Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Sustainable Cities Blog has this entry about Target supporting a community garden in Harlem:
Just last month, the Target East Harlem Community Garden was opened. On 117th St. just east of 1st Avenue, a new garden is growing with $300,000 of Target money. Much of this is going into an endowment for up keep. The rest was for the creation of the garden which includes a storm water capture system on the roof of the adjacent building, photovoltaic capturing discs (red to remind us of the sponsor), wind turbines, and of course the green garden itself. Focus groups were held within the community (only about a dozen people were spoken to though) before the design concept was drawn up. For the most part though, people seemed to want green space for children to play, seeing as there are already a few other nearby gardens that grow vegetables and produce.
What is interesting is the point they make about corporations stepping where cities should be funding these projects. While I completely agree, we no longer live in a world, unfortunately, when we can count on our city, state, or federal government to step in and make these community projects happen. On the flip side, would we rather not have the garden? I am not so sure this does mean corporate ownership. Corporations need to support neighborhoods and groups so why not let someone like Target fund a community priority. Honestly, many non-profits doing community work have relied on funding from corporations for years, even though it is not out in the open, would we really want them to stop providing their services to communities around the country? I think not. Here is the NY Times link.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It’s perhaps most telling that even in a time of brutal economic crises and expensive gas, taxpayers voted for 14 initiatives that will raise their taxes. In short, we seem to be collectively tired of business-as-usual — more highways, all the time, resulting in only more congestion, with no coherent vision for world-class transportation in our cities and communities — and we are willing to pay out of our own pockets for solutions that can get us out of traffic and keep us moving. Hit the jump for the details.
At least 23 transportation-related initiatives were approved nationwide, meaning that more than $75 billion will soon be flowing into our transportation networks. There were big victories in California with Measure R in Los Angeles (read our Q&A with the campaign director) and Proposition 1A statewide that will provide the initial financing for a high-speed rail system from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Change happens slowly but it is great to see that priorities are starting to change across the country. I am not sure we still get how much trouble we are in for the next few years in regards to transportation and infrastructure, but it is great to see the focus start to shift.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I found this article ironic when a city planner confesses how much they love to drive:
Almost daily, I promote smart growth - alternative transportation choices,reduced greenhouse gases, increased housing densities. It's my business to help Canadians understand and adapt to a future that is different from the past. I am a 21st-century city planner.Along with fellow futurists, I advocate less vehicle travel, more cycling and transit use, smaller cars and sensible energy consumption. The terms "eco-density," "high-occupancy vehicles" and "environmental footprint" are common currency. By day I'm committed to radical societal change. But my lifestyle is suspect because I really like to drive. Mostly by myself. Pedal to the metal. Wide-open spaces. No boundaries. Zoom, zoom, zoom.
And an unsustainable future:
I understand the disconnect between the extravagant past and our frugal future. My lifestyle is unsustainable and I need to change my patterns. But I subtly resist the shift. Perhaps it's the curse of the baby boomers. For our generation, driving has been a lifelong love affair, one that isn't easily surrendered.
Don't get me wrong, cars are always going to be a part of our lives. What I promote is a balance of options so that people have the opportunity to walk,bus, rail, or even bike to a destination. My concern is that when we have streets that are designed with one thing in mind (moving cars through as quickly as possible) as a planner and community development director, it is my duty to show people a different way of thinking about these spaces.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This Slate article is looking at how communities have taken big box stores and have put them to better use.
Big-box buildings are the large, free-standing, warehouselike structures that have become dominant in the American landscape, constructed by one-stop-shopping retailers, grocers, and category-killers. Hundreds of new big-box buildings are built each year—and hundreds are vacated. In a healthy economy, retailers often leave behind one store to build an even bigger one nearby. In tough times, weaker chains are forced to close stores. Circuit City recently announced it will close 155 stores before the holiday season. What happens to big-box buildings when a retailer abandons them?Check out the slide show here.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The MTA's doomsday budget will wipe out the W line, zap the Z line and ax more than 1,500 NYC Transit jobs, the Daily News has learned. The list of bus and subway cuts the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will unveil at its monthly board meeting Thursday is extensive and potentially bruising, sources said.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Everyone who takes the bus in New York City knows that you have to have something to read, or a video game to play, in order to not go insane. Not because the people around you are crazy, or because it's too crowded, or anything like that. It's because if you are left with nothing to do, you will inevitably notice that outside the window, the same people are walking past your window at every stop. Pedestrians, you see, walk just as fast, if not faster, than plenty of city buses. And forget it if someone in a wheelchair gets on. Buses in New York are great; they're clean, they're effective, and they get you where the subway won't take you. But they're not for getting anywhere quickly.
