Tag Archives: community

Thoughts on Private Property: Or, Have I Got a Bridge in Brooklyn to Sell You

Yesterday’s post got me thinking—how has the American notion of private property shaped our culture? How has it shaped our cities? Our transportation networks? Our communities? Our ability to respond to climate change and environmental concerns? I remember reading a caption on a wall mural while waiting in line at Ikea that said Sweden doesn’t view land as private property, so one can walk anywhere one desires in Sweden and not worry about trespassing. The outdoor world most Americans experience is mostly limited to roads, sidewalks, parks, and a small number of backyards. Do away with private land ownership and the way we interact with the land changes fundamentally. I don’t know how true the Ikea caption is or how absolutely it is practiced, but I don’t imagine the Swedes have an epidemic of peeping toms or home invasions.
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Posted in Culture, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Neighbors, Placemaking, Rants, Response Pieces, Sustainability, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fitter, Happier, More Productive: The Health, Social, and Economic Benefits of Bikes

Riding a bike makes people and cities fitter, happier, and more productive. Don’t believe me? Here are oodles of studies that prove what common sense should already tell us. Continue reading

Posted in Auto Independence, can bicycles save the world?, Climate Change, Culture, human scale, Livability, Placemaking, Sustainability, Transportation, Uncategorized, urban design, urban planning, walkable, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Urban Renewal Through Public Art?

Yesterday’s post on the extraordinary rice paddy art of the Japanese village of Inakadate got me thinking about the power and purpose of art, public art in particular. Japan’s well-documented generational flight from the country to the city has gutted many rural communities that will likely become ghost towns once their predominantly elderly inhabitants pass on, and forgotten completely once their buildings rot. Yet here is Inakadate, drawing 150,000+ visitors annually to a village of fewer than 9000 residents 400 miles from Tokyo to stare out a tower window at rice paddies. Such is the power of art.
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Posted in architecture, art, Culture, Josh Grigsby, Local Inspiration, Placemaking, Uncategorized, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brad Pitt, Andres Duany, and Aesthetic Diversity: Why There’s Room for Everyone in the New N’awlins

The New Orleans that was swept away when the levees broke cannot be restored. A new New Orleans is rising—it cannot be otherwise. Isn’t it possible that in this new New Orleans there is room for Frank Gehry and Andres Duany? For the experimental and the traditional? For the future and the past? Can’t this new New Orleans be a city that retells the stories of its forebears while crafting new tales of its own? It has been a long time since New Orleans had anything new to add to the larger discussion of American urbanism. A long time since the national spotlight shone on it for reasons other than crime, poverty, catastrophe, or the musical achievements of the past.

History should never be forgotten, but neither should it be made into a golden calf. Cities need to breathe, they need to periodically remake themselves. As long as the people remaking New Orleans remain in service to the city’s most vulnerable residents, New Orleans wins. Architects win. Design wins. Creativity wins. Experimentation wins. A new vernacular arises alongside the old. Continue reading

Posted in Culture, History, human scale, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Neighbors, Placemaking, Response Pieces, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why We Gave Away Our Home

One day when Hannah was 14, she became upset about the disparities between the world’s haves and the have-nots. She challenged us to be “a family that makes a difference in the world, even if it’s a small difference.” Joan asked her, “What are you willing to sacrifice? Your house? Your room?” Hannah said yes to both. After talking it over as a family, we decided to sell our house and move to one that was half its size and price –and donate the difference to charity.
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