Articles about Government and Civic Engagement

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Growing up together: Charlotte, the Urban Institute and a time for change
   April 28, 2021
Jeff Michael

After 18 years as director of UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute, it’s time to move on. And it’s only appropriate that the same field that first introduced me to the institute’s work is now leading me away to a new chapter, serving as North Carolinas’ Deputy Secretary of Natural...

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Growing congestion, empty tracks: Why there's still no Red Line to North Meck
   March 29, 2021
Mary Newsom

A set of almost deserted railroad tracks runs from uptown Charlotte through Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. In fast-growing, highly congested north Mecklenburg, people see those tracks and ask: Why not use them for mass transit?

For more than 20 years, that’s what the county’s transit plan has proposed: Use the tracks for a commuter rail service called the Red Line. Yet no...

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The city wakes up to its future
   March 22, 2021

David Walters

Sometimes I feel as if I'm watching a play. It's one I've seen before - performed many times in different venues. It's called "The City Wakes Up To Its Future." We have now reached the penultimate act. I'm referring, of course, to the recent cyclone of activity that's swirling around Charlotte's proposed 2040 Comprehensive Plan - a document that...

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Mobilizing for climate change: Evaluating the Strategic Energy Action Plan, two years in
   March 19, 2021
Martin Zimmerman

Contributing writer Martin Zimmerman interviews Sarah Hazel, recently appointed as Chief Sustainability & Resiliency Officer for the city of Charlotte.
 
Sarah Hazel comes to the...

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The past and future of the Charlotte 'fourplex'
   March 2, 2021
Chuck McShane

Down the middle of Hawthorne Lane at the corner of East 8th Street, the dust is just settling on the new LYX Gold Line Extension tracks. When the line opens later this year, it will be the first time a streetcar has rumbled down this block since 1938.

Still, the legacy of that old streetcar era is written all over the Elizabeth neighborhood in the preserved stone-arch shelters and tree...

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Who’s paying attention to the planning conversation in Charlotte?
   February 24, 2021
Ely Portillo

Charlotte City Council members confronted an uncomfortable question Monday: How can you get people in the general public to pay attention to technical, somewhat boring, but extremely important matters like the city’s new development rules – before a major controversy erupts?

Planning staff are nearing the finish line for Charlotte’s...

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Exploring the racial wealth gap and housing
   February 3, 2021
Ely Portillo

Charlotte’s notorious “50-out-of-50” ranking for economic mobility has many roots, ranging from systemic discrimination to gaps in education, health and jobs training. 

But one of the most consequential factors for intergenerational economic mobility is likely wealth, and the simple fact is that some families have much more than others. A key component of wealth is home ownership, an...

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Can a street help heal America’s fractures?
   February 3, 2021
Mary Newsom

I’ll never again look at a city’s Main Street the same way. In Mindy Thompson Fullilove’s newest book, Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All, she does something relatively rare for books about urban issues.

Some focus on cities’ physical attributes, such as low-density single-family sprawl, building design, street...

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What a 1944 call for planning can teach us today
   January 6, 2021
Ely Portillo

Almost eight decades ago, Charlotte had just topped 100,000 residents, World War II raged, legal segregation was the law of the land and most of Mecklenburg County was still farmland.

But despite the obvious differences from today, an urgent call in 1944 for the city to develop a plan to manage its growth still resonates in Charlotte, a city that’s long been convinced it was headed for...

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NoDa perceived: past, present and future of a mill village
   October 28, 2020
Martin Zimmerman

Not that long ago, a few aging blocks in a declining, working-class neighborhood revived from the dust and grit of the textile mill era as Charlotte’s  home-grown arts district. By the mid-1990s, galleries and off-beat music venues replaced empty storefronts. Nightlife began to flourish, and the acronym "NoDa" took hold, affirming a new identity.

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