A Cost of Growth

In the study of cities, getting bigger is usually seen as desirable if not inevitible.  So interesting issues are raised when growth starts to bring with it some questionable effects.

image: http://williamlitchfield.wordpress.com/

Austin, Texas has been a sanctuary for pickers, singers and painters for generations.  The problem is, the creative class is starting to get squeezed out.

People move to Austin because it’s so cool and hip, but the influx has pushed the cost of living UP and the artists OUT.

Now Austin is the priciest place to live in Texas.  The fancy $500,000 condos must be the target of the famous “Keep Austin Weird” slogan on the back of every VW van down there.

It’s a tricky chicken-and-egg situation when prosperity rides into town with unaffordability as its sidekick.  Austin is stepping up admirably, though – the city has spent $55 million on affordable housing in the past five years.

There’s an article all about it on the NPR site:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/12/23/143725019/austin-the-brooklyn-of-the-south?ps=mh_frhdl1

Two more reasons I’m proud to be an American

Here are two headlines on today’s NPR home page.
Be sure to click on the links and read the complete stories.

Muslims Rescue Bagel Shop, Keep It Kosher
Coney Island Bialys and Bagels claims to be the oldest bialy bakery in New York City. Founded in 1920, it’s faced hard economic times and changing neighborhood demographics.
Now, the shop has been rescued by two Pakistani Muslims — and they’re keeping it kosher.

 Texas Town Embraces New Refugee Residents
Though some states have cracked down hard on illegal immigration, one small Texas town has rolled out the welcome mat for hundreds of foreigners and wouldn’t mind seeing more move in.
It started about a year ago when a chicken processing plant in Nacogdoches, Texas, announced it would hire a couple hundred new workers, all of them refugees from Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Most Congested Cities

Some of the most rewarding and interesting studies I do deal with health issues.  Recently I was asked to find those U.S. cities that are most challenged by nasal congestion.  It’s a significant issue, as one in five Americans suffers from chronic nighttime nasal congestion.

We looked at a host of indicators, such as pollen and allergens as well as usage of OTC and prescription congestion drugs.

There’s a nice article on the NPR site here:  Most Congested Cities on NPR

And here’s the detailed official press release:  Most Congested Cities 2011