Posts tagged "communities"
The Atlantic Cities: 
"5 Principles for Building Greener, Healthier Cities
Kaid Benfield. Jan 13, 2014
I like to consider “people habitat” – the realm of places that humans build and inhabit – as having an ecology of its own, roughly analogous to that of natural wildlife habitat. Nature works best when it is in balance and, like the natural environment when operating at its best, the built environment created by us humans should achieve harmony among its various parts and with the larger world upon which it depends. But, while the ecology of the natural world – at least as usually studied – concerns itself primarily with the interdependence and health of non-human species, the ecology of people habitat concerns itself also with our relationships as humans to each other, and with the health of communities that support those relationships and allow us to flourish alongside and within nature. 
I believe we humans have an opportunity and a duty to make our habitat work both for us as people and for the sustainable health of the planet writ large. Indeed, if our solutions do not work for people, they will never work for the planet.”
Photo: Flick user Payton Chung.

The Atlantic Cities: 

"5 Principles for Building Greener, Healthier Cities

Kaid Benfield. Jan 13, 2014

I like to consider “people habitat” – the realm of places that humans build and inhabit – as having an ecology of its own, roughly analogous to that of natural wildlife habitat. Nature works best when it is in balance and, like the natural environment when operating at its best, the built environment created by us humans should achieve harmony among its various parts and with the larger world upon which it depends. But, while the ecology of the natural world – at least as usually studied – concerns itself primarily with the interdependence and health of non-human species, the ecology of people habitat concerns itself also with our relationships as humans to each other, and with the health of communities that support those relationships and allow us to flourish alongside and within nature. 

I believe we humans have an opportunity and a duty to make our habitat work both for us as people and for the sustainable health of the planet writ large. Indeed, if our solutions do not work for people, they will never work for the planet.”

Photo: Flick user Payton Chung.

The Atlantic Cities:
Mapping the Growth of OpenStreetMap
Emily Badger. March 14, 2013
OpenStreetMap is a marvel of modern crowdsourcing. Since its creation in 2004, DIY cartographers – typically armed with GPS devices or satellite photography – have been slowly mapping the world’s road networks and landmarks to create a free alternative to proprietary geographic data that can then support tools like trip planners. The process, which began in the U.K., is painstaking and piecemeal, and nearly a decade into it, more than a million people have contributed a sliver of road here or a surveyed cul-de-sac there.
Academics refer to this kind of collaborative mapmaking as “volunteered geographic information,” and OpenStreetMap is one of the most successful examples of it out there. Research into the system suggests that these amateur maps are impressively accurate in communities dense with contributors (like Germany: Germans love OpenStreetMap). But until now, it’s been much easier to assess how good these maps are than to ask how they got that way.
Now, researchers are getting much better at processing OpenStreetMap’s data to access its history. The above historic timelapse comes from a study, published in the journal Spatial Statistics, that retraced the growth of OpenStreetMap networks in three areas of Ireland to understand how the networks are built.”
Images: From "Analysing the growth of OpenStreetMap networks" by Corcoran, Mooney and Bertolotto in Spatial Statistics. The figures correspond to the dates 01-11-07, 01-02-09, 01-03-09, 01-07-09, 01-09-09 and 01-10-11.

The Atlantic Cities:

Mapping the Growth of OpenStreetMap

Emily Badger. March 14, 2013

OpenStreetMap is a marvel of modern crowdsourcing. Since its creation in 2004, DIY cartographers – typically armed with GPS devices or satellite photography – have been slowly mapping the world’s road networks and landmarks to create a free alternative to proprietary geographic data that can then support tools like trip planners. The process, which began in the U.K., is painstaking and piecemeal, and nearly a decade into it, more than a million people have contributed a sliver of road here or a surveyed cul-de-sac there.