An annual study of bus speeds and reliability by the Straphangers Campaign came out yesterday, and they handed their "Pokey" and "Schleppie" awards yesterday to the M96 and the M101/103 lines. The M96 moves at 3.7 mph, and the M101/103 is unreliable one out of four times. According to the geniuses at the Daily News, that means that the M96 moves more than twice as slowly as a swiftly moving chicken.
Friday, November 14, 2008
While my bike is my main mode of transportation (and has been for the last 10 years) I am also a frequent user of the bus, light rail, other people's cars, and of course walking. Today I decided that the car was going to be the best use of my time and money. Twin Cities' Hour Car was there for the rescue.
Having lived in other cities that have car sharing programs (Chicago, NYC, Philly) this is the first time I actually have had the real need to use it. I needed to do a bunch of errands this morning and doing it by the other modes was just not going to work since I had to be in the office at 9:00 am. Car Sharing was the perfect solution for me today. For those individuals who are interesting in different ways to get around town check out these website and resources for a multi-modal approach to life: Hour Car, Commuter Connection, and Smart Trips.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Bad Architect Website poses the question and has an answer on both sides. Yes:
Retailers and users are demanding public spaces, civic streets and squares in new developments. The internal agenda has become truly external, moving the focus away from controlled environments towards outside spaces and places.and No:
New developments are creating a sense of place which is a natural extension to the city, not just a retail scheme, and through it, restoring and creating civic pride.
We have created destinations to get people back into city centres that were previously underused, with a rich mixture of retail and leisure that caters for the widest range of people, as well as offices, hotels and residential.
Shopping centres certainly provide jobs and activity, but they do so at the expense of virtually everything else, rather in the way that a forest planted only with conifers will sterilise the ground around it.
They suck the life out of the shopping areas nearby, creating a much larger regeneration challenge in their wake. Drive past the enormous Westfield shopping
centre in West London in a few months’ time, and doubtless the process of decline will have begun.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It has been a week and I have managed to ride to work, downtown, to St. Louis Park, and pretty much all around South Minneapolis. The first thing that struck me about riding around the Twin Cities, driver awareness. Coming from NYC where hitting cyclists and running over pedestrians is a daily event, the Twin Cities drivers are not out to run over every cyclist in their path to make it to their destination 5 seconds faster.
In NYC I was so use to drivers pulling out in front of me my muscle memory kicks in every time a car comes to a stop on a side street. So far, in the Twin Cities, these cars actually stop and wait for me to pass. Can you believe that.
On Saturday I was able to go to Trader Joes in St. Louis Park and 95% of the ride was on trails.
Two things I like about the trails: first, it really is a bike super highway. Second, they provide a great environment to ride in where all you have to worry about are the other trail users. Bike parking is every where (see pic above). Unlike NYC where getting a spot is like winning the lottery, the Twin Cities had plenty of bike parking around its commercial areas. It could do a lot better in residential areas.
Finally, it is getting cold. I had to hit the store today to get a base layer and a set of long underwear. I still need to get some smart wool socks for when the temps really start to drop. That is it for now.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Days after 9/11 the country and the world thought that New York City would be devastated. Most projected that it would be years before New York City got back on its feet. It shouldn't have been a real surprise that with in about six months NYC was getting back to normal.
Today, New York State and New York City are facing hard economic times. Just this past week Governor Patterson announced a huge budget deficit. Patterson stated that overspending by the state and Wall Street's meltdown will result in a $47 billion deficit over the next four years if nothing is done. Just a week prior to Patterson's announcement Mayor Bloomberg said the City's budget would swell by $500 million during the current fiscal year because of weakening tax revenues.
Joel Kotkin over at New Geography may have the answer that NYC needs: San Francisco. In his article he looks to San Francisco as a luxury city that reinvented itself after the dot.com meltdown. It may be time for NYC to diversify itself. The 9/11 recovery was fast because Wall Street recovered. Today it is different, the three main industries in NYC (finance, insurance, and real estate) are all on a major decline. I am hopeful that NYC will eventually pull out of this recession, but Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patterson might want to start thinking differently about the industries that basically support the city and the state.
Images from the New Geography.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Check out this post over at TC Streets for People.