Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Don't Believe the Hype

(Don't worry, not another lengthy paean to my obscure musical tastes).  

I'm intrigued by what people say or think when I tell them about my trip.  Most people really get my research topic and offer up their own thoughts and ideas.  I've had a couple of interesting links sent to the me in the last few days - one about Washington, DC and one about Houston.  

The DC article is a interesting piece of writing.  There's a challenge inherent in that sort of analysis where the 'travel to work area' is smaller than the official boundaries of a City (see my own City Slang for a view on the impact of this for Nottingham).  Two points of note: a good proportion of the other major employers are support industries (eg hospitals) that wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the major employer and that of the remaining employers there will be lots of small similar organisations (again, mainly there because of the major employer - think lawyers and lobbyists) that when amalgamated will be a significant sectoral presence. 

Outtake: DC is a company town (unless you squint really hard and want it not to be true) but there's loads of other stuff going on too.  

Houston's a place that I've want to go to for a while.  I've got the typical British view that Texas is the deepest of the deep south and that my lefty views probably won't be that welcome but that Houston is an oasis of urban liberalness in the desert.  I know that both views aren't really true so welcome other evidence.  The article feels a bit like a rehashed press release but there's some interesting facts hidden in there.  I love the fact that "the median age of a Houston resident is a youthful 33" - (i) because it's great to have a young and vibrant city and (ii) 33 is still "youthful" - that gives me another 3 years of clinging on to my youth...  And I like the idea of a city that can be called a, "zoning-free mashup of a streetscape".  I spent a fascinating morning at WorkTwo1 the other month discussing Manual For Streets - I'm passionate about creating communities through planning policies so intrigued by what sort of City can be created through not applying planning ('zoning') policies.

Outtake: Probe below the surface opinion and you might find out something interesting.  

Outtake outtake: Trying to characterise any city in a homogeneous way will undoubtedly mean that you miss a lot of the richness and variety of a location.  I can't wait to visit both cities and make up my own mind! 

1. WorkOne = My four-days-a-week 'day-job' at Boots, WorkTwo = my one-day-a-week role as an elected Councillor for Nottingham City Council

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