Academics refer to this kind of collaborative mapmaking as “volunteered geographic information,” and OpenStreetMap is one of the most successful examples of it out there. Research into the system suggests that these amateur maps are impressively accurate in communities dense with contributors (like Germany: Germans love OpenStreetMap). But until now, it’s been much easier to assess how good these maps are than to ask how they got that way.

Now, researchers are getting much better at processing OpenStreetMap’s data to access its history. The above historic timelapse comes from a study, published in the journal Spatial Statistics, that retraced the growth of OpenStreetMap networks in three areas of Ireland to understand how the networks are built.”

Images: From "Analysing the growth of OpenStreetMap networks" by Corcoran, Mooney and Bertolotto in Spatial Statistics. The figures correspond to the dates 01-11-07, 01-02-09, 01-03-09, 01-07-09, 01-09-09 and 01-10-11.

Project for Public Spaces: 
New Report on Markets & Low-Income Communities
In 2009, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundationand in partnership with Columbia University, undertook a study to examine what market characteristics successfully attract low-income shoppers. The study also explored the obstacles that may prevent low income individuals from shopping at a farmers market when one existed nearby, and how youth-oriented market programming affects healthy eating habits among kids and teens. Today, we are thrilled to share with you the results of this study, and to offer recommendations for everyone working to get more healthy food into their communities through farmers markets.
For the study, our team examined eight markets across the United States that served low- to middle-income communities with higher than average ethnic and minority compositions. Each market had unique attributes that identified them for selection. In addition, each market was a previous recipient of aPPS grant, funded by the Kellogg Foundation, which offered technical assistance between the years 2006-2008 in addition to funding.
Out of our analysis of market management data, tracked over several years and surveys of market shoppers and non-market shoppers, we were able to identify two key trends. First, we found that price is not a barrier. Among the survey sample, almost 60% of farmers market shoppers in low-income neighborhoods believed their market had better prices than the grocery store. Among those who did not shop at farmers markets, only 17% cited price as a barrier to shopping at their local farmers market. Second, we learned that information is key..”
Photo: Project for Public Spaces

 

Project for Public Spaces: 

New Report on Markets & Low-Income Communities

In 2009, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundationand in partnership with Columbia University, undertook a study to examine what market characteristics successfully attract low-income shoppers. The study also explored the obstacles that may prevent low income individuals from shopping at a farmers market when one existed nearby, and how youth-oriented market programming affects healthy eating habits among kids and teens. Today, we are thrilled to share with you the results of this study, and to offer recommendations for everyone working to get more healthy food into their communities through farmers markets.

For the study, our team examined eight markets across the United States that served low- to middle-income communities with higher than average ethnic and minority compositions. Each market had unique attributes that identified them for selection. In addition, each market was a previous recipient of aPPS grant, funded by the Kellogg Foundation, which offered technical assistance between the years 2006-2008 in addition to funding.

Out of our analysis of market management data, tracked over several years and surveys of market shoppers and non-market shoppers, we were able to identify two key trends. First, we found that price is not a barrier. Among the survey sample, almost 60% of farmers market shoppers in low-income neighborhoods believed their market had better prices than the grocery store. Among those who did not shop at farmers markets, only 17% cited price as a barrier to shopping at their local farmers market. Second, we learned that information is key..”

Photo: Project for Public Spaces

 

Switchboard:
“Are Main Streets a thing of the past? Is that OK?
Kaid Benfield. February 4, 2013.
As someone whose job is to promote sustainability in our communities, I sometimes think the traditional American Main Street is a terrific model worth preserving and emulating.  It meets so many of the basic aspirations of smart growth:  it’s walkable, compact, centrally located, with many types of shops and services integrated together, usually with places to live on upper floors or in houses a short walk away.  It has a human scale, neither skyscrapers nor sprawl but something in between.  Does the past point the way to a more sustainable future?  Some smart observers strongly believe so.
But, when it comes to “Main Street,” the definition can get a little fuzzy.  The Cambridge Dictionary of Essential American English is as good a place as any to start:  Main Street is “the main road in the middle of a town where there are stores and other businesses.”  The Oxford English Dictionary cites usages going back as far as 1598.  When those of us in the field of placemaking use the phrase, we’re generally thinking of the kind of shopping districts that used to serve smaller towns and cities.  Frequently the shops and services were aligned adjacent or close to each other along the most prominent street in town, which many places literally called Main Street.”
Photo: Broadway Street, Cottonfalls Way, KS. Sandy Sorlien 

Switchboard:

Are Main Streets a thing of the past? Is that OK?

