Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Cherry blossoms around the world (and digital connections)

In 2005 when I started blogging in earnest, I was introduced to Flickr as an application that could support including photos in blog entries.  In the beginning I was amazed at the ability to create digital communities through keywords (although plenty of people use index terms sloppily and "wrongly" meaning you get a lot of hits that aren't relevant).

Besides being transfixed by images of Christo's Gates in Central Park, I thought it was cool to see cherry blossom photos from Japan, since that country is the source of the cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC, which is known for their blooms each spring, there is the Cherry Blossom Festival, a parade, it's a big tourism deal, etc.

Matthias Schrader, Associated Press. 

That's still the case, as I was reminded by a photo the Post ran earlier this week, featuring cherry blossoms in Olympic Park in Munich.

-- "These photos of cherry blossoms around the world will brighten your day," HuffPost
-- "Cherry blossoms around the world," Guardian, photo feature


At 12:59 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

very very off topic:

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Hmm. Now the FT has a much harder subscription wall. You used to be able to get access to a certain number of articles.

Although I found the title and can access it through the library newspaper database.

... but on Mondays I get the previous week's printed issues from a colleague.

Will have to read it obviously. I'll look at the online library database today...

I don't think it's a capital thing exactly though.

It's capital + viable clusters + opportunities, overlaid with the fact that now we're a knowledge economy more than a mass production economy and so the number of jobs businesses generate is smaller. + besides moving away from mass production is how much more capital intensive manufacturing is, which further reduces the number of jobs.

When I was doing that research on biotechnology, writing the thing for the Walter Reed campus (and Children's Hospital, separately, is doing some of that) and then I repositioned it about United Medical Center, I learned a lot about various initiatives around the country such as Phoenix and KC (also in animal health), or water related industries around Milwaukee.

10 years ago, I was super enamored of agglomeration economies and the primary cluster (e.g., Silicon Valley and Rte. 128).

Remember that Richard Florida's work was about why Pittsburgh couldn't compete. Although these days it functions decently well as a smaller IT cluster.

.... anyway, there is room for smaller clusters, but they have to develop from at least some kernels of best practice and excellence that are pre-existing. E.g., the steel industry is nothing like what it is, but a lot of smaller specialized companies with super added value are still based in Greater Pittsburgh.

Wichita or Oklahoma City have opportunities though. But expecting St. Louis or Chicago or Detroit to go back to the glory days is too much.

cf. our previous discussions on Youngstown.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Obviously, I haven't read it and Bruce Katz has a lot of good ideas and writing and networks but...

it reminds me a bit of Thomas Friedman "discovering" the secret of success for small town revitalization in Lancaster, PA

It's been going on for a long time...

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Oops, I forgot a sentence.

I wrote:

10 years ago, I was super enamored of agglomeration economies and the primary cluster (e.g., Silicon Valley and Rte. 128).

I forgot to write:

And so I had the idea that only the primary clusters could and would develop, that the opportunities for secondary clusters were minimal if not nonexistent.

On that I was definitely wrong.

But they had to develop critical mass, and even for places like CMU and Pitt-anchored Pittsburgh, that takes a long time.

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

arg, my iPad my won't let comment.

So I've written a brilliant response which is lost in the sands.

Globally, it is a capital allocation issue.

Outside of SF/NYC/Miami we don't see much of that at work directly.

And whether an opportunity zone is the way to draw capital in is a very open question.

but "strong market" means that capital is flowing into an area -- versus detroit, cleveland etc where capital is flowing out.

For example pension funds -- for example does the Ohio pensions funds (which are enormous) have mandates to invest in the local economy to make sure they can pay out in 30 years -- or do they have a mandate to chase the highest returns?

in my IRAs for example is is very hard to invest directly in a foreign company or opportunity. You can get a ETF to track so Brazil if you think that is the future but you are restricted by law to US investments.

Other off topic news -- Geelys buys Smart.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

it sucks when you lose a comment. I regret not being able to soak in your wisdom!

yeah, saw that about Smart, don't know what to think. I wonder if in the US, the small cars in "Share Now" will end up being Minis, which aren't that small (and I don't like the way they drive).

wrt your points above, yep, tricky tricky.

you can have your Ohio funds invest locally, but that can be subject to crony capitalism. To make such work is possible, but requires very delicate work.

Plus, it's politically incorrect to say, yes Youngstown or Cleveland need $, but that's a risky bet.

... although it's all about anchors and working from there.

But it takes a long long time. Have been meaning to write about Hyattsville. They've been working on the Rte. 1 corridor since c. 2005, and they finally seem to have hit critical mass where there is the possibility of self-replicating critical mass.

But we go to small towns like Colonial Beach in VA and Lost River in WV, and it's interesting to see how they wax and wane, or how businesses created in a place like Lost River just can't sustain, but you can see how if they had opened in Winchester instead, it would have been different.

I doubt that OZs will make a lot of difference. 10 years is a pretty short time frame to make things happen (e.g., at least 3 building projects on H Street that I've had some involvement in have about a 15 year timeframe for realization).

Plus, another wrinkle of OZs is again, it makes sense to put your investment in places that are already emerging or transitioning (stages 2 or 3) versus distressed (stage 1).

You need really patient capital that's more of a public good. That's not what people who are seeking to reduce their taxes are generally motivated by.

But I suppose entities like this one:

will be able to help focus some of this investment to generate faster velocity for success.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Through a search term yesterday I came across a book that sadly I knew nothing about:

Reversing Urban Decline: Why and How Sports, Entertainment, and Culture Turn Cities into Major League Winners

by a UM professor of ! sports management !, Marc Rosentraub.

Skimming through part of the introduction, he discussed how people had accused him of flip flopping when in earlier years he was against public funding of sports stuff.

The book is more about how to make this stuff really work.

And that's the position I've come towards. If "they" are going to put forward the money regardless of opposition from people like me, we may as well focus on extracting the full array of benefits and positive economic return.

(Plus there is a methodological problem with the traditional way of calculating the benefit. Yes things don't change at the metropolitan scale, but that's too big a scale. E.g., DC gains, PGC loses, vis a vis Capital One Center vs. US Air Arena; uses it to anchor east end development in the CBD, etc.)

He also discusses massive failures like hockey in Glendale, AZ.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

wrt IRAs, you can see why parochially speaking, since you get the tax benefit, a country would want to limit investments to in-country...

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