Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wildlife crossing structures: "What's been done about roadkill, and why isn't it enough?"

In the Netherlands -- from the article.

File under "things none of us have thought about lately."


While Europe has many, indeed hundreds, of wildlife crossing structures, North America has relatively few. The best-studied and only overpass crossing structures are in Banff, Alberta. However, these structures were not designed specifically for wildlife; rather, they were conventional bridge structures which were adapted. They have proven remarkably successful in restoring ecological connectivity and in improving road safety, but could their capacities expand and the cost of their construction contract with a redesign expressly for their purpose?

New solutions to wildlife crossing infrastructure are intended to reduce the costs and to tailor each type of crossing to the specific species in various landscape contexts. We are also considering new solutions to the construction and material of these structures, as we may need to move, enlarge or downsize them based on changing wildlife movement patterns due to changes in habitats, climate or other factors. In the broadest sense, we aim to capitalize on the potential for crossing structures to tell a story—the story of our renewed relationship with wildlife and landscapes.

You don't need Adam Dickey's permission to be a community planner.

The anguished cries echoing through the confines of Adam's cranium are palpable.

"But how would these community planners lend themselves to Democratic Party financing needs?"

Because ... the city planners surely do, don't they?

City Planners vs. Community Developers (The Small Street Journal)

... By this definition, city planners can be community developers within their own communities, or they can act as consultants to other communities. However, city planners are not necessarily community developers.

This disambiguation showcases an important distinction between community development and city planning: where a profession like city planning tends to view itself as the expert, the final-say, or the holder of specialized knowledge, community development is rooted in the knowledge of a locality; where city planning offers a top-down solution, community development offers a bottom-up approach.

I’m sure by now I’ve offended a few city planners, but please, stick with me.

Two entrenched political parties are the problem, not the solution.

Photo capriciously cribbed from the interwebz.

It's a long read, and worth it.

We've already had lengthy discussions on social media about the points herein, and as the days pass, my determination is solidified. I've spent too many years voting "against" one side even when the other sickened me. It won't happen again.

If I can't be "for" one of the two major political parties, both of which are rotten and monetized to the core, then there are alternatives. The sooner we reject the two-party duopoly, the better. I don't need national examples to assist this conclusion. The local ones work just fine to inspire revulsion.

This article is an epiphany for me, but as the author notes, it's an expression of personal conscience. Vote as you will, according to your conscience.

To Leave the Future Open: On the False "Choices" of Election 2016, by Kay Whitlock (Truthout)

Something's hidden behind the curtain of the looming 2016 presidential election that the national leaders of both entrenched political parties don't want us to see.

It's the future.

Not just the near future, but the one that will ripple on into history, the one that will do so much to define the age in which we're living. It's the ideas and vision that will frame and shape and animate that future, which has two possible trajectories. One future undermines possibilities for starting to dismantle structural forms of racial, gender, economic, and disability-related violence and for realizing a much truer exercise of democracy while the other strengthens them.

That's why I'm #notwithher when I cast my vote in November 2016.

I've already said publicly I will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she's the nominee of the Democratic Party. This is not a decision made lightly.

But it is the only right decision for me ...

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cuba! Africa! Revolution!

Che Guevara's foray into the Congo in 1965 ended badly, but Fidel Castro was playing a long game, and Cuba's adventures in Africa reached critical mass in Angola during the mid-1980s.

Between Washington and Moscow: the cultural impact of the Cold War in Africa (The World Weekly)

Among many revelations in this excellent two-hour documentary is the USSR's continuing annoyance with Castro's tendency to slip the presumed leash. When Mikhail Gorbachev made negotiations with America his prime focus, Cuba became the leading exponent of Communism measured by troops on the ground.

The US Department of State knew how many Cuban troops were in Angola from the number of baseball diamonds as observed by satellite; Cuban army regulations stipulated a baseball field for every "x" number of soldiers, almost a half million of whom returned home after the 1988 peace accords. Castro justified it as anti-imperialism, and few Americans know the cross-currents in Angola in the 1980s.

Variables included the legacy of three separate armed Angolan forces, South Africa's national security via power politics, independence for neighboring Namibia, Castro's determination to bring about the end of apartheid, Gorbachev and the declining Soviet influence internationally, and of course Ronald Reagan's aggressive determination to make life difficult for Soviets and Cubans wherever they were located.

