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Urban Wonkbook- Names Do Matter

Good morning folks. Every once in a while, but generally once a week, I try to cull all of my favorite links into one place, write up some commentary and give some love (or wise constructive criticism) to a few other fellow writers. The name Wonkbook comes first from my friend over at the Washington Post and two, it comes from the concept of political and cultural analysis, which is my wheelhouse. This also gives me a chance to write directly to you readers and share more of the inner workings of my brain

-First of all, yesterday was a very exciting day over at the blog. I began my partnership with The Atlantic Cities to run some of the content you see right here. They chose to run my laundry adventure from a few weeks ago. I look forward to reaching new audiences and new people, not just die hard urbanists or community developers or cultural studies folks.

-In addition, continued thanks to the folks at Sustainable Cities Collective, who ran my analysis of freight transport versus actual people transport yesterday as well.

As always, if you want to read my posts first, make sure you are on the email list. I also have an RSS feed, working on getting it visible again. Also working on a few cosmetic changes to this site, so look out for those as well. In the meantime, I wanted to highlight a few more great posts:

-Apparently before CNU 18 (the Atlanta 2010 Congress), Howard Blackson had a laundry related adventure of his own. His, however, is more serious. If we can’t provide for basic needs, namely clothing, in our nice shiny new town centers, then I think we have failed. This was a two year old post, have we gotten better?

-Steve Mouzon had me a bit hungry yesterday as he discussed the urban form as a fried egg, with Philadelphia as the focus city. Outside of having great cheesteak, Philadelphia is well known for having an nice compact density. Yet, Mouzon warns us that if we have too much of the same thing, then even compact density is worthless. We should be mixing up our uses, even on the same block.

-Over in Charlotte, Tracey Crowe invites us to think about turning concrete walls into green walls. She also highlights how the famous tree canopy of Charlotte is gradually erroding, but the need for green organisms has not. Thankfully, we too in Greensboro still have a decent canopy, but I’ve seen some ugly maps out of our region too.

-Now we get to why names and stereotypes matter. First of all, take a look at this map that Renee DiResta put together. She took the first few things that come up in Google AutoComplete when people as “Why is so…” and overlayed them on a U.S. map. This site is more focused on reputation over names, but reputation is still as much part of our own personality as humans and that carries over into how we see our places as well.

-Finally, Dan Reed on Greater Greater Washington was given a bit of a hard time when he discussed why names matter. For him, it was seeing the apartment building of his childhood change names and lose some of it’s identity. A commenter tried to make the point that a name of a place is less important of an urban issue than poverty or other blight-related issues. Yet, I feel if a place has a name associated with blight, then it’s hard to sell or get people to rent there. Also, names can change on paper, but may never change in minds. Think about how many people still call Diddy, Puff Daddy. Even after 15 years, some things will never change.

Have a great day folks!

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