When Global Goes Local: City and County Governments Tackle Climate Change

(Originally Posted at Voterheads.com)

To many of us, climate change feels like an overwhelming, global issue.  International organizations host world forums to determine what steps countries should take to help lessen what many consider to be the negative impacts of development on the earth and environment.  The recent Paris agreement, for example, took years to plan and long, hard negotiations to finalize.  So you may wonder: what can be done, or is being done, by local governments in terms of climate change? Continue reading

The Data-Drive City 1a: What First?

When Eric explained his goal to apply the data lens, my first thought was “Dammit, that’s so good why didn’t I think of that?”

At our next lunch however, it was time to get to business.  Data is great, but data without purpose is like window shopping on Ebay: ain’t nothing good is gonna come of it.  Charles from GIS, who had joined us for our occasional trip to our amazingly authentic and spicy local Thai buffet, discussed some very cool work he was doing looking into intersection safety around the city.  While we briefly went down that path, Eric had recently read Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City and the multiple potential data-based questions about low-income rental evictions described were intriguing to both of us. Continue reading

Oh Public Transportation, wherefore art thou?

As I return from a trip to San Francisco, I reflect on how different my transportation needs and experience are between there and my home base in Columbia, South Carolina. This was the second of two work-related trips this year, and was a relatively long one of two weeks. During that time, including vehicular weekend trips, probably 70% of my segments were on mass transit, while during any period of time back home, none are. I find it strange, especially given that I grew up in with mass-transit as my default mode of transportation from childhood through high school, that my behavior is so incongruous.

This is a common conundrum for many transit planners across the Southeast, and one with which I empathize. Given my upbringing, why don’t I take transit more? At the same time, as I observe our local buses, I generously estimate most of them operate at less than 10% capacity: I’m clearly not the only one. So, I thought I’d deliberately walk through the mental calculus I’ve gone through in the past to see if I could figure out what it would take. Continue reading