Our American Discourse, Ep. 35: It’s Not Just Where You’re Going, It’s Also How You Get There

If the old saying is true that “life is a journey, not a destination,” then it stands to reason that the way we travel matters a great deal. In fact, that’s what the latest evidence has shown: Transportation choices and systems play a crucial role in our economy and our environment. You may think that your car or bike or walk or train ride is only about you, but it’s really one piece of a giant moving puzzle, in which we’re all trying to access the American dream in the same urban landscape at the same time — and that means it’s imperative to do it smartly, justly, and sustainably.

In this episode, Marlon G. Boarnet weighs the pros and cons of different transportation modes and shows how the infrastructure we build now will shape our quality of life for generations to come.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 30: How Do the Rich Spend Their Money and Why Has It Changed?

It used to be that big mansions and fancy jewelry were the consummate signs of wealth, but new research shows that people are increasingly spending their wealth on less “conspicuous” forms of consumption. In today’s world, it pays more to signal your status with things like health care and education and nutrition. How did this change come about? And what does effect does it have on the rest of the population who can’t afford these new status symbols?

In this episode, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett helps us walk a mile in the shoes of today’s “aspirational class” and see how they’re spending their wealth…and how it accelerates the rat race for the rest of society.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 11: Transit-Oriented Development

Time and time again, we hear that we’re living in an “urban renaissance.” People are moving back into the cities, and cities are once again building the things that people want. But where should they go? In an age of congested freeways and greenhouse gas emissions, gentrification and concentrated poverty, suburban sprawl and all sorts of inequality, where is the best place to build, to live, to walk, and to shop? One answer has been touted to address all those problems: near public transit.

In this episode, we define, describe, and debate “transit-oriented development” with Seva Rodnyansky.

Mr. Rodnyansky is a Ph.D. candidate in urban planning and development at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Prior to joining USC, he served as a senior consultant for Booz & Company. He holds a Bachelor’s in economics, urban studies, and mathematical methods in the social sciences from Northwestern University.

To listen to this episode of Our American Discourse, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play.

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“Our American Discourse” is produced by Aubrey HicksJonathan Schwartz, and myself, and mixed by Corey and Ryan Hedden.

Our American Discourse, Ep. 4: The Ethics of Governing

Democracy is a dialogue. It requires our leaders to ask, to listen, and to react. Good governance thus hinges on conversation and consent—and whether we like it or not, conflict. Planners and policymakers have to balance competing needs, never more so than in today’s polarized environment. How do they do the right thing? Does such a thing even exist? Citizenship demands that we engage with these uncomfortable questions, especially in this troubled era.

In this episode, we find sagacity and even humor in the hard work of ethical governing with Lisa Schweitzer.

Prof. Schweitzer is an associate professor of urban planning in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. She teaches classes in city life and structure, justice in public policy, and public transit. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She blogs regularly, provocatively, and wittily at lisaschweitzer.com.

To listen to this episode of Our American Discourse, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through iTunes, Soundcloud, or Google Play.

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“Our American Discourse” is produced by Aubrey HicksJonathan Schwartz, and myself, and mixed by Corey Hedden.