Thursday, May 6, 2010

Parks on Top, Highways Below

Posted By on Thu, May 6, 2010 at 8:30 AM

USAToday had a trend story yesterday about cities that have created parks and pedestrian-friendly spaces on top of highways.

In cites such as St. Louis, Los Angeles, and my very own Big D, these green freeways are helping downtown revitalization efforts.

Transportation departments are not opposed as long as the plans don't reduce highway capacity. In most cases, traffic is rerouted.

"It's the coming together of people wanting green space and realizing that highways are a negative to the city," says Peter Harnik, director of the Trust for Public Land's Center for City Park Excellence. "Covering them with green space gives you a wonderful place to live and work."

The story also adds that developers and environmentalists are pushing for so-called decking for different reasons: developers see a way to add more prime real estate to the downtown market while environmentalists hope to offset emissions and reduce reliance on cars.

Also, my favorite part, one of the sources quoted compares highways to a medieval wall.

For more, and to see the specifics of several similar projects around the country, click here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

National Civic Participation Director Speaks to Local Nonprofits

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Nonprofits might be making more money than you think.

"The nonprofit sector is an important economic sector. It's 11 percent of the workforce," says Sonal Shah, White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation director. "Nonprofits generate $600 billion a year."


Shah spoke at the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence's Fifth Annual conference this morning, telling attendees that her office is trying to put a spotlight on issues and innovations.

"The President and First Lady believe that the solutions to the problems we face are in communities around the country," Shah said. "Our job is to find those."

The office allocates growth funds to successful programs around the country and looks for public/private partnerships, such as the text4baby program with Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Text4baby aims to stem high infant mortality rates among low-income mothers by sending those women a text about what they should do each week of their pregnancy.

"Many times public/private partnerships mean government has paid for services or that government wants something for free," she said. "Each of us has to give something."

Continue reading »

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rebuild Government Ethics Survey

Posted By on Tue, May 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM

(Sorry that posting has been light/nonexistent. I was out of the office last week, visiting family, and despite my best intentions, didn't hit up the blog.)

In discussions with Shelby Countians, Rebuild Government has found that the issues they seem to care most about in consolidation discussions are crime, education, and ethics.

Education is off the table in the merger discussions, both because it's a hot-button issue and b/c, legally, neither the County Commission nor the City Council have the power to force the Memphis City Schools to consolidate.

But the metro charter commission recently approved ethical guidelines for the new government. In response, Rebuild Government has set up a survey to get feedback from citizens. You can take that survey by going here.

The first part of that same ethics survey, completed last week, "showed a mandate" for strong ethics policies with anti-nepotism approved by 91 percent, anti-cronyism approved by 81 percent, and anti-fraternization approved by 50 percent.

To read more about the metro government push in Shelby County, read the Flyer's earlier cover story: A Decent Proposal?

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