Sistine Chapel

The Teenage Mind

The Workings of the 17 Year Old Mind – Excerpts From a Letter

I came across an old letter of mine written to my parents. I have no idea where it came from – it was just there. My mother must have saved it and put it into a book and it fell out. At any rate I found it amusing to see what I wrote and how it compared with the way I remembered it. One of the snakes is much longer in my memory then what I wrote in the letter. I was working on my Uncle Luverne’s ranch in western South Dakota in the summer before my senior year in high school.  


Cow Fighting Craig

One of Luverne’s cows broke her leg when we were chasing them. It was dark and they were on the road. Luverne was in the pickup and I got out on foot to move them along. The cow fell and I think she thought I was responsible. She almost got me then and several times afterwards when we were feeding her on the prairie. Two days ago Luverne decided to get her in the barn. He tried to drive her by horse and I on foot but she ran me out of the country and she butted the horse out of the creek.

At last I took off my shirt and bull (cow) fought her up to the barn (1 mile).  I would wave my shirt and she would charge. I could just barely outrun her, but always managed to do so. When she gave up I would jump around her head, and twist and waive until she charged again. She almost got me several times when I was careless. It was really good cross-country practice.

Snake Charming

Last week we finished putting up the hay. I rode the sled behind the bailer stacking hay bales into small piles  before pushing them off the sled.  A rattlesnake came out of the bailer partially in the bailer, with the business end of the snake sticking out.  The snake was unhappy and he made me nervous.

The next day I was stacking hay. I was on the top of the very tall stack and Luverne was using the stacker tracker to lift hay up to me. As he lifted the small stack up to me I could see a very large rattler hanging below the small stack. The thick tines of the stacker had ran through the snake. The snake was striking at everything that moved. Luverne could not see the snake. I kept yelling for him not to give me the snake. I was preparing to bail out and jump when Luverne spotted the snake. It was over three feet long (6 feet long in my memory) and had 7 big rattles with probably that many more broken off.  Luverne told me I did not have to stack any more if I was nervous but of course I said no problem. But every stick I saw in the hay for the next couple of days made me jump.

Model A

Craig and Neal in the Rumble Seat, Luverne and Herman the Dog in Front

I bought a 1930 Model A Cabrolet Coupe (Roadster with convertible top and rumble seat. Ray Boe and I rebuilt the engine and put it back in the car. I still haven’t got to do much body work on it but hope to have it painted by the time you arrive. I plan to run it back in perfect exterior and running condition. (as you can see from the photo she was not exactly in perfect condition, but I still loved her)                                                                                                 

The Model A and I back in Chicago

More about the Model A Trip at:



Planning for and with Ecosystem Services

Tuesdays at APA–Chicago — January 2012

Planning for and with Ecosystem Services

Because all communities benefit from resources and processes supplied by natural ecosystems, ecology can be an important lens for viewing planning and site design. While many planners support and philosophically align with LEED, SITES, and the growing ecological design culture, they may feel ill-equipped to apply scientific findings to planning projects.

Jacob Blue from Applied Ecological Services will explore how science can inform planning decisions from the planner's and scientist's perspectives and provide planners with basic, practical tools for incorporating ecological decisions into their work.

CM | 1.0

Why Plan When You Can React?

7 P's of Planning

Preliminary Prior Planning Prevents 
Pitiful Poor Performance


Planning and Social Marketing

Planners are using web sites, webinars and social marketing to exchange ideas and discuss planning issues. Here are some quality links. Participation is free and easy.

Our Web Sites for National APA and some excellent State sites.


Facebook   -  City Planning News


Google + City Planners
Let us know what other sites you like and we will add them to this list.

Class Reunions - A Business Proposal

Reunions are always difficult to arrange. Members of the organizations set up the reunions and are not experts in this field. No one is sure how many people will come. Costs are difficult to estimate. Sit down dinners and hotels are difficult to arrange. A reunion committee may live in many different areas and not know each other well. As a consequence, many organizations do not conduct reunions, or when they do, mini disasters sometimes occur.

There is a business opportunity here for an entrepreneur.  I am much better at coming up with ideas then actually doing anything (I be a recovering govmint planner not a doer), so I put this concept out hoping that someone will proceed and succeed.

