Posts Tagged ‘cities’
Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on February 8th, 2013
Source: Mesh Cities.
Image from I Make Rotterdam.
From the article “Crowd funding city innovation” by Mesh Cities.
[...] We all know or suspect that riding a populist, demographically-driven wave is the essence of electability. This era’s politicians (generally) know it’s best not to think too big in terms of urban-improving expenditures. Time is better spent learning how to deftly kick the can of crumbling infrastructure down the road—increasingly potholed though that road may be. “Let my successor manage the impending crisis,” their inner voices might be heard to say, “I’ll lose the next election if I raise taxes to fix x,y, or z let alone build something new.” This attitude is closely related to the one that causes well-established, successful companies like Nortel to go from world leaders to market flameouts almost overnight. Why improve something that the investors think to be a world beater? Behind the scenes, however, key players are running for the exits with whatever spoils they can carry before the whole operation collapses due to inattention. There is an alternative to the destructiveness of this self serving, near-term thinking about our cities: Crowd funded urban innovation. It is not a fantasy. Some cities are already doing it.
Why is crowd funded urbanism different than what we’ve seen in the past? In a way, it isn’t. It is fundamentally old school thinking brought into the digital age. In the farming communities of our parent’s parents, when people saw something that needed doing they pitched in to get it done. That’s the way crowd funded urbanism works. See it. Fix it. New communications tools are shrinking our complex world to the point where direct action is possible even where political action is an oxymoron. Even better, in a connected world we can assemble best-practice solutions in one easily accessible place for everyone’s use. Talk about efficiency.
Take a look at I Make Rotterdam for one example of a crowd funded pedestrian bridge that is a prototype for this nascent, city-changing movement. The public in that city cared enough to invest real money in the project after being inspired by New York’s High Line Park (good ideas are contagious). What’s more interesting is that their commitment spurred local government to get behind the project as well. [...] That’s the power of this idea. It is not about finding new ways of taxing people. What it is about is unequivocally showing where people want their communities improved so governments can act. Another example is the U.K.’s Space Hive. Broader in scope than I Make Rotterdam, Space Hive offers opportunities to tackle the needs of communities across the U.K.
Are these projects reinventing the way representative taxation will work a generation from now; or, are they just another example of online art projects that capture our collective imagination? We will find out, but our guess is that the future of cities demands better forms of community representation. These just may be the early models that will evolve to greatness.
>>> You can read the full article on Mesh Cities.
>>> Check out I Make Rotterdam, SeeClickFix, and Space Hive for some great examples of crowdfunded urbanism in action.
Source: The Atlantic Cities
From an article in early November by Sarah Goodyear, talking about Bicycle Habitat’s emergency supplies deliveries around New York after Hurricane Sandy:
New Yorkers are learning things from this storm, and from the relief efforts that are ongoing even as another weather front sweeps through this afternoon, forcing another round of evacuations. Practical things. They are learning where to go for help, and how to help each other. They are learning how to get around when the transportation system fails, and the importance of redundancy and resiliency in all kinds of infrastructure. They are learning what you really need to have on hand when supply chains are disrupted, and what you can do without. They are learning how to assess the accuracy of information, and how to spread it. They are learning that individual efforts, pooled together, can make a substantial material difference in a crisis.
Bicycles are part of all this. In the early days after the storm, when the trains and buses stopped running, bikes were one of the few reliable ways of moving people, objects, and information around streets choked with debris. They don’t require the gasoline that people are still lining up for hours to get. They don’t need to be charged up – just add some basic food to a human being, and you can power the legs that turn the cranks.
Many of those of us who use bikes for transportation in better times knew their potential to help out in disaster already. Bikes have been part of my family’s emergency plan since we first made one in the wake of 9/11. After we had a kid, we planned for his bike needs at every stage, from a seat on the back to a bike trailer to a tandem to his own solid ride that would go any distance. A friend suggested on Twitter that the Office of Emergency Management should encourage bike tuneups as part of basic disaster preparedness measures, like a go bag or stockpiles of food and water. Yes to that.
Sure, there are lots of things that bicycles can’t do, or that motor vehicles can do better, if they’re available. Some Bicycle Habitat customers drove heavier donations, like bottled water and canned food, out to the Rockaways to supplement the bicycle effort.
But as I pedaled along the streets of the peninsula, my panniers filled with hand warmers and tampons and energy bars, I was struck again by the power of the bicycle. It is a machine that is uniquely able to leverage and amplify human effort. And this is precisely what we have seen all over the city in the days since the storm hit: The humble work of individual people, harnessed to simple mechanisms, can gain strength exponentially. And move a city forward.