The testimony of the principles is what sets this film apart. Many key players from all eras were alive to tell the tale in the early 2000s, although several have died since, including the Falstaffian character Jorge Risquet. His unlikely meeting with South Africa's Pik Botha in a Cairo hotel bar provided an impetus to talks that led ultimately to agreement -- and at least made a minor contribution to the freeing of Nelson Mandela two years later.

Risquet's fondness for cigars is an amusing sidebar to the preceding. In summary, it's like a Cold War diplomacy primer, perhaps no longer useful, but still instructive.

I'm unsure which of two titles is accurate. Strictly speaking, the videos are taken from the BBC4 program Storyville, and comprise Cuba! Africa! Revolution! Elsewhere they're referred to as Cuba: An African Odyssey. The director is Jihan El Tahri, and the release date is 2007.

Let's recall the council's role in the Story of the Steeple, starting way back in 2012.

Photo by Robert Landrum.

It wasn't enough to divert the paper's reality television fetishism from the top spot in its daily e-mail news tout, but the Second Baptist Church on Main Street has a new steeple.

In a "Cheers and Jeers" over the weekend, one of the paper's long-term sous chefs made note of the fundraising effort to make the steeple possible, and in the interest of historical accuracy when recalling this historic rehab, let's not forget that the city chipped in, too -- and it was mildly controversial at the time.

From the Red Devil Chronicle, July 19, 2013:

New Albany council OKs funds for church, by Daniel Suddeath

 ... When the money was appropriated in February, Councilmen Greg Phipps and Scott Blair voted against the measure. Blair said at the time he had reservations about whether matching funds could be raised to complete the initial phases of the project. Phipps cited his belief in separation of church and state matters as his reason for voting against the appropriation.

From NA Confidential, October 2, 2012:

1 - City council meeting tweeted as it happened, October 1

A-12-21 $ to restore 2nd Baptist Clock Tower. Discussion. Phipps voices church-state concerns; easements must be included. Gonder dislikes.

Steeple replacement and erection sailed through council at a time when it was imperative to fund various pablum-by-the-numbers Bicentennial galas so that four years later, Bob Caesar still can refuse to provide me specifics on expenditures incurred by his party-like-it's-1817 committee.

(Look for a FOIA request, coming soon; after all, I've waited almost a year)

As was obvious at the time, Councilman Phipps was right about the church/state separation issues inherent in the steeple discussion. In effect, council provided "challenge funding" (John Gonder's words) to one active congregation while withholding it from others, although in retrospect, the steeple's refurbishment may have been the sole Bicentennial gesture toward the city's African-American community -- most of whom do not attend Second Baptist Church.

Water, meet bridge and flow downstream.

All's well that ends ... well, the steeple does look lovely, and it's been immensely entertaining to watch as the city's propaganda arm carefully parsed praise for the project, given that personages high on Oz's Fundamentally Stinkier Enemies List carried the ball for the steeple, Irv Stumler and Jerry Finn prime among them.

Just a thought, but can we do something yet about the street grid that kills people?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Will all the Libertarian VP candidates please step forward -- not so fast, William Weld.

Vote Hugo (the No Tolls Kitty) for President. He'll both thank and ignore you.

Petersen has a point, unless these doctrines of free choice and individual judgment contradict traditional party unity to the point where one wonders how a Libertarian can even belong to a party, but at least if Johnson, Trump and Clinton are the nominees, we'll have three political parties nominating Republicans.

I'll save you the trouble: Jill Stein for President.

Gary Johnson Booed at Libertarian Party Convention for Calling William Weld 'the original libertarian', by Matt Welch (Reason)

Former Republican governor's praise for former Republican governor comes under fire from current Libertarians

Last night, on the eve of what may well be a historic Libertarian Party National Convention, America's leading third party held a debate among the very many people running for its highly coveted presidential slot. Former New Mexico governor and 2012 L.P. nominee Gary Johnson, who is considered to be the front-runner in the race, took a sharp jab during the debate from upstart contender Austin Petersen over the controversial-to-libertarians, praised-by-media-outsiders selection of former Massachusetts governor William Weld as his suggested running-mate. (Veeps are elected separately at L.P. conventions.)

Petersen, who has been making hay with his contention that "It's time for us to stop nominating failed Republicans, and start nominating successful Libertarians," drew sustained applause when he challenged Johnson over Weld's Libertarian bonafides: "In 2012, he didn't endorse Ron Paul, he didn't endorse you, he endorsed Mitt Romney. In 2016, he endorsed John Kasich. Why didn't your VP pick endorse you?"

With a scant five days notice, here's your chance to "speak out" about the Floyd Memorial Hospital sale.