A hotel and or a convention center and or a banquet hall could establish a business called CLASS REUNIONS. An employee would research all high schools, grade schools, colleges, and military units within 50 miles of the city, and work with reunion committees if they can be found. 

A time and date for reunions would be established for a specific class that would recur each year. For example, the classes of 1965-66-67 of Morgan Park High School would always have their reunion on the first Friday in October each year. The class of 1967-68-69 would always meet on the first Saturday in October, etc etc. You would group years together on a Friday / Saturday / Sunday to try to get people to come for more then one evening.

Notice of the reunions would be communicated through email and web sites and advertising and after a few years everyone would know to rendezvous at the CLASS REUNIONS on a date and time certain.

The CLASS REUNION would be held in a large bar of that name colocated with a hotel. A sign on the corner of the building would advertise the coming CLASS REUNION at CLASSE REUNIONS (Or Classe Reunion). People will learn the recurring date and time for their reunion. Out of town folks will stay in the hotel and people will eat in local restaurants and drink in local pubs.

The large bar is the regular hotel bar, just large. No reservations or planning work is required - folks coming to the bar purchase their own drinks and or food. The bar just becomes crowded and busy during the CLASS REUNION.

The program would work best for a hotel and bar that needs more customers, especially on the weekends.  A downtown convention center / hotel would be a great facility, bringing more people into downtown when they are needed them - on the weekends. It would bring life and vitality into downtown.

An effort like this could be led by the private entrepreneur or the convention center authority. The effort brings more people and more money into the area so that it is in the interests of both parties.

I would be glad to give you a little free consulting help in getting such an operation underway. I think this has the possibility of becoming a large national business, but someone has to do it locally first to prove that it works.
Let me know if you move forward.


Free APA Webinars

All sessions are 1 pm - 2:30 pm Eastern Time unless otherwise noted. All sessions are approved for 1.5 CM unless otherwise noted. For the most up-to-date information, click here.

Thanks to Paula Freeze from Illinois APA for sharing.


A Chicagoan Moves to Seattle

A report from a Chicagoan who moved to Seattle.

I was in absolute awe last Thursday when I had to go to the Pioneer Square Station to catch a bus to Bellevue.  I've attached photos from the Web.  Some of the buses here use the same stations as the light rail (commuter trains).  So you'll be standing at the same place and sometimes a bus will stop - and other times the train.  They both in the underground tunnels.  

The other stunning thing about the station was it's design.  There's a bit of steampunk going on here.  And it's so freaking clean!  No noise.  No leaks.  No grime.  No rats.  No graffiti.  No urine.





City Planner Making Presentation

Future City Planner Making a Presentation to the Planning Commission and not happy with his audio visual equipment.

St Petersburg Pier Redevelopment

St Petersburg, Florida is considering some aggressive plan alternatives to redevelop its Downtown Waterfront and Pier. The City has done a great job with its downtown redevelopment to date.The City is currently considering a number of proposals developed from an international design competition.

One of the Design Proposals - "The Wave"

The Current Pier Building


America is Coming Apart?

Interesting article by Charles Murray where he states that:

"America is coming apart. For most of our nation's history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. "The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. "On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day."
"Americans love to see themselves this way. But there's a problem: It's not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s."


Overall Debt

By some measures the United States is in better shape on debt then many other nations. An interesting set of graphs on the economist.

Click to read the article.


Equality of Outcomes Versus Equality of Opportunity.

Interesting article in Freakonomics

"A lot of our political debate boils down to questions about equality of outcomes versus equality of opportunity. But it turns out that they’re pretty closely related. "


Rural Small Business Trends

Rural small business trends are always different from general small business trends, according to Small Business Trends. This year, the difference is in the economic outlook. With the consensus of economic predictions for 2012 showing slower national growth and the odds of a renewed U.S. recession at 1 in 3, the national economy doesn’t look good. Contrast that with the local economies in rural areas. The Rural Mainstreet Index is at its highest level since 2007, and rural small business looks promising.

1950 Ranch Home a Historic Structure?

"The ranch houses where baby boomers grew up, and the 1950s and '60s fast-food joints that the boomers frequented, are finally getting some respect." 

