Wednesday, October 31, 2012

From Kaid Benfield's Blog — What Makes
A Great City Street? Consider These Examples

From Kaid Benfield's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

My friend Victor Dover has taught me more about the importance of streets to community, and the characteristics that can make them great, than I ever might have imagined. I’m still learning, and it’s a fascinating journey. He’s about to share his knowledge with all of us, as he reports that he and his urban compadre John Massengale are writing a book on the subject to be published next year. I don’t know John as well as I know Victor, but he seems to know his stuff, too; this one promises to be a must-have when it comes out.

Read more: What makes a great city street? Consider these examples | Kaid Benfield's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

From OneStopCity
The Wisdom of Jane Jacobs

OneStopCity • The wisdom of Jane Jacobs

Sunday, October 28, 2012

From The Buzzer blog — More Trips in
Metro Vancouver by Bike and Transit

Guess what? In 2011, more people were taking trips around the region, but more and more are taking transit and cycling. Those are just some initial conclusions from our 2011 Trip Diary survey that we’re able to share today!

Read more at The Buzzer blog.

Friday, October 26, 2012

1962 Audio from
Jane Jacobs Defends Urbanism in
1960s New York City Planning

Jane Jacobs, in this 1962 appearance at a Books and Authors Luncheon, explains her current role as a community leader in the fight against what she views as the excesses and excrescences of the arrogant Modernist redesign of city neighborhoods. More including audio recording of the 1962 speech at: Jane Jacobs Defends Urbanism in 1960s New York City Planning - WNYC
Playing: Jane Jacobs Defends Urbanism in 1960s New York City Planning

What it Takes to Revive a City Park —
Lessons from Houston’s Market Square

Market Square in Houston is among one of the most successful urban park renewal projects. Over the years, the Square transitioned from the city center’s historic district to a parking lot to a green area to art space, never having a real sense of purpose or welcoming. Yet in 2010, through collaboration and partnerships, the park was transformed. City government, local development groups, residents and property owners all came together and formed consensus on a plan for the park, designed to preserve its historical and artistic roots.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thoughts on Building Strong Towns

Charles Marohn is a Professional Engineer (PE) and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He has a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute. He is the author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Volume 1).

He combines these essentially geeky credentials with an urbanist's sensibility. He's interested in the creation of healthy neighbourhoods, in building community. He questions and challenges his engineering colleagues, analyzing costs/benefits of road infrastructure projects particularly in the medium and long term. The existing development model that dates from the years after WWII, "creates modest short-term benefits and massive long-term costs," he says.

Today's  municipalities' drive to create new growth to keep up with the costs of earlier infrastructure amounts to a "Ponzi scheme". And. as we all know, Ponzi schemes come to unpleasant and abrupt ends. He claims no magic bullet solution but offers clear eyed perspective and outlines the mostly self-evident measures that need to be taken without delay. We knew prior to building this unsustainable car oriented model how to build strong  neighbourhoods, communities, towns. We need to take a look back to learn how to repair some of the damage done.

I've recommended to our Mayor and Council here in Nanaimo (a laboratory in which to study the damage done to neighbourhoods by sprawl, malls and busy arterial roads) to read Marohn's Thoughts on Building Strong Towns and ask their senior managers, planners and engineers to brief them on whether in their opinion he's got it wrong and if so, how. And what if he's right?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Madrid Río" — How Madrid Reclaimed
The Banks of the Manzanares River

The city of Madrid dug 43 kilometres of tunnels into which the exit routes and motorways of the six-kilometre section along the River Manzanares disappeared...

More at:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

MoMA Symposium —
The Child in the City of Play

The Child in the City of Play, Session 1
The Child in the City of Play, Session 2
Symposium details at: MoMA | The Child in the City of Play
MoMA exhibition: MoMA | Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

From Project for Public Spaces
What Makes a Successful Place?

Great public spaces are where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges take place, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, neighborhood schools – where we interact with each other and government. When the spaces work well, they serve as a stage for our public lives.

What makes some places succeed while others fail? Read more: What Makes a Successful Place? | Project for Public Spaces

Port Authority and Private Company
Propose 30 Year Nanaimo Boat Basin Plan

Pacific Northwest Marina Group (PNMG) propsal to work with the Nanaimo Port Authority to revitalize Nanaimo’s marina: Marina Nanaimo | Pacific Northwest Marina Group

My note to Mayor, Council:

Subject: Boat basin plan Date: 15 October, 2012  
Mayor Ruttan and Nanaimo City Councillors, 

Some thoughts in regards to the boat basin marina plan proposed by the Pacific Northwest Marine Group: The obvious: the waterfront walkway and marina add up to a truly successful public space by any standard anywhere in the country. The elements that contribute to this success are many and any plan that adds to the wonderfully dynamic diversity of uses would be welcome. By the same token, to eliminate any element from this alchemy would be potentially a serious mistake. Our terrific little city is not a theme park. If PNMG's plan can't maintain all the elements currently in place: full secure access for Protection Island residents and other locals; full secure access for tug boat operators and commercial fishers -- with affordable moorage rates guaranteed for the duration of the agreement -- you should not support the proposal IMO. 

