Articles

  • Peas in a Charlotte garden

    Growing peas and finding peace in the Piedmont

    The English peas are finished. Given the long spell of mild weather we’ve enjoyed this year, I’d hoped this cool-weather crop might last a bit longer. Alas, they still flamed out in a matter of weeks. English peas (Pisum sativum) are the very essence of a Piedmont spring – sweet and tender and all too fleeting.
  • A worker stocking a Family Dollar store

    How jobs contribute to the racial wealth gap

    Income is a major component of wealth, but the relationship between income and wealth is complex. Wealth and income are both used to measure a family’s economic situation, but they tell us different things about the health and strength of economic well-being. 
  • The Webb Custom Kitchen was refurbished in 2015 as a white tablecloth restaurant for historic downtown Gastonia at the site of the former Webb Theatre, built in 1927. (Photo: Wagner Murray Architects).

    What does COVID-19 mean for place-based development?

    Places like Shelby’s Don Gibson Theater, the El Dorado Outpost outdoor retailer in the Uwharries and The Twilight Bark pet supply company in Troy were built on grit, luck and the surety that there would be demand for something other than the offerings at chain stores and strip malls. But for those counting on place-based, experiential strategies to drive their revivals, the key question is: Will that be enough?
  • Coronavirus cases mapped by zip code in Mecklenburg County as of May 13.

    Coronavirus resources: Data, maps and more

    The coronavirus pandemic has generated a flood of data, maps and other resources to track the spread — and places to get help — throughout the region. Many of these resources are scattered across different websites and dashboards. Here’s a brief summary of what’s available, collected in one place. We will update this list as the pandemic goes on.
  • Cushman & Wakefield rendering of a "6 feet office,"

    The effects of COVID-19 on architecture: Predictions from tomorrow's designers

    When the coronavirus pandemic hit in the middle of the spring semester, it added a whole new layer of significance to the assignments in Assistant Professor of Architectural History Lidia Klein’s spring seminar. The curriculum for the graduate course, Architecture and Production: from Assembly Line to 3-D Printing, challenged students to investigate “changes in methods of architectural production from the 19th century to the present,” placing those changes “within social, political, cultural, and economic contexts.” 
  • Berewick development in Charlotte

    Home ownership and the legacy of redlining

    Home ownership is one of the key strategies to close the racial wealth gap. A home is where households see gains in equity (market value of home minus any liens attached to property)  and is typically the largest asset Americans hold, regardless of race or ethnicity.  But Black and Latinx households have considerably less equity in their homes than White and Asian households. As Richard Rothstein says in The Color of Law, “A home is one of the only assets where the race of the owner affects the rate of return.”
  • Worker loading farm boxes

    Pandemic highlights food chain workers' precarious and essential positions

    Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, news headlines have called attention to both “essential workers” in the food system, such as farmworkers and grocery store employees, and extensive job losses for food system workers, primarily in retail and restaurants. There are requests for contributions to virtual tip jars and for customers to buy gift cards from small businesses alongside fears of food chain disruptions, empty grocery shelves, and virus exposure while shopping. All of this highlights the often invisible precarity of essential workers in the US food system — and the precariousness of the food system itself.
  • Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte

    Keeping the conversation about public space alive past coronavirus

    Projects that usually take years are happening in weeks during the coronavirus pandemic: Cities are closing streets to cars, opening public space for sidewalk cafes and investing more in pop-up parks and outdoor amenities.  Planners are responding to a desperate desire for more public, outdoor space, as restaurants, gyms, bars, concert venues, offices, schools and other indoor gathering places remain closed or severely restricted. In Charlotte, city officials have closed about two miles of streets near parks to through traffic, in order to give people more room that’s usually been reserved for cars.  The question, though, as restrictions begin lifting and people crave a return to some kind of normalcy, is whether such changes represent a permanent shift or a fleeting blip in our car-centric culture.
  • Bulldozer demolishes house in Charlotte neighborhood of Brooklyn

    The historical roots of the racial wealth gap in Charlotte

    Wealth is more than money. While simply defined as the net amount of assets over liabilities, wealth functions in more expansive ways. It opens doors to homeownership, no-debt or low-debt education, business ownership, and the ability to weather personal and national emergencies.  These opportunities and the racial wealth gap that locks some groups out — White households in the United States have 10 times the wealth of Black households and 7 times the wealth of Latinx households — have historical policy roots.
  • Malmö, Sweden bicycle paths

    Can Charlotte’s auto-dependency be cured? Planners launch Strategic Mobility Plan

    The heightened attention to COVID-19 aftershocks has not  distracted  local planners from tackling related issues that beg for solutions. High among these is overcoming Charlotte's long-standing love affair with the car — especially reliance on driving alone, even when carpooling, light rail, cycling or other options are readily available. Charlotte Department of Transportation Deputy Director Ed McKinney brought this to the attention of City Council’s Transportation, Planning and Environment Committee at its January meeting.