Next American City Issue 19 Preview!

Next American City Issue 19 Preview!

Excerpts from our new issue-

“Seattle’s Downtown Emergency Service Center opened in 2005 to a barrage of skepticism. A unique housing experiment designed to get the most troubled homeless people off the streets and save the city money, the Center not only did not require its residents to give up drinking, but permitted consumption in their rooms. Accused of enabling alcoholism at taxpayers’ expense, the Center acquired the nickname, “Bunks for Drunks.” Two years later, 1811 Eastlake, as it is more commonly known, is relishing being right. On January 10, 2008, the Center released the results of a year-long study on its effectiveness, conducted with the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington: medical expenses are down 41 percent, shelter usage is down 92 percent, and county jail bookings are down 45 percent.” -“Homeless Housing Experiement” from our “Shorts” section.

“Once hailed as “The Paris of The West” and a national center for investment and development, Detroit has become a symbol of failed urban policy over the past 40 years of decline. Vacant skyscrapers and factories dotting Detroit’s skyline testify to the city’s high water mark, a stirring juxtaposition of old and new, decayed and opulent. Many Detroiters see these empty buildings as liabilities rather than opportunities. The city’s hesitation to re-use abandoned structures is deeply ingrained: “In a city so starved for investment,” says University of Michigan Professor Scott Kurashige, “Detroit chooses short-term profits from marginally beneficial new developments, like parking lots, over preserving buildings with immense potential.” -“Everything Is Going To Be Alright” by Robert and Andrew Linn

“In an episode of the popular HBO series, The Wire, two mid-level drug dealers debate the recent demolition of a Baltimore public-housing high rise. While one reminisces about the good times and lucrative drug-dealing that took place in “the towers,” his companion dismisses this romanticism. The towers, he says, are mere sticks and bricks built without concern for human beings. You don’t need to watch The Wire to know that inhabitants of public housing have conflicted opinions about these structures. Many families yearn to see their public housing complex revitalized; others want to exercise their right to move to a more desegregated environment.” -“Housing Mobility: The Moving to Opportunity Movement” by Demetria McCain

“The grand hall of the cavernous Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia can hold thousands of people for special events. It is home of the International Auto Show and the extremely popular Philadelphia Flower Show. For several hours each day, however, its escalators churn truss rods and gears without a single passenger. Similar scenes play out in countless hotel lobbies, office buildings, airports, and shopping malls. Although quiet and convenient, escalators unfortunately cost more money to install, operate, and maintain than raising a child, and there are 30,000 of them in the United States.” -“Taken For A Ride” by Jeffrey Hill

“On the second day of Hurricane Katrina, doctors and patients in New Orleans’ Charity Hospital began breaking windows that had withstood the fury of the storm. They needed ventilation in Unit 11, the third floor mental health ward where water surrounding the hospital had trapped registered nurse Marva Guillemet, a small team of other nurses and doctors, and a dozen patients, one of whom was pregnant. Without electricity, chaos impending, Guillemet and the hospital staff braced themselves, relying on procedures not taught in medical school. Food and water quickly grew scarce. Guillemet and the nurses fed the patients their own packed lunches. Toilets stopped up, so trash bags became makeshift waste outlets, stored in the hospital stairwell after use. Many people would have collapsed in such a crisis, but Guillemet could not afford to with patients who depended on her. The building stood equally strong: Charity Hospital, a facility dedicated to the poor and uninsured, saved the lives of over 200 patients and caregivers while hundreds of other buildings throughout the city buckled.” -“Charity Case” by Brentin Mock

“The pre-schoolers at the Maple Street School are used to visitors. Their parents can drop in whenever they want and no teacher or director will harrumph and suggest now is not the best time. That’s because the parents run the school. Maple Street is a parent cooperative preschool in Brooklyn’s Prospect-Lefferts neighborhood. In approximately 1000 co-op preschools across the United States, parents run the boards and put in sweat equity, helping to lower tuition costs. In many co-ops, parents also serve as assistant teachers, with each family putting in one day a month in the classroom.” “The New School” by Carly Berwick

Read these stories and more in Next American City’s 19th issue, “The New School.”

Tags: philadelphiaurban designdetroitenvironmenttaxeshomelessnesspublic schoolsbrooklynhurricane katrinanext american city

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