Friday, February 09, 2007

shrinking cities symposium: today and tomorrow in SF

Here's a question: what do Youngstown, Paris, and Leipzig have in common?

Well, according a news story from the San Francisco Chronicle that trickled into my inbox ealier this week, these three regions are what's being labeled as a "shrinking city" by academics and practitioners.

In the Youngstown case, as in many American cities, the urban core is left hurting while industry and residential development quickly escape to the suburbs, creating a doughnut of wealth.

In the Paris case, as in many European cities, the inverse happens as rings of poverty and crime surround the relatively affluent center.

And in the Eastern Germany case, the pattern of deindustrialization and urban flight resembles a checkboard as its structure.

These typologies, and other issues, will be discussed on February 8th and 9th at the University of California Berkeley. There, the newly-formed Center for Global Metropolitan Studies within the academically-recognized Institute for Urban and Regional Development will be hosting a symposium named "The Future of Shrinking Cities".

Click here to see their two-day agenda.

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More than 20 scholars from a dozen countries will be presenting at the symposium (which is free and open to the public in case anyone wants to make a quick roadtrip).

Presenting some research about Youngstown will be the organizer of the event, Professor Karina Pallagst (Ph.D. City and Regional Planning - University of Kaiserslautern) in her paper, "The End of the Growth Machine."

(side note: Kaiserslautern is a cool place - I did a blog about this part of Germany and its similarities to Youngstown as we were there for the USA World Cup matches some months ago.)

All of the abstracts of the speakers at the symposium can be seen here.

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It's always interesting to see how academics are looking at Youngstown. From Sean Safford's (now at University of Chicago) work on social network theory contributions to economic development, to some of the speakers at the San Francisco event, our city is a unit of analysis - sometimes for better or for worse reasons.

In this case, Youngstown is being recognized as a global leader in sustainable development strategies, and many of today's researchers will be looking at us in the future to see how our strategy paid off.

And as the story concludes, some places are being noticed by the world.

"Examples of shrinking cities fighting back include Youngstown; Dresden, Germany; and South Korea's Taeback Mountain region."

Perhaps something we can stand on a pole and be proud of!

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