strongerkamloops

Originally published in Kamloops This Week as a letter in 2010:

In the words of Fred Hansen, ex-deputy director of USEPA and regional planner for Portland, OR, “It’s not about MPG, its WBF”.

WBF= Weeks Between Fill-Ups. What Fred is getting at is that cars represent only 25% of our fossil fuel emissions, and no matter the degree to which we improve fuel efficiency, we will only be going a little way to solving the problem. There are hundreds of other reasons why further pursuing the auto-mobile centric form of urban planning is ridiculous.

We need to drive our cars rarely and take advantage of all the other forms of transport available. Walking is a good one, a living in a place where this is practical is a good investment. This is a huge step towards independence of oscillating fossil fuel prices and green house gas emissions. Creating a community in this ideal benefits us all– not to…

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The First Eyesore – Part 2, Human Scale

This is the second half of the article published as “The First Eyesore – Part 1, The Environment”. Both articles are critical of the built landscape in and around Kamloops. The intention of the articles are not to be harsh or negative, but to introduce citizens to a language that will give citizens the ability to participate in a dialogue about how we have built, how we are building, and provide a foundation on which we as the citizens can be active participants in how we continue to build. Many articles in the rest of the blog will touch on issues such as why we built the way we did, why we are building the way we are and what circumstances may influence how we need to be building and how we will build in the future. The first part of this two-part article dealt with everything surrounding the pictured building at 3rd and Battle. This article will deal with what this building is telling us about itself. It is always important to remember Peter Calthorpe, “Cities are more than a collection of buildings in space, cities gain their life and vibrancy from how those buildings and streets relate to one another and relate to the citizens.”

In the first part of the article we touched briefly on the concept of the “Human Scale”. It is now time to expand further on this. We previously touched on how a pedestrian interacts with his/her environment and how a vehicle does. We understand why a street is more vibrant when there are no cars on it, but it takes more than a stick to make a walking journey a worthwhile one. There needs to be carrots as well.

Density is the first key in creating vibrant public space. It is key for all kinds of diversity and metropolitan uses in a city. For example, SmartGrowth BC has calculated unit densities for cities in BC regarding all kinds of land use patterns. For example a city needs to have at least 5 units of housing per hectare for public schooling to be viable–on the periphery of Edmonton right now the school board has refused to build new schools as the density of students has become so low, and the neighborhoods so mono-demographic that they cannot make the schools viable. The essential rule is this, a neighborhood needs to have enough density to support a school over time – there needs to be enough children, enough seniors, young professionals, etc. so that there is always enough children to walk to the school to remain at a capacity full enough to operate. Many other services are no different. If Kamloops had an average density of 25 units per hectare (currently at 13, much lower in places like Dallas and Rayleigh) public transit would not be a burden to the tax payer, but it would actually pay for itself. Not much beyond that threshold and many households participate in what is referred to as “car-dumping”. The convenience of frequent and cheap 24hr transit is now more convenient than car ownership. Many have also argued that a larger percentage of the population taking transit and reducing the burden on our road system in fact pays for itself much sooner than 25 units per hectare. The other note on public transit is that it needs to be frequent to create a broader willingness to take transit. Buses will not become more frequent unless there is enough people to ride them. This is also a function of density.

Density is not so simple though. For successful density there needs to be a wide mix of uses as well: from nightclubs, to apartments, to offices, to retail, to pubs, to doctors offices, to grocery stores, light industry, schools, churches, etc. A pedestrian’s journey is not convenient unless the things required are in fact close at hand. A good example of this is found in Dallas, Texas. In Dallas there are many 100 story office building’s downtown. There are never any pedestrians on the street at any hour of the day. In the picture provided by Google Street view in the heart of downtown Dallas (877 Main Street, Approx.) there are two persons on this street. One homeless and the other a city employee fixing a traffic light. This mono-use, no matter how dense, creates a flight response in people, as once the task needed to accomplish in that neighborhood is complete, they drive out. Dallas, a city with a metro population of 6.3 million, also has a barely functioning transit system that is left primarily to the vagrants and ner-do-wells. In fact it could be argued that diversity is important beyond sheer convenience in dense places. The diversity of the building types, businesses, people, streetscapes and public interaction contributes to the above mentioned term-“Human Scale”. A place filled with diversity provides inherent entertainment and stimulation in a pedestrian journey. These points of interest, whether it be a shop window display, a bizarre character or inspiring architecture, are only really experience when walking, they are just passed by at 60km/h in a car. These points of interest make it worthwhile and rewarding to be a pedestrian. They make the lifestyle of the city one of engagement and excitement.

