A radical idea--a city should look like a city. From the Metropolitan Planning Council's recommendations for the new Chicago zoning code ("Issue Brief," February): "MPC proposes that areas within a quarter mile of transit hubs (rail stations and intersections of high-ridership bus routes) be designated transit-oriented development districts. Such districts would: require ground-floor commercial uses along major streets; encourage mixed uses (from residential to office) on upper floors; prohibit auto-oriented uses like repair shops and drive-through businesses; require parking lots to be concealed from the street; and encourage higher densities."
I'm from the government, and I'm here to make sure child care is perfectly safe and perfectly unaffordable. In a recent working paper published by Northwestern University's Joint Center for Poverty Research ("Policy Brief," volume four, number one), economists Janet Currie and V. Joseph Hotz find that "requiring directors of child care centers to have more education significantly reduces the risk of both fatal and nonfatal injuries [to children], as does requiring lower child-staff ratios. However, these improvements do not come without costs. Families in states with staunch regulations are often priced out of the market, forcing parents to seek other, potentially less safe, forms of care."
Where the Christians are. Martin Marty ("Context," April 1) quotes Mark Noll from Books & Culture: "Last Sunday more Anglicans attended church in each of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda than did Anglicans in Britain and Episcopalians in the United States combined."
Questions no one in power will ask until it's too late. "Are the current demolitions [of CHA high-rise buildings] the expression of a moral awakening?" asks Jamie Kalven in "The View From the Ground," an essay written for WBEZ (March 25, viewfromtheground.com). "Are they the necessary prelude to addressing injustices from which we have long averted our eyes? Or are they the culmination of such patterns of denial--a machinery for disappearing the victims of those injustices, so that they will no longer intrude upon our vision and trouble our consciences?"
"More than 31,000 nuclear weapons are still maintained by the eight known nuclear powers," reports the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (March/April), published in Hyde Park. "Despite a campaign promise to rethink nuclear policy, the Bush administration has taken no steps to significantly alter nuclear targeting doctrine or reduce the day-to-day alert status of U.S. nuclear forces. If Russia is no longer an adversary, what is the rationale for retaining the ability to incinerate more than 2,000 Russian targets?"
The baby drain--bigger than expected. Loyola University demographer Kenneth Johnson writes in the "Chicago Fed Letter" (April), "Fewer than 53% of the white babies born in the city remain as five to nine year olds. The only plausible explanation for a decline of this magnitude is that families with young children leave the city in significant numbers during their children's preschool years....The data also show a smaller, but still significant loss of black children (74% remaining)."
Is nature feminist? "The basic idea behind ecofeminism is that there is some symbolic and social connection with how woman and nature have been treated and how they're often symbolized in a similar way," Rosemary Radford Ruether tells U.S. Catholic (April), on the eve of leaving Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston for California. "Once you get that idea across, the big question is what you do with it. Some say that women are just closer to nature than men are. I think that's a very dangerous position. One of the problems with that is that it means women ought to do all the recycling. Again, I think that we need to change the patterns for both men and women. Nature is not your mother. She's not going to clean up after you."