City planners in the US have long focused on managing growth—or on trying to lure back people to restore a declining population. "Now a few planners and politicians are starting to try something new: embracing shrinking," writes Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe. It might mean, for example, tearing down vacant houses (as Detroit is trying) to create urban parks or space for wind turbines. Critics say it's defeatist, but proponents say it's not just a nod to reality but a smart strategy to create a healthy city.
"At its most ambitious, smart shrinking offers an opportunity to rethink what makes a city a city," writes Bennett. "Some planners envision a landscape that isn’t recognizably urban, suburban, or rural, but some combination of the three, with multistory apartment buildings next to working farms, and public transit lines extending through neighborhoods where most households have ample space to park their cars." For Bennett's full essay, click here. (Read more cities stories.)