Great examples of mixed-use, medium density places exist and they are largely extremely lively and exciting places. Italy is a country with thousands of such villages and cities, and the saying of the Italians goes, “10 Italians in the street take up the same space with their activities as 100 Americans.” This jibe simply translated insinuates that after work the Italian streets are filled with musicians, couples, singles, children, vendors, performers, pub-goers and thousands of other spontaneous activities. It is the social interaction of all these lifestyles in the public realm that create such a vibrant place to live.

An easy argument against density using my language is that large buildings and many people in a small area is not “scaled” to the human. To this I can pose many quotes. For example, “I am a person and I stand upright, vertical. When I walk through the forest the trees around me stand vertical.” It is important again to entertain diversity in the landscape. Skyscrapers can be both inspiring and terrifying. So can “land-scrapers”. The important element is diversity, is there interesting details, created for the human at 2m tall to excite me? Is there “holes-in-the-wall” for me to discover on my urban exploration?

Therefore it is important that the buildings in a city enrich the public realm. There are a number of key terms to describe what and how a building can achieve this. A great document published by the London School of Design, called ‘By Design’ identifies some key features:

Character: A place with its own identity

Continuity and Enclosure: A place where private space and public space is clearly defined

Quality of the Public Realm: A place with attractive and successful outdoor areas

Ease of Movement: A place that’s easy to get to and move through

Legibility: A place that has a clear image and is easy to interact with

Adaptability: A place that can change easily

Diversity: A place with variety and choice.

(This document can be found and further explained at http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/Documents/Documents/Publications/CABE/by-design.pdf)

The building in question now, at the SE corner of Battle and 3rd Avenue, how does it measure against these variables?

If this building were a performer, how would you describe its Character? Does this building have an identity of its own? Not particularly, this building could be found anywhere in any city in North America and the typology would be familiar. This is a multi-story building which inherently has more density than a single story, and this part is good. Where it really fails is in what surrounds it. In a city with good diversity of buildings, a few distasteful ones could contribute to the overall excitement of the area (as the NYC Sperone Westwater Gallery shows). That sort of diversity contributes to the character of a neighbourhood. This building does little in that respect, it does not contribute to the identity of the area, nor will the architecture ever be known as a landmark in Kamloops.

Regarding Continuity and Enclosure. It can be said that people with many missing teeth are less attractive than those with good teeth all in their mouths. The same is true of streets. A street with uninterrupted buildings enclosing the street or a square creates a comfortable and safe feeling “outdoor room”. Many do not realize why Victoria Street rents drop off travelling east after 5th avenue. That is where the enclosure completely ends. In fact in the 300 Block of Victoria Street there is a missing tooth beside the Kamloops Inn, and unsurprisingly it quickly attracts many people who do not wish to have all their activities known (people you would not feel comfortable having your young daughter playing with). It is not the quality of the people that I wish to draw attention to, but the context of the surroundings and how that can skew a persons conduct(More on this in future posts). As this building stands alone in space with nothing more than surface parking surrounding it, it fails to create a “place” which needs to be accomplished by enclosure. There needs to be borders for a space to be a place.

This whole post and the previous one has dealt with many issues surrounding the impoverishment of the Public Realm at the Battle and 3rd location. I will mention again in this respect however, there is no reason why a person would ever choose to be in the vicinity of this building unless they were parking their car, in transit or using the services inside that building. The same cannot be said of good public realm, like 200-400 block Victoria Street, like Riverside Park, like the village square at SunPeaks, Leister Square in London or Times Square in New York. These places have character, they are enclosed and have a diversity of uses. It is the character of such places as Times Square that we know them world-wide, without having actually been there, whereas Bryant Park only a couple blocks away is completely unknown to someone who hasn’t visited.

Ease of Movement: Interestingly, 3rd and Battle space suffers little to no problems regarding ease of movement, except for perhaps that one has few reasons to ever move through this space on foot. In addition, how does one enter the building itself? It is not immediately apparent… in fact there appears to be a moat of sorts separating the sidewalk from the building itself, as if a pedestrian being able to touch the building we would deface it. If defacement was a problem perhaps the “defacer” was trying to add some character and interest where there was previously none (similar to concrete retaining walls being graffiti-ed). It is the belief of the author that if a building requires a sign to direct the person to the entrance, the architect has completely failed at its job.

Legibility. Perhaps at this point you, the reader, are starting to see how all these elements of design and architecture are in fact related to each-other. Regarding Ease of Movement, the largest impediment to movement is the fact that you cannot immediately figure out where you need to go. Legibility in the macro-sense however appeals to how a building functions to make a city understandable. If I am a stranger asking for directions, are there landmarks you can use to help direct me? Or as a citizen, does the built environment reflect how I like to live, does it represent things in my past, and does it remind me of my dreams? Will the continuity and familiar landmarks help support me over time as I look for security in the neighbourhoods I once called home, or continue to? It is probably few of us who have not taken tea with an elder and heard the disdain the way the changes in the city have made it “unrecognizable”. It is hard to find security in a neighbourhood of constant demolition and construction, and it is demoralizing on a finer scale as it seems to tell us that we are not capable of building anything that is worth preserving.

This brings us to another connected idea, Adaptability. Are the buildings we are building capable of re-use. Like the Tate Modern in London, or the Battersea Power Plant, can our power plants be made into art galleries and high-end condos? Can our churches become gymnasiums and pools? Can our pools become hospitals or bike manufacturers? Can our houses become effective offices or clinics? Or are they not worth remodeling because the use they were designed for was too specialized that they cannot be used in any another way? Or perhaps because our culture of demoralization through constant demolition disincentives us from actually building something of a high-enough quality to last in the first place. At one time if you wanted to flaunt your ridiculous wealth, you would build a bridge or a large civic building with your name on it that would last for decades, neigh centuries. Today you abandon that for cerebral temporary experience, like a Ferrari.

And finally the thrust of the whole argument. Diversity.

Is this building the worst it comes? No. Is it the best we can do? Certainly No.

The First Eyesore – Part 1, The Environment

Images from Google Street View.

I personally think that the entire stripmall areas surrounding the highways through Kamloops are the largest eyesores, and contribute greatly to many foreigners attitudes that Kamloops is not much more than a blue collar pulp town. However in my eyesore column I do not plan to address them, or any of the sub-urban sprawl up the hills, as I do not believe that there was much opportunity to build those houses in a truly long-term sustainable fashion in the first place.

Calling a building an eyesore, I think, is immediately a negative connotation. I choose to highlight some things that I believe have gone wrong in the planning and construction of some buildings, in order to provide a vocabulary to readers to understand why some things in our built environment feel the way they do, and why people interact with them the way they do.

The building above is the Worksafe BC building on the SE corner of Battle and 3rd Avenue downtown. It is clearly a downtown building, yet the surrounding does not seem to foster the lively atmosphere surrounding Victoria Street at a similar time of day. In this article I will explain the elements of design present that have the most to do with the immediate environment. In a second article I will continue by speaking to the finest grain of the building. This is all to answer the question, “Why are the places we are building so different from the places we like?”

If we walk around the immediate surroundings of the address, you notice one thing straight away. There is not really many other people. This is because the only reason a person would need to be in this area is to store their car, which clearly takes up and renders otherwise useless large areas of land. In this central location, our city planners, developers and even citizens and business owners have decided that the highest and best use for this land is to store our cars. Of course there is little beauty in a car, not much personality: some try to impose our personality on our cars, with political bumper stickers, and flags and reindeer antlers (which I really cannot understand how they we’re ever a good idea), or finally my favorite, testicles on your truck (which always struck me as fairly homo-erotic). If this land was not being used for car storage, what other uses might it have? Park land for childrens activities and frisbee playing? Homes for people, art studios? Perhaps it could even create jobs? A small orchard, or even a brewery, or soap factory, or book printer? If this, and similar spaces throughout our town we’re utilized for more than single uses, there would be many economical means for all of our citizens to traverse the town safely, conveniently and comfortably. It takes mixed-use and density to attain this. Car storage is the ultimate in single use, no density space.

Another significant difference between pedestrian rich Victoria Street and this location exists. The width of the sidewalk. Just as important is the proportion of the sidewalk width and the width and speed of travel on the street. Lets talk about vehicle traffic speed first. In ‘Traffic’ by Thomas Vanderbuilt, the authour acquaints us with the idea of ‘friction’ on cars and the speed that they travel. It is known to all of us that the faster a vehicle is travelling whenever it hits anything (person, child, lamp-post, car, truck, etc.) the higher the likelyhood of death. It is not unsurprising then that places which have faster vehicle speeds would be more dangerous for a person on foot, and would therefore be worth aversion. The element of friction that I refer to then is the environment of that which the vehicle travels in, and what it communicates to the driver, “What is an appropriate speed for me to be travelling here?” There are simple ques that a driver will take into account, such as the width of the road (cars always seem to travel slower on the Red Bridge, especially when there is an on-coming car). Another is cars parked on the sides of the road, things that prevent the driver from seeing far into the future. Probably the largest one though is proximity to on-coming traffic. The simple logic is this, roads with cars only travelling one direction, like 3rd Avenue, Lansdowne and Seymour, all have incredibly high traffic speed largely due to single direction traffic. A driver on these roads perceives very little friction, and there-fore, logically perceives the safety of driving faster to be worth the risk. And so the cars travel faster.