Wait, Larry -- is that a crosswalk on a street with uncontrolled traffic?

Whether you support or oppose the hospital sale, five days isn't much time to adjust calendars. Nonetheless, this could be a long one.  

Public meetings to discuss Floyd County finances, hospital sale, by Chris Morris (River Ridge Today)

NEW ALBANY – For the first time since it was announced, the public will get the chance to speak out about the proposed sale of Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services to Baptist Health.

Since the sale was announced in March, residents have not been able to voice their opinions, either for or against the transaction. That is until now.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Pine View Government Center. Members of the Floyd County Council and Floyd County Commissioners will be in attendance, as will representatives from Floyd Memorial Hospital.

"The goal of the public meeting is to inform the public about the details of the sale and help the public understand the process and how we got to this point," said Floyd County Council President Brad Striegel.

Lori Sympson's campaign for safe streets: Sign the petition, and "like" the Fb page.

Lori Sympson has started a Facebook page, and it is self-explanatory.

Safer Streets/Justice for Chloe Allen

A dear friend of mine was hit and killed trying to cross the street. My goal is to get New Albany's streets safer; in honor of my friend and her family.

She also opened a petition at, and we don't expect to see Warren Nash's name there any time soon.

Safer Streets for Pedestrians In New Albany Indiana

The people who cross the streets need to feel safe! In honor of my friend Chloe L(Babcock) Allen. She was hit by a driver at the corner of E. Spring and Vincennes St. As a community we need to come together and make sure nobody else dies. Join with me for everybody's safety. Our mayor and street dept could make this happen.

Be a malcontent,  and help penetrate the purposeful unresponsiveness of Jeff Gahan's down-low bunker with a signature.

ON THE AVENUES: On the crass exploitation and politicization of tragedy.

Dangerous intersections: Something for Greg Phipps to consider, though it's unlikely they will.

Watch this moving video from the late Chloe Allen's friend: "If anything good can come of this, it'll be that this intersection is made safer."

ON THE AVENUES: Requiem for the bored.

City Hall crassly exploits the death of a walker in order to brag about its achievements.

"New Albany has a long way to go on street safety," says Broken Sidewalk in an understatement for the ages.

R.I.P. Chloe Allen.

"For we are the killers. We blithely tolerate a street grid with 48-foot-wide streets that pedestrians are expected to navigate without the sanction of government protection."

How Donald Duncan's second obituary came to be written.

Photo credit: New York Times.

First there was an obituary.

Donald W. Duncan, 79, Ex-Green Beret and Early Critic of Vietnam War, Is Dead, by Robert D. McFadden (NYT)

Mr. Duncan, who died in obscurity in 2009, wrote in 1966 of witnessing atrocities by American troops and helped organize antiwar protests.

The, a week later came the explanation. It sheds light into the editorial process at a newspaper (just imagine if ours attempted any such), and suggests that it's still possible to disappear in plain sight in places like ...

An Obituary Runs Seven Years After the Subject’s Death. What Happened?, by William McDonald

Obituaries editor William McDonald explains why The Times decided to remember a once-famous activist who had slipped into obscurity, seven years after his death.

... In sum, Mr. Duncan made an appreciable impact on the national discussion of the war; he had for a time been a newsmaker, and by The Times’s rule of thumb his death was thus newsworthy. The obituary ran online on May 6, and in the paper on May 8.

What was unusual about the obituary, however, was how belated it was. Mr. Duncan had died seven years earlier, on March 25, 2009. And therein lies a tale, about a life in which notoriety gave way to its flip side, obscurity, and about a journalistic decision in which one imperative of reporting — to be timely — deferred to a greater one: to simply get the story out.

 ... Madison, Indiana, where Donald Duncan's death notice appeared seven years ago.

Duncan's 2009 obituary in the Madison Courier.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

ON THE AVENUES: On the crass exploitation and politicization of tragedy.

ON THE AVENUES: On the crass exploitation and politicization of tragedy.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

One of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays is The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. A spoiler alert is unnecessary, for the title character’s assassination at the hands of supposedly patriotic conspirators is central to the narrative.

Following Caesar's death, Marc Antony crafts a funeral oration. With words carefully chosen, Antony initiates the process of politicizing his friend’s death.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, —
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men, —
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.

By the time Antony has finished “burying” Caesar, the mood of the crowd has shifted ominously, and the assassins have become the hunted. It is rumored that in an early draft of the play, Shakespeare penned these words for a fleeing Brutus:

Antony, vile malcontent, thou hast crassly exploited this tragedy for political purposes.

