New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Down on the Corner

September 19, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Jay Walljasper

Neighborhoods Are Defined by What’s in Store

by Jay Walljasper

It’s undeniably fun to write each week about what’s happening in cities around the world, chronicling trends like bikesharing, cool new public spaces and crowdsourcing.  But it’s not all glamour.

A lot of what makes a great place to live is actually quite prosaic: sidewalks and sewer pipes, fire and police protection, effective public officials and dedicated citizens.

And, oh yes, corner groceries.

I’m serious. No neighborhood will be truly vibrant if you must drive a mile or two or more every time you need eggs and espresso beans. Commerce is the lifeblood of any community but even the best bookstore or a knock-your-socks-off vintage fashion boutique can wholly compensate for the lack of a food store.  (more…)

Balm the Suburbs

June 01, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Creating Community Wherever We Are

by Jay Walljasper

In a surprise, the Washington Post ran an article defending suburbs from the usual charges of being white, wealthy, boring, selfish, right-wing, and environmentally-abominable places.

More than half of Americans now live in suburbia, including most subscribers, so it’s no surprise the newspaper would take an opportunity to reassure its readers that they live in perfectly fine communities.

The surprise was who wrote the article: William Upski Wimsatt, a champion of hip hop culture who grew up on Chicago’s South Side and in 1994 published a book titled Bomb the Suburbs.  Wimsatt took pains to explain that “bomb” was youth culture slang for graffiti, but he left little doubt about his feelings toward the ‘burbs. (more…)