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The shrinking city: Detroit considers concentrating growth, letting vacant areas go rural

Tuesday, Oct 26 2010 06:24
Resources may be focused along a light-rail line and on downtown, Midtown, and the better-positioned neighborhoods.

Mayor Dave Bing launched a community outreach process in September that will probably result in a plan for returning parts of Detroit to almost rural conditions.
By some estimates, 40 square miles of the 139-square-mile Motor City currently lie vacant. Roughly 33,000 houses reportedly stand empty, and 91,000 residential lots are unoccupied. Once the nation’s fifth-largest city, home to 1,849,568 people at its peak in 1950, Detroit is now down, by one count, to fewer than 800,000 inhabitants.
With Michigan’s auto industry stripped of its former muscle, many believe Detroit must concentrate its resources and population in fewer, well-chosen places — and encourage some of the semi-abandoned areas to revert to farm fields or nature. The test of how far Detroit goes in that direction will be a new city vision — a strategy for “right-sizing” Detroit — scheduled to be released in December 2011.
In recent months, debate among those with extensive knowledge of Detroit’s situation has favored strengthening the urban qualities of downtown, Midtown — where institutions like the Detroit Institute of Art and Wayne State University are clustered — and other districts that have mostly remained stable.
Midtown, north of downtown, has experienced an influx of young people, artists, and others in recent years as old buildings have been converted to lofts, and other housing has been built from scratch. In all, 3,500 dwellings have been created in Midtown in the past decade, says Mark Nickita, principal of Archive Design Studio, a Detroit architecture and urban design firm. Restaurants, cafes, and music venues have flourished in part because Wayne State, with more than 30,000 students, functions as a permanent anchor, making Midtown one of the most stimulating sections of the city.
“Midtown is going to be a dense area, especially once we get light rail down Woodward Avenue,” says Samuel Butler, who co-chaired the Futures Task Force of Community Development Advocates of Detroit — a group that in late 2008 began devising ideas to “reinvent” the city.
Leaders in government and the private sector succeeded this year in winning a $25 million federal TIGER grant to build an initial 3.4-mile segment of the Woodward Light Rail Line. That sum, when combined with approximately $125 million already raised from philanthropic sources, should make it possible to begin construction within the next two to three years on the segment from the Detroit River through downtown and Midtown to West Grand Boulevard.
If additional funds are secured, a second phase, extending the line to Eight Mile Road (for a total length of 9.3 miles) could be operating by 2016. The full line is estimated to cost $450 to $500 million, much of which would have to come from the Federal Transit Administration.
Andre Brumfield, director of urban design and planning at the Chicago office of the design firm AECOM, led a team looking at how to transform the Northend neighborhood, a distressed area that would be served by the light-rail line. “The new neighborhood plan calls for high-density, mixed-use development oriented around [Northend’s] three transit stations,” Brumfield explained in Model D, a Detroit online periodical.
Northend’s housing would include townhouses and three-story walk-ups, which could have retail on the ground floor. “The area will also include new community parks, space for high-tech or light industrial businesses, and some land for urban agriculture,” said Brumfield. “It’s a big transformation for an area that was historically dominated by the single-family home.”
Nickita sees Eastern Market, a produce market whose historic sheds have been restored, as another focal point of Detroit’s future urban life, benefiting from the surge of interest in “Detroit-grown” agricultural products. Hundreds of community gardens have been established in the city in the past few years.
Dying neighborhoods, tomorrow’s farms?
There has been talk about offering incentives to entice the remaining residents of largely abandoned areas to move into denser neighborhoods, where they would enjoy access to a greater range of nearby services and might feel safer because of more neighbors and more eyes on the street.
It has been suggested that hold-outs might be forcibly relocated — an idea repeated many times by the news media. However, forcing people to leave their homes — except in the case of dangerous code violations — seems unlikely. Memories of the urban renewal’s dislocations remain too painful, especially in a city where at least 76 percent of the population is African-American.
Certainly some deteriorated neighborhoods will lose their last vestiges of urbanism. Mayor Bing has pledged to demolish 3,000 empty residential buildings by the end of this year and to raze a total of 10,000 over four years — a big jump from recent years.
Some of the cleared land could be turned into individual or community gardens, parks, recreation areas, or, in more extreme cases, assembled into tracts large enough for commercial farming.
Businessman John Hantz, who built up a financial holding company called Hantz Group, in nearby Southfield, has in the past two years established a company called Hantz Farms LLC with the intention of creating in Detroit “the largest urban farm in the world.”
Hantz says he will spend up to $30 million on his farming venture. He dismissed some competing ideas for the use of empty land, telling an interviewer, “If you turn it over to parks and recreation, you add costs to an overburdened city government that can’t afford to teach its children, police its streets, or maintain the infrastructure it already has.”
In late September, Michael Score, president of Hantz Farms, told an architects’ gathering that the company is working at assembling 120 acres — the size of tract the company believes is needed to make a farm profitable. Acquiring clear title to such a large contiguous expanse of urban land has proven to be a challenge, but Score said the farm can work around hold-out properties, just as farms in rural areas work around scattered buildings in the landscape.
The company is considering a variety of things to plant, including Christmas trees and an apple orchard. Score has said the company would deploy the latest in farm technology, such as compost-heated greenhouses and hydroponic and aeroponic growing systems.
It’s possible that farms and gardens will be merely a holding stage, until more lucrative or job-generating use of vacant land turns up — factories, for example.
“I don’t think urban agriculture is the silver bullet,” says Butler, who is now working with a committee that’s fleshing out Community Development Advocates’ vision of the future. Even if the persistent problem of pollution of the land is overcome — many urban gardens have to use raised beds filled with new soil — “urban agriculture isn’t going to produce the jobs,” Butler says. “I’m not convinced it’s going to give Detroit an economic advantage. We need to compete with other post-industrial cities around the nation, like Cleveland.”
Urban and community gardening seems mostly to excite educated white people, Butler observes, while African-Americans, many of whose grandparents were sharecroppers, are often not eager to get into farming.
Shrinking a city’s costs
A leading reason why cities talk about “shrinking” is that they can no longer afford all the things they’ve customarily paid for. If large areas become uninhabited or very lightly populated, a number of expenses can be reduced.
“A road that gets very little traffic doesn’t need the same kind of paving,” says Margaret Dewar, a University of Michigan planning professor. “It may not need curbs.”
Where residents are sparse, garbage collection could be done in one run — down just one side of the street, saving a trip, Dewar says. “Maybe you have to wheel your garbage to the end of your street,” where, she hypothesizes, the block’s garbage could be collected from a single location. If an area were largely emptied of residents, it might be possible to cut off water and sewer service — and have any stragglers convert to wells and septic tanks.
“It’s possible to scale down police, fire, garbage hauls,” says Hunter Morrison, longtime planning director for Cleveland before he accepted a position as Youngstown State University’s liaison to the City of Youngstown on development issues. Other operations are more difficult to reduce effectively. Open land requires basic maintenance “unless you plant wildflowers,” Morrison says.
“Some systems are not paid for by the city at all,” he points out. “The gas lines are operated by the gas company, so you’re not saving the city money” by having them removed.
With one-third of Detroit’s population living in poverty, quite a few residents don’t have cars. Partly because of that, Nickita’s firm produced a plan for a “nonmotorized transportation network” that bicyclists and others can use to get from place to place, separate from the streets.
A 1.35-mile segment of that network, the Dequindre Cut Greenway, opened in May 2009, featuring a 20-foot-wide paved pathway with separate lanes for cyclists and pedestrians. It runs below grade on the former right-of-way of the Grand Trunk Railroad. Splashed on some of the remaining structures along its route is graffiti, regarded by some as urban art. “All the overpasses are sort of ruined,” Nickita acknowledges. A shrinking city has its own aesthetic.

