So…why are you doing this? Note #2 from Better Block Boro

Another little peach for you from my weekend at Better Block Boro in Middlesborough, Kentucky.  You ever known a med student?  They’re stressed all the time!  But here’s three from the medical school at Lincoln Memorial University  (and there were a lot more) pulling on long underwear and work gloves to help clean up an overgrown vacant lot and turn it into a glimmer of what it could be.

Listen to what they say about why they’re out here on a cold Saturday morning (and yes, the lady behind the camera assures you, it was Coooold!).  Each of them has a slightly different reason.  And note that none of them grew up in Middlesborough, or even live there.

Remember these guys the next time you want to say “no one cares about this place.”  LMU med students from other states came out to help this little town.  Chances are there’s someone out there who wants to make your place better.  They just might not be where you would first think to look.


Tactical Economy? Note #1 from Better Block Boro

I’m still trying to get dug out from my whirlwind experience in Middlesborough, Kentucky, this weekend as part of the Better Block Boro event.  But to start with, I wanted to share with you this video with Mike Lydon, of Street Plans Collaborative.  Mike was helping Middlesborough’s volunteers with a series of “tactical interventions,” and this parklet (which was constructed a few days before the actual event) was one of them.  In this video, Mike explains some of the economic benefits as well — benefits that, strangely enough, outstripped the sacred value of the Parking Space Right In Front Of My Door!  If you deal with downtown property owners, you know how much gets wrapped up in that, but the parklet experience here and elsewhere sez otherwise.


I’d seen  stuff on tactical urbanism before, but I’d never had a chance to see it at work on the scale they were working it in Middlesborough.  I’m thinking now about how we might apply the principles of this approach — light, cheap, fast, imperfect but progress — to economic development and other aspects of community revitalization.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In the meantime, here’s Mike!




These dresses are made of city maps. Wear your city.

Out of my price range, but, wow. Check out the bags.

Google Public Data Explorer


Google Public Data Explorer – Interesting Stats based on Publicly Published Data

Search through databases from around the world, including the World Bank, OECD, Eurostat and the U.S. Census Bureau. After you find what you want, filter through categories to make graphs with the axes you want. Google’s Public Data Explorer then displays the data in a line graph, bar graph, scatterplot or on a map.

#opendata   #opengovernment

Has anyone used this? Thoughts? Experience?

Google Public Data Explorer