Some reading to help the shift to a slower time of year.

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The calendar page has turned to October.

Here in the Great Lakes region, overnight temperatures are dipping into the 40s (or even the 30s in some places), leaves are beginning to change colors, and the sun is setting earlier and earlier. Sweaters and jackets are being unpacked, pumpkin patches are springing up along the sides of roads, and rakes are being brought out of the recesses of garages.

I point this all out as a way of mentioning the undeniable fact that another summer has waned and autumn has arrived to take its place.

This time every year, I find…


What might help the places we live, work, and play rebound in these uncertain times?

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It’s been a little while since I published anything here on Medium dot com. A whole lot of tragedy, confusion, and, quite frankly, callous behavior has been on display across America these past few months (not to mention heroics, selflessness, and a little bit of hope), and I’ve been doing my best to process everything.

If you’ll allow me to get slightly personal for a moment, I can tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has worn on my mental health. …


The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the folly of four decades of disinvestment in shared resources.

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I didn’t write last week, and I was barely able to write this week. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has become so all-pervasive, it’s tough to think about anything else.

It’s especially tough to think about the future of cities when we have no idea what sort of future we will emerge into when the worst of this is over. It’s certain that our cities will endure, though, I’m reminded, as Richard Florida noted on Twitter, “Our cities have been reshaped and re-designed by previous health crises.”

What that reshaping and redesigning will look like, however, is not a question I’m…


As disruptions spread, it’s plain to see we need to invest more in community organizations and institutions.

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I was debating whether to write anything this week given what the world is encountering in the COVID-19 outbreak. We’ve all seen, in ways both major and minor, disruption to our institutions and lives, and in times such as these, the truly important things tend to come into clearer focus.

Among the truly important things, I’m fairly certain blogging isn’t one of them.

On Friday, though, I read an interesting piece from Lee Chilcote for Cleveland Scene, and after ruminating on it for the better part of a day, had a small inkling of an idea I wanted to express…


These fixes won’t take years and millions of dollars to implement.

Video via Fast Company

I could watch that video of Copenhagen on a loop for hours. It’s like witnessing an urban ballet. But there isn’t a city in the United States that is on a par with Copenhagen when it comes to transportation.

In researching this piece, it was infuriating how awful mass transit in the United States compared to the rest of the world. It’s embarrassing to try to put even our best transit cities in the same league as mediocre ones in Europe and Asia.

Before any American city becomes the next Copenhagen, there’s a ton of work…


The urban planning luminary, who passed away in December, left a legacy that still impacts the profession today.

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Three houses in a row had plywood nailed up over the windows, their early spring yards already showing signs of overgrowth. It was a cool, damp Saturday morning in Cleveland, and the few people who were outside in the neighborhood had skeptical looks on their faces as a group of a dozen students walked by.

At the head of the group, markedly, was an elderly man, wearing slacks and a windbreaker. He did not move quickly, but whether that was due to age or by design for this walking tour, it’s hard to say. …


Ohio’s urban centers are economically vital, why aren’t they better connected?

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The popular narrative of the Rust Belt is one of decline, one of yesterday’s thinking and hollowed-out cities. The idea of economic vitality is regularly dismissed out of hand, and the region must struggle to change the minds of people who are not paying close attention.

Challenges still exist throughout the Rust Belt, to be sure. But progress is steadily being made, as cities throughout the region embrace the emerging facets of the 21st century economy.

New research points to one such point of progress in the state of Ohio.

According to a forthcoming report authored by Richey Piiparinen, director…


After decades of unproductive use, surface parking lots in the city’s core are finally giving way to development.

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When news broke two weeks ago that Sherwin-Williams, the world’s highest-revenue paints and coatings company and one of the largest employers in northeast Ohio, had chosen to remain headquartered in downtown Cleveland, it was continuing a recent trend.

When the company, which has has occupied the Landmark Office Towers complex since 1930, builds its new 1-million square-foot global headquarters just west of Public Square, the symbolic center of the central business district, the development will rise on the site of what is now surface parking lots.

This is just the latest example of a building boom that is taking a…


The region’s greatest asset is also one of its most underutilized.

Photo by Elizabeth Kay on Unsplash

Take a drive east into downtown Cleveland on the West Shoreway, and you’ll see it. There on the lakefront, as you pass by First Energy Stadium, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the Great Lakes Science Center sits the future of the Rust Belt economy.

Or at least what could be the future: a large wind turbine.


New research suggests the region will withstand coming changes in better shape than most.

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“Climate is redefining every aspect of society, already — and we’re only at the beginning.” So said the climate futurist Alex Steffen recently in a lengthy thread on his twitter account. “The question is no longer whether we’re going to act, but when? And to who’s advantage?”

There is new research that suggests the Rust Belt is one of the places that may actually benefit from climate change action in the United States. No one really wins with climate change, of course, but the region could be poised to withstand it better than others.

Coastal cities and the Sun Belt could suffer

A large-scale data analysis and forecasting

Benno Martens

Urban planner and writer. bennomartens.com

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