"More and more, the buildings of the era are being perceived as historical structures worthy of national attention and preservation." 

Read to read the article


New Urbanism Redevelopment

Interesting article and video about redevelopment.

Begun in the 1950s and completed in the 1960s, the Inner Loop was meant to speed access in and out of downtown, but it goes nowhere. It knocked down blocks of neighborhoods and cut the downtown off, completely, from the rest of the city.


Is Your City Smart Enough?

Most countries are urbanizing very rapidly. Clink on the link below to read an interesting article about the challenges facing India.



First Car

Most of us have a fondness for our first car. It represented freedom and adulthood.

My first car was a 1930 Model A Ford convertible with a rumble seat that I owned in high school.  I bought it in Draper, South Dakota in 1965 where it had been rusting for many years. The body remained in a very rough state - we painted over the rust and welded fenders. 

The top leaked, there was no interior, and you could see the ground through the floorboards. But she was my first car and I loved her.

More on my Model A at 

Decline in Tradable Jobs

The Council of Foreign Relations released a study, "The Evolving Structure of the American Economy and the Employment Challenge."  From 1990 to 2008 all of US job growth was in non-tradable jobs. Non Tradable jobs are those that service the local economy like construction, health care, and government. The jobs where all countries can compete like manufacturing for exports have declined in the United States.

Below is the total job growth from 1990-2008, separated into jobs that can be traded, i.e. offshore outsourced and those which cannot. 





The Associated Press On Twitter

The Associated Press

@AP Global
News, discussion and a behind-the-scenes look at the process from The Associated Press. Managed 24/7 by a team of editors based in NY: http://apne.ws/apstaff


World's Largest Economies

The United States is still the dominant economy in the world. But China has overtaken Japan. And China with four times the population of the United States will eventually overtake us as well.


Projected Largest Economies

"The World in 2050," a new report by HSBC economist Karen Ward, forecasts the economic prowess of the 100 largest economies. Of interest in her report is where each happens to fall, and how income per capita will grow in a number of emerging markets.
Key notes we've already taken away: Italy will no longer be in the top ten and the U.S., as you've likely guessed, is no longer number one.

Read more: 


The Economist on Twitter

Good scoop from The Economist



LQC or “Lighter Quicker Cheaper.”

LQC is an interesting method. It is very effective for considering closing or narrowing streets. You can see how traffic accomodates to a temporary closing or narrowing before making the capital expense of permanently reconstructing the street.

"LQC or “Lighter Quicker Cheaper.” LQC is a strategy coined by Eric Reynolds of the planning firm Urban Systems Management. LQC defines a method for rolling out fast, simple, and low-cost solutions in the built environment which will organically spawn permanent and more meaningful development. By planning and implementing a minimally viable, simple solution to public space, the stage is set for future evolutions of space that will be infinitely more complex and enjoyable. Managing the ability to create effective solutions in balance with bureaucratic stop-gaps and long time frames have been found in temporary, simple innovations which provide solutions that can quickly pass through bureaucratic channels with minimum levels of perceived risk."


"In 2009, the Department of Transportation, along with the Times Square Alliance closed several lanes of traffic ‘temporarily’ in the middle of Times Square. Following closure, a thin layer of paint and texture was applied to these areas where removable tables and chairs were placed. The concept was described to NYC public agencies and the public as a reversible “experiment.” Consequently, the space was widely lauded and used, and eventually made permanent by the Bloomberg administration. If Sadik Khan h  ad introduced this idea through the more traditional channels of a massive capital improvement project which would permanently alter a major arterial thoroughfare in Times Square, the changes may not have taken place."


City Planner Pete Pointer

City Planner Pete Pointer is one of my favorite planning consultants. Check out his web site and his new book, 

Planning Connections - Human, Natural and Man Made


Big Birds in our Back Yard

I shot these today with my phone camera. The quality of telephone cameras keeps getting better. The birds were not afraid and I approached to within ten feet.

Nice Sunset From the Backyard August 9, 2011

View from our Back Yard in Sarasota Aug 9, 2011

Our Neighborhood Gator