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Transcript: Community Broadband Bits Episode 260
This is the transcript for episode 260 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Author and journalist Alex Marshall discusses broadband infrastructure and the role of planners. Listen to this episode here.
Alex Marshall: Broadband is a type of infrastructure. So, it's a planner's job to think about how do we develop a system and to have the citizens connect to the system.
Lisa Gonzalez: This is episode 260 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzales. Author, journalist and fellow, Alex Marshall visits with Christopher this week about broadband as infrastructure. They also discuss the role of planners, as broadband has transitioned into a necessity for economic development, education, municipal services, and many other critical uses. Before we get started, we want to remind you that this commercial-free podcast isn't free to produce. Take a minute to contribute at ILSR.org. If you're already a contributor, thanks. Now, here's Christopher with Alex Marshall.
Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell and today, I'm speaking with Alex Marshall, an author, a senior fellow at the non-profit urban planning organization, The Regional Plan Association, and that's in New York City, and a columnist for Governing Magazine. All in one person. Alex, welcome to the show.
Alex Marshall: Thank you. Nice to be here.
Christopher Mitchell: Alex, you and I have gone back and forth for a lot a years, actually. You came in town, one of the places you visited and promoted your book, The Surprising Design of Market Economies, a book that I whole-heartedly recommend. And I think we're going to talk about that later in the interview, but first I wanted to ask you more about planning. You are a planner. You do a lot of thinking about planning. You write about this sort of thing and the role of broadband within planning. Maybe the best place to start is just what's the historic role of planners been within the relation of broadband?
Reminder: Alex Marshall Coming to Minneapolis October 24
Earlier this month we alerted you to Alex Marshall's upcoming appearance at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. We want to remind all of you "policy wonks, economists and planners of all types" that the event is quickly approaching.
If you haven't already, you can register for the event scheduled for 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 24. The lecture will be held at the Freeman Commons at the Humphrey on the U's West Bank.
Marshall recently released The Surprising Design of Market Economies. From an interview and in the Atlantic Cities:
The Surprising Design of Market Economies debunks the notion that free markets are "natural." Indeed, Marshall explains, market economies are about as natural as the "completely human-made and -maintained" Prospect Park near his Brooklyn apartment.
"City leaders didn’t just leave nature as is," he writes. "They constructed it." The same is true for market economies, Marshall explained…
For more of Marshall's writings and appearances, visit his website.
Alex Marshall Coming to Humphrey School at U of Minnesota
In a thesis that has implications for policy wonks, economists and planners of all types, Marshall shows how government creates the essential institutions necessary for economic life, and how the typical debate between those who value the market and those who value government regulation is a false one. Marshall, a Senior Fellow at the Regional Plan Association in New York, is the author of two other books on urban planning, and is a former newspaper reporter. He was also a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University. His work has been published in many places, including The New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg View and The Washington Post.
Alex Marshall Examines Electricty / Internet Parallels
“My answer has been, as it is tonight, to point out these plain principles,” Roosevelt told the crowd. “That where a community -- a city or county or a district -- is not satisfied with the service rendered or the rates charged by the private utility, it has the undeniable basic right, as one of its functions of government, one of its functions of home rule, to set up ... its own governmentally owned and operated service.”
While FDR was referring to electricity in 1932, he could easily be speaking about today's critical need for Internet connectivity. Fortunately for a growing number of people in our country, many local leaders share his sentiments and those communities are investing in community owned telecommunications networks.
Government Technology recently reposted a Governing article by Alex Marshall, a Senior Fellow at the Regional Plan Association in New York City. The Director of our Telecommunications work, Christopher Mitchell, tells me he just bought Alex's new book from a local bookstore and has put it at the top of his reading list: The Surprising Design of Market Economies.
Marshall sees fiber optic connectivity as the utility of today and tomorrow. He explores the question of who should provide access - public institutions or the private market? In his research, Marshall finds that many local communities are not waiting for an "official" answer to that question and are taking control of getting their citizens online.
Marshall spoke with Nick Braden from the American Public Power Association (APPA):