Karaoke and the power of ‘bottom-up self-organization’

In the season of budget-busting holiday spectacuthons, some cities are finding more humble ways to liven up parks and public spaces -- and the only fireworks are the ones residents bring with them.

Mexico City cuts crime by banning cars

Banning cars from Mexico City's Centro Historico and replacing streets with pedestrian pathways has increased nighttime foot traffic and decreased crime, say local business owners. Before the street got pedestrianized, neighborhood business owners used to strike "unspoken" agreements with the local thieves, says Rogelio Murrieta, who owns a printing business on Regina. "The thieves who were from this area they went to other areas, they didn’t rob people from here," he says. "We’d give them something, support, and they respected us. It was a purchase basically." Increased security in the area has also helped, and the historic district still has …


The city speaks — and artist Candy Chang finds fresh ways to listen

Photo:Randal FordThe house was a nightmare. “It had been collecting dust and graffiti since Katrina and there was something very shabby and Brothers Grimm about it,” says Candy Chang, an artist and graphic designer who lives just a few blocks from the place in New Orleans. But where others saw blight, Chang saw an opportunity, and armed with a few buckets of paint, she transformed the derelict house from a symbol of the community’s decay into an emblem of its collective aspirations. With permission from the property owner and neighborhood groups, Chang turned the front wall of the house into …