The Urbanist Musings of Pete Saunders

On Hiatus

Source: martin-devries.com

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the Corner Side Yard.  That makes this as good an occasion as any to reflect on the past, present and future of this blog.

Many of you may know that I got my start by writing a piece on land use planning reasons that fueled Detroit’s decline that was published by friend and colleague Aaron Renn at his Urbanophile site.  It was then, firmly in middle age, that I realized that I had a voice regarding cities.  I realized that I had a unique perspective on cities that was not being heard, and I seized the opportunity to speak out.  I started this blog exactly one day after publication in the Urbanophile site.

Since then, my goals and expectations for this blog have shifted frequently.  It’s been a forum for personal research projects on urban issues.  It’s been a place where I’ve called into question many widely held beliefs about cities, and discussed anticipated trends.  And it’s been a place where I’ve tried to articulate at least one Rust Belt black man’s thought process on what’s going on.

Since starting this blog, I’ve averaged about 5-10 posts per month over four years.  My work was fueled by a burning desire to get my voice out there on cities.  And it would be foolish of me not to admit that I saw the blog as an avenue that could lead to some other type of role for me regarding cities — possibly research or policy, maybe publishing, or something else.

A few things have happened over the last couple of months.  First, the thoughts and ideas simply don’t come to me as easily as they used to.  My personal and professional responsibilities are preventing me from devoting the time I used to devote to the blog.  But even more importantly, I’m feeling as if the passion is waning, that perhaps I’ve come close to the ceiling in terms of where this blog can go, and that maybe there are no other avenues this blog can take me.

So for the time being, I’ve decided to put the blog on hiatus.  I’m not ending it by any stretch.  I’m not “suspending” it the same way failing presidential candidates “suspend” their campaigns.  My guess is that I’ll spend the next 4-6 weeks reflecting on this blog and possible next steps.  After that period is up, I’ll maybe pick up where I left off, or let people know of my next steps.

In the meantime, I’d welcome your thoughts, questions and comments.  Please feel free to comment here in the comments section, or feel free to e-mail me at psaunders1128@gmail.com.  I might not be writing blog posts but I will certainly be looking and responding to your thoughts.

4 Responses to “On Hiatus”

  1. whitemice

    In any case – thanks for all your posts. I have very much enjoyed this BLOG and found it to be very informative and data-oriented (which I appreciate). It is also appreciated to hear from a voice in Michigan. Urbanism often feels obsessed with the coasts and the mega-cities; perhaps just because they offer so much data [vs. who really knows what happens in Grand Rapids, MI as nobody is measuring it on seven different axis]. Thanks again.

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  2. chrismealy

    I love your blog and I've learned a ton from it. Yours and Bicycle Dutch are my favorite urbanist blogs, by far.If you write elsewhere, could you put up a little post here with a link? That way it'll pop up in my rss reader.

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  3. D Holmes

    Sorry to hear you might stop blogging (but also not sorry, as something so time consuming should definitely be curtailed if the enjoyment fades). I definitely appreciate your insights as a black urbanist, but probably more so as someone with good insights (and a passion) for the Midwest and Rust Belt issues. Perhaps your niche will be writing more infrequently, but more enjoyably, for other urban websites. I’ll still check on your blog, even if you only write occasionally. Perhaps you can utilize an email notification system (like Aaron Renn) to maintain the readers you’ve recruited, even if you write much less frequently.

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  4. Pete Saunders

    D Holmes, chrismealy and whitemice, I thank you all for your comments and your well wishes. I've also received numerous e-mails from people echoing the same sentiments. Thanks to everyone.I've come to realize that bringing a Rust Belt/Midwest perspective to the American urbanist dialogue is every bit as important as bringing the African American one. Sadly, though, I feel like that perspective is drowned out by the coastal urbanists who dominate the discussion. They make coastal urban problems appear universal when they aren't; they make Rust Belt urban problems appear parochial when they're far more widespread. I like writing about Rust Belt cities; I believe the promise of a successful American urban future lies within them, even moreso than on the coasts. But coastal urbanists only look to the Rust Belt to validate or confirm how bad things are (i.e., Flint), or how well they're replicating coastal strategies (i.e., Pittsburgh), or for a \”unique\” counter-perspective on urbanism. So yeah, I'm frustrated because I don't think the answer for a true American urban renaissance lies in the coastal cities. Tech can't save cities. The knowledge economy or creative class can't save cities. The 20% slice of the American demographic that prefers urban living can't save cities. And I wonder if the coastal cities will reach a plateau in their economic and social growth and influence, and people will wonder what will happen next. In fact, I wonder if we're already there. So there's a sense on my part that the insulation/isolation dynamic I've written a lot about regarding cities — that urbanists would rather build upward than outward, or concentrate its benefits instead of spreading them out — is also at work writ large, on a national scale. I've grown tired of constantly swimming upstream.

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