How can we fix the failure?

Shrinking cities have been plagued by disinvestments for decades, despite the countless interventions by local stakeholders and other entities to stem the decline. The question is not so much why are the strategies not effective, but it is where in the decision making chain is the link the weakest. Those who failed to accept that their cities have a shrinkage problem are the weakest links. If decision makers do not acknowledge that the problem has existed, planning for the challenge is difficult at best. So how can we fix the failure?

A number of articles have been written about right-sizing strategies, how to spend NSP funds, public involvement, and so forth. However, shrinking cities-related articles and research are far and few, if any, on how to convince elected officials that there is an emergency. So where can practitioners find ideas on how to fix the failure?

Solutions to society’s problems are either new and innovative, or familiar ones that have been adapted from other purposes. For instance, sea shells are just that, but at one time people used them for currency. Clay has been used for pottery for centuries, and now it has been adapted as heat shield for space shuttles. The attributes of traditional towns have inspired people to borrow from those ideas to design today’s New Urbanist communities. Parks used to be at ground level, but within the last several decades people in urban environment have adapted them to rooftops. And now, one of the shrinking cities strategies is to demolish blighted properties and turn them into park space.

So from where and whom could practitioners draw ideas to fix the failure? Could it be from Capitol Hill lobbyists who have done so well at convincing politicians to support their self-serving agendas? From psychological warfare strategies? From books on how to sell your ideas? Unlikely sources should not be discounted as inspirations and ideas could come from anywhere. So how can we fix the failure?