Read the full article by Sarah Goodyear.
Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 25th, 2012
Source: The Atlantic Cities
From “The High School Curriculum Every Urban Planner Wishes They’d Had” by Nate Berg:
City Semester is an immersive, city-focused course that combines classwork and field studies for juniors at Fieldston. It’s like other semester away programs run by the school, but instead of sending kids out to the Rocky Mountains or the Maine coast, students in the City Semester program turn their attention to their own neighborhood and city. Meyers has compiled a broad range of teachers from the school to participate, including teachers focusing on history, ethics, language, theater, literature, film, photography and music.
The program is divided into four main sections: sustainability, immigration and difference, power and conflict, and neighborhood and community renewal. This last section is centered around the Bronx River, located a couple miles from the school.
“We wanted to talk about neighborhood formation, and chronologically to talk about the recovery of the Bronx,” Meyers says. “We use the Bronx River as a means of discussing both human and non-human communities.”
One of the main parts of this section of the program consists of a two-day canoe trip down the river. The students collect scientific data about the water and the ecology and make presentations about both the history of the neighborhoods and the development of the river habitats. Meyers says this approach pulls in what the students are learning and relates it to things they see in their day-to-day experiences and the neighborhoods around them.
“Adolescents are at a place in their lives where understanding the relevance of what they’re learning can make an enormous difference in terms of their engagement,” Meyers says.
The program looks broadly at the city as a subject, even looking into the policies and politics that are driving change in New York. Meyers took the class to meet with officials from the city’s Department of Transportation to hear about the planning and implementation of bike lanes throughout the city. Then they rented bikes and rode the lanes. Meyers says this hands-on approach helps students to see the various ways what they’re learning can be applied in real-life situations.
And if delving into city politics isn’t enough to add a little more stress to high schoolers’ lives, one of the sections of the course had students role-playing and problem-solving their way through some not-too-far-off disaster scenarios brought on as a result of climate change. Rising sea levels create a flood in lower Manhattan that causes a blackout, in this scenario. During the power outage, a rumored hostage situation at the United Nations causes the whole subway system to shut down. Students had to imagine they were stuck in their school for 3 days – and to cope with all the logistical and psychological impacts such a situation would cause. They even engaged in community design charrettes to come up with feasible retrofit ideas that can help communities handle the potential threats they’ll face as the climate continues to change.
This section of the course was taught earlier this year by Alec Appelbaum, a journalist who’s covered urban planning for years. He says that high schoolers are maybe the ideal audience for this sort of lesson.
“They’re going to be living with the consequences of the misdirected debate that’s gone on about climate change,” says Appelbaum. “The carbon overload in the atmosphere is something that young people didn’t particularly cause and will have to survive.”
Read the full article by Nate Berg.
Image from: CDP Cities
CDP Cities is a voluntary reporting platform for cities around the world to document their actions on climate change. An initiative of the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP Cities have produced this neat infographic compiling data from the 48 participating cities in 2011. Melbourne features in the section on individual cities, citing ‘creating urban and rooftop gardens, lighter buildings, and lightening roof and road colours to lessen urban heat island effect’ as actions being taken by the City council.
Source: Sustainable Cities Collective
Photo by Chuck Wolfe
From “Confronting the Urban Mirror” by Chuck Wolfe:
To my mind, one of the most compelling features of a provocative urban environment is a place where people watch people—which becomes a small-scale human observatory. Such places are often indicative of safe public environments, including active streets, corners and squares. They are particularly prevalent in cultures where neighbors readily interact, and the seams between public and private are softer than zoning setbacks, while still allowing for a private world.
The sustainable cities we seek should include small places, where, as here, when the bustle of life begins in the morning and evening, people interact with facets of the city around them. I suspect that workable density, in the city of the future, will abound with the types of spaces readily ascertainable from cities of the past. We need places where we sit on the edges of the public realm and look in the mirror, to be reminded of who we really are.
Read the full article and check out the delightful photos by Chuck Wolfe on Sustainable Cities Collective.
The Melbourne School of Design presents a series of free public lectures by Professor Tom Kvan celebrating the book launch of The Making of Hong Kong: From Vertical to Volumetric.
These lectures examine one of the most intense cities in the world. Hong Kong’s irregular coastline and steep terrain has resulted in built-up areas that are compact, rich in spatial experience, all parts close to hills and water and connected by an exceptional public transport system. The lectures will present how the authors see value in these conditions: a metropolis with a small urban footprint, 90 per cent use of public transport for vehicular journeys and proximity to nature which has arisen from a culturally and topographic specific condition.
