I grew up reciting almanac statistics, collecting newspaper clippings of development, exploring the cities of Oklahoma City and Houston on my bike, and sketching the built environment I saw. I was initially a disciple of Joel Kotkin (pro-suburbia), and a Republican, both of which I have since disavowed. In high school I had a popular local urbanism blog (an interesting time capsule of my intellectual growth). My most formative early experience (during my undergraduate degree) was studying abroad in Eastern Europe, where I finally realized the importance of walkable scale, rail transit, and historic preservation. These days I am reading James Howard Kunstler, Jeff Speck, Jarrett Walker, Peter Kageyama, Richard Florida, and Peter Calthorpe. While not unique in my passion for urbanism, I am unique in understanding where the other side is coming from. I am on a journey, open to where it may take me, and unashamed of where it started even if it wasn’t the right place for me.
Upon my return from Eastern Europe, I took these ideas a little further. I served as an editor of The Daily O’Collegian at Oklahoma State, focusing that college daily newspaper on issues affecting the built environment of Oklahoma State and Stillwater. I formed a student government committee to build community relations through volunteer projects, and laid the groundwork for the Orange Bike bikeshare program, the Big 12’s first.
I moved to Cleveland to get involved with community development, drawn by an amazing rust belt resurgence. Since my undergrad, I have worked in the public, private, and non-profit sectors; for the Census, AmeriCorps, a for-profit developer, a community development corporation, a historic preservation non-profit, and a real estate financial institution. All of these experiences taught me different means of procuring funding for the work we do.
After my AmeriCorps project, the groundbreaking 2014 Historic Preservation in America’s Legacy Cities conference, the road led me to The Ohio State University for my Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) degree. Specializing in community development, my 242-page thesis uncovered emerging best practices in public-private partnerships for transit-oriented development (“BMPs in 3Ps for TOD”).
Green Lake Blue City, an homage to an incredible regional sustainability effort around Cleveland called Green City Blue Lake, is about embracing a city’s greatest challenges and thinking strategically toward asset-based revitalization. These are solutions that don’t “fix” but “help,” and lead to more rewarding outcomes. This site synthesizes some of my actual work, my ideas, others’ work that inspires me, and my extensive travels. I am Ohio-based, but not focused. There is a lot to be learned from keeping tabs on all of these places.
I am extremely lucky to be able to pursue all of my passions through my work and studies, and I look forward to engaging this blog and sharing my ideas and findings as they come. Beyond expressing my heartfelt appreciation to readers, I’d also like to address the divisive rancor that occasionally spills over from other areas into the urban policy space. I am passionate about my ideas and the communities in which I work, and among the full array of policy tools, I certainly have a few favorite children. We all see things differently and make our own favorites – this doesn’t mean we don’t work together on different priorities.
The most important variable in development is timing; Victor Hugo once said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” and I believe this goes for development as well. It would be a misimpression to think I am advocating for this full agenda, all or nothing, all the time. Rather than contacting me or someone else to complain about one idea, try reaching out to establish common ground. There is so much common ground on which to work together, and when the time is right for one of my pet projects, I hope to be a resource in making that happen. It’s not about taking credit or seizing control of a project, but rather the chance to use development and design to improve lives within a community. There is still room for self interest when you care about that community.