Kaid Benfield. February 4, 2013.

As someone whose job is to promote sustainability in our communities, I sometimes think the traditional American Main Street is a terrific model worth preserving and emulating.  It meets so many of the basic aspirations of smart growth:  it’s walkable, compact, centrally located, with many types of shops and services integrated together, usually with places to live on upper floors or in houses a short walk away.  It has a human scale, neither skyscrapers nor sprawl but something in between.  Does the past point the way to a more sustainable future?  Some smart observers strongly believe so.

But, when it comes to “Main Street,” the definition can get a little fuzzy.  The Cambridge Dictionary of Essential American English is as good a place as any to start:  Main Street is “the main road in the middle of a town where there are stores and other businesses.”  The Oxford English Dictionary cites usages going back as far as 1598.  When those of us in the field of placemaking use the phrase, we’re generally thinking of the kind of shopping districts that used to serve smaller towns and cities.  Frequently the shops and services were aligned adjacent or close to each other along the most prominent street in town, which many places literally called Main Street.”

Photo: Broadway Street, Cottonfalls Way, KS. Sandy Sorlien 

Foreign Policy:
“A New U.S. Grand Strategy
Why walkable communities, sustainable economics, and multilateral diplomacy are the future of American power.
By Patrick Doherty. Jan 9, 2013
The strategic landscape of the 21st century has finally come into focus. The great global project is no longer to stop communism, counter terrorists, or promote a superficial notion of freedom. Rather, the world must accommodate 3 billion additional middle-class aspirants in two short decades — without provoking resource wars, insurgencies, and the devastation of our planet’s ecosystem. For this we need a strategy.
The status quo is untenable. In the United States, the country’s economic engine is misaligned to the threats and opportunities of the 21st century. Designed explicitly to exploit postwar demand for suburban housing, consumer goods, and reconstruction materials for Europe and Japan, the conditions that allowed it to succeed expired by the early 1970s. Its shelf life has since been extended by accommodative monetary policy and the accumulation of household, corporate, and federal debt. But with Federal Reserve interest rates effectivelyzero, Americans’ debt exceeding their income, and storms lashing U.S. cities, the country is at the end of the road.”
Photo:  Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images

Foreign Policy:

A New U.S. Grand Strategy

Why walkable communities, sustainable economics, and multilateral diplomacy are the future of American power.

By Patrick Doherty. Jan 9, 2013

The strategic landscape of the 21st century has finally come into focus. The great global project is no longer to stop communism, counter terrorists, or promote a superficial notion of freedom. Rather, the world must accommodate 3 billion additional middle-class aspirants in two short decades — without provoking resource wars, insurgencies, and the devastation of our planet’s ecosystem. For this we need a strategy.

The status quo is untenable. In the United States, the country’s economic engine is misaligned to the threats and opportunities of the 21st century. Designed explicitly to exploit postwar demand for suburban housing, consumer goods, and reconstruction materials for Europe and Japan, the conditions that allowed it to succeed expired by the early 1970s. Its shelf life has since been extended by accommodative monetary policy and the accumulation of household, corporate, and federal debt. But with Federal Reserve interest rates effectivelyzero, Americans’ debt exceeding their income, and storms lashing U.S. cities, the country is at the end of the road.”