The roots of “tragedy” in the modern sense extend to ancient Greece.

Tragedy (from the Greek: τραγῳδία, tragōidia[a]) is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences. While many cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, the term tragedy often refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western civilization. That tradition has been multiple and discontinuous, yet the term has often been used to invoke a powerful effect of cultural identity and historical continuity …

In everyday terms, we use the word “tragedy” as a sort of catch-all, one describing unexpected, bad and destructive situations or events, which often involve someone’s death.

A tragic occurrence can be a simple twist of fate, or echoing the ancient Greek point of view, the victim may have suffered ill tidings owing to an inner flaw or moral weakness, as Anthony Weiner might well attest.

Moreover, we recognize the potentially collective nature of tragedy, in the sense that our flaws and weaknesses as a society can result in disasters, or abet them.

In 1988, tens of thousands died as the result of an earthquake in then-Soviet Armenia, often as the result of shoddy construction techniques and lack of preparedness. Of course, the earthquake itself was unpreventable, but not preparing for the eventuality of earthquakes in a region noted for seismic activity is a human variable. To an appreciable extent, Armenians tragically died because of choices made by a network of other persons, not Mother Nature.

The debate will continue as to the concept of collective responsibility in totalitarian systems, but we needn’t restrict our gaze to dictatorships.

In America, ostensibly a nation founded on rule of law and devoted to individual liberty, the period following the Civil War, from 1865 to the present, has been marred by tragedy in the specific form of discrimination, lynching and myriad affiliated acts of purposeful violence directed against African-Americans by dominant white supremacist culture.

These acts are neither random nor senseless. Rather, they occur within the framework of American politics, as opposed to inexplicable spins of a cosmic wheel.

Writer Matt Taibbi offers this working definition of politics:

“Politics at its most basic isn't a Princeton debating society. It's a desperate battle over who gets what.”

Taibbi’s reckoning matches what my poli-sci instructor said on the first day of class at IU Southeast in 1978, paraphrased: Politics is about power – what power is, how it is used, who gets to have it, and who doesn’t.

This is why Dr. Martin Luther King did not hesitate to crassly exploit tragedy for political purposes, as in 1963, when members of the Ku Klux Klan planted sticks of dynamite beneath church steps in Birmingham, Alabama and killed four African-American girls.

And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.

When Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, his death was crassly exploited for political purposes. The cycle continued. In 1998, there was yet another tragedy, this time in Wyoming.

On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally attacked and tied to a fence in a field outside of Laramie, Wyo. and left to die. On October 12, Matt succumbed to his wounds in a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The savagery of this young man’s death helped prompt a long overdue recalibration of America’s moral compass.

The horrific killing of Matthew Shepard in 1998 is widely seen as one of the worst anti-gay hate crimes in American history. Matthew was beaten by two assailants, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. They pistol whipped him with a gun then tied him to a fence in freezing conditions and set fire to him before leaving him to die.

The attack became a cause célèbre: it precipitated a national backlash against hyper-macho culture and tacit tolerance of homophobia. As a result of Matthew’s death, many good things have happened for the gay community.

This backlash following Shepard’s murder was knowingly spurred and intentionally politicized by LGBT activists, civil rights advocates, world famous celebrities, but also ordinary folks inhabiting a table at Denny’s. It was crass, exploitative and fully justified. I supported it then, and I do now.

Perhaps then we’re all malcontents, each and every one of us, crassly exploiting tragedy for political purposes, whether it’s Marc Antony, the grieving Armenians pointing fingers at the Kremlin, Dr. King, human rights proponents memorializing Shepard – or a citizen like Lori Kay Sympson, who doesn’t want you to forget that her friend Chloe Allen was killed trying to cross a dangerous street in New Albany, where streets are kept dangerous due to crass exploitation – that’s right, for political purposes.

Politics is power. For a prevaricating politician like Greg Phipps to selectively deny the efficacy of this statement by tarring others as malcontents is a tragedy in itself, and a misreading of history eligible for crass exploitation by those of us, malcontented or otherwise, who apparently understand his elected position – and his past – far better than he does.


May 19: ON THE AVENUES: Requiem for the bored.

May 12: ON THE AVENUES: A design for life.

May 5: ON THE AVENUES: Getting back, moving forward, drinking coffee.

April 28: ON THE AVENUES: You know, the two-way streets column I wrote -- 7 years ago, in 2009.

To crush the slumlords, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their investment portfolio managers.

It is both sad and riotous to imagine letter scores for New Albany's rental properties.

