Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America's Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World

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Overview

America's once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities — Syracuse, Worcester, Akron, Flint,Rockford, and others — increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Gutted by deindustrialization,outsourcing, and middle-class flight, disproportionately devastated by metro freeway systems that laid waste to the urban fabric and displaced the working poor, small industrial cities seem to be part of America's past, not its future. And yet, Catherine Tumber argues in this provocative book,America's gritty Rust Belt cities could play a central role in a greener, low-carbon, relocalized future.

As we wean ourselves from fossil fuels and realize the environmental costs of suburban sprawl, we will see that small cities offer many assets for sustainable living not shared by their big city or small town counterparts, including population density and nearby,fertile farmland available for new environmentally friendly uses.

Tumber traveled to twenty-five cities in the Northeast and Midwest — from Buffalo to Peoria to Detroit to Rochester— interviewing planners, city officials, and activists, and weaving their stories into this exploration of small-scale urbanism. Smaller cities can be a critical part of a sustainable future and a productive green economy. Small, Gritty, and Green will help us develop the moral and political imagination we need to realize this.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Tumber's] excellent new book…finds potential in many busted and booming-again cities." — Scott Carlson,Urbanite
Library Journal
In recent years many small to mid-sized industrial cities of the Midwest have struggled economically. The near collapse of America's automotive companies has left these areas with widespread unemployment and other enormous challenges. Tumber (research affiliate, MIT's Community Innovators Lab) studied 25 small to mid-sized industrial cities in the Northeast and Midwest regions and here makes recommendations for what these cities can do to thrive and grow instead of wasting away. Small cities are inherently different from large ones, she maintains, and city planners need to move beyond "planning for growth" models, especially when many of the cities in these areas are dwindling in numbers. Instead, they should harness the unique blend of flexibility and resources available in small cities to solve problems creatively. VERDICT Recommended for anyone interested in city planning or studying the socioeconomic challenges of the Midwest and Northeast regions.—William Baer, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Historian and journalist Catherine Tumber is a Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University'sSchool of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, a Fellow of the Massachusetts Institute for a NewCommonwealth's Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, and a former Research Affiliate with the MITDepartment of Urban Studies and Planning's Community Innovators Lab.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Beloved Communities, Benighted Times xv

1 Against "Shapeless Giantism" 1

2 Megadreams and Small City Realities: Trafficking in Transportation Planning 23

3 "It Takes the Whole Region to Make the City": Agriculture on the Urban Fringe and Beyond 37

4 Framing Urban Farming 65

5 Making Good: Renewables and the Revival of Smaller Industrial Cities 89

6 Roots of Knowledge: Local Economics, Urban Scale, and Schooling for Civic Renewal 119

Notes 141

Selected Bibliography 175

Index 195

Series List 213

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