National Links: A Lego City Budget

Every day at The Overhead Wire, we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Using Lego to sell a city budget: City staffers created a four and a half minute video detailing the City of Arlington Texas’ $552M budget. The video, which uses Lego city scenes and budget specifics explained by mini-figures has since gone viral, attracting over 700,000 views and attention from media outlets around the country. (Francesca Gariano | The Today Show)

Solarpunk and the end of capitalism: Solarpunk, a futuristic urban aesthetic that’s a mix between steampunk and cyberpunk, is an optimistic vision of a future society that operates on renewable energy. While the clean images bely a society where solar roofs and windmills generate clean energy, it’s more a vision for an end to a capitalistic system that created the environmental crisis we currently see by prioritizing people and the planet over the individual and profit. (Hannah Steinkopf-Frank | Motherboard)

Governance structures have long tails:  Before writing the infamous Bowling Alone about social capital, sociologist Robert Putnam was trying to figure out why the northern, central, and southern parts of Italy were so different after the creation of regional governance in the 1970s. He found the split went back to the 1100’s when guilds and other organizations formed long before any government currently existing.  It’s interesting to think that social structures from so many years ago still impact governance to this day. (James Bradshaw | Mercatornet)

Engineers fudging numbers might have saved New Orleans: The City of New Orleans was spared flooding and major damage from Hurricane Ida in part because of billions of dollars in investments made in flood protection by the Army Corp of Engineers. We’ve since found out that the protections were built stronger than might have been allowed at the time by using 200 year versus 100 year estimates of future storm strength. (Alejandro de la Garza | Time Magazine)

Gentrification is complicated: While first coined in England in the 1960s, gentrification as a term didn’t take off in the United States until the late 1990s as cities were facing major urban changes. But gentrification is a complicated topic with many meanings for different people. In this piece, Jerusalem Demsas writes that while gentrification is the most visible manefestation of urban inequality, segregation and concentrated poverty are the true blights of urban life. (Jerusalem Demsas | Vox)

Quote of the Week

“We perceive all of these services to be so separate we’ve never really emphasized the power of the network that they constitute. The philosophical problem that we need to solve is defining what we’re talking about.”

Lex Powers, manager of strategic planning at SEPTA in the Philadelphia Inquirer discussing plans for renaming it’s rail lines under the umbrella name Metro.

This week on the podcast, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett talk about their book, “Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives.”

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer