Also: A French theme park doesn’t sugarcoat climate change, and what’s behind the blocked streets of St. Louis?

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What We’re Following

Cue cards: The old aphorism about local politics is that it cuts through the partisan noise. “There is no Republican or Democrat way to run a city,” many mayors like to say. But do their citizens feel that way? A new study of eight different U.S. metro areas finds that residents’ opinions are indeed less polarized on local issues. Their viewpoints are much closer on questions about providing local services, consolidating government, or attracting businesses. Even the conventional partisan divide on taxes and spending makes less of a difference when they consider specific issues like teacher pay, affordable housing, or vocational training.

It may be that without as many partisan cues, there’s less of a difference between people who hold different political ideologies. CityLab’s Richard Florida writes, “When it comes the places we live and what we do to develop them, we are not nearly divided as over national issues.” Read: Local Politics Aren’t As Polarized as National Politics.

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

What’s the Best Way to Curb NYC Subway Harassment?

While other countries have turned to women-only cars, New York legislators are proposing to ban repeat sex offenders and increase penalties for subway grinders.

Sarah Holder

This French Theme Park Doesn't Sugarcoat Its Environmental Message

DefiPlanet, a nature-themed family attraction in France, has a surprisingly blunt message for visitors: “The earth will soon be dead and torn.”

Hallie Golden

A New Plan to Correct a Historic Mistake in Pittsburgh

A Bjarke Ingels Group-led plan from 2015 has given way to a more “practical” design for the Lower Hill District. Concerns over true affordable housing remain.

Ben Schwartz

What’s Behind the Blocked Streets of St. Louis?

Thanks to an '80s mania for traffic calming, the St. Louis grid is broken by hundreds of car barriers and cul-de-sacs. Critics say it’s time to get rid of them.

Jack Grone

New Place Names Lift Māori Culture in New Zealand’s Capital

A new policy in Wellington aims to revitalize the indigenous Māori language. First up: giving new, non-colonial names to sites around town.

Chris Fitch


Book Your Weekend

“Two former Amazon employees open a Seattle bookstore” may read like the beginning of a bad dad joke, but it’s a sign of something good for a neighborhood. The owner of the newly-opened Madison Books, Tom Nissley, says he learned a lot about books from his time working at Amazon, but he told Crosscut that his two small independent bookstores don’t compete with the online mega-retailer because his local stores serve a different need:

In small bookstores, the focus is on what the neighborhood wants. We might only be selling three copies of a book, rather than 1,000, but those three copies feel so much more meaningful.

But will enough people pay the higher price for that neighborhood feel? Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas, made a concise argument in a recent Twitter thread for why it’s worth paying more at your local bookstore, from creating jobs to providing space to hosting authors. In fact, these local businesses even band together. With 580 stores participating in Independent Bookstore Day in cities across the country this weekend, Vox asks, “Is the bookstore crawl the new pub crawl?

CityLab context: Independent bookstores embrace the side hustle


What We’re Reading

Cities are louder than ever—and it's the poor who suffer most (The Guardian)

Why New Orleans is suing oil and gas companies (Next City)

Wawa the Destroyer is blanderizing Philadelphia’s architecture (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Why are so many people getting rare cancers in this small Georgia town? (Atlanta Magazine)

Perspective: We have an income crisis, not a housing crisis (Mother Jones)


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