→ UrbanTimes: 10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space
Public spaces are increasingly being recognized as a crucial ingredient for successful cities, and for their ability to revitalize and create economic and social development opportunities. But actually finding ways to build and maintain healthy public space remains elusive to many municipal governments, especially in the developing world. The vast web of streets, parks, plazas, and courtyards that define the public realm is often lacking, too poorly planned, or without adequate citizen participation in the design process.
Recognizing these challenges, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) released earlier this month a draft of their handbook Placemaking and the Future of Cities. It’s intended to serve as a best practices guide for those wishing to improve the economic, environmental and social health of their communities through the power of successful public space.
→ VolumeOne: Successful Riverfront 101
Must-Have Items For A Great Waterfront Destination By Project For Public Spaces
→ Transportation Nation: Amtrak: ‘We’re 85% Self-Sufficient’; Pols: ‘Not Good Enough’
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meets this morning to hold Amtrak to the fire over taxpayer subsidies to the national rail network. Amtrak, founded in 1971, has never made a profit. Over its four decades of operating a for-profit passenger service on 44 rail routes, Amtrak has received about $40 billion in subsidies for capital and operating expenses.
Transportation Committee Chair, John Mica (R-Fla.) says a big chunk of those subsidies are wasted. In recent months, Mica has been shining a brighter spotlight on what he sees as unnecessary spending and mismanagement at Amtrak. Today’s hearing will be the third of three discussing Amtrak operations. The head of Amtrak, Joe Boardman, will be on the stand along with representatives from the bus industry, a rail passenger group and the conservative Cato Institute.
→ USA Today: Front porches making a big comeback
It’s not quite a return to Norman Rockwell’s Americana, but the rise in the number of new homes with porches hints at a shift in the way Americans want to live: in smaller houses and dense neighborhoods that promote walking and social interaction.
The data also show that the percentage of homes built without a garage or carport is the highest since the late 1990s. At the housing boom peak in 2004, 8% of new homes had no car shelter. It hit 13% in 2010 and 2011.