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Archive for April, 2007

It seems that Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation has done her work. Columbus blogs have lit up with comments, and that’s likely the most valuable piece of her $165k fee. Granted, I myself could do a hell of a lot with that amount of money, but it’s a mere drop in the bucket for a civic-works-a-go-go package.

With that said, here’s my point of view;

No government initiative is going to make Columbus cool. I think we all agree with that. A lively downtown coupled with a good art/music scene is a reasonable start. Parts of that will be encouraged through zoning and tax incentives, but that’s not enough in and of itself.

Artists arrive when there is a market for their work. The same thing holds true with musicians. Neighborhood markets will spring to life when the population decides to stop shopping at the Blue Box, and “mallternatives” prosper when we stop driving to the suburbs to shop at the malls. In a nutshell, we might believe that a vibrant urban community is something that we want, but if our value system does not support it, it won’t happen.

It’s like believing that recycling is a good thing, but not taking the time to buy products made of recycled material. We might believe that public transit is a wise investment, but how many of us are using the current system? If we believe in strong downtown retail, then why did City Center fail?

I’ve lived on both coasts, as well as a few places in-between. I was one of those that had never heard of Columbus, Ohio either. While living in Salt Lake City, some chat friends from here said I should visit. I never considered it. It was out of “the loop” as far as I was concerned.

In 1999, I arrived here for the first time because of work. At the time I was living in Orlando. In my free time, I set out on foot, exploring the Short North, Goodale Park, Clintonville and German Village. I fell in love with the city that first day and moved up six months later.

What I liked most about Columbus was the potential. It was easy to see what the city was about to become. There aren’t many mid-tier cities with healthy inner-city neighborhoods. Whether it was an oversight of the wrecking ball, or simply luck, Columbus neighborhoods look and feel good, and they’re getting progressively better.

I had been priced out of my native Minneapolis, and I watched Salt Lake City grow from a place where people burned down their houses as a way to get rid of them. I would have never imagined Salt Lake becoming as cool as it is today. New York was outrageously expensive, as was San Francisco and I knew I’d never have a decent life there. Orlando was a sub-urban nightmare.

But when I discovered Columbus, I realized that I could live in a great neighborhood, walk to most everything, have good neighbors with a good work ethic and have it at an affordable price. Friends around the US (many of whom still have not come to visit) are floored when I tell them how affordable it is here. There is value in these attributes.

Columbus is becoming a great city. It may never be a “Chicago” or a “San Diego”, but it will become the sum of its population, and will evolve to reflect the values of those living here. Individual value systems are not the work of government planning, rather, our “values” are tallied by our consumption and the market place adjusts accordingly.

Tell us your Columbus story.

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Expand your knowledge

There is still time to catch a few of remaining Winter/Spring lecture series at the Knowlton School of Architecture.

The lecture series are held on Wednesday evenings at 5:30pm in the Knowlton Hall Auditorium at OSU. 275 West Woodruff Avenue, 43210.

The next lecture, on May 2nd, is a look into European and American urban projects.


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Columbus Brain-Gain

 

“Beauty and the Geek”, the CW Network reality show will be hosting a casting call for their 4th season in Columbus. Now, who said there was a brain-drain going on here? According to the press release, the network is looking for smart guys, age 21-30, with a high IQ and a savvy intellect that are more likely to be featured on Jeopardy than The Bachelor.

The casting call will be held at Skyebar, 1562 North High Street, on Saturday May 12th, from the hours of 10am-4pm.

It’s a major brain-gain for the city and national media attention. Gentlemen, prepare your slide rules.

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SkyBus

Columbus residents are seemingly excited about the arrival of SkyBus, the new “hometown” airline. With ticket prices starting at $10, it’s as if the consumer has died and gone to heaven.

The City of Columbus gave SkyBus a $14 million dollar incentive package, including a 75% property tax credit, a 50% personal income tax credit, and it also includes $1 million from the Columbus Franklin County Finance Authority.

SkyBus flight attendants, the largest employee group there, earn $9 per hour. Because of FAA mandated rest periods, flight attendants can legally fly up to 100-125 hours per month, and their pay usually begins only when the plane is actually moving (taxing and flying). Based on these numbers, we can expect these folks to bring home $900-$1125 per month before taxes. With that income, we might expect to see some SkyBus employees filing to receive public assistance. Now there’s an incentive package!

SkyBus flight attendants will also be receiving a “commission” for the food and beverages sold on board. So, if you’re flying SkyBus, it’ll be a good idea for you to max out on the consumables. We certainly want our new neighbors to be able to afford gas for their lawn mowers so that they won’t be asking to borrow ours.

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Jane Jacobs

If you haven’t read a Jane Jacobs’ book, you’re missing one of North America’s great authors. Her best-known book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities was published in 1961 and remains relevant today.

I’ve just picked up Dark Age Ahead, another of her works, where she writes about the potential decay in the pillars of Western society. A quote from the jacket cover:

First we must concede that things are awry. Jacobs identifies five central pillars of our society that show serious signs of decay: community and family; higher education; science and technology; government representation; and self-regulation of the learned professions. These are the elements we depend on to stand firm-but Jacobs maintains that they are in the process of becoming irrelevant. If that happens, we will no longer recognize ourselves.

Her compelling and logical positions are made within the first fifteen pages, creating dialogue that keeps the reader riveted and wanting more. I’d call it a “must read” for those of us that care about the City of Columbus, or any of our hometowns, for that matter.

ISBN:  1400076706

Jane Jacobs died in April of 2006.

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Whew!

So, we thought we’d get in on all the “blogging” fun going on in Columbus. In addition to all the great stuff going on around here, we thought we’d add some more of the thought-provoking items that people in Columbus should be aware of. It’s our goal to share some of the love, toss out a few ideas, and do our best to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling that everyone gets when they hang out in Columbus.

Contact us at:  UrbanInFill  |at|  mac  |dot|  com

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