See, Click?

In a move of technological savvy, last May, the city of Albany became the first city in New York to launch a partnership with SeeClickFix, an app/website designed to encourage people to report various issues to their local governments, last May. This means that when you enter something on the site or app—say, “the snow plow knocked over the street sign on my corner,” city officials will see it, acknowledge it, and assign it to the person responsible.

I had apparently signed up on the site and entered my neighborhood as an area to “watch” long before the city partnership, but suddenly in the past month activity fired up and I began getting all sorts of notices, which inspired me to bring up a signal timing issue that I’ve been complaining about for a long time, but had not done anything about, dreading finding my way through a bureaucratic maze to the right person who may or may not want to be talking to me about it. It was pretty exciting to get a response within days that they’d adjust the timing and thanks for the heads up. Continue reading

The Fight Comes to Us

If you have paid even a modicum of attention to the climate justice fight over the past couple years, you have probably been aware of both the movement to keep fracking out of New York state, and the fight to prevent the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from North Dakota and the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, from being built.

If you are like some of us, you have admired the ranchers, farmers, and First Nations people along that pipeline and in the tar sands itself who have been creatively and consistently and bravely saying they want no part in this horrendous environmental catastrophe that is destroying communities in the short term and threatening to keep us from being able to head off catastrophic climate change in the not-that-much-longer-term. You might have wondered whether you would do the same if you lived in these threatened communities, and felt quietly grateful you did not.

Well, now you do. Continue reading

The Three-Legged Stool of Economic Development

Urbanist gadfly Richard Florida recently attempted to tip the sacred cow of “eds and meds” (universities and hospitals) economic development by arguing that cities with a high percentage of employment in those sectors tended to do worse on other economic development measures. Florida is always good for stirring the pot, but as Steve Dubb of the Democracy Collaborative wrote when I invited him to respond on Rooflines (the blog of the magazine I edit as my day job), in this case, Florida’s statistical comparisons are a straw man: they have the causality backwards. Continue reading