Photo:  Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images

“Visualizing Civic Data To Make The Case For Civic Health
A new contest found four online tools that help people be more engaged in politics and their communities—from finding out which candidates’ policies help you more to archives of photos of your neighborhood.
Groups like the National Conference on Citizenship and the Knight Foundation have been gathering data on “civic health” for several years. They believe solid data from surveys and academic research help us “understand civic life in communities across the country” and that an “evidence-based approach” gives more backbone to arguments in support of civic initiatives.
But getting the message out is not easy, according to Jeff Coates. Knight and NCoC have a wealth of data, but it’s not necessarily in a usable and approachable form so large numbers can appreciate it.
"They are quite cumbersome if you’re not used to data," says Knight’s Jeff Coates, talking of projects like Knight’s “Soul of the Community" survey.
To get the data to a wider audience, NCoC and Knight started the Civic Data Challenge. And, after 170 teams took part, the winners were announced this weekend.
"This really unlocks the value of the data, and allows people to play around with it, and presents it in ways that are easily readable and understandable for the community, so it can take action," says Coates.
The four winners:
Politify
Politify is a platform for voters to find how presidential policies will affect them. Plug in your salary, marital status, dependents, and zip code, and find out how much tax you’ll pay under Obama and Romney. Or just put in your zip code and find what percentage of residents in your area benefit from the benefits, and or what their tax and spending plans mean for the budget. Politify translates the rhetoric into numbers everyone can understand.
WhyGDP?
Will DeKrey and Sean McDonald created an interactive riff on the concept of Gross Domestic Product. Is GDP a helpful measure of civic success, or does its preeminence crowd out other important metrics, like happiness or well-being? The designers give the numbers, letting you decide.”
Via: Fast Company

Visualizing Civic Data To Make The Case For Civic Health

A new contest found four online tools that help people be more engaged in politics and their communities—from finding out which candidates’ policies help you more to archives of photos of your neighborhood.

Groups like the National Conference on Citizenship and the Knight Foundation have been gathering data on “civic health” for several years. They believe solid data from surveys and academic research help us “understand civic life in communities across the country” and that an “evidence-based approach” gives more backbone to arguments in support of civic initiatives.

But getting the message out is not easy, according to Jeff Coates. Knight and NCoC have a wealth of data, but it’s not necessarily in a usable and approachable form so large numbers can appreciate it.

"They are quite cumbersome if you’re not used to data," says Knight’s Jeff Coates, talking of projects like Knight’s “Soul of the Community" survey.

To get the data to a wider audience, NCoC and Knight started the Civic Data Challenge. And, after 170 teams took part, the winners were announced this weekend.

"This really unlocks the value of the data, and allows people to play around with it, and presents it in ways that are easily readable and understandable for the community, so it can take action," says Coates.

The four winners:

Politify

Politify is a platform for voters to find how presidential policies will affect them. Plug in your salary, marital status, dependents, and zip code, and find out how much tax you’ll pay under Obama and Romney. Or just put in your zip code and find what percentage of residents in your area benefit from the benefits, and or what their tax and spending plans mean for the budget. Politify translates the rhetoric into numbers everyone can understand.

WhyGDP?

Will DeKrey and Sean McDonald created an interactive riff on the concept of Gross Domestic Product. Is GDP a helpful measure of civic success, or does its preeminence crowd out other important metrics, like happiness or well-being? The designers give the numbers, letting you decide.”

