I am urban. It is part of me, my love of the City and my comfort surrounded by tall buildings, hardscaping and people. Don’t get me wrong, I love nature too. The sound of a rippling stream is in my top 3 most relaxing things in the world. I love picking flowers, watching small animals and birds, identifying tracks, jumping creeks and tent camping. I really love sailing. But I need those things sometimes. I need an urban environment (almost) all the time.
A little while ago I was having a bad day. So I took off and walked my city (little city though it may be). I walked through the neighbourhoods to downtown and to one of the coolest little gems around. I watched the lights changing and the big kids skateboarding. I listened to this one guy who had brought his guitar on his bike who was singing and playing for the world in general. I saw other people come and go. Walking through or hanging out a while. The range of ages and styles, the sounds, and smells of the city made me happy. My mood did a complete turn around just hanging out on the plaza. Active spaces in the middle of built up areas are what make a city and what make urbanites like me want to live somewhere
I couldn’t find the picture I want but this is where I was.
I will miss my Borders books and my Borders Bucks for that matter (yeah I am a reader). This is a fascinating piece I heard as I woke up. I woke up much more quickly that I normally do just so I could catch this. As much as I knew about this subject I had no idea that urban versions of the bigger grocery/general stores were actually more profitable. It is always good to have information about big box redevelopment potential in your back pocket and I think I will be picking up a copy of The Option of Urbanism.
I am a someone who walks as much as I can and thinks public transportation should be able to get me anywhere else I want to go. It is nice to know that I am not as much of an oddity as I sometimes feel. I remember when I “had” to get a car (and a license to drive the thing of course). I felt so much less free.
And I got so much less fit. I am an urbanite to the core and proud of it.
As I was out at the supermarket today I saw two brand new “super fast” electric vehicle charging stations. Made me smile. Then I was listening to a They Might Be Giants playlist this evening and heard this.
Happy future, from my little suburb
There is something I dislike about electric cars, as a constant walk-and-reader, they are dangerous (you don’t hear them, you feel them and by then it could be too late). I came within inches of a prius a few years ago and have tried to be more careful. Because there will one day be more prii and the like than gas-guzzlers (and even they will be rarer than bikes).
There is a lot of work being done on open source GIS (though I don’t know anyone not using ESRI products for most things). It would be nice if there was a real choice in data layers. Right now there are google images and bing images. Balloons and iPhones may give us some great options.
Pretty amazing the differences. I am going to guess the merchants rarely use public transportation or their bikes. It is amazing the bias we bring based on our experience. I would love to see more of these studies done especially during urban renewal processes. I have heard a lot of arguments from downtown merchants and consulting planners, but I haven’t seen a lot of numbers.
A few words about me so you have an idea who I am.
I am an urban planner who got here in a very roundabout way. I started out as a geographer trying not to be a teacher. At the advice of a wonderful teacher I then studied politics in the most interesting/wonderful/beautiful city I know – Belfast, Northern Ireland. I specialized in Cultural Identity, European Politics and Ethnic Conflict. My masters thesis was that increasing regionalism and devolving appropriate powers would reduce nationalist/ethnic conflicts. (Pity the European Union chose to expand instead.)
I got out of college and a job in my field (whatever that is) seemed to be so far away and need experience in the real working world. I ended up working in a law office and learning land use law at the feet of an expert. Planning was certainly something I had prior knowledge of and plenty of interest in, but her enthusiasm and the intricacies of the Oregon system got me hooked. And I found a job and I worked at it and I was going somewhere. And I loved working the counter and helping people understand code and find the best solution for the individual and the greater public.
And then the economy took a beating and those of us who work in a development related field often found ourselves not working. I was lucky enough to keep working though it was not as a planner . But I got to make maps. I love maps, my college dorm rooms were plastered with maps. And I learned so much about the software and about expanding the place in my brain that looks at things and distinguished pretty from not pretty, and sees the wood for the trees, and know what needs to be in the picture and what doesn’t.