Having lived in six 100-year-old homes over the last 25 years, autumn always makes me carefully consider what it takes to keep these beautiful elders operational and up-to-date. As we were going through the process of winterizing this year, I am reminded of our recent attempt to modernize by making one small addition that would connect the kitchen to the garage without going through the basement or outdoors. However, a quick look at our development by-law told me that our house is currently “legal non-compliant” because it’s built too close to the house next door. In fact, most of our neighbourhood is the same. So a simple addition along the same lines as the existing footprint is a no-go, even if my neighbours give special permission. This makes our historical housing stock seriously marginalized because it’s illegal to update.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Launching Adventure Canada’s Heart of the Arctic expedition, we left Ottawa at dawn by charter flight, landing in Kuujjuaq before lunch. One glance out the window of the plane reinforces that “open space” has a whole new meaning here.
Mo’ money, mo’ problems. That’s what Biggie says. Me, I lack the net worth to fully test the premise, but I tend to agree anyways. Because it’s something that plays out at the community level over and over again.
Too often, people are conditioned to believe that, with the right vision, leadership or hard work, a community can prosper and, in time, overcome its problems. That you can exist at a point where you’re down, come together in response, then ultimately reach some idealized state where your challenging times are behind you.
Having just wrapped up what may have been our favorite CNU ever, in Dallas on April 29 through May 2, we want to share some of the ideas that resonated the most with us. The topics below are snippets of great insights from many voices, including the likes of Andrés Duany, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Doug Farr, and Lynn Richards on Social Connections; Dr. Antwi Akom and Dan Slone on Equity; Charles Montgomery and Hazel Borys on Happiness; Chris Leinberger and Peter Calthorpe on Economics; John Anderson, Bruce Tolar, and Ben Brown on Affordability; Marina Khoury, Susan Henderson, Matt Lambert, Jennifer Hurley, Peter Park, and Hazel Borys on Form-Based Codes; Jeffrey Tumlin on Parking (and Dancing), Andrés Duany, Hank Dittmar, and Sandy Sorlien on Lean Urbanism; Scott Bernstein and Lee Sobel on Pedestrian Malls; and Jon Coppage, Andrés Duany and Charles Marohn on Politics. The Congress was full of concurrent sessions we wish we could have attended, so if you’re blogging other ideas or the pieces missing from these topics, please give us those links in the comment section.
Let’s take a wild stab at a generalization: Success at building a business or growing a non-profit or making a community more livable depends a lot on trust.
You have to keep delivering what you promise to get people to keep buying what you’re selling.
“What a bunch of idiots. Don’t they know this will create a traffic nightmare?”
Sound familiar? It’s the most commonly voiced complaint any time the community conversation turns to traffic calming.
Taken at face value, it’s not an outrageous sentiment. After all, when you’re out and about, anything that stands between you and where you want to be looks like a problem. So why on earth would anyone choose to further complicate your commute on purpose?
For reasons both mysterious and irrelevant, Citylab’s Facebook page promoted a two and a half year old post on bike theft this weekend. What proved interesting about it, at least to me, is that in explaining market demand for stolen bicycles, it referenced a study on how people perceive different types of crime — finding that receiving stolen property and failing to return misdelivered property are considered so insignificant that respondents rated them not really worthy of punishment.
For some reason — perhaps because the weather was poor, I have a 15 year old daughter, and watching movies makes for a good way to cope with both — one of the themes of the Doyon Family holiday break ended up being future dystopias. Not something necessarily aligned with the hopeful messages more commonly associated with the season but instructive nonetheless.
Still wondering about why it’s so hard to have a civil conversation about planning for the future in so many places? Or why everyone seems so pissed about everything all the time?
Could it have something to do with the telltale bulge in the waistline of American demography?
As placemakers, we know that the challenges of the built environment require more than just new ideas — no matter how clever, unique or seemingly innovative. That was the approach of the 20th century and — no spoiler alert required — it didn’t work out all that well. In retrospect, we know now that the ideas of the modernist revolution in planning were too closely tied to a particular wish list for how we’d like the world to work, rather than reflecting the complexity of who we really are — from our natural instincts and behaviors to the inconvenient links between how we connect, live together in community and, ultimately, survive for the long haul.