Via: Fast Company

“Americans Want More City Planning
Tyler Falk. June 14, 2012
What’s most important to economic development in your community? Better transit, thriving local businesses, more affordable housing?
Community plans are a key component in bringing those ideas to life. According to a new poll from the American Planning Association, Americans agree. Two-thirds of the 1,300 Americans surveyed said that their community needs both planning and market forces to improve its economic situation.
When asked if a community plan - defined as a “process that seeks to engage all members of a community to create more prosperous, convenient, equitable, healthy and attractive places for present and future generations” - would benefit the community, 79 percent of respondents agreed. And that’s across a broad political spectrum with 88 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans, and 81 percent of independents in agreement.
Respondents were also asked to rank the top five factors that make up an “ideal community.” The results:
Locally owned businesses nearby
Being able to stay in the same neighborhood while aging
Availability of sidewalks
Energy-efficient homes
Availability of transit
When asked to compare life for residents in their communities to five years earlier, an overwhelming number of respondents (84 percent) said that life was worse (49 percent) or the same (35 percent). Only 11 percent felt that living in their community was better than it was five years ago.
It’s worth noting that there’s a significant gap in this statistic depending on where people live. In urban areas, 40 percent of residents said their community is getting worse, while the percentage gradually increased in suburbs (45 percent), rural areas (58 percent), and small towns (65 percent).
"Planners are at the forefront of building communities that foster economic growth and create jobs. We’re working to add value to communities around the country, and this poll confirms that our expertise is aligned with the priorities of most Americans," APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer wrote in a statement." 
Via: The Atlantic Cities
Graphic: Stephen Ravenscraft

Americans Want More City Planning

Tyler Falk. June 14, 2012

What’s most important to economic development in your community? Better transit, thriving local businesses, more affordable housing?

Community plans are a key component in bringing those ideas to life. According to a new poll from the American Planning Association, Americans agree. Two-thirds of the 1,300 Americans surveyed said that their community needs both planning and market forces to improve its economic situation.

When asked if a community plan - defined as a “process that seeks to engage all members of a community to create more prosperous, convenient, equitable, healthy and attractive places for present and future generations” - would benefit the community, 79 percent of respondents agreed. And that’s across a broad political spectrum with 88 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans, and 81 percent of independents in agreement.

Respondents were also asked to rank the top five factors that make up an “ideal community.” The results:

Locally owned businesses nearby

Being able to stay in the same neighborhood while aging

Availability of sidewalks

Energy-efficient homes

Availability of transit

When asked to compare life for residents in their communities to five years earlier, an overwhelming number of respondents (84 percent) said that life was worse (49 percent) or the same (35 percent). Only 11 percent felt that living in their community was better than it was five years ago.

It’s worth noting that there’s a significant gap in this statistic depending on where people live. In urban areas, 40 percent of residents said their community is getting worse, while the percentage gradually increased in suburbs (45 percent), rural areas (58 percent), and small towns (65 percent).

"Planners are at the forefront of building communities that foster economic growth and create jobs. We’re working to add value to communities around the country, and this poll confirms that our expertise is aligned with the priorities of most Americans," APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer wrote in a statement." 

Via: The Atlantic Cities

Graphic: Stephen Ravenscraft

" Gentrification: Not Only About White People
MATT BEVILACQUA | NEXT AMERICAN CITY. 
What is gentrification, and how much of it has to do with race versus class?

It’s a question that often goes unanswered in both local and national debates on the issue. The confusion leads many to the reductionist belief that more white people in an urban neighborhood implies gentrification, while fewer white people — or more accurately, a white population that isn’t growing — means an absence of the phenomenon.
Case in point: An interesting chart popped up yesterday on Flypaper, the blog for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a non-profit think tank dedicated to education policy. Mike Petrilli, the organization’s executive vice president, culled Census data and made a list of the top 25 ZIP codes in the country that have seen the largest increases in the percentage of white residents between 2000 and 2010.
Petrilli — who readily admits that his expertise lies in education, not demographics — calls these ZIP codes “the fastest-gentrifying neighborhoods in the United States.”
Nate Berg of The Atlantic Cities took a pretty thorough look at Petrilli’s post and, while noting that the results are significant, found some problems with the researcher’s decision to use ZIP codes as a measurement. For instance, Columbia, S.C. tops the list with a white population that jumped by over 47 percent — but that particular ZIP code only applies to P.O. boxes, whose owners can easily live elsewhere. Petrilli himself acknowledges that using ZIP codes isn’t the best way to collect reliable data, since those boundaries can change according to the needs of the Postal Service.

