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Editor’s Note

A New Direction for Land Lines
Maureen Clarke, April 1, 2015

Land Lines debuted in 1989 as a six-page newsletter, recording Lincoln Institute activity in green ink on beige recycled paper. Over the years, it chronicled our transformation from a school to a private operating foundation; underwent various redesigns, including this year’s dramatic refresh by Sarah Rainwater Design; and reflected the perspectives of four presidents, from Ronald Smith, H. James Brown, and Gregory K. Ingram to our current President and CEO George W. (Mac) McCarthy.

Many of the economists, planners, and conservationists whose articles appeared in the earliest issues are still engaged with the Lincoln Institute, and their knowledge and experience give our work deep roots, even as we branch out, supporting the research of new scholars and practitioners. For 26 years, these academic experts wrote Land Lines articles, commissioned as part of larger research programs by our three departments: Valuation and Taxation, Planning and Urban Form, and International Studies, which includes programs on Latin America and China.

While the magazine will continue to reflect their work, we have started commissioning journalists—carefully chosen for their experience, expertise, and locations—to write narratives that draw on our research and demonstrate how effective and creative land policies help to solve vexing social and economic challenges.

Moving forward, Land Lines will interview our researchers as well as the citizens and leaders whose problems would be solved by smarter planning, municipal finance, and land-related taxation. You’ll hear from people like the citizens in New Orleans and Dallas who are using technology to minimize blight in their neighborhoods (p. 4p. 6p. 14).

Although Land Lines is changing, some constants will endure. It will remain free and stubbornly nonpartisan. Our research program departments will still develop the key themes we explore. And we will continue to publish quarterly, honoring the Lincoln Institute’s historic identity as a school and research institute by taking the long view, plumbing the depths of contemporary global challenges, and recommending land policy approaches to address them.

“The land use decisions we make today will dictate the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in the next century,” Mac McCarthy reminded us in the July 2014 message from the president. By linking our research to the lives of real people, we hope to elevate the general understanding of what we do, deepen and broaden demand for our expertise, and ultimately inform more equitable, effective, and resilient land policy.