1. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  2. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  3. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  4. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  5. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  6. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  7. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  8. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  9. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  10. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  11. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  12. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  13. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  14. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  15. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  16. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  17. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  18. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  19. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  20. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  21. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  22. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  23. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  24. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  25. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  26. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  27. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  28. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  29. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  30. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  31. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  32. THE NATURE GAP
  33. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  34. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  35. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  36. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  37. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  38. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  39. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  40. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  41. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  42. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  43. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  44. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  45. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  46. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  47. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  48. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  49. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  50. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  51. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  52. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  53. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  54. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  55. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  56. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  57. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  58. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  59. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  60. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  61. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  62. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  63. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  64. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  65. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  66. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  67. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  68. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  69. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  70. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  71. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  72. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  73. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  74. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  75. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  76. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  77. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  78. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  79. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  80. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  81. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  82. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  83. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  84. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  85. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  86. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  87. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  88. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  89. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  90. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  91. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  92. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  93. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  94. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  95. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  96. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  97. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  98. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  99. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  100. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  101. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  102. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  103. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  104. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  105. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  106. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  107. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  108. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  109. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  110. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  111. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  112. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  113. Are You Going to Drink That?
  114. The Origins of ecoWURD
  115. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  116. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  117. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  118. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Friday, July 30, 2021
  1. WE NEED MORE BLACK PEOPLE IN AGRICULTURE
  2. WHEN THERE’S NO CLEAN ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVE NOTHING
  3. A PREMATURE END TO EVICTION MORATORIUMS
  4. THE LACK OF BELIEF IN CLIMATE CRISIS IS JUST AS MUCH A THREAT
  5. YOU CAN’T HAVE RACIAL JUSTICE WITHOUT FAIR HOUSING
  6. RUN OVER THE SYSTEMS: THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM
  7. PENNSYLVANIA IS “WAY BEHIND” ON SOLAR. HOW DOES IT CATCH UP?
  8. Pandemic Relief For Black Farmers Still Is Not Enough
  9. A BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEXT URBANISM
  10. THAT ELECTRONIC & CLOTHING WASTE PILES UP. SO WHERE TO PUT IT?
  11. THE WOMB IS THE FIRST ENVIRONMENT
  12. A FRIDGE FOR EVERYONE WHO’S HUNGRY
  13. OLD SCHOOL FOSSIL FUEL ECONOMY VS. NEW SCHOOL CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
  14. ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE IS THE TOP SOCIAL JUSTICE PRIORITY
  15. IN 2020, DID “BIG GREEN” BECOME LESS WHITE?
  16. CLIMATE ACTION CAN POWER OUR RECOVERY
  17. IN PANDEMIC, AN HBCU DOES IT BETTER
  18. A DANGEROUS LACK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROTECTIONS
  19. HOW FAST CAN A BIDEN PRESIDENCY MOVE ON CLIMATE ISSUES?
  20. CRAFTING A BLACK-DRIVEN CORONAVIRUS AND CLIMATE “STIMULUS” AGENDA
  21. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  22. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  23. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  24. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  25. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  26. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  27. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  28. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  29. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  30. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  31. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  32. THE NATURE GAP
  33. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  34. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  35. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  36. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  37. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  38. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  39. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  40. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  41. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  42. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  43. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  44. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  45. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  46. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  47. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  48. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  49. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  50. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  51. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  52. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  53. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  54. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  55. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  56. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  57. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  58. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  59. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  60. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  61. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  62. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  63. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  64. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  65. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  66. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  67. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  68. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  69. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  70. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  71. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  72. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  73. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  74. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  75. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  76. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  77. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  78. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  79. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  80. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  81. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  82. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  83. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  84. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  85. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  86. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  87. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  88. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  89. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  90. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  91. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  92. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  93. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  94. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  95. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  96. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  97. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  98. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  99. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  100. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  101. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  102. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  103. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  104. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  105. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  106. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  107. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  108. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  109. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  110. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  111. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  112. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  113. Are You Going to Drink That?
  114. The Origins of ecoWURD
  115. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  116. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  117. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  118. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

Pete Saunders | ecoWURD guest oped

 

 

The parallel rise of cities and the tech economy, fueled by the educated creative class that favored city living (and the serendipitous creativity it can deliver) meant to many people that cities had won.

 

I never really thought that. Instead, what I saw was the back-to-the-city movement as having successfully completed its first phase and waiting for the second to begin. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened.

 

Cities have overcome a significant hurdle over the last couple of decades. Cities – or, at least the most successful of the superstar variety – have continued to attract the best and brightest, the highly educated and the talented. Cities have gained a new appreciation over the last 30-40 years. In fact, what we may see is that successful suburbs of the future will get that way by becoming more urban in their orientation, not less. More density, more mixed use, more diversity of housing stock, a reimagining of the auto-oriented, shopping-center-and-big-box model that’s dominated communities for decades.

 

However, an infatuation and hyperfocus on the new economy/creative class growth paradigm left lots of people on the margins. In retrospect it was limited from the outset because it relied so heavily on a well-educated workforce, and only so many people have access, or even the desire, to pursue that route. Many people also thought that the tech economy would have the widespread economic imprint, especially in employment, that manufacturing had.

