Thursday, May 31, 2018

See what I mean about a public market?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

On a self-reliant, resilient and regenerative local economy : 4 : A downtown public market

In the first post of this series, former Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat says, "Mid-sized cities hold the key to economic growth and quality of life in Canada, and they’ve taken too long to realize it." And in the second an essay in Strong Towns considers what can local economies learn from the explosion of craft brewing in big and small cities. Also my Twitter thread where I do an informal survey of food and drink business within my Old City neighbourhood. The question arose: can a cluster of uses become a mutually supportive destination, a primary use?
And then an introduction to Jane Jacobs' book, Cities and the Wealth of Nations. All of which led to, not entirely unintentionally, a focus on a downtown Nanaimo City-owned Public Market. Starting from a piece in Guardian Cities on an ambitious city wide Barcelona plan to renovate its public markets, I asked followers to help me out: what markets have impressed you? What can we learn from them?
Here’s an attempt to compile : Pike Place, Seattle • The Forks / Johnston Terminal, Winnipeg • Granville Island • St Johns City Market • Rochester NY Public Market • All the Barcelona markets • St Lawrence Market, Toronto • Findlay Market, Cincinnati • Mexico City, Oaxaca Mobile markets across the South of France.
I hope I got them all and thanks to everyone for the great contributions and comments. These comments from the London UK SE5 area, Visit Camberwell were standouts: "In some ways, car culture carries over into cycling culture with widespread advocacy of bakfiets (cargo bikes) as the ideal sustainable form of household shopping. Whereas imho the challenge is to restore a vibrant distributed local network of independent shops for hand-to-mouth food planning."

Around the world, pubic markets are key municipal assets that, done right, punch above their weight economically, socially and culturally. A Nanaimo Downtown Public Market should be a priority, the process of preparing a detailed business plan should be undertaken by our new Mayor and Council and Senior Staff without delay.

Friday, May 25, 2018

On a self-reliant, resilient and
regenerative local economy : 3 :
What makes economic expansion happen?

Jane Jacobs was asked what she thought she’d be remembered for most. “If I were to be remembered as a really important thinker of the century, the most important thing I've contributed is my discussion of what makes economic expansion happen. This is something that has puzzled people always. I think I've figured out what it is.” Interview in Reason, 2001. City Views : Urban studies legend Jane Jacobs on gentrification, the New Urbanism, and her legacy.
She goes on to say "Expansion and development are two different things. Development is differentiation of what already existed... Practically every new thing that happens is a differentiation of a previous thing… Expansion is an actual growth in size or volume of activity.” from interview excerpt on her Wikipedia page.
From her 1969 book The Economy of Cities and later in Cities and the Wealth of Nations and The Nature of Economies, Jacobs referred to a principle she called import replacement, that a city’s economic expansion grows from producing for local markets what is now imported, some of this production later becoming viable for export. A principle I’ve found difficult to apply to Nanaimo, a city whose economy is supported more by public sector payrolls than by the private sector's local creation of goods and services, and where much commerce is in effect privatized to remote corporate owned shopping centres, with many franchised businesses.
The earlier post on craft brewing’s growth examines what can be learned from its success by other local industries. Has the consolidation of industries into fewer and fewer, larger and larger corporations, created niche demands at the local level?
A large trend is right in front of us: food security, farm-to-table restaurants, farmers markets, local wines and spirits as well as craft beer… Its economic potential is considerable. What help does it need (or want) to go to the next level?  

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

On a self-reliant, resilient and regenerative local economy: 2 : Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Jane Jacobs

It’s well known that Jane Jacobs wrote a famous book that changed how we look at and think about cities. It’s not as well known that her books on economics were as influential. As she did in in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in her 1984 book Cities and the Wealth of Nations, she uncovered things that were hiding in plain sight that had been overlooked by “experts.” She again, showed us things that once seen, are impossible to un-see. If you have an interest in economies, macro or micro, pick up a copy and read along.
I’ll be rereading it specifically to better understand how a self-reliant, resilient and regenerative local economy takes hold and grows. Here’s Strong Towns’ Charles Marohn with a terrific overview and introduction to the book. Chapter 1 ; Fool's Paradise ...
"Cities and the Wealth of Nations skewers dogma in a relentless march towards one of Jane Jacobs' most important insights: cities, not nations, are the central organizing geography around which economies are structured..."

On a self-reliant, resilient and
regenerative local economy. 1

 These recent Strong Towns posts take a thoughtful look at the rapid growth of craft beer businesses in large and small communities across North America, asking what can other local businesses learn from their success.

The author identifies how the consolidation of bigger and fewer corporate brewers left an unmet demand for a local craft industry, one that could interact directly with consumers with unique local offerings. Perhaps we can see other similar unmet demands once we start to look for them…  I did a rough survey of my Old City neighbourhood, listing the food and drink related businesses within very close proximity to each other. The majority, I found to be within a single block (Wesley to Selby, Fitzwilliam to Franklyn).
Here's what I found : Twitter thread : My small neighbourhood — Nanaimo's Old City Quarter — currently has ...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

On a self-reliant, resilient and
regenerative local economy. Introduction

It's not a shortage of housing. It's a shortage of cities. If we define a city as a human settlement with its own self-reliant, resilient and regenerative economy, there’s very few of them. In Canada, maybe six? Nanaimo, where I live, does not qualify as a city by this definition. How do we become a city by this definition? Currently the largest payrolls here are public sector. Family-supporting paychecks that are welcome and appreciated. Fact is, though, the prosperity that backstops these payrolls is not for the most part produced here. It’s produced elsewhere, mostly in BC’s mega-city Vancouver.
There was a bumper sticker a few years ago in Alberta,
“Please God let there be another oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away this time.”
Nanaimo should resist the temptation to become complacent and start now to plant the seeds of a self-reliant, resilient and regenerative economy. Here’s former Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat writing in Maclean’s: Toronto’s unaffordable. Why can’t Halifax or Saskatoon take advantage?
"Take downtown Toronto: it encompasses just 17 of the city’s 613 square kilometres, yet is home to 275,000 people, and is growing four times faster than the city as a whole. Over 75 per cent of these people walk, cycle or take transit to their jobs, which generate 53 per cent of the city’s export-based GDP. There is both an economic and a quality-of-life value to having people in close proximity.”
Your future is downtown, Nanaimo.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

This would bring some life to downtown Nanaimo's Diana Krall Plaza

When closed, it just looks like a big container. But when it opens up, it turns into a full-out restaurant....

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Did the weekend Jane’s Walk stir or renew
an interest in Jane Jacobs and her
influential work on cities?