What We Mean When We Say Hello

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The curious geography of American greetings

The most popular suggestion is some version of “Where do you live?” But as you describe, you are really after an answer offering some social-economic-cultural hints about a person’s life.

You say that the geography of where you live in town tells so much about who you are: Are you rich or poor, artsy or sporty, are you there for schools or for the new urban measure of “walkability?”

via The Atlantic.

The real problem in the South isn’t weather, it’s history.

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In light of Atlanta’s snow fiasco:

Then there’s the part about having “too narrow a sense of social responsibility.” Exhibit A here is the failure in 2012 of a massive $7.2 billion transportation initiative, which would have paid for sorely needed regional highway improvements and funneled $600 million into the Atlanta Beltline, an innovative proposal to link neighborhoods in the city by light rail, using 22 miles of abandoned cargo lines left over from Atlanta’s heyday as a railroad hub. To which the voters of the metropolitan Atlanta area said: Hell, no. Here is a region that even without freak snowstorms is choking on its own traffic, which has built its reputation on being a transportation hub, which is looking at a future when gas will never be less than $3 a gallon again, and all voters could think about was how much they hated government and paying taxes. They had their reasons—Georgia has no shortage of political corruption, and in 2012 the economy was still deeply in the tank—but even so, it was like watching folks refuse to get out of a burning house because they objected to the way the firemen were holding the ladder.

Source: Slate.

Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500

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Behind Will’s house was a paradise of wretched forestland. Any homes or buildings had been torn or fallen down, nature reclaiming what it had lost more than a century ago. Full-grown trees stood between dumped boats and hot tubs and railroad ties and piles of rubble, smack-dab on top of where houses used to be. A sextuplet of abandoned grain silos towered over the neighborhood. Scrappers would burn the insulation off copper wire at the bottom, and a rather congenial gentleman, since killed in a fistfight, lived in one of the boats. Occasionally Will and I would climb the towers and look out over the city, smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap beer. I’d try not to fall through the crumbling roof, and we’d point out landmarks, churches, schools, empty factories, trying to figure our place in it all.

via BuzzFeed.

An excellent first-person account on gentrification, redevelopment, and literally being a pioneer in rapidly deterioting Detroit.

Norman Foster’s Plans for elevated ‘SkyCycle’

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The project, which has the backing of Network Rail and Transport for London, would see over 220km of car-free routes installed above London\’s suburban rail network, suspended on pylons above the tracks and accessed at over 200 entrance points. At up to 15 metres wide, each of the ten routes would accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and improve journey times by up to 29 minutes, according to the designers.

Lord Foster, who says that cycling is one of his great passions, describes the plan as “a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city.”

via The Guardian.

When Tech Culture And Urbanism Collide

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A start would be to remind tech companies of one of their core principles: user-centered design. Understanding city life means living city life. Not just commuting to it or from it and certainly not believing you understand a person\’s situation just because you pass him or her on the street from time to time. The best products are those that begin with a user\’s motivation and needs. They are empathetic applications. To crack the nut of urban-scale opportunity — and there is a lot of it, just look at the \”sharing economy\” successes of Uber, Airbnb, and Zipcar — technology must be built amidst the same forces that create the problems it is trying to solve.

via Gizmodo.