New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Walking Revolution

April 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

A Path to Health and Wellbeing Is Right Under Our Feet

by Jay Walljasper

The next big healthcare breakthrough — which could cut rates of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s by at least 40 percent and save Americans $100 billion a year — comes from a place you’d least expect. On your block. At the park. Everywhere.

So what’s this amazing treatment, which also happens to be easy, enjoyable and virtually free? It’s as simple as taking a walk.

“Walking is like medicine for my patients,” says Dr. Bob Sallis — a Kaiser Permanente family practitioner from Fontana, California—describing the connection between how much time his patients spend walking and their overall health. “If walking was a pill or surgical procedure, it would be on 60 Minutes.”

“Being physically active is one of the most important things people of all ages can do for their health,” explains Joan Dorn of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She notes that walking ranks #1 as Americans’ favorite physical activity, and that doing it for as little as 30 minutes is one way to achieve significant health benefits. (more…)

Bicycling Means Business

November 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Cities Discover Good Biking Attracts Jobs and Talent

by Jay Walljasper

“Biking is definitely part of our strategy to attract and retain businesses in order to compete in a mobile world,” says Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak as we pedal across the Mississippi river on a bike-and-pedestrian bridge. “We want young talent to come here and stay. And good biking is one of the least expensive ways to send that message.”

“I was having dinner with a creative director that a local firm was eager to hire for a key post,” Rybak adds.  “He was an American living in Europe, and we spent most of the evening talking about the importance of biking and walking to the life of a city. He took the job.”

Minneapolis has invested heavily in biking — creating a network of off-street trails criss-crossing the city, adding 180 miles of bike lanes to city streets, launching one of the country’s first bikeshare programs, and creating protected lanes to separate people on bikes from motor traffic — which is why it lands near the top of lists ranking America’s best bike cities.

“We moved from the suburbs to downtown Minneapolis to allow our employees to take advantage of the area’s many trails and to put the office in a more convenient location for commuting by pedal or foot,” explained Christine Fruechte, CEO of large advertising firm Colle + McVoy, in a newspaper op-ed. “Our employees are healthier, happier and more productive. We are attracting some of the best talents in the industry.” (more…)

Good Fellows

September 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Young People’s Fascination with Detroit Is Only Part of the Story…

by Jay Walljasper

Sprinkled among gloom-and-doom stories coming out of Detroit is some unexpected good news: the city’s growing appeal to young people.  According to plentiful media reports, well-educated twenty-somethings are streaming into the Motor City to test out new ideas, explore art and music projects or launch D-I-Y revitalization initiatives.

The real story is a bit more complex than that, but you can spot a number of once-dormant corners of the city now pulsing with activity thanks to young entrepreneurs.  Corktown, in the shadow of the much-photographed ruin of Detroit’s train station, sports pubs and restaurants that would fit in Brooklyn or Portland.   (more…)

Hard-Working Spirit

August 01, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Community-Based Revitalization in Southwest Detroit

by Jay Walljasper

Cities are complex hives of human activity that highlight all that’s inspiring and troubling about modern life, often at the same time.

New York’s revitalized districts sizzle with creative fervor yet other parts of town struggle with poverty and drugs. Chicago’s Lakefront exudes prosperity while pockets of the West and South sides look like they’ve been bombed. Even an economically challenged city like Philadelphia sports charming, bustling Center City neighborhoods along with extensive post-industrial ruins.

We expect extremes in American cities — except in the case of Detroit, which all too often viewed as one, big, monolithic mess. Folks elsewhere can’t even imagine the existence of beloved spots in the city like Riverwalk, Campus Martius, Eastern Market, the Dequindre Cut trail, cozy neighborhood restaurants or hot music clubs. (more…)

Another Urban Myth?

July 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Renaissance in Detroit Challenges ‘Food Desert’ Perception

by Jay Walljasper

In many people’s minds, Detroit stands apart from other major American cities as an unredeemable disaster.

It’s a lost cause, they say, and we’d do better investing scarce resources toward revitalizing other cities with better prospects for the future.

So what makes Detroit different in the public imagination than other cities grappling with population loss, budget deficits, unemployment, crime, racial divisions and political corruption?

In large part, it’s disinformation. For example, the widespread belief that the city is a food desert with no supermarkets or any sources of fresh produce is, like many myths about Detroit that have grown up over the past 30 years, simply not true. (more…)

Heart of Revival

July 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Jay Walljasper

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Great Public Spaces

by Jay Walljasper

It’s a dark and wintry night in Copenhagen, and the streets are bustling. The temperature stands above freezing, but winds blow hard enough to knock down a good share of the bicycles parked all around. Scandinavians are notorious for their stolid reserve, but it’s all smiles and animated conversation here as people of many ages and affiliations stroll through the city center on a Thursday evening.

A knot of teenage boys, each outfitted with a slice of pizza, swagger down the main pedestrian street. Older women discreetly inspect shop windows for the coming spring fashions. An accomplished balalaika player draws a small crowd in a square as he jams with a very amateur guitarist. Earnest young people collect money for UNICEF relief efforts. Two African men pass by, pushing a piano. Candlelit restaurants and cafes beckon everyone inside. (more…)

Revitalizing

June 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Young, Talented, and Living in Detroit

by Jay Walljasper

Declining, desperate Detroit is old news.

It’s not that the city’s economic woes, struggling schools, racial friction and crime have been magically solved. A glance at local headlines will tell you that.

But there are new stories to tell about Detroit today. Which doesn’t mean the old stories are all wrong — just that they’re not the whole story anymore.

In recent years, for instance, Detroit has become a magnet for ambitious young people. Some grew up in the area; some move in from the coasts or other parts of the Midwest. Many are motivated by idealism or a sense of adventure, seeking to play a part in reviving a Great American City. Others, however, simply see an opportunity to fast track their careers. (more…)