However, Berg stops short of calling out the post’s core conceit: That more white people automatically translates to gentrification. Even Petrilli seems to realize this flaw, conceding that when measuring gentrification, “you’d really want to look at changes in income levels, but those data aren’t available yet for 2010.”
But if that’s the case, why slap on the “gentrification” label in the first place? Undoubtedly, race and class in the U.S. are linked in a complex and pretty irretrievable way. Nonetheless, they’re not one in the same. Washington, D.C. has seen an influx of middle-class black residents whose presence has changed the economic landscape of certain traditionally low-income neighborhoods — or, to put it another way, black gentrifiers. As the New York Times reported several years ago, this has even happend in Harlem.
Which isn’t to say that gentrification is wholly about socioeconomic status to the exclusion of race, either. (For an interesting take on just how central race is to the topic, check this March 2011 blog post by Kenyon Farrow.) It’s just that any responsible discussion on something as divisive and widely misunderstood as gentrification shouldn’t fail to take a comprehensive look at the issue.
Otherwise, we wind up with a damaged dialogue, heightened tempers and very little progress. For one, just look at what’s happened at community meetings in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia.”
Via: The Next American City
Photo: Bruno Girin on Flickr

" Gentrification: Not Only About White People

MATT BEVILACQUA | NEXT AMERICAN CITY. 

What is gentrification, and how much of it has to do with race versus class?

It’s a question that often goes unanswered in both local and national debates on the issue. The confusion leads many to the reductionist belief that more white people in an urban neighborhood implies gentrification, while fewer white people — or more accurately, a white population that isn’t growing — means an absence of the phenomenon.

Case in point: An interesting chart popped up yesterday on Flypaper, the blog for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a non-profit think tank dedicated to education policy. Mike Petrilli, the organization’s executive vice president, culled Census data and made a list of the top 25 ZIP codes in the country that have seen the largest increases in the percentage of white residents between 2000 and 2010.

Petrilli — who readily admits that his expertise lies in education, not demographics — calls these ZIP codes “the fastest-gentrifying neighborhoods in the United States.”

Nate Berg of The Atlantic Cities took a pretty thorough look at Petrilli’s post and, while noting that the results are significant, found some problems with the researcher’s decision to use ZIP codes as a measurement. For instance, Columbia, S.C. tops the list with a white population that jumped by over 47 percent — but that particular ZIP code only applies to P.O. boxes, whose owners can easily live elsewhere. Petrilli himself acknowledges that using ZIP codes isn’t the best way to collect reliable data, since those boundaries can change according to the needs of the Postal Service.

However, Berg stops short of calling out the post’s core conceit: That more white people automatically translates to gentrification. Even Petrilli seems to realize this flaw, conceding that when measuring gentrification, “you’d really want to look at changes in income levels, but those data aren’t available yet for 2010.”

But if that’s the case, why slap on the “gentrification” label in the first place? Undoubtedly, race and class in the U.S. are linked in a complex and pretty irretrievable way. Nonetheless, they’re not one in the same. Washington, D.C. has seen an influx of middle-class black residents whose presence has changed the economic landscape of certain traditionally low-income neighborhoods — or, to put it another way, black gentrifiers. As the New York Times reported several years ago, this has even happend in Harlem.

Which isn’t to say that gentrification is wholly about socioeconomic status to the exclusion of race, either. (For an interesting take on just how central race is to the topic, check this March 2011 blog post by Kenyon Farrow.) It’s just that any responsible discussion on something as divisive and widely misunderstood as gentrification shouldn’t fail to take a comprehensive look at the issue.

Otherwise, we wind up with a damaged dialogue, heightened tempers and very little progress. For one, just look at what’s happened at community meetings in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia.”

Via: The Next American City

Photo: Bruno Girin on Flickr

Architectural + Urban Research

Mass Urban is a multidisciplinary design-research initiative concerned with contemporary cities and urbanism. Mass Urban was co-founded in April 2011 by David Lee and Cliff Lau.

Website: http://www.massurban.com/
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