There is one more consideration in this circumstance in the eyes of the driver, “How many pedestrians are there?” The pedestrian inserts all kinds of variables into a driving relationship. “Will those children run in front of me?” “Hey guys/girls, did you just see that good looking member of the opposite sex?”, “Look at the hat that lady is wearing!”,”I think I went to Antarctica with that guy.” The relationship between a driver and a pedestrian is a very human one, full of risk, interest, community and relationships. The difficulty is that two pedestrians are safe in their interest travelling at 2 or 3 kph. A person can usually perceive their surroundings at this speed to accommodate any unforeseen difficulties like broken pavement or speeding children. That is a luxury that a driver does not have, as they cannot hear the sounds properly outside their car, nor perceive the smells. In addition they have large blind spots and are travelling far faster than 2-3 kph. It is easy to see how so many “accidents” happen. The car is intentionally created to instill security, however it takes away many of the human functions that we require and have adapted to secure ourselves. The experience of being on a pedestrian street is so rich that even in a car you choose to drive slower. In fact, rarely in Western Canada, you must sometimes ask yourself, “is it even appropriate to drive my car here at all?” For example the picture from China in the slideshow:

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Now lets consider the experience of being on 3rd Avenue as a pedestrian with the speeding cars. There is not much protecting you from them. The sidewalk is narrow, barely enough for two wheel chairs to pass, infact it is much narrower than the building code for service hallways in commercial buildings. The indication is that people are clearly not expected to walk here. Simultaneously there is nothing protecting you from the elements, like trees from the sun or walls from the wind. Trees in fact serve many purposes on a great pedestrian street. During the hot months they filter the sun and provide shade to walkers. During the cold months the leaves disappear and let in the needed suns heat. The organic angles and textures soften the buildings enclosing the space (unlike the UFO like bushes and weeds that appear in parking lot ‘landscaping’). They provide a feeling of safety and separation from the vehicles on the street (parked cars also do this, but much worse). They also become convenient places to lean, and to park bicycles. 3rd Avenue has none of these features, and most people do not walk on this street unless they have no other choice.

We have got this far and not mentioned even the ill health effects of air pollution from cars (greater than a mine on the other side of the hill), or how travelling while sitting right from birth fosters in-activity, lethargy, diabetes and obesity (or the financial burden on the health care system resulting). In fact we have not even mentioned the outrageous tax-payer funded infrastructure costs to build an maintain all the car infrastructure like traffic lights, and traffic police. We have still avoided the paradox that the more parking one builds the farther things are away, which creates the need to drive more, which puts more cars on the road, which means the roads have to be wider, which means there needs to be more car storage, and the cycle continues. Have you noticed that the cities only traffic jams occur at locations engineered to make car travel the most efficient (8th Ave. North Shore, Summit Drive, Sahali Shopping Centres)? In fact we haven’t even gone into the large segment of our population that is refused the right to participate in our soceity because they cannot afford, or no longer have the ability to drive. For that matter what about the 15 year olds, which by all intensive purposes posses the tactility and intellect to hold a job, ride a bike and have a mature conversation which cannot get themselves to their own school effectively? I suppose we shouldn’t even bring up the emissions which could be contributing to climate change, or the consumption of oil which is making everything in our lives more expensive.

In the end, the environment surrounding this eyesore is one which accommodates the car at all cost. Provisions to encourage walking, or comfort, or even basic safety for someone who needs or prefers to travel by other means has been removed or ignored. The cost to our economy, social relationships and environment is largely ignored. Stay tuned for Part 2, The Building

Micro Economics

I am developing  a distinct unhappiness with newspapers at the moment. Mostly this is reflected on the cavalier way in which journalists address “The Economy”.

When a local reporter remarks that a particular government program costs too much money, that government services are unsustainable and should be cut; and in so many breaths dismays the lack of jobs available to citizens in this uncertain economy–I am confused. Lets go on a journey and follow some logical steps through micro-economics.

I will make the assumption that we all understand the basics of a Supply Curve and a Demand Curve. Good. Let’s continue.

The media states (para-phrased by me): “Health Care services keep diminishing while taxes keep rising, this is clearly the fault of a Top-Heavy Elite which is living on the Gravy Train of tax dollars”

I will not debate that perhaps the “management” over “leadership” iniatives of corporate structure within most corporations, inlcuding Interior Health do exist, and there are great ineffiecincies here. The technical term here is known as Diseconomies of Scale, and in many ways Interior Health may be far along that Long-Run-Average-Cost Curve, perhaps even the Short-Run curve too. However if we analyse the local economy we can deduce this fact:

1. When a person in our community earns a wage, large or small, they will likely spend a significant portion of the income in our community, providing a demand for labour-hours here. (This is scale-able however, depending on how foreign this persons investment portfolio is, and how often they prefer to shop at foreign (regionally as well) shops and services.)

Therefore, when analyzing a local government service, is it not prudent to deduct labour cost from our equation of its cost structure? Afterall, if we keep cutting all these government services (jobs), how is it that our economy is supposed to pick up with new employment. If wages are the driving job-cost then perhaps we should look to other areas for cost savings.

The only reason we can afford multiple televisions in our homes is because a trans-national corporation has exploited wage advantages in third-world conutries. If we built those televisions here, at our wages (with our healthcare), the average person would need a mortgage for their T.V. (although the national credit card debt indicates that we may already). Therefore, the primary cost driver must be transport. Energy. Fossil fuels. Curiously fuel seems to have abondoned “3%” inflation. Curiously the products that arrive in our communities through fuel aided transport have also risen at a rate far above “inflation”–in our current Western practice of “trading” by shipping inanimate objects incredible distances back and forth across the globe, it is not surprising. The Globe and Mail on Thursday reported that the dramtically escalting food prices of the last couple years seem to have stabalized this year. Somehow the connection was not made that the last 12 months have had relatively stable gas prices as well, largely due to reduced demand as Americans have been running out of money.

The ecomomist Tim Jackson remarks in his TED Talk, “Canadians make cookies for the Danish, and we ship them there, and they make us cookies, and ship them here; would it not be easier to just trade recipies?”. Without even factoring the carbon footprint of all this shipping; the global climate change that is wreaking havoc on ‘industrial agriculture’ and shipping–without even factoring the quality of life realities of driving a transport truck or working in a camp in the Arctic drilling for oil; the sheer cost, ‘investment’, that our western citizens are throwing at the combustion of fossil fuels is incredible.

At some point along the road, it has been perceived as inevitable that we must keep the wheels turning, and the engines running, even if it is at the expense of our jobs, and our government services and the public good.

Lets return to the introduction for the conclusion, local health care, the Interior Health Authority. What costs more than the managers salaries without discounting them as the salaries and money comes back to our community, in some capacity at least?

You guessed it! Fuel! Fuel; For the ambulances, the medivacs, the helicopters, the drug shipping, the heating, the cooling, the garbage disposal, the water pumping, the lighting, the sanitation equipment, the computers, the renovations of an inefficient structure, the cars to get everyone to work (1 in each of course), the parkades to store all these cars, to manufacture the vehicles, to manufacture the piping, and the HVAC, the syringes, the X-Rays, the coolers, the freezers, the tile floors, the stainless steel… This list is hardly exhaustive but lengthy enough to be telling I hope. Perhaps the key to keeping jobs in the community, to maintaining government services and investing in the public good lies less in cutting programs, and instead in re-evaluating the fashion in which we construct our cities, and how we conduct our lives–without pointless fossil fuel combustion.

That or we will cut all the programs, and cut all those jobs, and still need to raise taxes to pay for the fuel, and none of the tax payers will be left to pay for it anyways– the market will make the decision for us.

Solar Water and Rising Utility Prices

Cause and Effect. The effect does not happen without the cause.

I am impressed by the uncanny ability to look at two separate council considerations and not understand how intertwined they are.

The considerations I refer to are “Increase in costs for water, sewage and garbage disposal” and the local bylaw provision for new homes to be Solar Hot Water ready.

