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How a Houston Housing Project Earned a MacArthur Grant

September 19, 2014 Nestled in Houston's Third Ward are six blocks chock full of art. Art you can touch, art built with slats and nails, art that people live in and live with. It's work that takes the shape of a neighborhood. And though it's the work of many people, including the residents ...

Can Cities Ease Homelessness With Storage Units?

August 27, 2014 Back in the fall of 2009, some three-dozen San Diegans were taking in a Sunday church service when they lost everything. These people were homeless, so while they enjoyed food and worship inside the church, they parked their belongings outside. That's where agents from the city's Environmental Services Department rounded ...

Should St. Louis City and St. Louis County Consolidate?

August 19, 2014 "We're in a fight for our lives on the world stage," said St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley during a recent gathering of leaders. He wasn't talking about the situation in Ferguson, which hadn't yet happened. Although he didn't know it then, Dooley was talking about the steps that ...

Justice Reform in the U.S. Should Start With Probation

August 15, 2014 The day after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon switched up the police presence in Ferguson, the scene looks much transformed. Ron Johnson, above, captain with the Missouri Highway Patrol, led protesters in a peaceful march last night—the same protesters on whom St. Louis County Police Department officers trained rifles the day ...

At This Point, Ferguson Is a City Under Siege

August 13, 2014 The standoff between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police shooting of Michael Brown turned violent last night. A St. Louis County Police officer shot and critically wounded a man in the area where protesters have assembled since Saturday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the man is ...

Paramilitary Police Are Changing Law Enforcement in the Suburbs

August 12, 2014 Of the many tragic images to emerge from Ferguson, Missouri, over the weekend, one of the most disturbing—and increasingly common—was the sight of a military vehicle patrolling suburban streets. Protesters outraged by the police killing of 18-year-old Ferguson resident Michael Brown were met by police in riot gear, police carrying ...

Should Colleges Be Broadband Hubs for Their Communities?

August 1, 2014 "What starts here changes the world." That's the motto at the University of Texas at Austin. You can hear venerable UT alumnus Walter Cronkite purr the school slogan on the "We're Texas" commercials that interrupt Longhorns football games. If you've got the Longhorn Network, that is. Given that Texas-sized boast, ...

Requiem for a Nightmare

July 31, 2014 "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work," Gustave Flaubert once said. I come back to this quote any time there is news of a Brutalist building being demolished or endangered. Whenever a Brutalist structure is scheduled for demolition, the ...

Austin's Rail-or-Fail Vote Is Uniting Transit Supporters and Foes

July 24, 2014 Late in June, the Austin City Council endorsed Austin Urban Rail, a $1.4 billion proposal to build a light-rail line through downtown along the city's East Side. The council's unanimous vote clears the way for a bond measure to appear on the ballot in the November election. This is the ...

What's Behind the Backlash to Houston's 'One Bin for All' Program

July 21, 2014 Back in March 2013, Houston won one of the inaugural Mayors Challenge prizes from Bloomberg Philanthropies for a dramatic proposal. The One Bin For All program offered a new solution for recycling, simplifying the two-bin answer to household waste settled on by most cities. In Houston, residents would put everything ...