the blog posts

it's the loveability

Despite an intention to shift my focus away from placemaking, I seem to come back to it with remarkable regularity. Not least because I have seen its successes, and wish the same for Bermuda. 

 ethan kent, image - pps.org

ethan kent, image - pps.org

The doyenne of placemaking is the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) in New York, which likely coined the term. You can check out the website, pps.org, to learn more about the organisation, but you will get a better feel for it and its work by reading What Makes a City Great? It's not the Liveability but the Loveability by Irene Pedruelo for Policy Innovations. In this thought-provoking piece she interviews Ethan Kent, Senior Vice President at PPS, who has extensive experience around the world in the art and business of placemaking. Ethan has been involved in placemaking efforts ranging from Times Square in New York, to Sub Centro Las Condes in Santiago and Pompey Square in Nassau and much more.

In the interview Ethan brings out, among many other things, the importance of community-based change. As he puts it, "People with most attachment to a place are the ones that love the place the most. Where there is no community-based governance, there is no attachment. We need to pay attention to place and community, and the social networks around it."  

It is about the loveability.

biking while black?

We are all familiar with the term "driving while black" and, then, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing, the new term was "walking while black." Well, Fort Lauderdale, Florida appears to have engaged in actions that lead to this new term "biking while black."

 image - grist, shutterstock

image - grist, shutterstock

As recounted by Heather Smith, writing for Grist, in the article, "Biking while black" is a thing too, the City introduced a pedal bike registration system to help cut down on bike thefts and make the sale of stolen bikes more difficult. Laudable idea except when you look at who is stopped and checked: it is mostly black people and only in certain neighbourhoods.  

Smith notes, over a period of 2010 to May 2013, of the citations issued by Fort Lauderdale police, 86% were issued to black people. And, when the geographical analysis was done, it showed the police were primarily targeting predominantly black neighbourhoods in any case.

It will be challenging for supporters of the 'walkable city' movement, which advocates primacy of place to pedestrians and cyclists, to make headway in these sorts of circumstances. Usually, the battle is with highways engineers to ensure street design that prioritises walkers and bikers over car drivers. It would be most unfortunate if the police were to be another barrier. 

Of course, in Bermuda, we are a long way from even appreciating 'walkable city' concepts, so worrying about the police is probably premature.

a revitalized riverfront park

Cali, Columbia is working towards revitalizing its riverfront, creating the new Rio Cali Park. A collaboration between the design team of West 8 and the Municipality of Cali, the aim is to link the people of Cali with the river in a safe environment, which prioritises pedestrians and cyclists.

 rendering by west 8

rendering by west 8

Cali is the third largest city in Columbia and it has been torn by violence and suffered stagnation for decades. The River Cali Revitalisation Project faces challenging odds as it seeks to kick start urban renewal and regeneration. The idea is to prioritise public space and connect people to the river in a safe way. To this end, a roadway is being re-purposed to provide bike lanes and safe pedestrian routes that join the city centre with the new river park. As outlined by designboom, Cali will have a peaceful public realm, with plazas for events, where residents and meet and relax. The emphasis is placed on fostering a safe urban area where a density of people can begin to engage with each other constructively.

This is striking to me - not least because funding for Phase 1 is actually approved!  Cali faces struggles of a kind that Hamilton's waterfront in Bermuda does not and will not face, and yet progress is made. This is a properly considered plan and we could learn a thing or two.