The increase in costs for the services provided to us by the city are not stemming from run-away spending as some would have us believe. The costs of all these services are tied strictly to external factors far beyond the control of our city council, at least at first glance. The price of trucking away our garbage is not driven by wages or real estate on which to dump the refuse; the dominant price driver is the price of gas. The same is true for water delivery: In order to deliver water to our homes and water away from our homes, the water needs to be treated by electrically or gas fuelled machinery. It needs to be lubricated by oil based lubricants. The piping needs to be forged through energy intensive procedures which require more inputs in the form of gas, oil and electricity. Furthermore the same piping and machinery is shipped to us here by machines that use more gas.

Not surprisingly rising gas prices that are affecting our bottom line as residents of Kamloops are also affecting the companies and city departments that service our needs and wants.

Luckily we have a council that is doing better than our federal government in addressing the issues of climate change and rising world-wide demand for limited energy sources. At first glance our council has no ability to fight rising gas prices; they do have to ability to affect how Kamloops residents are using that energy.

When building a new house, preparing for Solar Hot Water costs only $500-$1000 depending upon the size of the dwelling. When retrofitting an old house that price can quadruple or more very easily, as the roof trusses need to be reinforced, new piping in the walls need to be installed and new equipment stored somewhere in the house. Even when retrofitting for Solar Hot Water, the system often pays for itself in less than five years, without calculating the rising cost of the services delivered by the city.

Incredibly it seems city council has a conscience and is anticipating the needs of our residents into the future and making provision for our comfort not just immediately but also in the years to come. Just as good government should.

Credit and Cheap

Not street names in London, though there is a “Cheapside” in Londons’ financial district.

I just wanted to do an off the cuff reflection on how we use money, a representation of the work we have done, and the resources allowed to us for that work.

This poster is about hardwood floors. It is telling you the same thing that Wal-Mart tells you. You can save money, live outside your means, because you are smart and you have cut-out the middle man! This “discount” store that you are purchasing your new floors from can give you the much lower price than the competitors, because they do not have to pay all those costly Canadian salaries: Instead, they can pay some children pennies in 3rd world countries and have the finished product shipped to your door. The same is true for on-line purchases, except in this case, you the smart consumer have even eliminated the store in your town. Now the company that is bringing you all the luxury you deserve does not even have to locate in your community or contribute to your tax base or labour force. It can just employ other people in other countries and deliever you the DEALS!

I feel like the problem isn’t that hard to understand. IF you have a job, YOU are the Middleman! By cutting out the middleman, you are cutting yourself out of a salary. By purchasing on-line, you are cutting all kinds of job-hours from all over your community. Those job-hours could have been an electrician installing new lights, or book-keeper, or a clerk at the local bank branch. By purchasing from anywhere with a self-checkout, you are destroying the very jobs your teenagers and students may otherwise have had. You are not only depraving them of the ability to fund their own college education, you are also encouraging a life-style of living on credit from before they can drink or drive; also known as our most impressionable years. Entitlement amongst many teenagers seems a mystery–but is it that complicated? If they need a parent to drive them everywhere, as they cannot get their on their own, and they need a parent to pay for everything, because they cannot earn money on their own; are they not learning then that the world does everything for them without having to contribute back? Perhaps if there were more labour jobs for these youth to participate in adult or “real” society, we might breed an understanding amongst our communities children that you cannot get something for nothing.

Concurrently, a dollar spent inside the community becomes another dollar spent inside in the community. When I pay an self-employed plumber to come into my home and fix my toilet, he goes out on a date with his siginificant other and spends that dollar on dinner at a local restaurant. The server who recieves the payment has a job as he/she has a customer. That server now has a tip which he/she can spend on rent, which becomes a local landlords income. Eventually all dollars in a small city like Kamloops will leave, as tax, as credit interest or on vacation; but why throw it away when a slightly more expensive local alternative might exist.

After all, when you spend that dollar at a multi-national, or online, and cut out the middle man, you are cutting out your own job, or those who pay you for yours. This is not complicated economics. Middlemen are not evil, you likely are one-in one way or another.

My last thought on the subject: If I build an apartment building, I would fund the $10 million dollars through a bank. I would then sell the units, to persons with mortgages, whose mortgages on the property would now be double the initial construction price of the building. The whole way through, the bank collects interest, and the whole way through, no one actually has any money.

Sprawling From Grace

This film is a great introduction to the theories and necessity of developing in a fashion known as New Urbanism. The Congress for New Urbanism (cnu.org), is great resource to dive further into specific, geographically relevant initiatives, however if you are currently unfamiliar with the roots of many of the arguments presented here, Sprawling from Grace, this film which is avaiable on YouTube for free. The link is below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPS1y81b1Bw&ob=av3e