 

It did not.

 

The creative class model had a ceiling and we reached it. The Great Recession first revealed it. The Covid pandemic has made it profoundly clear.

 

The comeback of cities over the last 30-40 years has largely been the tale of the return of the upper-middle class to cities. But it was never a tale of the rebirth of the middle class in cities, as much as the upper-middle class seeks to define themselves that way. And it was hardly a tale of the return of the upper-middle class to all cities – only the ones that were the largest and had intrinsic appeal to begin with. All this was happening while the solid middle of the economic and social spectrum continued to fade away.

 

The creative class model never had, and never will have, the potency to transform more than a segment of cities.

 

Don’t get me wrong: I think the creative class paradigm is here to stay. Young creatives have been attracted to the city since the Beat Generation of the late ’50s. A new channel has been opened that cities can tap into for revitalization. But the middle class that was largely concentrated in the manufacturing sector for the second half of the twentieth century is a shadow of its former self. It’s not coming back. It’s been replaced by an expanded service class that includes bar and restaurant workers, low- and middle-skilled healthcare workers, retail workers, gig workers (like rideshare drivers and deliverers) and more. The expanded service class grew to meet the needs of a growing creative class. It’s here to stay as well.

 

The creative class paradigm just needs to be expanded to include the service class that’s been neglected for the last 40 years. Our service class may be the middle class we seek, but we don’t treat them that way now.

 

We need a national policy program for a rebirth of the middle class in America’s cities. I definitely think the pandemic has revealed our over-reliance on and lack of appreciation for our service class. That has exposed some real problems. Deeming the service class as essential workers in a time of crisis, without doing much more than offering our gratitude, is outrageous.

 

It’s time to recreate the American middle class, and expand the revitalization of cities in the process. Here are ten ideas on how we can do it.

 

Increase pay for service workers. Americans are addicted to getting something for nothing. Maybe we all are. Sadly, as the demand for services has increased over the decades, the cost of service has barely changed. It’s time to acknowledge the true value of service work, and pay service workers for it.

 

Continue making healthcare coverage affordable. With the new Biden administration, it looks for now as if the Affordable Care Act has survived four years of attacks from former president Donald Trump and Republicans. But returning to a status quo that hardly got established under the Obama administration isn’t enough. Affordable health care has tangible economic benefits, offering economic security and fomenting entrepreneurship when a significant barrier – paying high healthcare coverage costs – is reduced or removed.

 

Bring back management training and apprenticeship programs. At the point where creative class and service class workers intersect, it might also mean management or apprenticeship programs at large corporations that help service workers rise to management ranks, opening up a new route to professional growth.

 

Normalize employee benefits like sick time, vacation time and overtime across the workplace spectrum. Professional workers of all types, creative or otherwise, take for granted the time flexibility offered to them. Why can’t more of that be extended to service workers?

 

Support union organizing and participation for service workers.  Today’s service class is currently in no position to bargain for the kinds of benefits I’m proposing above, and unions are dramatically weaker than they were 40 years ago. The service industry desperately needs union support.

 

Establish a greater – federal – commitment to child care and higher education access. I know from personal experience – paying for child care for four children consistently over 12 years – that child care is brutal. We were fortunate; we were able to (barely) make it. But the high cost of child care for less skilled workers may mean that someone opts out of the job market rather than take on a job with wages lost to child care. Similarly, our reliance on education loans to fund college serves as a deterrent to many. Both need our attention.

 

Establish a greater – federal – commitment to entrepreneurship to support small business formation and growth through loans and grants programs.  Another major barrier to entrepreneurship is the access to capital. If large corporations aren’t able to harness more of the nation’s workforce, let’s help more people get the necessary resources to start and grow businesses.

 

Neighborhoods. This might be a pipe dream, but I’ll say it anyway: I wish that full-fledged, fully developed neighborhoods – the so-called 15-minute city that includes most of an individual’s daily needs within walking distance – became the unit of development in American cities. Not the subdivision, not the commercial node at the highway interchange. It would dramatically alter our views of how we live.

 

Get serious about housing policy. It seems housing policy has gained greater attention over the last decade or so, leading to more activity – but not necessarily better results.  While a lot of effort has been spent in building more housing in the hotspots of the high-priced cities, it would be time well spent to focus on removing affordability barriers with the same fervor in the nation’s suburbs.

 

Gentrification Management. Battles between low-income longtime neighborhood residents and affluent newcomers have defined the back-to-the-city movement since it started. But what if gentrification was seen as an opportunity to expand opportunity, and not diminish it? There are models out there to revitalize communities without displacement. We just need the will to implement them.

 

Radical ideas? Mostly no. There’s nothing new in any of the ideas I propose. But taken together they create ways to challenge the economic hoarding of the affluent and professional classes, the top twenty percent, for the last half century.

 

It might be more sexy to say the game has changed and that cities will never recapture their recent glory, but I don’t believe so. I think the movement, if that’s what it was, reached its logical conclusion. Let’s use it as the foundation for the next level of urbanism.

PETE SAUNDERS is a Chicago-based urban planning expert and publisher of The Corner Side Yard.