Should Landlords Be Licensed?, by Kriston Capps (City Lab)

Toronto is considering an experiment that would give landlords and apartment buildings restaurant-style grades.

Last week, a Toronto City Council committee voted unanimously to endorse a new licensing regime for landlords. The proposal would institute a system for grading landlords of buildings of a certain size for conditions such as mold, bedbugs, working elevators, water cleanliness, and working air conditioning. If the full council proceeds with the idea, landlords will be subject to licensing and, potentially, grades that they will be required to post in building lobbies—the same way restaurants do in some cities.

While some of the details have yet to be determined, the bill would require landlords of rental buildings of three or more stories or 10 or more units to pay a licensing fee of $12 to $15 per unit, per year. The fees would defray the roughly $3.5 million cost for executing annual audits. The program would call for detailed building management plans from landlords; currently, inspections typically follow complaints. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) supports landlord licensing, while the Greater Toronto Apartment Association opposes it.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has expressed some doubts about whether licensing landlords is necessary or workable. But to some extent, that question has already been answered. Rentlogic, a Canadian company that uses open data to provide a better rental market for prospective tenants, has built a tool, LandlordWatch, that ranks the worst landlords in Toronto, based on the number of investigations into the condition of their buildings and resulting violations.

No need to build a fire: Trash pickup questions answered by Ecotech/SIWS.

Looks like Wild Bill Allen has bulk items for bundling.

Like I keep saying, when the paper's not staging cooking promotions or binge watching reality television, it can actually publish useful tidbits. Click through, evade the same tired circus sideshow ads, and read the whole article.

New Albany trash, garbage pickup questions answered; Storm in March delayed trucks, by Chris Morris (Eastside Tidings)

NEW ALBANY — There has been some confusion among New Albany homeowners about what kind of trash will be picked up by Ecotech/SIWS on a weekly basis.

Bryan Slade, president of Ecotech/SIWS, told the New Albany Board of Public Works & Safety on Tuesday that his crews have been working six days a week picking up bulk items from residents. He said a storm in March put his trucks behind and they are just now getting caught up.

"After those storms we collected 74 tons of material," he said. "It put us behind."

Slade also said there has been some confusion in what his trucks will pick up on a weekly basis, which includes:

• Weekly garbage pickup

• Total of 10 bags and or bundles of limbs

• Branches and limbs must be less than three feet long and no larger than three inches diameter, tied and bundled.

• All yard waste must be placed at the curb or in alley, wherever garbage is picked up prior to 7 a.m. on the regular pickup day

• Bags of grass and leaves cannot weigh more than 50 pounds

Slade said some homeowners are confused about items that his trucks will not pickup which is regulated by city ordinances. Those items include large tree branches, stumps, lumber, construction materials, appliances using Freon and hazardous liquid items like oil based paint or medications.

Ecotech/SIWS will collect up to three large, bulk items at a time. Slade said it's important for residents to call 812-944-4018 to make an appointment to have the bulk items collected. He said trucks do travel throughout the city, but it is easier if they know where the items to collect are located. The bulk items need to be placed where the regular trash is collected by 6 a.m. Trucks will pick up one tire at a time, but it must be off the rim.

Slade also told the BOW that his crews have had issues recently with needles being placed in garbage and are taking precautions.

"Safety is our number one concern," he said.

Garbage will be picked up a day later than normal next week due to Monday being Memorial Day ...

Renovation escalates at the former Walgreen's and Kresge at 302 Pearl.

Matt Chalfant's firm is renovating the building at 302 Pearl Street, and while I've no idea what it will become, we know what it used to be -- rather of a theme this week, given that somewhere around 10 buildings are being renovated within a square blocks downtown.

We turn to the folks at historic preservation:

S. S. Kresge Building
302 Pearl Street
New Albany, IN 47150

Category: Neoclassical

Year Built: 1930

This Neoclassical style building was built in 1930, replacing a three-story 1865 structure that was torn down to make way for this structure.

Seven years after it was built, it got very wet (photos courtesy of the Indiana Room at the library).

In the preceding photos, you'll notice the street-level windows on the Market Street side. Now see what's happening in 2016.

Many of us remember the period when Walgreen's operated here. What you may not know is that the national S. S. Kresge five-and-dime chain was the forerunner of what eventually became K-Mart.

We can only imagine how the value of Chalfant's investment would be enhanced, rather than suppressed, by two-way a traffic on Pearl and Market.

