Articles about Environment and Planning

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Sun Belt cities are driving much of our urban growth. Let’s study them.
   July 6, 2020
Mary Newsom
The U.S. population, like that in Charlotte, is growing, and much of the growth is in the cities of the Sun Belt. A new report from a Houston university research center says the country should be paying more attention to those Sun Belt cities – treating them as a specific genre that needs its own body of research. Read more


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A breath of fresh air for your mental health
   June 30, 2020

Sandra Abbey
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being stuck at home. While I understand the need during a global pandemic, months of “the new normal” has me missing the old one. Not being able to go to the gym, church, or the movies has got me—and a lot of other people—feeling anxious, and sometimes, pretty down. As it turns out, this is pretty normal, according to research. Folks at the Pew Research... Read more


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Three ideas that could shake up planning and development in Charlotte
   June 30, 2020
Ely Portillo
The coronavirus pandemic has slowed some of the region’s planning efforts and stopped public meetings, but the virus hasn’t stopped Charlotte’s rapid growth. And in a city that’s added more than 150,000 new residents in the past decade, the effects of that growth are visible everywhere from the rising skyline to ever-more-clogged highways. That’s one reason so many new plans — covering... Read more


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Here's what the next 20 years could hold for uptown Charlotte
   June 23, 2020
Ely Portillo
A new “Central Park” for Charlotte. A Tryon Street that prioritizes pedestrians over cars. A new neighborhood built around the Carolina Panthers’ stadium, and the burial — or even total elimination — of I-277. These are some of the big ideas planners are batting around as they work on the new Center City Vision Plan, meant to guide development in uptown and the surrounding neighborhoods for the... Read more


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How to help fireflies — and save a bit of summer magic
   June 22, 2020
Ruth Ann Grissom
A bobwhite quail calling from the edge of a stubbled hayfield. Honeybees buzzing in every patch of clover.  Fireflies hovering just beyond reach as dusk gives way to night. These are the images that come to mind when I think back to summers outdoors in the Uwharries when I was young. Little did I know that over the course of my lifetime, each of those species would experience precipitous... Read more


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Is Charlotte car culture finally changing?
   June 17, 2020
Ely Portillo
As a post-World War II, Sunbelt city that grew up in the age of the automobile, a car has long been pretty much a prerequisite for a comfortable and convenient life in Charlotte. Despite the completion of the Blue Line light rail, added miles of greenways and bike lanes, and new options like fleets of shared electric scooters, Charlotte is still a city where more than eight out of 10 people... Read more


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The pandemic is an opportunity for investing in our community
   June 16, 2020

Stephen Grotz
As the world sinks towards an unprecedented depression, now is the time to invest.   The demand for the most valuable commodity in the world — human ingenuity — has not been this low since the Great Depression in 1933. The nation’s unemployment rate spiked to 16.1% in April 2020 (before dipping to 13.3% in May), and world populations are confined to their homes, threatening the global economy.... Read more


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Post-coronavirus, everything will change in cities — or not
   June 4, 2020
Mary Newsom
We who write about cities are quick to make predictions. Some will prove prescient. Some won’t. But nobody really knows. Cities aren’t all alike. New York’s texture, way of life and pandemic experience are not Charlotte’s, or Houston’s, or Seattle’s. And this: We humans have a long history of behaving both predictably and unpredictably. Read more


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Residents wait to see if they can stay in fast-changing South End
   June 4, 2020
Mae Israel
Debbie Williams grew up in Charlotte’s Brookhill Village, a neighborhood of one-story duplex and triplex apartments built for black families in the 1950s. She has watched while its owners let the buildings deteriorate as luxury apartments began rising nearby.  Two decades ago, she moved away. But her mother and sister remained in the low-rent housing community, home to several generations of... Read more


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Three lessons our city should learn from COVID-19
   June 2, 2020
Ely Portillo
The novel coronavirus is extracting a terrible toll from our society, replete with mind-boggling statistics: A death toll of more than 100,000, 40 million people unemployed, a 95% plunge in airline passengers and so many more. The losses are immense. Grief is immeasurable. It’s still unclear how far-reaching and deep the economic pain we’re facing will run.  Amidst that, however, the... Read more