Small, Gritty, and Green and Beyond the Metropolis

Tumber, Catherine. Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World. Cambridge, Massachusetts; The MIT Press, 2012.

Ofori-Amoah, Benjamin, ed.  Beyond the Metropolis: Urban Geography as if Small Cities Mattered. Lanham, Md.; University Press of America, 2007.

In Richard Florida’s recession book, The Great Reset, he makes the observation that “Greater Detroit’s regional unemployment was not the highest in Michigan; unemployment was higher in the smaller cities of Flint and Monroe. The same was true in Ohio, where unemployment was worse in Akron, Canton, Toledo, Youngstown, and Mansfield than in Cleveland.”  In the so-called post-industrial society, this does beg the question of what will become of smaller cities and towns built-up for manufacturing when convenient locations near water or Interstate highways take the back seat to educated workforces, or serving those educated workforces who will live in the megapolises of the future.  Two recent books put the smaller cities place now and into the future into perspective.  Catherine Tumber’s Small, Gritty, and Green, takes stock of the resources that smaller cities have and imagines possibilities for success in the green economy of the future.  Beyond the Metropolis tries to give an academic overview of what small cities are and what they are doing.  Each title makes a point that smaller cities have generally been overlooked in literature.  Also, each book talks in detail about at least of few Ohio municipalities.

Tumber defines a small city as being between 50,000 and 500,000 residents and she is mostly interested in older cities (for the United States) located in the Northeast and the rusty parts of the Midwest.   This definition includes all cities outside of New York, Boston, and Chicago (much discussion surrounds Detroit).   In Ohio, she touches base with several cities, but most discussion is about Youngstown and the Youngstown 2010 citywide plan.  There is also some love for Akron and the Don Plusquellic administration. Continue reading