in New Urban Network

Dinamizar, aproximar e projectar o território com o digital

Sunday, Oct 24 2010 02:02 Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Vidas Contadas - Douro Vinhateiro

Friday, Oct 22 2010 04:07

O mundo rural tem evidentemente muitas facetas.
A reportagem "VIDAS CONTADAS" do passado dia 18 de Outubro evoca um "país profundo", ainda muito presente...

Vidas Contadas - Informação - Semanal RTP 1 - Multimédia RTP

Business by the Sea

Saturday, Oct 16 2010 09:51

Mark Zuckerberg. O senhor Facebook nasceu para ser líder

Monday, Oct 11 2010 02:58
O criador do site mais visitado nos Estados Unidos assumiu desde o início o controlo da empresa. O segredo do seu sucesso resume-se a uma palavra: liderança

Em Julho de 2006, um miúdo de 22 anos encontrou-se com o veterano Terry Semel, CEO da mítica Yahoo!, para discutir a venda da sua pequena start-up. Semel ofereceu-lhe mil milhões de dólares (750 milhões de euros) pela rede social só para estudantes que tinha criado dois anos antes. Primeiro o miúdo de 22 anos disse que sim, mas o acordo era apenas verbal. Quando Semel baixou a oferta para 600 milhões e depois voltou a subi-la, o miúdo pensou duas vezes e voltou atrás. Afinal não. Não queria vender a sua pequena start-up por uns impressionantes mil milhões de dólares. Esse miúdo era Mark Zuckerberg e essa rede era o Facebook.

