The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts from the “progressive centre” Category

A Neat Symbol of Ingestion

Posted on February 27, 2018

The contrast was stark – and telling. En route back to Canada following a trip to South Sudan, our team was on a layover at Frankfurt. Eager for news – any news – I purchased a Time magazine, poring over its pages to see if anything significant had transpired while we were disconnected from the broader world. And there they were, two adjacent stories which together spelled out so much of what is going wrong and right with the modern world. Molly Ball’s compelling narrative concerning President Trump’s visit to Davos for the annual Global Economic Forum revealed just how much has changed in the past year. Most present had grown more at ease regarding Trump’s influence. One year ago, they were collectively on…

The Journey to “Deeply Disturbed”

Posted on February 23, 2018

Richard Florida is well-known as an American urban theorist, focusing much of his writing on social and economic theory.  He is currently a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute and the University of Toronto.  His book Rise of the Creative Class (2002) and two follow-up volumes maintained that the creative class in cities were in the process of ushering in a new era of urban renewal and prosperity. Events of the last decade, however, and a wide array of new research has revealed some troubling new realities – concerns he writes about in his new book, The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It.  There are some…

Homes Without People

Posted on February 16, 2018

It’s a phenomenon few saw coming, but it’s beginning to turn our perspectives on modern cities on its head.  The point of the spear seems to have begun in New York City – Manhattan specifically.  The number of apartments in that region occupied by absentee owners and renters grew from 19,000 in 2000 to 34,000 by 2011 and has likely mushroomed since.  That’s a jump of 70% in just a decade.  One three-block stretch of the Upper East Side has a 57% vacancy rate for 10 months each year. It’s not just developers and owners excessively purchasing properties and holding on to them as they hold out for higher sales (we have lots of them in Canadian cities).  According to Richard Florida in his…

Is Our World Getting Any Better?

Posted on February 15, 2018

Is the world getting better or worse? It’s a ridiculous question really – not just because it depends on who you ask, but because a single answer proves impossible. The conclusion can only be that it is both. Plenty of research has been published legitimizing both arguments. As a kid growing up in Calgary in the 1950s, both dynamics framed my larger view of the world. It seemed a dangerous planet. The threat of imminent nuclear conflict challenged many of our neighbours to consider constructing bomb shelters. Polio made families insecure. Racism hovered over us as a dark cloud, given what was erupting south of the border. Most nations were anything but democratic and were frequently volatile. The communist threat was everywhere. Sadly, three…

Millennials Seek New Way to Effect Change

Posted on February 10, 2018

Like many other mid-sized cities, London is dealing with a difference in generational attitudes — value distinctions that affect everything from public transportation to employment, locally grown food, neighbourhoods and politics. To date, the friction generated among demographic groups is largely unresolved and that reality partly explains why so many citizens feel frustrated at our collective dysfunction. Neither our politics nor our civil society has succeeded in creating a shared vision. Research increasingly shows how millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995) approach community life differently than the generations that preceded them. A recent Deloitte survey found millennials believe businesses should focus more on people than profits, are politically independent and distrustful of partisanship, and are far more inclined to use public transit than…

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