More Lessons from Albuquerque: Nob Hill and ABQ Uptown

Being back in Albuquerque for a charrette this week, I’m reminded that I still owe you a promised discussion from my last trip to New Mexico, back in December. This time around, I was thinking about my two favorite places to shop in the city — the historic Nob Hill and the ABQ Uptown lifestyle center — and what the two might be able to learn from each other.

Much of what ABQ Uptown can learn from Nob Hill is inherent in these Smart Growth principles:

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Connected? Walkable urbanism, active kids, and Olympic gold

Last Friday, our nine-year-old came home from school talking nonstop Olympics. He went on for awhile about 2010 medal counts, with Canada taking home 14 golds in Vancouver, the record for any country at Winter Olympics. The deep polar vortex we’ve been trudging through this winter has to have some silver lining, so perhaps being better at Winter Olympics is part of the payoff for our wintry country. #WeAreWinter. However, I couldn’t help but thinking about Suburban Nation’s account of Canadian urbanism, and wondering if there’s any cause and effect between walkable urbanism, active kids, and Olympic gold.

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Resolved for 2014: Obstacle reduction

New year’s resolutions? Bah. Do what you love. With clarity. Only about 8% of people keep their resolutions for 365 days anyway. So what about if instead, we set out to remove the obstacles to doing the really healthy things we love? Both as individuals and as communities.

This line of thinking started the other morning at breakfast, when my husband asked me if going to my new dance class is one of my new year’s resolutions. My immediate response was, “Definitely not! It’s not a resolution; it’s a certainty. I love it!”

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[Holiday Leftovers] Confessions of a Former Sprawl Addict: Speed Humps on the Road to Recovery

[Originally run Sept. 17, 2010] Hi. I’m Hazel and I was a Sprawlaholic.

If you’ve been reading awhile you may recall that, with the loving help of my friends and family, I went cold turkey, dumping life in a Florida subdivision for the intense urban charms of downtown Winnipeg. It was a life-changing move with no regrets. Yet, as good as it’s been, I’m finding that puritanical denial of guilty pleasures is sometimes out of sync with life’s reality.

And by reality, I mean kids.

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[Holiday Leftovers] Confessions of a Former Sprawl Addict

[Originally run Jan. 15, 2010] Hi, my name is Hazel, and I’m an addict.

For the last 25 years, I’ve been addicted to a string of takers. Time-draining, money-grubbing, fat-building, resource-depleting, toxic machines. For the last 18 months, I’ve been clean. Ever since our move to Canada. And this last weekend, I realized I may be cured.

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Happy City Highlights

Ever had one of those doctor’s visits in which your physician questions you in great detail about your family medical history? Trying to tease out the nebulous connections within your DNA to explain certain strengths, weaknesses, and anomalies. And then he uses that connecting thread to help solve something that’s been bothering you? Charles Montgomery does just that in his new book, Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.

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Richard Florida on Technology, Talent, and Tolerance

Last Friday, I attended an inspiring Richard Florida luncheon put on by the Winnipeg Chamber, and can’t resist sharing the high points with you.

Technology, talent and tolerance are essential to fostering creative cultures. When we talk about the creative class, we aren’t talking about some rarified, exclusive group of people. Every human is creative. Creative cultures stoke that fire.

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Lessons from the Woods

Half-way through our family’s relocation to the woods for the month of August, placeshakers have been asking me for town planning lessons learned. It’s challenging to encapsulate a place as extraordinary as Victoria Beach, with its 101-year history of car-free summers and an elegant street grid of dirt roads that are tremendously kid-friendly. I’ve been blogging about the plan here and here, although am really just beginning to scratch the surface.

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Informing Excellence (Not Imitation)

The flurry of social media discussions sparked by my recent series on lessons from great cities has made it apparent that a few things aren’t clear. When I write about a particular square in some inspiring place, I’m hoping you won’t take away from it that we should stamp 5-story buildings on 50-yard wide squares all across the landscape. But rather I’m reaffirming that a sense of enclosure can indeed provide a feeling of comfort and satisfaction. You’ll know, if you’re a frequent PlaceShakers reader, that this sense of enclosure is illegal across much of North America because of auto-centric land use laws that require wide, fast roads.

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Cottage Simplicity: Keeping it easy, making it attainable

We talk often here on PlaceShakers about cottage living, as well as drilling down into how to make that happen at home, with conversations like Small Y’all: A Cottage Solution to the Housing Problem and “Pocket Neighborhoods”: Scale Matters.

This weekend, strolling through Victoria Beach — an insightful cottage community in Manitoba, Canada — I was struck by many of the lessons learned through all the conversations we’ve had together here. And one of the biggest is to keep it simple. And in many cases, that means inexpensive. Victoria Beach does it with a dirt street grid and very simple architecture on the town square, which is really more of an oversized town ramble. Most of the lots on these dirt streets are not cleared keeping the costs lower and privacy higher.

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