This fascinating book, with over 200 original illustrations, adds to the current urban debate around high density compact cities and interconnected public transport systems as one means of reducing urban energy use and carbon emissions. The lecture will explore why urban intensity is vital for more than ecological reasons and presents propositions based on these observations.
This lecture and book launch is part of a national tour. A reception will follow each lecture. Please register on the Melbourne School of Design website.
- Sydney Monday 19 September
- Adelaide, Tuesday 20 September
- Perth, Thursday 22 September
- Brisbane, Friday 23 September
- Launceston, Friday 30 September
A study about the usage of Zip share cars in Baltimore has shown that Zipsters (Zipcar members) use cars less and other forms of transport more.
“Urban transport is changing in any number of innovative ways as cities around the US look to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and make their cities more “livable.”
One year on, the driving habits of Zipcar members in Baltimore have changed substantially, and that’s having several beneficial effect on the city’s “transportation landscape,” according to one-year anniversary survey results released by the City of Baltimore and the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.
“Zipsters,” as they are referred to, own fewer cars, drive less and use public transportation more often than they did prior to joining, according to a press release“
Read the full article by Andrew Burger
These examples which are at the intersection of collaborative consumption (sharing things) and the reduction of the consumption of things provide real pointers to ways of living that cause less impact in the here and now. (Rob Eales)
Source: Streetfilms via Going Solar
From “Contested Streets: Breaking New York City Gridlock” by Clarence Eckerson, Jr:
Produced in 2006 as part of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, Contested Streets explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to present. This examination allows for an understanding of how the city — though the most well served by mass transit in the United States — has slowly relinquished what was a rich, multi-dimensional conception of the street as a public space to a mindset that prioritizes the rapid movement of cars and trucks over all other functions.
Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use is in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction. London’s congestion pricing scheme, Paris’ BRT and Copenhagen’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are all examined in depth.
New York City, though to many the most vibrant and dynamic city on Earth, still has lessons to learn from Old Europe.
Watch the film on Vimeo
Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on July 18th, 2011
From “Urban Farm in a Shop” on Urban Gardens:
FARM:shop is a workspace, cafe, and events venue packed to the rafters with living and breathing food–literally a farm in a shop. Asking themselves “how much food can we grow in a shop?” FARM:shop opened its doors in March and aspires to become the meeting place of choice for London’s food lovers and urban farmers, as well as a special place to rest one’s feet, have a coffee, and smell the countryside without ever leaving the city. Busy growing their idea, FARM:shop folks have filled the old space with a mini fish farm, vegetable garden, and are raising chickens and livestock.
The first FARM:shop, in Dalston, is the start of [a planned network of shops and grow sites across the UK.]
FARM:shop aims to:
- Excite and inspire city dwellers to grow their own food, fabric and medicine and make an income doing this.
- Create direct links between farms in the countryside with urban communities
- Grow food commercially via a network of FARM:’s across cities and retail this food at FARM:shops
Read the full article on Urban Gardens
Source: Forum for the Future
From “How to make a city flow” by Matt Kaplan & Anna Simpson:
Cities never really sleep. Even in the small hours, before commuters surge from their homes onto the roads, the things they need for the day ahead are travelling to and fro: groceries from the countryside; water down the pipes; electrons through cables; news down the wire.
In many cities, all this ebb and flow is like a relay race without proper teams: there’s no real coordination, and so the baton keeps falling between the runners. The people responsible for public transport don’t speak to the ones distributing the food; the energy providers don’t communicate with the information experts. Delivery vans make a one-way trip and come back empty; leftovers from the canteen travel, at best, to composting sites, and at worst, to landfill – while fresh and processed food is brought in from far away.
The daily frustrations of city dwellers asides, this failure to think and plan across different sectors means we waste everything from energy, food and water, to money, time and space – all critical resources that no city with a burgeoning population has to spare. By 2040, two in every three people on the planet will be living in urban areas, and providing them all with the bare necessities – never mind a seat on the bus – will be a huge challenge.
It may seem a way off yet, but less than 30 years isn’t much time in which to make major changes to infrastructure that – in some of the bigger cities – has been around for centuries. Where do we start, and whose job is it anyway? In an effort to help get things started, Forum for the Future has launched ‘Megacities on the Move‘, a new initiative in partnership with the FIA Foundation, Vodafone and EMBARQ (the sustainable transport centre). It’s set out six key priorities for action to ensure the smoothest flow of people and resources.
Read the rest of the article by Matt Kaplan & Anna Simpson – the section reproduced here is less than a quarter of it!