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Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America's Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  49 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
America's once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities--Syracuse, Worcester, Akron, Flint, Rockford, and others--increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Gutted by deindustrialization, outsourcing, and middle-class flight, disproportionately devastated by metro freeway systems that laid waste to the urban fabric and displaced the working poor, and struggling with pockets of poverty ...more
Hardcover, 211 pages
Published November 4th 2011 by MIT Press (MA)
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Mar 22, 2015 added it
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Small, Gritty and Green - Catherine Tumber
This was a good follow-on for me from This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. It examines practical approaches and policy for changing smaller cities (populations of 50 to 200 thousand) to reduce heat trapping gas pollution. The focus around this large topic is primarily on cities in the northeast and midwest of the U.S.

From the introduction (page xvi):
... this is a hopeful book. I argue that smaller industrial cities, long ignored and even maligned by
Jan 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
The writing style of Catherine Tumbler is bland and colorless, and it ultimately prevented me from finishing this book. The author taxes the reader with too many references to influential urban thinkers like Jane Jacobs, Lewis Mumford and the likes, and she also mentions so many books on urban planning that one cannot help but feel that she has simply read a lot on the subject and that she doesn't have any ideas of her own. Also, the author's premises are sometimes too far-reaching and require c ...more
Bill Shaner
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Opened me up to a bunch of ways small rust belt cities, like the one I live in (Worcester), can rebuild in a low carbon, sustainable economy. It also does a good job explaining how these cities came to be such hollow shells.
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I do not disagree with Tumber's assertion that small cities have been at best lumped into "small towns" and at worst overlooked as planners (and politicians) have attempted to plan for the near- and medium-term future. I found her description of the evolution of the bias against small cities edifying, and I must confess that I was embarrassed to realize that I have indulged some of the metropolitan prejudices she outlines here.

After reading the introductory paragraph alone, it does seem incredib
Russell Fox
Given that I have been pursuing an off-again-on-again research project on mid-sized cities for close to two years now, you'd think that coming across a book like this--a serious but also affirming study of the political, economic, and environmental struggles and possibilities which face cities of a small or "middling" size, say from 50,000 to 500,000 people--would have been just another addition to the pile. Well, it wasn't. In fact, my first reaction to the initial pages of this wonderful study ...more
Margaret Sankey
May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Many of the "Creative Class" who are attracted to big city amenities but priced out of real estate and frustrated by commutes would be happy to live in mid-sized how can that be encouraged, especially in the rust belt of upper midwest post-industrial areas? Tumber studies both the wastelands and the innovative cities that have leveraged their size to strike pragmatic deals between public transportation and employers, get federal money with fewer strings (or renegotiate dumb strings l ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Rarely has a book title called out to me so immediately and fervently than this one, so I had high hopes going in. I can't say I was disappointed, but I wasn't blown away either. The reporting was not as in depth as expected, which I suppose should have been obvious from the small number of pages meant to cover a relatively complex topic in many locations. One of the author's opinions about an Ohio-based company also seemed pretty uninformed, making me question the amount of time spent in the ot ...more
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
As someone who lives in one of the small, gritty cities mentioned, I am especially interested in reading this.

Via The Boston Phoenix: In her new book, Tumber argues that the best hope for an economically revitalized, greener America — one no longer built on carbon-based economies — comes from the kinds of smaller industrial cities that have in many cases been given up for dead: from Flint and Youngstown to Springfield and Lowell. Tumber sees cities like these — with their small, manageable infra
Roy Kenagy
Nov 16, 2011 marked it as to-read

Catherine Tumber's "excellent new book, Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America's Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World, finds potential in many busted and booming-again cities in the Northeast and Midwest..."

"So how do these small cities, long derided as provincial and irrelevant, prepare for the future that Tumber sees coming? She focuses on several broad topics... controlling sprawl and redeveloping the suburban fringe, developing agriculture in
Carrie Eisenhandler
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having been a community development major in college and with an interest in sustainability I of course was immediately drawn to Catherine Tumber's book. It is very informative and interesting. While much of our focus has been on how big cities can become more sustainable Tumber makes the point about how smaller cities are often in a better position to become more sustainable places as they have transportation infrastructure in place and are often located closer to farmlands. Hoorah for those ol ...more
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: planning
2.5 stars. I really have to say this was ho hum. I didn't learn to much and didn't get excited about something that could be done differently in cities. I found the writing to be academic and honest, but not engaging and while the history was spot on, I didn't see much value in it other than as filler. This 211 page book becomes 137 when you remove the notes/citations. When you break it down to the important parts, it is closer to 75. If you want to read a better assessment of conditions in smal ...more
Clea Simon
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A real eye-opener -- and for all the grim news, there's a spark of hope here. There's a future, people, in small cities! Great read.
Apr 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I heard Catherine Tumber interviewed by James Howard Kunstler on The Kunstler Cast and was quite impressed. I can't wait to dive into the book.
Cynthia R
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Well-researched and well-written, this books offers hope for the future of small cities.
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