kinds of public uses, allowing groups and individuals to share their voices, perspectives, histories and ideas with others in a particular location. But communication as a public good can't be supported through the market. So instead of a two-way public conversation, are environment becomes filled with stores that monitor our cell phones to track where and when we wander and billboards that look back at us.
One opportunity for making sense of how to better take advantage of advanced communication technologies in an urban setting is the Creating Value: Between Commerce and Commons conference sponsored by The Arc Center of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.

White Art

White art, the use of bacon fat back, is one of the less well known urban communication media. This book is titled,
White Art in the Meat Food Business. A Practical Handbook for Butcher, Pork Stores, Restaurants, Hotels and Delicatessens on How to Make Lasting and Transferable White Art Decorations out of Bacon Fat Back for Window Displays, Ornaments on Meat Food Cold Buffets and for Exhibits and Advertising Purposes
via Boing Boing

Massive Investment in Urban Communication

Toronto is investing $1 billion dollars over the next twenty years in street furniture. Street furniture include a variety of things:
We're talking bus shelters, benches, bicycle posts, garbage bins, information kiosks, newspaper boxes, and a self-cleaning, wheelchair-accessible public toilet system that rings in at $300,000 a pop.
This investment will create a huge number of sites of informal communication, as people pause, ponder, and converse. An investment on this scale will undoubtedly improve the image of the city as well.

A flickr collection provides access to a number of renderings and public documents.