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Democracy and the Common Wealth: Breaking the Stranglehold of the Special Interests Paperback – May 7, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews



Michael E. Arth is a hero for the people...A true, modern-day David against the Goliath...

--Sydney Solis, author

There likely would not be a United States without Tom Paine. There is a new Paine among us, and his message is one of reform, not revolution...The time has come for a more perfect union.

--Columnist William C. Hall, The West Volusia Beacon

Arth's a visionary. His dedicated efforts...represents a triumph of will over adversity....He turned Cracktown into a gem. Now, he wants to remake Florida.

--Daytona Beach News-Journal

Michael and I worked together for nearly two years making a documentary about him, New Urban Cowboy. He s the real deal. Big time dreamer, fun and well-informed ideas, always up for a debate, pragmatism learned the hard way, and just enough pluck to pull it off. Vote for him.

Filmmaker Blake Wiers, who edited the award-winning documentary, New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism.

Any of you who are in the know when it comes to New Urbanism have probably already heard of the New Urban Cowboy, aka Michael E. Arth. He's the mind behind New Pedestrianism, a more extreme form of New Urbanism in which pedestrian lanes instead of streets are the main connectors, with garages and car lanes relegated to the backs of buildings.

Arth is also an idealist, a visionary, and an insanely hard worker he's one of the (too few) idealists/visionaries that have the practical know-how and gumption to see their dream through to the end, to its absolute completion...I'd advise anyone who is overly skeptical of solutions to the problems facing our civilization to see his movie, and to pay close attention. For that matter, anyone who is overly skeptical of our capacity to work together, create positive, major change, and to fulfill our dreams, ought to take a long look at what Michael E. Arth has done. You might be inspired.

I'On Group review of New Urban Cowboy. --Sydney Solis, Blake Wiers, Bill Hall, Daytona Beach News-Journal, I'On Group.

I imagine most people feel downright giddy at some point in their lives upon meeting someone exciting. Often, these are romantic encounters. Sometimes, it happens upon meeting a rock star, famous athlete, politician, or other celebrity. Rarely though do people seem to get downright giddy about someone they do not have a crush on, or admire as a celebrity. One of those rare moments happened to me recently, and now it has implications for Florida's future.

In April 2009, I was invited to co-facilitate a discussion at Stetson University following the viewing of a documentary film about a maverick urban designer and policy analyst. As a political sociologist with only an amateur interest in development and design, I knew next to nothing about the man going into this event. The documentary revealed how he transformed a dilapidated, crime-ridden neighborhood of DeLand, Florida known as Cracktown into what is now called the Garden District, a beautiful place with trees, walkways, white picket fences, clean, brightly colored homes, and a charming courtyard with a fountain at its center. For those who do not know of whom I speak allow me to introduce you to Michael E. Arth.

Some argue that one must pay one's dues to become a viable candidate for higher office. Aspiring politicians should patiently, over years, work their way up the political ladder, commonly starting with school, city or county office. The trouble is that this prescription does not apply to the rich. From Ronald Reagan to Ross Perot to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and current New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, the list of rich people who have launched political careers without paying their dues is long. The grim reality is that nowadays winning high office is less about paying one's dues in the political trenches than having the support of a lot of rich and powerful people, and outspending your opponents.

Sadly, our media deepen this problem not only because candidates pay dearly for newspaper and TV ads, but also because news organizations have the self-fulfilling tendency to fetishize the richest or most famous while they ignore or minimize candidates without deep pockets. The result is often a stale choice between two establishment candidates, and an accordingly narrow political discourse that dulls debate and impoverishes our political imaginations. Yet just as the economy benefits from energetic innovators, so too does our democracy. This is why individuals like Michael E. Arth matter to Florida s future.

I talked with Michael for about half an hour after that event at Stetson back in April. What energized me then, and in subsequent interactions with him, is his remarkable combination of vision and pragmatism, intelligence and clarity, energy and focus, passion and caring. Michael has designed communities, built homes and neighborhoods with his own hands, confronted drug dealers and reduced crime, navigated government to get things done, and developed innovative and cost-efficient solutions to homelessness, poverty and pollution.

In a state so rich in sun, yet still so poor in solar energy, in a state so rich in commercial development, yet so poor in walkable communities, an urban planner with bright ideas and practical experience transforming crack towns into beautiful neighborhoods may be just what we need for governor of Florida. If an actor can become president, surely an urban planner and policy analyst with Michael E. Arth's broad experience can become governor. The question is: will we, as Florida's voters, give ourselves the chance? --Paul Lachelier, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of sociology at Stetson University in DeLand, FL.

About the Author

Michael E. Arth is an American artist, home/landscape/urban designer, public policy analyst, advocate for the homeless, futurist, and author. On June 4, 2009 he officially announced a run for Florida Governor on his campaign website.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Golden Apples Media Inc.; First Edition edition (May 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0912467126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0912467122
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,418,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Michael Arth writes about building villages instead of cities, helping the homeless and finding creative ways to deal with the overcrowding of jails. Many of the ideas he has are not mainstream but they do challenge you to come up with at least a plausible solution to problems that typically get swept under the rug. Along the way Arth ran for Florida governor and rebuilt a dilapidated drug infested neighborhood into a thriving and charming community whose transformation I was able to witness first hand. You have to dream to succeed and the author is not short on vision. He also bicycled across the state to get his message out and for that grass roots approach I salute him.....and no he did not become the governor but he did run....What have you done lately?
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Democracy and the Common Wealth: Breaking the Stranglehold of the Special Interests
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