View

Leadership in a Time of Drought

As government leaders in California wend their way through the management of the state's historic drought, real discussions about how the state should adapt to water scarcity are taking place. And if history is a guide, the decisions made in the Golden State will have their impact in other places where water scarcity is becoming the norm.

Make no mistake: California is moving forward into uncharted territory. Traditional engineered solutions, such as the California Aqueduct that channels water from the wetter regions in the north to the arid south, are being challenged by a host of factors beyond the drought, including environmental regulations and the capacity of the systems themselves. Such water-transfer projects made it possible for the drier Southland to grow and become the most populous region of the state. But government and private-sector leaders are rapidly realizing that other approaches will be needed to fulfill future statewide agriculture, business and residential water needs. READ MORE

Young and Old Find Common Ground in Oregon Housing Community

The potential for mixing older and younger folks to mutual benefit isn't a new concept. That's why I'm a little embarrassed to admit that there's a variation on the theme that I only just learned about: elderly housing combined with rent-free units for foster parents.

I learned about this type of housing while organizing a series of roundtables for Governing and AARP on "livable communities for all ages." I was preparing for a panel in Portland, Ore., when I came across Bridge Meadows, a 36-unit apartment complex in the city that mixes incomes, generations and skill sets in a way that enlivens and enriches the lives of young and old alike. The complex is actually modeled after Hope Meadows, which opened in the 1990s in Rantoul, Ill., as a way to find placements for "unadoptable" kids. READ MORE

The Infrastructure the Next Generation of Cities Will Need

Are we truly entering an era of "Cities 3.0"? Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is an advocate of that notion, and few elected officials are in a better position to look at cities from a broad, historical perspective than is Johnson, the new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

He laid out that perspective in his inaugural speech as the conference's president, describing how the first generation of cities was built around ports, rivers and transportation routes. Then came the Industrial Revolution and Cities 2.0. In addition to factory smokestacks, they had electricity, transportation systems and other modern services. In the new era of Cities 3.0, Johnson said, "the city is a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology. It's paperless, wireless and cashless." READ MORE

Affordable Housing Leads to Smarter Kids

In the world of human services, everything is linked, and one of the main axles around which things connect and spin is stable, affordable housing. If ever there was any doubt about housing's importance, particularly where it relates to the healthy development of kids, a new study erases it.

Looking at how much families spend on housing and then comparing that to a child's intellectual achievement, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that though how much a family spent "had no affect on a child's physical or social health, when it came to cognitive ability, it was a game changer." READ MORE

The Golden State's Low-Carbon Future

Decades ago, "California or Bust" was the motto for hundreds of thousands of people as they migrated to the Golden State in search of jobs and a better life in a more desirable environment. In the more recent past, with year after year of state budget deficits in the tens of billions of dollars, the more prevailing expression was "Busted California."

Those budget deficits have eased, but as bad as they were, California's government has long had a bigger, longer-term problem, one that has its own impact on the state's economy: its polluted air and accompanying health effects. The state's efforts to transition to an economy based on low-carbon energy could provide valuable lessons for other regions dealing with these interlocking issues. READ MORE