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Podcast Episode 19 - Planning and Anthropology with Econ Dev Jim Eldridge

Meet Jim Eldridge: anthropologist, city planner, and economic developer.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
2 min read
Podcast Episode 19 - Planning and Anthropology with Econ Dev Jim Eldridge
Photo by Capturing the human heart. / Unsplash

Episode #19 of the Econ Dev Show Podcast is now live.

In this episode Dane speaks with Jim Eldridge.

Jim grew up wanting to be an anthropologist, or a city planner.  Instead, he puts both of those skillsets to use as an economic developer in Ada, Oklahoma.

Listen now.

In our pre-interview, we asked Jim:

What's been your most influential book and why?

In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio by Philippe Bourgois. This is an ethnography of two crack dealers in East Harlem in the late 1980's.

It inspired my professional track to better understand and advocate for cities, large and small. It is also is one of the best accounts of the "negative space" of urban economies and how economic systems are rooted in cultural contexts. If we want to understand how a community can be successful, this book makes the case that we should begin with a better understanding of the diverse cultural logic and assumptions within our neighborhoods and cities.

I'll add a second book: Rationality and Power by Brent Flyvbjerg. This is an account of a local transit project in Denmark. The book is important because it helps answer the question of why local government and politics seems to make poor decisions in the long run. The book argues that those in power define what is rational for a given context, and this leads to weird, poor, and often frustrating outcomes for those of us as experienced professionals on the ground who expect the logical outcome of our work to be rational.

What is your favorite productivity tool or resource?

Sleep seems too obvious, so I'd say having 3+ monitors/extra screen real estate while working. It's amazing how helpful it is to have full spreadsheets, multiple pages of a report, and all of my other software in front of me and laid out clearly. If I needed another laptop, I would seriously consider the old Thinkpad model from a decade ago with a slide-out second screen.


Dane Carlson Twitter

Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. By day: Director of Economic Development for Galveston County, Texas.