Frank Murphy

From Spacing Vancouver — Robson Square:
Visions for an Activated Centre

Excerpts from SpacingVancouver editing-contributor and local urban designer Brendan Hurley's Robson Street: Envisioning a Civic Core for Vancouver’s Downtown examining Robson Street from block, neighbourhood and downtown-wide scales and offering design interventions intended on treating the corridor through its public realm and development as a complete and active link that helps to define the civic nature and structure of the City’s core.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

After hosting dinner parties for strangers in their own apartment, the NYC Department of Health took notice and shut them down, but Tamy and Felipe decided to open…

Decades of Miss Subways
Smiled on NYC Straphangers

AP Photo/Fiona Gardner

NEW YORK, NY.- It was an ad campaign conceived as eye candy to bring attention to other advertisements in New York's transit system. But the "Meet Miss Subways" beauty contest posters of pretty young New York women and their aspirations quickly evolved into a popular and even groundbreaking fixture that ran for 35 years, from 1941 to 1976. When photographer Fiona Gardner first learned about it she "immediately wanted to know what happened to all the women." She set out to find out...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ken Lum on his East Van Cross

Car-Free Sunday Streets Comes to Berkeley

Sunday Streets in San Francisco’s Chinatown attracts pedestrians and cyclists. Photo: throgers/Creative Commons

More than a mile of Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue will be open to pedestrians, cyclists, roller-skaters, dancers, and kids on Sunday Oct. 14 — but not cars — as the city holds its first Sunday Streets event from 11 am through 4 pm. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

From WhatWasThere — Sunday Market on Maxwell Street in Chicago (1958)

From Atlantic Cities — Eric Jaffe Interview With Photographer Tom Ryaboi

A veteran of [the] circuit, Tom Ryaboi has been working the rooftops of his native Toronto and other cities since 2007. "Maybe it's because I've always had cats," says the 27-year-old, whose Twitter handle is R00ftopper. "Who really knows?" We called up to Ryaboi for some thoughts about views from the top, city life on the ground, and what exactly it takes to frighten someone who's willing to scale skyscrapers just to snap a photo.

Read more: The Art of Capturing a City From a Rooftop - Arts & Lifestyle - The Atlantic Cities

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

From BCBusiness
The New New Westminster

Image by: Nik West
The exterior of downtown New Westminster's historic The Met Hotel.
Expo 86 brought SkyTrain, a waterfront market and optimism that the city named by Queen Victoria was on the cusp of a new beginning. Good things come to those who wait: a quarter-century later, it seems it’s finally happening.

Read more: The New New Westminster | BCBusiness

From — Getting to Yes On the Right Kind of Suburban Change

The face of our suburbs is changing whether some of us like it or not. The real question is this: can suburban residents come to see a difference between good change and bad change, and come to embrace the former in order to eschew the latter?

New Haven, CT Then and Now

View of men sitting and leaning on the old Yale Fence, facing Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut. Photograph courtesy of the Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database, Yale University. Slide the green fade bar...

Monday, October 8, 2012

@IdeasImprov — Kevin Boyle and Rick Horan Roam N.Y.C. on an Endless Quest for Ideas — From

Librado Romero/The New York TimesRick Horan and Kevin Boyle took their never-ending quest for ideas to the High Line in Manhattan.

The two men solicit ideas across New York City, from Rockaway Beach, where they live, to Wall Street. They get the usual spectrum of New York brushoffs: suspicion, skepticism, total lack of interest. But, inevitably, in a city that prides itself on intellectual and entrepreneurial ferment, they also get a lot of ideas.

From Explore — A Human-Powered
Rube Goldberg Machine

More at: Explore – A human-powered Rube Goldberg machine. And let’s...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

From — Ivan Illich on Planning

Image of Ivan Illich is from VERYSMALLKITCHEN.
"Surreptitiously, reliance on institutional process has replaced dependence on personal good will. The world has lost its humane dimension and reacquired the factual necessity and fatefulness which were characteristic of primitive times. But while the chaos of the barbarian was constantly ordered in the name of mysterious, anthropomorphic gods, today only man's planning can be given as a reason for the world being as it is. Man has become the plaything of scientists, engineers, and planners."

