How Should I Vote?

Graph of Important Leadership Qualities over Time

As election season ramps up again, I find myself wondering more than ever before: how should I research the candidates?

This year, while facilitating a conversation among people who voted for Clinton and Trump, I’ve noticed that, even among people who’ve committed time to discussing different political worldviews, life gets in the way. Most can’t find the time to research every issue, or to talk it through—and many feel guilty or inadequate as a result. But given the unavoidable demands of our jobs and families, I wonder if this guilt is, in fact, a clue.

What if the way we’ve come to frame our responsibility as citizens—to be knowledgeable, detail-oriented voters—is in fact unrealistic and unsustainable? Continue reading “How Should I Vote?”

Helping out Salmon in Fremont, Seattle, WA

In Fremont, a block uphill from Seattle’s ship canal, construction is wrapping up on a glassy office building. An unassuming, newly landscaped terrace flanks the building. The Aurora Bridge soars above the terrace, carrying cars over the canal.

Along the canal, boats dot the water’s surface on this sunny July day. Below the surface, salmon have begun their migration upstream. The salmon run will continue into the winter, and their babies will make the return trip to the ocean come spring.

Continue reading “Helping out Salmon in Fremont, Seattle, WA”

The Hierarchy of Nobel-Prize-worthiness

Hierarchy of Conscience

In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith explored the cultural milieu that produces our sense of right and wrong. In this work, which laid the groundwork for The Wealth of Nations, Smith notes that it’s human nature to seek praise and praise-worthiness. This basic tendency, he supposes, forms a social glue that keeps our societies ticking along.

He who coined “the invisible hand of the market” in fact seemed to view morality and markets as complementary, not competing, forces. How might this perspective apply to urban development? Continue reading “The Hierarchy of Nobel-Prize-worthiness”

Tim McDonald, Onion Flats—Philadelphia, PA

Onion Flats

‘I come at it from an architect’s perspective.’

Tim McDonald runs Onion Flats with his three partners. Trained as an architect, Tim co-founded the Philadelphia-based design-build firm alongside his brother. “As a developer,” he says, “every project I’ve ever done has been an opportunity to explore something. I’m a design-driven developer, and I come at it from an architect’s perspective.” Continue reading “Tim McDonald, Onion Flats—Philadelphia, PA”

Machinebrain & Gardenbrain

Gardenbrain
Gardens of Democracy

I was quite excited to see Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau list The Gardens of Democracy as one of his two favorite nonfiction titles. This under-sung little book has deeply influenced how Brian and I think about urban development, using a concept called “Gardenbrain”. Here’s hoping that a big shout-out from Canada’s “little potato” will help get the word out.

The book has helped us frame the importance of exploring the culture of real estate development. In other words, it’s more than markets and regulation that influence developers. Think to your own work: are you just a puppet of money and laws? You might concede that you’re also a bundle of feelings and dreams, deeply influenced by the people around you. Continue reading “Machinebrain & Gardenbrain”