Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rebuilding the Cities That Built America : Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland Regional Conference : May 21st

Actually registration for this free event is now closed but at least I can say I gave you a heads up about it a week or two ago. I will be attending. They have done things like this before, usually in Youngstown, but this seems to be somehow bigger and more "serious".

■ Advancing an Older Industrial Cities National Policy Agenda
■ Land Acquisition Strategies
■ Regional Rail, Local Transit: A panel discussion on the benefits of transit for all
■ The University/City Connection
■ Strategies for Creating Greener, Sustainable Cities
■ Changing Times for CDCs
■ Making the Case, Taking it Home: What you can do to bring rail to the region
■ Community Organizing: Going Wide and Going Deep
■ Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s communities for the next economy

A long list of speakers.

Co-ordination of regional arts assets not on the official agenda. Also, no mention of regional media either. (even though, small scale grass root things like The Sprout Fund and The Penn Avenue Arts Initiative and alternative media like POP City and Cool Cleveland have been so productive.)

Found a website for Rebuilding The Cities That Built America ,where they drop this bomb. I mean, straight up honesty like that is pretty rare. IMHO--Federal Government Policy and The Root Shock it caused is by far the single biggest factor in the destruction of America's cities, neigborhoods and entire civil society.

"As early as the 1940s, the Federal Government, led by agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Transportation, established policies that spawned suburban flight. As people continued to flee older industrial cities, they left behind cities ill equipped to adequately deal with the plethora of abandoned and vacant property. Since then, cities have resorted to dealing with vacant properties as best as their miniscule resources allow as they do not have sufficient funding to implement policies that will lead to sustainable development and community regeneration. Residential streets plagued with large, unsightly gaps between houses stand as silent witnesses to the cities whose budgets do not permit them to rebuild after they demolish properties, while properties that cannot be demolished decay and often become safety threats that they city has no means of repairing. Such unavoidable neglect has resulted in declining property values for the entire city, which has made businesses hesitant to invest in the area, and eventually has led to rampant unemployment, crime, and poverty.

Until recently older industrial cities largely have been neglected by the very government that created the conditions that led to their dilapidated state. However, vacant property has now become a national issue that the Federal Government cannot afford to ignore any longer, and a new piece of legislation introduced by Congressmen Time Ryan (OH17) and Brian Higgins (NY27) and Senators Sherrod Brown (OH) and Charles Schumer (NY) gives these cities reason to hope for restoration. The legislation, entitled The Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act of 2009 (CRSI), would provide distressed communities with the resources necessary to implement large scale changes that will approach the issue holistically, thus restoring these cities to their former thriving condition.

CRSI encourages cities to adopt a holistic regeneration model that is used by communities worldwide. It will strongly encourage multi-jurisdictional or regional approaches to transforming vacant and abandoned property. This approach supports policy innovation, experimentation, and environmentally sustainable practices through collaborative efforts to reuse vacant properties in ways that will provide long-term benefits to the public, whether it is through the creation of green infrastructure, economic development, or other strategies. Implementation of such strategies will help reverse the over thirty year trend of depopulation, skyrocketing unemployment rates, and urban sprawl."

Anyway, I gotta go and have some hope this is a good networking opportunity and a chance to see a little bit of Youngstown. Not every city and small town has is gonna have major Research University or a pipe of federal or state cash. Doing more with what you have is the real deal wave of the future and Youngstown is doing that.

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