Also: The ‘Childless City’ is mostly a myth, and the shutdown could delay key tax refunds.

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What We’re Following

Seeds of dissent: In 2014, a local environmental nonprofit called The Greening of Detroit partnered with the city to take on an ambitious task: reforesting the city by planting an additional 1,000 to 5,000 new trees per year. But volunteers met stiff resistance. Roughly a quarter of the 7,500 residents they approached declined offers to have new trees planted in front of their homes. That seemed strange, so University of Vermont researcher Christine E. Carmichael went to ask the people who had turned TGD down. She found out she was the first person to ask residents if they wanted the trees in the first place.

It’s not that the residents lacked awareness of how trees could benefit their neighborhood, it’s that they didn’t trust the city. Carmichael describes how these “no-tree requests” were rooted in a longer history of their lived experience in the city, what she calls “heritage narratives.” The stories that people from all walks of Detroit life tell themselves and each other about their city’s conditions differed from what the government and volunteers were telling each other. CityLab’s Brentin Mock has the story: Why Detroit Residents Pushed Back Against Tree-Planting

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

Which U.S. Cities Have the Most Families With Kids?

Spoiler alert: It’s simply not the case that families with kids have disappeared from urban America.

Richard Florida

The Shutdown Could Delay Tax Refunds for People Who Really Need It

Millions of low-income households rely on the Earned Income Tax Credit to help them get through the winter. Too bad most IRS workers are furloughed.

Kriston Capps

The Racial Wealth Gap Could Become a 2020 Litmus Test

With black votes in the balance in the Democratic primary, would-be candidates are already developing aggressive policies to target inequality.

Vann R. Newkirk II

Quebec City’s Disappearing Agricultural Land

As agricultural areas are snatched up and transformed into new housing developments, one farmer keeps fighting.

Tracey Lindeman

Why Vegas Clubs Pay Uber Drivers to Drop People Off

For decades, Vegas night clubs have paid taxi drivers to bring in new customers. Now ride-sharing drivers find that a good hustle can really pay off.

Ryan Joseph


Quitter’s Day

A Strava chart shows how fitness patterns change across December and January.
Daily activity uploads to Strava in 2018 compared to the four-week rolling average of activities by day of week. (Strava)

We’re just over two weeks into 2019, and that means we're in that sweet spot of remembering our New Year's resolutions and realizing the ways life might get in the way of them. Fitness-related resolutions are by far the most common, and it turns out that location and fitness apps are a handy way to find out when, exactly, we collectively fall off the wagon. The chart above from Strava shows that the January gym spike is definitely a real thing, with activity on the fitness tracker spiking on New Year’s Day compared to a four-week rolling average. But on the third Thursday of January—that’s tomorrow!—analysts see a sign of overall activity dipping below the rolling average (marked in blue above).

Foursquare has a little more fun with its predictions: It expects February 9 to be this year’s “Fall Off the Wagon Day,” when users’ visits to fast food restaurants rise to meet (and eventually surpass) visits to gyms. CityLab’s Linda Poon got the cold, hard statistical truth about when our lofty workout ambitions turn down in the winter. Check out the Rise and Fall of New Year’s Fitness Resolutions, in 5 Charts


What We’re Reading

The myth of “We don’t build houses like we used to” (Curbed)

What happens when Banksy spray paints your wall? (The Guardian)

Support for a wonky transit tax is a great sign that cars are going out of style (Quartz)

WeWork’s CEO makes millions... as a landlord to WeWork (Wall Street Journal)

From a cell to a home: Ex-inmates find stability with innovative program (NPR)


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