Interview with George Crandall – Author of “Fixing Your City”

Fixing Your City: Creating Thriving Neighborhoods and Adapting to a Changing World 

GEORGE CRANDALL, FAIA has been responsible for more than 50 key urban design projects across the United States and in Canada. He has helped make Portland a model for planning in America.

Crandall has been involved in the life of cities as an architect and urban designer, as well as a passionate and dedicated citizen activist for over 40 years. In 1998 he founded the consulting firm Crandall Arambula, which specializes in working with cities of all sizes that seek urban transformation. The firm’s work has received numerous awards for innovative and effective solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

Throughout his career he has been active in numerous professional and civic organizations. He served as President of the Architectural Foundation of Oregon, Board President for 1000 Friends of Oregon, President of the Portland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Chair of the Portland AIA Urban Design Committee, and Chair of the Oregon Governor’s Energy Conservation Board.

He has a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Arizona. He lives with his wife Marilyn Sewell on the west bank of the beautiful Willamette River in downtown Portland. His office is in a historic building in the city center.

Welcome George! Thank you joining us today at Reader Views.  Tell us what inspired you to write your book, Fixing Your City?

Two reasons:

  • Shelf Plans: In every city where my firm was retained to produce a downtown transformation strategy the request was the same. “We have been producing plans that never get implemented. Can you assure us that you will not produce a plan that sits on the shelf?” I realized that shelf plans are common and what is needed is a fool-proof planning process that works. My firm developed that process and we have used it in cities to produce plans that get implemented. Fixing Your City describes the process. 
  • Global Warming The worldis in crisis because of ever-increasing carbon emissions, a large percentage of which are transportation related. An integrated land use/transportation strategy is needed. Fixing Your City provides that strategy, offering planning concepts that shorten and eliminate auto trips. The potential reduction in transportation carbon emissions is over 50%.

What are the main three points you hope readers take away from Fixing Your City?

There are three audiences for the book and a message for each:

Public – You can make a difference!
Decision Makers –Promoting projects and policies that reduce carbon emissions should be a primary responsibility.
Academics – A new profession (urban architects) and a concomitant academic curriculum are needed to address critical urban issues

What can regular citizens do to better their cities?

The public has limited time to become involved. They can be most effective by:

  • Voting for national and city office holders who support policies that reduce carbon emissions
  • Organizing and acting to promote Game Changers (public projects that improve the city and stimulate development momentum) and oppose Silver Bullets (sexy projects that actually harm the city)
  • Attending and participating in public meetings related to developing a city transformation strategy
  • Testify in favor of actions to reduce carbon emissions
  • Serving on boards and commissions concerned with reducing carbon emissions

How involved was your research for this book?

My firm is the only one in the U.S with the singular mission of revitalizing cities. Over 45 years of practice, I have learned what works and what does not, and I have summarized that learning in Fixing Your City.

There are many new authors out there working on non-fiction right now, can you tell us how the publishing process worked for you?

My book was self-published in Portland. The process worked for me because of the ease of communication with the publisher and the ability to accelerate the publishing schedule.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you handle it through the entire process of writing and publishing “Fixing Your City”?

The challenge was to make the book an interesting read.  Working with a critical editor was essential.

What distinguishes your book from others on the same topic?

There are many theoretical books relating to cities but not books based on the actual experience of developing plans that cities can implement.

Do you have any advice for aspiring fon-fiction authors?

Write about what you know. And stay the course – writing a book is a lengthy process.

Fixing Your City

Tired of watching your city being degraded by new development that doesn’t fit? Paying for city plans that never get implemented? Wondering what your city can do to respond to climate change?

In his groundbreaking book, Fixing Your City, Portland urban architect George Crandall reveals how to produce city plans that mitigate climate change and create healthy places to live, work, and play.

This is not a theoretical book about cities – it is a practical book based on Crandall’s wide experience transforming cities in the U.S. and Canada over the last 40 years.

Connect with George Crandall!

Twitter: @fixingyourcity
Facebook: @fixingyourcity

“Fixing Your City” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Powell’s Online.

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