public goods

Kidd Springs Park

Which states have the happiest residents? States where governments spend more public goods that improve the quality of life for constituents — like libraries, parks, natural resources, and police protection, a Baylor University study found.

Those public goods, which are also quality of life, are things that everyone in a community can use.

Patrick Flavin, Ph.D.

“Public goods are things you can’t exclude people from using — and one person using them doesn’t stop another from doing so,” researcher Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., associate professor of political science in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences said in a press release explaining the study. “They’re typically not profitable to produce in the private market, so if the government doesn’t provide them, they will either be under-provided or not at all.”

So things like well-maintained roads make people happy because they aren’t stuck in detours and traffic, and large social spaces like parks and trails create places that people can connect, which also makes people happier.

And while one might think that since spending on public goods can push property taxes higher, the fact that they also boost home values can often make people reconcile themselves to the extra expense.

“While higher property taxes generally accompany higher home values, it seems that the good outweighs the unfortunate part about having to pay higher taxes,” Flavin said.

Flavin’s study, which was published in Social Science Research, examined data on self-reported happiness levels from 1976 to 2006 found in the General Social Survey conducted by independent researcher NORC  at the University of Chicago. (more…)

Photo by Simon Luna photography

Corsicana invites you into their booming downtown and onto the porches of their historic Carriage District this weekend with their Inaugural Porchfest and Crafternoon. You may have heard of the Porchfest craze sweeping the nation musicians playing on grand porches of neighborhood homes for a family-friendly afternoon of socializing and entertainment. (more…)

Valton and Jennifer Morgan with their son at Klyde Warren Park.

When you hear of someone moving to Uptown you probably assume, like me, it’s not because it will save them money. And not because it’s a great place to raise kids. For Jennifer Morgan and her family, though, both of those proved to be true. She and her husband and son are are saving money, are happier than ever, and are even finally planning a long-anticipated family vacation.

It all started with a spreadsheet of family expenses — and the recognition that life was not as satisfying as they’d planned. Jennifer had worked in Uptown for 13 years and her husband, Valton, had begun working in Uptown about 2.5 years ago. Which meant they both commuted almost an hour and a half, each way, to their home near Frisco. Even though they worked in the same area, their son’s school schedule made it impossible to carpool.

By the time they got home, their 8-year-old son had been at school or daycare all day and was over sitting still, over doing homework, and was a rowdy, moody handful. And they had just enough time for dinner, bath, and bed. They missed spending quality time with their son. And each other.

But it was this spreadsheet (after the jump) that convinced them to seriously consider making a move — then every other question mark fell into place one by one, better than they could’ve imagined.

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Logo Sign - PRINT 16x16

If you like the idea of having a home on the range but can’t imagine living in the middle of nowhere, you might take a look at Corsicana. The first oil boom town in Texas, it was founded in 1848 and by the early 1900s it was one of the top 10 cities in the nation with the most millionaires. It’s stuck to its small-town roots ever since.

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Under the Houston St Viaduct. Taken by Amanda Popken

Kayaking Under the Houston St Viaduct, 2013. (Photo: Amanda Popken)

This Wednesday you’re invited to join a discussion about the Trinity.
A river that has defined our city for over a century.
Yet its place in our lives still remains little more than afterthought.

Millions of taxpayer dollars funded a very extensive plan:
To build, beautify, and manage this park — has anyone actually read it?
Years have passed applying for approvals, securing bonds, political wars, a design contest, expert opinions and decades later we have:
A few more trails, fewer trees, stunning bridges, and a death-defying rapid.

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trees

The Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, one of the gems of living in Oak Cliff.          Canine Model: Big Turkey

Oak Cliff covers about one third of Dallas, with a lot of variety throughout. You’re probably familiar with the small craftsman homes around Bishop Arts, the historic homesteads of Winnetka Heights, and the eclectic estates of the Kessler neighborhoods. A little further west near Hampton and south of Jefferson you’ll find many neighborhoods like the North Cliff Conservation District: adorable homes with classic architectural details and three key amenities close by.

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Video courtesy of Uptown Dallas, Inc.

Something has to be done. Uptown is beginning to feel a bit like Greenville Ave. did a few years back. Remember? The late night crime and violence, residential streets overrun with youthful overindulgence, and uninvited visitors parking in front of residences … to put it nicely.  Uptown is on the cusp of being known as similarly problematic area — unless we can do something now to curb that trajectory. As Uptown Dallas, Inc. works diligently to attract more young families, improve the schools, and focus on great parks, the late night bar scene is (literally) spilling into the streets and driving a higher police presence.

Two potential solutions have surfaced and exploration began last night at a formal community input session hosted by the City of Dallas Department of Sustainable Development and Construction:

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