Ninguém queria acreditar no que ele tinha feito; as críticas choveram de todos os lados. Chamaram-lhe de tudo - de presunçoso para baixo. Era de loucos que alguém com 22 anos batesse a porta na cara a um magnata que lhe oferecia mil milhões de dólares. Mas Zuckerberg tinha uma visão muito concreta do que queria para o Facebook e nenhum outro saberia executá-la como ele.

Na altura, o Facebook estava limitado à comunidade estudantil e tinha apenas sete milhões de utilizadores. Hoje, quatro anos depois, ultrapassa os 500 milhões de utilizadores e já é o site mais visitado nos EUA - passou o Google em Agosto. Neste momento, os investidores avaliam o Facebook em nada menos do que 33,7 mil milhões de dólares (25,2 mil milhões de euros). Quem é que é presunçoso agora?

Perceber como Zuckerberg fez isto é fascinante. É certo que a rede social foi recebendo generosas injecções de capital nos anos seguintes, incluindo a entrada de 240 milhões de dólares da Microsoft, que comprou 1% da empresa em 2007. Mas tudo se resume a uma palavra: liderança. Zuckerberg, que fundou o Facebook quando tinha 20 anos, é um líder nato.

Ao contrário do que fizeram os criadores da Google, que entregaram a direcção executiva da empresa a uma pessoa de fora, Zuckerberg assumiu desde o início o controlo da empresa, seguindo um modelo "à la" Bill Gates na Microsoft. Tudo o que acontece de novo no Facebook vem da sua cabeça ou passa pelo seu crivo. Ao longo dos últimos anos, tem cometido vários erros que lhe podiam ter custado caro - mas veio sempre assumir a responsabilidade e controlar os danos. Pessoalmente. Como qualquer líder faria.

A sua característica mais valiosa? Saber rodear-se dos melhores entre os melhores de Silicon Valley. É impossível contar pelos dedos das mãos a quantidade de executivos que foi buscar à Google, a rainha dos motores de busca, onde toda a gente quer trabalhar - ou queria. Para começar, conseguiu convencer Shely Sandberg a deixar a Google e a tornar-se número dois do Facebook - feito que realizou durante uma festa de Natal e, mais tarde, nas pausas para café no Fórum Económico Mundial em Davos. Um CEO de 23 anos a convencer uma veterana de 38 a colaborar com ele só pode ter sido delicioso.

De lá para cá, foi uma sangria total. As contratações cirúrgicas seleccionaram os melhores de empresas como a Yahoo!, Genentech, Mozilla, Bebo, Microsoft, além do regulador de telecomunicações FTC e de um antigo conselheiro da Casa Branca. Até o melhor cozinheiro da Google, Josef Desimone, Zuckerberg foi buscar.

in ionline

Proprietários ficam mais tempo no desemprego

Thursday, Oct 7 2010 09:17 Um artigo encontrado no site do jornal francês Le Figaro dá conta de um estudo realizado por dois economistas do "Centre d'analyse stratégique (CAS)" em que é estabelecida uma co-relação entre taxa de desemprego e taxa de propriedade (imobiliário). Segundo aquele estudo, os países que evidenciam altas taxas de "proprietários residentes" são simultaneamente os países com taxas de desemprego mais elevadas. A explicação encontrada é relativamente simples, a posse de um apartamento ou de uma casa transforma-se numa âncora pesada que dificulta a procura de um novo posto de trabalho.

Home Based Jobs

Thursday, Oct 7 2010 04:16

Till a little over five years ago, unemployment was a major problem, not only in India, but the world over. It became a global phenomenon; and what increased this problem was the number of companies' suddenly shutting shop, leaving even more people unemployed. For this reason, skilled labor was ready to take up unskilled, low-paying jobs just so that they could earn at least their daily bread and butter.

But then with time things began to change for the better. And, at this point it seems as if the unemployment rate is almost reversed, with an increasing number of opportunities. This is all the more the scenario in India, where almost every household has at least one member employed, if not all adult members of the family. And the best part is that employment does not imply going to an office, but being at home and earning very well.

Interestingly, the number of women being employed is increasing by the day. This is because of the number of home based jobs. There are a large number of companies that are employing people to work from home.

This is not only a trend with international companies that prefer Indian labor, because of the cost effectiveness; but even Indian companies ask their staff to come in two to three times a week and the rest of the days to complete their work from home. This way infrastructure costs decrease and they feel their staff will meet more targets.

The reason why home based jobs are on an increase is because of the connectivity. Now because internet and phone connectivity is so wide spread, whether working at home or in the office it hardly makes a difference. In fact, for women it is a blessing in disguise.

