If I was a more cautious person I wouldn’t write this. I’ve quit dozens of times. I’ve always gone back. This time I think it’s different. A couple weeks ago I was suffering from terrible stomach pains. Bad enough that I went the hospital emergency at midnight. A bunch of people in my circle have had appendicitis. I thought it was my turn.
The wait was reasonably short. Then I was poked prodded and examined all through the night. They took vitals and blood. Their concern, for a ‘man of my age’ was my heart. Eventually, I was on a table with a deeply engaged doctor working an ultrasound. He started to kind of laugh. He apologized and explained as he moved the lubricated wand around my belly, “what I’m doing here is pushing around giant balls of gas… you have gas!” He continued his work. “Wow, this must be really uncomfortable. It looks like it’s going to explode.” His observations seemed to veer from professional to curious, to grossed out.
I tell myself to calm down, to take less interest in things, to not get so excited and to mind my own business. But the good journalists won’t let me. They won't release me from the problems of the day.
Here are 3 quotes from today's Halifax Examiner. Solid Muckraking journalism like this, as uncomfortable as it is for some people to read, is what will improve our government and help make Nova Scotia whole.
Some people are connected and some aren't. Government sees the 'positive' impact of the connected people and sees the unconnected people as 'the problem'. The irony of Ivany is that the report was an opportunity to get at the 'unconnected people' and understand how their disappointment, discouragement, and disconnectedness impacts our economy, our culture, and our hopes for the future, but it was created, shared by, and used to rally the connected people. Ivany simply told the unconnected people to buck up.
Let's agree that journalism is a cornerstone of good government. Good journalism connects the unconnected. Journalists from Joseph Howe to Tim Bousquet act as mediators - translators between regular citizens and policy-making elites.
A transit-oriented development (TOD) is a residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership. A TOD neighborhood typically has a center with a train station, metro station, tram stop, or bus station, surrounded by relatively high-density development with progressively lower-density development spreading outwards from the center. TODs generally are located within a radius of one-quarter to one-half mile (0.4 to 0.8 km) from a transit stop, as this is considered to be an appropriate scale for pedestrians.
Many of the new towns created after World War II in Japan, Sweden, and France have many of the characteristics of TOD communities. In a sense, nearly all communities built on reclaimed land in the Netherlands or as exurban developments in Denmark have had the local equivalent of TOD principles integrated in their planning.
The idea of transit-oriented development has been around for over 100 years. In fact, most of Halifax is built on that idea. That’s why few middle class houses in residential Halifax have dedicated driveways or garages. When they were built 80 to 100 years ago it was assumed that the best way to get around town was public transportation focused on hubs or ‘stops’ which would be centres of commercial activity… all small business of course.
With the coming of the automobile we lost the ball. But now it is time to pick it up again. Practically no new ideas are required. This has all been work out quite elegantly over 80 years ago by urban planning movements that focused on beauty, efficiency and the idea of separating the various modes of transport in an meaningful way to allow room for humanity to prosper. The most exciting and successful of these movements was the Garden City Movement (check it out on Wikipedia) and we would do well to revive these ideas.
A couple immediate results: Making combined car, bike, pedestrian thoroughfares is not the way to go. These are very different modes of transportation and deserve to be treated differently. Second, all future development should be controlled by the government to embrace Garden City ideals. It makes no sense to continue to allow automobile-centric residential and commercial development when we know with certainty it is leading on a path to disaster.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.