Ivan Illich in "Deschooling Society," 1971

polis: Ivan Illich on Planning

From Michael Geller's Blog
Townhouses a Much Needed Option

"... I still maintain that Vancouver needs to create additional housing choices, both for those seeking more affordable housing, and the many longstanding residents like me who may soon wish to downsize while remaining in their neighbourhoods, and want to see their children living in the City as well.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Michael Audain Searches For a Home for His "Awe-Inspiring" Collection of West Coast Art. Has Nanaimo Approached Him?

E.J. Hughes. "Departure from Nanaimo," 1964.
Collection of Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa. Courtesy of Vancouver Art Gallery.
Calling from Canada | The Audain Collection at Vancouver Art Gallery | Art21 Blog

Michael Audain aims to build gallery in Whistler - The Globe and Mail

Email to Mayor and Council, Economic Development re: Audain Gallery

From: Frank Murphy 
Subject: Audain Emily Carr collection to go to Whistler 
Date: 3 October, 2012 2:20:08 PM PDT 
To: Mayor& 

Have we got Mr Audain's phone number? 

This collection should be on the Island. Nanaimo strikes me as an excellent place for it. Audain and his wife also own some of the very finest EJ Hughes paintings. Let's invite hime over to see the mural… Seriously, this world-calss collection would be a game changer for this little city that so desperately wants to confidently take its place in the wider world. If you don't know the details of the Audain Foundation please research. This should be pursued vigorously and quickly. Give him a call, invite him over... 

 Frank Murphy

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

From Urban Peek — Tilt-Shift Time-Lapse
The Lion City: Singapore

Keith Loutit, using tilt-shift technology, displays Singapore “The Lion City” like never before. The render technique is amazingly fresh, using a blur-focus wave on various depth to give each static scene a dynamic vibe.

The Lion City from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.
Read more at Urban Peek: The Lion City - Singapore

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

From polis
TEDx Tackles the Future of Cities

Photo of the Manhattan Bridge leading to DUMBO is from Nowy Dziennik.
Cities around the world are constantly throwing up new questions: How can we ensure adequate housing for all? How can we live more sustainably? How can we live harmoniously in increasingly multiethnic environments? The questions are almost limitless, and it can be hard for those in the urban field to keep up.

I live in DUMBO, a Brooklyn neighborhood named for its location "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass." As one of the world's most concentrated areas of technology, design and urban startups, DUMBO has been a veritable laboratory of answers to urban questions. Read more: polis: TEDx Tackles the Future of Cities

Robson Street Pop-Ups and Pop Rocks

Pop-Ups and Pop Rocks from Brian Gould and Kathleen Corey on Vimeo.

From Yuri's post can be found here.

BC Ombudsperson's Report on
Municipal Government Transparency

From BC Ombudsperson Kim Carter's introduction to Open Meetings: Best Practices Guide for Local Governments: 
Municipal law was changed to require that municipal governments hold meetings that are open to the public, in order to imbue municipal governments with a robust democratic legitimacy. The democratic legitimacy of municipal decisions does not spring solely from periodic elections, but also from a decision-making process that is transparent, accessible to the public, and mandated by law. — The Supreme Court of Canada in London (City) v. RSJ Holdings Inc.
One of the cornerstones of open and transparent government in British Columbia is the requirement for local governments to conduct meetings that are open and accessible to the public. Providing citizens with the opportunity to observe and engage their elected representatives fosters trust and confidence in decision-making processes and allows for meaningful participation and contribution from informed citizens. Open meetings act as venues for education and enable both elected officials and members of the public to make more fully informed decisions. In the course of investigating and evaluating complaints concerning the implementation of open meeting provisions in the Community Charter and receiving information from local governments, we became aware of some common challenges as well as effective ways of addressing them.

This guide grew out of an interest in sharing some of that information in order to help local governments comply with statutory requirements, to improve consistency in practice as well as to showcase the best practices for local governments to follow when fulfilling their open meeting requirements. At the heart of these best practices are the same values that the Office of the Ombudsperson strives to uphold: openness, transparency, and accountability. We promote and uphold these values because they are essential to ensuring that citizens are treated fairly and reasonably by public authorities.

PDF of the full report here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

From Price Tags — The Massey Tunnel Announcement: Motordom Unconstrained

"Increasingly it’s clear that Motordom has no real constraints; it’s always planning for the next big project, always claiming that expansion is necessary to solve the congestion problems that it creates and then decries..."

More disturbing, though, is the disconnect between the money we’re prepared to spend on more roads and the refusal to fund more transit – particularly South of the Fraser where it is most needed to help shape growth.

The gap is too wide (and now getting wider) between what we need, what we know will work (e.g. the Canada Line) and what our plans call for, compared to the car-dependent transportation system (more and wider roads) that has a very poor record of solving congestion problems.

Read more: The Massey Tunnel announcement: Motordom unconstrained « Price Tags