Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
The Urbanophile has been in the news a lot lately and I haven’t had time to link it all, so I put together this media roundup of my latest coverage. Back to more original content tomorrow.
My piece on Detroit as the new American frontier was featured by the New York Times as a must read Idea of the Day. It was also featured at Time (actually, featured twice). This attracted the notice of the Detroit News and MLive.
The NYT and others homed in on the urban agriculture angle, which is a common Detroit meme, but I think missed a key point of the piece. It’s not about any particular strategy for renewal, but about creating a narrative of Detroit as the laboratory for alternative ideas of urban life and a new American frontier, a new narrative that can start attracting people back to the city. It’s not just agriculture, it’s artists and Afrocentric educators and more. It’s the possibilities of Detroit.
This resonated with a lot of the news sites on the free market right because I mentioned the light hand of government as a key factor in enabling this. But it also caught the attention of the left because most of the things actually happening in Detroit are more along those lines. In fact, you can look at parts of Detroit as a sort of commune or artists colony, for example.
My piece the White City was even bigger. Obviously I knew that would be a controversial piece and stir up conversation in the urban blogosphere. But I didn’t know it would turn into a big international story.
Somewhat understandably, it got caught up into a left-right debate, possibly due to my use of the term progressive. I didn’t mean that in the political left sense (a number of my non-progressive cities like Cleveland are purest blue), but rather in the urban policy innovation sense. Also, outside urbanists circles, the “Portland meme” of how great that city is isn’t as well known. A number of people criticized it for other reasons, such as ignoring variables of diversity other than African Americans. I did address this a bit in the piece. Frankly, even if you just look at purely white population, the thesis is still pretty strong. Austin is about 20 percentage points whiter than Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio, for example. (I actually changed the graphic for a syndicated version of the article).
I won’t link all of these because there are just plain too many of them. But places discussing it included the Economist, the London Daily Telegraph, Andrew Sullivan, Ta-Neshi Coates, Matthew Yglesias, multiple writers at the Root, Streetsblog, Race Wire, the National Review, the Oregonian, the Kansas City Star, Daily Kos, Ann Althouse, Instapundit, and many more. The article was also re-syndicated into the print editions of the Dallas Morning News and the Omaha World-Herald.
The piece is still going strong – it is as of this writing the #2 most popular current article at New Geography – three weeks after it appeared. (The #1 currently popular article there is a syndicated version of the Detroit piece that was posted several days ago).
My What’s Killing California piece has also been discussed in various places and continues to float around out there. One notable sample is over at the New America Foundation, along with overlawyered.com. Actually, lots of the articles I put up these days are discussed and referenced in all sorts of interesting places.
I’m obviously very happy about the increasing attention this blog continues to receive from people of all different stripes at the national and international level. When both Free Republic and Democratic Underground link to your site and like it, you know you must be doing something right. I’m glad that I’m able to be part of a broader conversation on cities in America.
I just want to thank all of you, my readers, for all the time you’ve invested in reading and reacting to this site. It took a long time to get the point where a lot major media outlets are reading and covering the blog. Thanks for coming along with me and being part of this journey. I hope you’ll continue to be there with me as we go forward from here.