Metro = megacity/megacorp + OBDC
Earthday, urban land use and management

Image: 1963
Image: 1963

Without a national land use policy, America’s formationx of megacities in just over fifty years logically requires some kind of metro-managementx — a metro-megacity-corp.x x Planners have been criticizing our “land-of-a-thousand micro-governments” x for decades, but something has changed that may add traction to solving the problems this presents to regional urban design.x x x The fear was that ifx such a thing did exist itx wouldx function with the samex level of oversight offeredx to outfits likex Enron, AIG or Citicorp.x x  The political will is to keep them at arm’s length, but preferablyx the short kind that hang from the sidesx of lobbyists.x 

Then comes this change.x x x It isx the widening availability of veryx largex data-sets thatx can be used tox define the nation’sx 300+ mega-cities.x  The nation’s 50 state image is just that – an image.x x x Turning the states into regional managementx corporations is becoming politically palatable because that is what is happening anyway. x  The governors have a whole basketful of PBCs that bridge state lines — seems only thing missing is a little federal oversight — in the national interest.x  It was the National Defense Highway act that put the nation on the mega-city path.x  In the words ofx a well lovedx Yankee ball player Yogi Berra,x  “You have to be careful if you don’t know where your going because you might not get there.”x 

The states would not be in financial collapse and budgeting would be balanced to a regional interest if the principles of Smart Growth laid out nearly a decade ago by Anthony Downs (April 2001, Planning)x had traction (to see click here).x x Back then, too few knew that thex use of mega-corporate level datax was somethingx the states already control,x but didx not share regionally across their boarders.x  The framework existed but itx did notx hold a soupcon of policy clout.x  Perhaps onex of the reasons there are so many registered and unregistered lobbyists is to keep this a secret.x  The idea that the micro-marketing wars are only launched by business every ten years is a similar misunderstanding of the changing role of data systems.

Businesses large and smallx are too busy protecting their interests to worry about regional planning or urban design, but they do file their tax returns.x  Sharing rapidly developing megacity data is not crazy at all.x x  After all, the small businessx and thex mega-corporate entity is driven on the basis of a daily consumer voting process. x The information on consumption is vastx and until recently largely unused by states for regional planning.x  Once consumption is linked up to the vital statistics and social characteristics ofx  “a region”x  the sheer power of it all belongsx without doubt in a public realm.x 

Get a Handle

To get a handle on this see: x Good Guidex , and look up ideas like “industrial ecology” for access to data streams that get beyond the “green branding” phenomena to the cold, hard facts that define who you are and where you are going by what you buy every day, not who you vote for every few years.x  Wake up smell the coffee.x  Then check the brand for its “earth” friendliness and act accordingly.x  The idea is simple — these tools allow the consumerx to shorten the caveat emptor cycle.

Resources such as these are described with terms such as “open data base connectivity”.x x It is the jargon ofx data systemsx that offer things like highly detailed product ratings that align consumption choices with values (even an iPhone app). x Individual consumption data tools that account for environmental impact comparisons among consumption choices puts into action the ecology of commerce that Paul Hawkens talked about in 1993.x  The cycles are getting shorter.x  Something is working.

To put this consumptionx handle in its x “class”x  I recommend seeing thex review of two books on data crunching inx thex x CD blog.x  And, for more on the “mega-city” reference seex video: herex in post : “Go to Chicago”.x x x x  See for RPD on NYC see: Climate Design. x Also see, thex Three Promisesx of progressive plannners that still need to be pursuedx with some urgency.

Go to Chicago

Be in Chicago on Monday, April 27 beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the UIC campus 725 W. Roosevelt Rd. It is open to the public for $25 with tickets via the Forum’s website: Two ways to look at it — cities are crucial to “recovery†from crisis or urbanism itself is a discursive human event that begs the question. x Needed improvements to recovery systems challenge the very foundations of American governance. On this point three useful forums in this year’s Richard J. Daley Urban Forum (UIC) will be enriched by the attention of the Vice-President Joe Biden, but hopefully the Vice President’s attention will be given to Brookings’, Bruce Katz “We are a Metro Nation and it is time to start acting like oneâ€. (See below)

Two of the panels are expected, however, the surprise may be embedded in the deal making third panel.

  1. Economic Recovery and Urban Reinvestment, addressing the impact of national stimulus plans and regional and local initiatives on urban areas as well as key obstacles to these recovery efforts;
  2. Economic Revitalization: Education and Healthcare, exploring how citiesas the center of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurshipcan take the imaginative steps needed to climb out of today’s world recession in a way that reaches far beyond urban areas; and
  3. Global Town Meeting, where mayors from more than 30 cities will describe their programs in response to the global economic crisis.

How crucial to recovery is regionalx urban governance? x  The Urban Forum, holds the UIC Forum atx 725 W. Roosevelt Road.x  It is open to the public.x  Tickets can be purchased for $25 through the Forum Web sitex (above).x  x If you want to talk to someone give Ellie Abrams a call 312/573-5516 or write: You can also get in touch with Bill Burton, UIC 312/996-2269

The big picture was outlined in November 2007 by Bruce Katz in just 32 minutes.
The code does not hold for some reason

For the video presentation click herex  or here


Bruce Katzx x is Vice President and Director, Metropolitan Policy Program
See Brookings:x  Presentationx and more x Recent Blueprint Articles