Apart from writers, journalists, editors there are myriads of others who can gain from such opportunities. There are profitable home based internet businesses of various kinds. These could include marketing and conducting research via the internet, designing sites and web pages, and the like. The opportunities are plenty. It just calls for some patience and perseverance to gain maximum opportunities.

Another advantage of taking up home based jobs, is that at one go one can take up multiple tasks. This would obviously increase the earning capacity of the individual. Some people have actually expanded to an extent where they have set up small time business infrastructure and outsource work to others, on a profit sharing basis or a contractual basis.

However, while taking up any assignments or setting up a business to provide home based work to others, it is essential to take into account all legalities. Especially now when the tax department has raised its antennas. Ideally, set up legitimate home based businesses and also take up assignments from companies that have some legal binding. Check the credentials of the hiring company to prevent any kind of possible problems.

For those who are ambitious to set up their own businesses at home, there is a huge treasure trove out there, as far as opportunities are concerned. Its all about going out there and making the most of the successful home based business ideas that are floating all over the place.


Adeus Conhecimento! Olá Criatividade! por @jabaldaia

Wednesday, Oct 6 2010 10:00
A humanidade tem uma determinada quantidade de conhecimentos à sua disposição, mas nem toda a gente o possui. O conhecimento possui qualidades diferentes e conforme a dosagem, da sua aquisição ou internalização, é tomado em grandes quantidades ou pequenas quantidades.

Isto faz-me lembrar que uma das primeiras características da materialidade é que a matéria é sempre limitada, ou seja, a quantidade de matéria, num determinado local e em determinadas condições, é limitada.

Por isso há duas questões que coloco em termos de provocação de pensamento:

- O conhecimento não pode pertencer a todos?

- O conhecimento não pode, sequer, pertencer a muitos?

O conhecimento “complexo”, corrente e a adquirir, aumenta todos os dias e são exigidas novas competências a nível pessoal, aos grupos e às organizações. Estes níveis de competência são alterados à medida que a dificuldade e a complexidade aumentam e exigem capacidade de combinação.

Mas, segundo Gary Hamel, “num mundo do conhecimento como produto, o retorno vai para as empresas que podem produzir conhecimento não standard. O sucesso aqui é medido pelo lucro por empregado, ajustado pela intensidade de capital. O lucro da Apple, per capita, é significativamente maior do que seus principais concorrentes, assim como é o rácio de lucros da empresa para o imobilizado líquido.”

Na procura desse conhecimento que não é o padrão, emerge a criatividade como vantagem de diferenciação. O conhecimento produzido pelas empresas como foi o caso da Apple, facilmente é transferido com facilidade para a concorrência, provocando uma nova necessidade: Criar e voltar a criar.

Face à grande variedade de informação disponibilizada pelas redes exteriores às empresas, aumenta a dificuldade na tomada de decisão e a avaliação da qualidade e sustentabilidade da informação torna-se mais complexa.

As consequências são um alargamento de competências gerais e uma dependência de peritos ou especialistas.

Por essa razão e dada a natureza da impossibilidade de retenção exclusiva dessa informação as empresas têm de encontrar outros caminhos que, necessáriamente passam pela criatividade.

O reinado da gestão do conhecimento, tal como ele era até há pouco tempo está em extinção. O novo reinado será da combinação do conhecimento com a criatividade.

É preciso construir um clima de trabalho, que acolha atributos como a paixão e a criatividade, dentro das organizações. É preciso uma mudança fundamental nos modelos mentais dos responsáveis dentro das organizações.

Aumentar a complexidade num ambiente aberto e dinâmico, como temos hoje, exige um desenvolvimento excepcional de flexibilidade e adaptabilidade dos indivíduos e organizações. Estamos perante um cenário de desenvolvimento de competências e de crescimento de intensidade do conhecimento e que ao mesmo tempo exige um lugar de destaque para a criatividade e a inovação.

Num sistema complexo e envolvente de conhecimento intensivo, os agentes que nele participam têm não só de aprender, como também de aprender a aprender e sobretudo a adaptar-se e a criar algo de novo.

Isto significa que por vezes, estamos a superar a nossa capacidade de adaptação e permanecemos resistentes às mudanças dos mercados.

A crescente intensidade do conhecimento na nossa vida, é expressa na passagem do poder físico e destreza para o processamento e avaliação de ideias, da manipulação de materiais para os símbolos, da acção para a mente.

Temos de dizer Adeus à “economia do conhecimento” e dizer Olá à “economia criativa “. – Gary Hamel

in Jabaldaia's Blog

Google Vs Facebook: A Battle Of Colossal Proportions [Infographic]

Wednesday, Sep 29 2010 01:36

Alone in New York

Wednesday, Sep 29 2010 10:15

Alone in New York from Giuseppe Vetrano on Vimeo.
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