"If this isn't the job of an engineer -- and it's not -- who should design streets? The answer is as simple as it is radical: everyone."

They're roads, not streets.

This is too good not to print in its entirety .The point isn't to spark conflicts between engineers or to malign those charged with engineering jobs. Rather, it is to delineate between streets and roads, and to urge democratization of the planning process as it pertains to their proper uses in a varied environment.  


Engineers Should Not Design Streets, by Charles Marohn (Strong Towns)

Last Friday I was participating in the 5th Annual Mayor's Bike Ride in Duluth following a week spent sharing the Strong Towns message on the Iron Range. The friendly woman riding next to me asked me what could be done to to better educate engineers so they would start to build streets that were about more than simply about moving cars. My answer rejected the premise of the question: We should not be asking engineers to design streets.

A quick review for those of you that are new here (which might be up to half the audience -- amazing). Roads and streets are two separate things. The function of a road is to connect productive places. You can think of a road as a refinement of the railroad -- a road on rails -- where people board in one place, depart in another and there is a high speed connection between the two.

In contrast, the function of a street is to serve as a platform for building wealth. On a street, we're attempting to grow the complex ecosystem that produces community wealth. In these environments, people (outside of their automobile) are the indicator species of success. So, in short, with a street we're trying to create environments where humans, and human interaction, flourish.

Engineers are well-suited to constructing roads. Road environments are quite simple and, thus, lend themselves well to things like design manuals and uniform guidelines. There are only so many variables and the relationship they have to each other is fairly straightforward. In the United States, we have tested, refined and codified an engineering approach to roads that is pretty amazing and, in terms of engineering, the envy of the world.

There are two primary variables for designing a road: design speed and projected traffic volume. From those two numbers, we can derive the number of lanes, lane width, shoulder width, the width of clear zones and the allowable horizontal and vertical curvature. From those factors, we can specify all the pavement markings and signage that are necessary. We can then monitor things like the Level of Service, the 85th percentile speed and traffic counts to optimize how the road functions over time. Engineers are really good at this.

Engineers are not good at building streets nor, I would argue, can the typical engineer readily become good at it. Streets that produce wealth for a community are complex environments. They do not lend themselves well to rote standards or even design guidelines. There are numerous variables at play that interact with each other, forming feedback loops and changing in ways that are impossible to predict.

Consider just one variable: the future of the adjacent land. The operative component of building wealth on a street is building. Who owns the property? What are they going to do with it? What is their capacity? Will they stick with it? Will they find the love of their life and move across the country? Each property has a near infinite set of complexities to it that change and respond to change, each of which is far more important to the wealth capacity of the street than, for example, lane width.

If we're trying to create an ecosystem that results in our indicator species (people) showing up in greater and greater numbers, we can't just focus on one or two variables. It can't be just design speed and volume. The natural ecosystem equivalent would be an observation that productive forests have trees and so we hire our forest engineers to go out and plant rows and rows of the optimum tree. It's obvious that, absent other flora and fauna, insects and bacteria, sunlight and rain and a myriad of other variables, the trees we are planting just aren't enough to get the ecosystem we're after.

If we're trying to create a natural ecosystem, we first have to recognize the environment we're in. A desert ecosystem will be far different than a northern forest. We then need to seed the basic elements, but we don't direct them day-to-day; we nurture them as they grow. If we know what we're after -- if we know our indicator species of success -- if we see the experiment getting way off track, we can intervene in small ways to nudge it back on course. We can introduce small changes and see how the system responds. Over time, our natural ecosystem will show us how it wants to grow.

We do a disservice to our communities when we treat streets as if they were roads, when we ignore the complex environments streets are meant to create and treat them as if they were simple throughput models. Streets need to be designed block by block. Those designs need to be responsive and adaptable.

Understanding that 99%+ of all streets that will exist a decade from now already exist today, what we're really talking about here in North America isn't building new streets but making good use of existing streets. The way we do this -- the way we design block by block in ways that are responsive and adaptable -- is to try things and see what works. Our tools are not traffic counters and code books but paint, cones and straw bales. Before we make any change permanent, we test it -- and possibly other variations -- first to see what works.

So if this isn't the job of an engineer -- and it's not -- who should design streets? The answer is as simple as it is radical: everyone. Building a productive street is a collective endeavor that involves the people who live on it, those who own property on it, those who traverse it as well as the myriad of professionals who have expertise they can lend to the discussion.

