community · culture · environment · happiness

Seattle Department of Transportation: Seattle Parklet Program & Streatery Pilot Program

Way to go Seattle!

After a successful year-and-a-half long pilot, we’re excited to announce that the Parklet Program is now a permanent program! This means that Seattle businesses and community groups have even more opportunities to enhance our streets with public spaces.

As part of this launch, we’re also rolling out a brand-new approach to activating our streets: the Streateries Pilot Program. What’s a “streatery” you ask? Streateries combine the best features of a parklet and a sidewalk café by allowing a restaurant, café, or bar to use a parking space to create outdoor seating for their customers during business hours (like a café) and for the public during non-business hours (like a parklet).

there is still time to sign up your company if you’re interested via Seattle Department of Transportation: Seattle Parklet Program & Streatery Pilot Program.

I look forward to seeing lots of little Parklets spring up around the city as we start to emerge from the winter wet and dark.

anthropology · behavior · community · culture · environment · happiness · health

Los Angeles has Cancer — Stephen Corwin on Medium

This is a scathing opinion piece looking at the negative influences of space and place, specifically cars and car culture. Corwin argues passionately against the takeover of cars in to the city space and how it is anything BUT enriching. It is full of examples of what NOT to do, and therefore offers suggestions on how to solve it.

Our experiences driving cars in this city are, for the most part, fleeting. We drive somewhere, we get out of the car, we close the door, and we walk away. But to think that we can escape the world that cars have created as easily as we escape the car itself is foolish. In fact, when we leave our cars, we walk into that world. We have to live in that putrid mess.

Let’s talk about how Los Angeles is a city where construction projects can fence off whole blocks, including the sidewalks, without offering people on foot an alternative. Let’s talk about how when that happens, no one even considers converting one of the two car lanes into a temporary sidewalk, because dear god, that might cause slight inconvenience to people in cars. And let’s talk about how ironic it is that inconveniencing people in cars is the end of the world, but doing the same to people on foot is a non-issue. Then let’s talk about how when frustrated walkers decide to use the car lane rather than take the ridiculous detour, the city’s totally acceptable solution to that problem is not to concede space to those people, but rather to bolt permanent, metal signs into the middle of the sidewalk to keep them from doing so. That is cancer.

read the whole thing via Los Angeles has Cancer — Medium.

It is worth a read.

architecture · community · design · environment · happiness · Social

This morning on Robson: Constructing an Urban Pasture

Interesting experiment happening in Vancouver, BC. Reminds me of the PARKing days that happen here in the U.S., only this one’s permanent.

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The City’s Green Team was out shovelling dirt on Robson Street:

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“Urban Pasture” is another trial project in amenity-making, this time in the parking lane on the south side of the 1000-block Robson – just in front of the Cafe Crepe where the sidewalk narrows.  (Decades ago, the City required six-foot setbacks for any new construction, the intent being to widen the street for another traffic lane to handle vehicle growth.  That ain’t gonna happen – but the setback remains so that now the sidewalks can be widened for pedestrians.  This is one of the remaining choke points.)

Similar to Parallel Park off Main Street, Urban Pasture will provide a small seating space and landscaping.  It isn’t even finished, and already people are filling the seats.

But there are two other aspects of note:  first, this structure is in what was once the rush-hour lane, where the parking was stripped during the morning…

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behavior · brain · community · culture · emotion · environment · happiness · health · Social · technology

Crowdsourcing Quiet Spaces in the City

For the past month I have been staying in a surprisingly noisy apartment. The neighborhood itself is very quiet, but just my luck to be staying over a night club and all-night grocery store. After this month the importance of being able to find quiet, peaceful places in a city rings all the more true and important to me (and it’s not just the ringing in my ears). From Inhabitat:

Cities have always been bustling environments, and with more and more of us living in them it can be difficult to find a quite place to relax or contemplate. Sound Artist Jason Sweeney‘s winning proposal for the TED Imagining the City 2.0 Prize is a crowdsourcing project that seeks to locate and map the places that provide silence in the urban din. The Stereopublic Project will be a public guide for those who crave a retreat from the crowds.

Based in Melbourn’s city center, Sweeney found himself attracted to tucked-in corners, where the city’s sound fades into the background and where the built environment is experienced as a sound environment. Inspired by his own experiences, he’s looking to create a platform where others can geo-tag and share their favorite quiet space. Sweeney is interested in helping those who are sensitive to noises, with disabilities, or just seeking respite from the constant din of the streets.

The TED City 2.0 prize will help his team develop a digital tool for crowdsourcing those places, adding a new layer of awareness to the cityscape for its occupants.

Cities are large, complex environments and the project is a unique way to understand the acoustic dynamic of city life. Stereopublic is based on active users sharing their findings, but ironically, the project’s success will likely make those quiet spaces busier, further pushing inhabitants to explore new places. The idea may become a failed experiment if it becomes too successful, but it also very well might help create new venues that improve the “sonic health” of a city — adding a vital resource to urban life.

Know of a quiet place in your city? Add it to the list, or leave it in the comments below and I’ll add it for you and if it’s in the Pacific Northwest may just try it out first. You know, for research).