Put your least technical person on staff in charge of your next street. Empower them to meet with people, observe how people use the street and then experiment, in a low cost way, with different alternatives. Keep experimenting until you start to see your indicator species show up (outside of their cars, of course). Now you have a design you can hand over to your engineer to specify the technical stuff -- pavement thickness, paint specs, etc... -- and get the project built.

Engineers are highly competent at building roads. When you are trying to move automobiles quickly from one place to another, put your engineering in charge and do what they recommend. When you are trying to build a street -- when you are trying to make your city wealthier and more prosperous -- make your engineer one small voice in a larger chorus of people whose words and, especially, whose actions dictate what your design should be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mute balsa agony amid luxurious rabbit hutch erections as bicyclists and walkers fend for themselves.

Pressboard makers of America, unite. You too can hang your ladders by nocturnal crane -- not that the neighborhood has a crime problem or anything.

Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats is coming long swimmingly, and -- wait, what's THAT?

Ah, yes. The middle-of-the-block "bikes merge" sign.

Cyclists, merge into THIS:

Do you feel safer yet?

Mayor Gahan is doing his best to ignore church-state separation, so bone up on your prayers. They'll probably be the most effective traffic calming strategy in Race Through City.


Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these new words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, like the ones you're sure to hear at Democratic Party fundraising bowl-a-thons?

It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even remuneration-engorged municipal corporate attorneys are eligible for this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we await an explanation that will never come as to why City Hall insists on awarding no-bid monopolies to Louisville companies, when our own community has the know-how to do it ourselves, all we have is deadening stretches of down-low time -- and the opportunity to learn something, if we're so inclined.

The adjective "sardonic" is a perennial favorite, and one that lies very close to the front of any responsible New Gahanian resident's Book of How to Cope.



1. characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering.

Origin of sardonic
1630-40; alteration of earlier sardonian (influenced by French sardonique) < Latin sardoni(us) (< Greek sardónios of Sardinia) + -an; alluding to a Sardinian plant which when eaten was supposed to produce convulsive laughter ending in death.

It's almost a default condition among the ruled.

"I flashed a sardonic grin when my councilman referred to me as a malcontent, and reminded him that his undemocratic principles were showing."

More about the renovation of that building where Abe's Rental used to be.

As noted yesterday, the art deco building at 140 E. Main Street finally has been sold after years of vacancy, and is being renovated.

You know, that building where Abe's Rental used to be (140 E Main St).

Many of us know it as the place where Abe's Rental used to be, but it originally was a service station (above) and a Sears auto center. Yesterday the roof was swarming with workers.

Here is an aerial view, and the plan for overhaul, for which the developer will be spending around $120,000. Potential uses are commercial, as offices, restaurant or cafe. Not much is clear beyond the renovation itself, which will bring a genuinely unique property back into play.

Now, about those streets ...

Why we fight: In 2014, Jeff Speck told us how street design impacts our city.

The former Something Different Auction House gets a Carter-inspired makeover.

On October 1, 2011, something different happened.

There's still more, because on the 1st, NABC will be selling progressive pints at a first-time, community-oriented pig roast (with burgers and hot dogs) at Dan Coffey's Something Different II Auction House, beginning when the (Harvest Homecoming) parade ends, approximately 2:00 p.m. It is located by the levee at 33 E. 3rd Street, just a couple blocks away from Bank Street Brewhouse, and all are invited.

Here's how it looked in 2011.

I didn't realize until yesterday that Carter Management Company purchased the building, then completely gutted it, and has commenced the rebuild. It is believed a tenant is in line.

Maybe some day we'll have a walkable street grid to add value to investments like this, and not lower it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"If this isn't the end for the Republican Party, it'll be a shame. They dominated American political life for 50 years and were never anything but monsters."

Chaplin, via Wikipedia. 

For the section below, alone.

R.I.P., GOP: How Trump Is Killing the Republican Party, by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone)

Donald Trump crushed 16 GOP opponents in one of the most appalling, vicious campaigns in history. His next victim? The entire Republican Party.

... In the weeks surrounding Cruz's cat-fart of a surrender in Indiana, party luminaries began the predictably Soviet process of coalescing around the once-despised new ruler. Trump endorsements of varying degrees of sincerity spilled in from the likes of Dick Cheney, Bob Dole, Mitch McConnell and even John McCain.

Having not recently suffered a revolution or a foreign-military occupation, Americans haven't seen this phenomenon much, but the effortless treason of top-tier Republicans once Trump locked up the nomination was the most predictable part of this story. Politicians, particularly this group, are like crackheads: You can get them to debase themselves completely for whatever's in your pocket, even if it's just lint.

That's why the first rule of any revolution is to wipe out the intellectuals. Trump is surely already dreaming of the vast logging camp he will fill with the Republican thinkfluencers who are at the moment making a show of being the last holdouts.

Matt Chalfant's infill construction at 137 E. Spring -- you know, where the Horseshoe Bar used to be.

It has quickly progressed from nothing to something.

Unsubsidized, entrepreneur-driven infill -- in downtown New Albany, though without sewer tap-in waivers.  Wow.

This lot has remained in a state of gravel since the Horseshoe Bar decided to fall to the ground one night in the 1990s. Here's a view of the bar in 1988, from the Indiana History Room Archives.

I'm told this will become an office, not a bar.

Filling the holes in the streetscape? I'm for it, though expect to hear wails of anguish -- dude, we're losing six parking spaces!

Hello. They're crashes. Don’t call them accidents anymore. Thank you.

Janette Sadik-Khan, author of Street Fight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, tweeted a link to this article.

It's no "accident" that we've excused crashes for decades. Our word choices matter – let's adopt the language of life.

"Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers."

Words indeed matter, as when my council representative imagines he belongs to a "progressive" political party.

It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead, by Matt Richtel (New York Times)

Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers.

Just don’t call them accidents anymore.

That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.

“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“In our society,” he added, “language can be everything.”

Almost all crashes stem from driver behavior like drinking, distracted driving and other risky activity. About 6 percent are caused by vehicle malfunctions, weather and other factors.

You know, that building where Abe's Rental used to be (140 E Main St).

"Downtown New Albany- SOLD!! 140 E Main St gets a new owner and soon will have a tenant. Watch here for more." -- Mike Kopp on Twitter

It's been vacant at least 13 years. According to the historic building folks ...

Direct Oil Service Station
140 East Main Street
New Albany, IN 47150

Designed by Louisville firm Sullivan and Cozart, this Art Deco gem was built in 1929 for Harry Goulding, for use as a service station. It remained in the Goulding family until 2003.

Later it was a Sears auto service center, then Abe's Rental.

The building appeared recently in an on-line real estate listing at $385,000 (cached). This is less than what I'd heard was being asked. The Green Mouse is told that the buyer also owns the Elias Ayres Building, next door at 134 E. Main.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Just another city worker on the clock smoothing Graceland's banner for Vacation Bible School.

Photo given appropriately backwards 1960-era processing for full comedic effect.
Who knew that the $3 million Main Street Beautification Project would be the arena for touting one church's vacation bible school, all the better to lob more spittle in the direction of church-state separation?

New Gahania: It's where you want to pray.

Not since the flag-sucking back in '84 has there been anything remotely like the nightly ladder-hoist.

We don't know why they're hanging ladders in effigy each evening at the Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats, but it might have something to do with ladders being more valuable than balsa.

The flag-sucking?

It's been largely forgotten, though back in the day we used to gather at dusk outside Scoreboard Liquors and watch as the timer activated the pulley inside the Federal Building's automated flagpole and sucked the American flag inside the pole for the night.

It was more fun than Pac-Man.

Lending a hand to Gregg Seidl: "Moving Toward What I Am Meant to Do."

Many of you know Gregg Seidl.

Moving Toward What I Am Meant to Do

Thanks for taking the time to read and consider this request.

I was born and raised in the city of New Albany, Indiana, and other than four years I honorably served in the United States Marine Corps, I have lived in or near this city all of my life.

You probably know Gregg from his haunted history tours.

In 2009, I began hosting my own haunted history tours in New Albany, and they have been well received. I have been featured several times in local newspapers and on television, and the tours have always been popular. Here's a link to the FB page I created about my "Nefarious New Albany Haunted History" tours.

Gregg has a life-altering opportunity.

I have been offered a job in Savannah, Georgia that has full benefits, great wages, and, best of all, is a job that will allow me to utilize my talents to their fullest while earning a decent living.
In a nutshell, Gregg is at gofundme to raise funds for relocation to Savannah. Granted, there are numerous worthy causes in the world, and it is your decision when it comes to prioritizing them. '

My only comment is that during times when apathy is so pervasive, Gregg has been a tireless advocate of New Albany. It doesn't mean I agree with his stance on every issue, and I'm sure the same is true of him. It means that history and teaching matter.

We've helped, and I urge you to consider doing so.

City Hall approves heroic "Statue of Disdain" branding symbol for Summit Springs.

Yet another public-private partnership from the same people who brought you Break Wind Lofts at Duggins Flats.