Archive for the ‘community’ Tag

Vision for Visioning

Nice 4 story houses overlooking a square near centre city London

Nice 4 story houses overlooking a square near centre city London

It’s hard to have to pull together a consensus on a whole community of people, if not impossible. Determining which public inputs and ideas are better may lead to compromising some other goals determined by the community. A community likely cannot be walkable and transit oriented if the goal of the community is for everyone to own a car. The trade offs between values like these are ones where community visioners must extract the most important details from.

Talking amongst the community members may eventually take shape into an idea of what the community wants to look like, but there are other tools that are much more effective and time efficient. In today’s world of globalization, there are many communities that feature more than one primary language. Talking might not just be an option to gather a fair public input. This brings me to the most important tool in visioning: visual representation. Visual representation can be anything from charts to blue prints to computer designed buildings and areas. Upon seeing these representations, people can choose whether or not they agree the mechanisms brought forth by the visioner has a place in their community. Visual representation of ideas is the best way to communicate because there is a clearer understanding of what is being presented with little room for self interpretation and there is no foreign language that needs interpreting.  There are many more case-specific reasons visual representations are great tools for community visioning, but this should tickle the mind of anyone seeking a community visioning process.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC

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Revisiting Community Visioning in Lexington, KY

A view of the rehabilitated area in Lexington, KY www.city-data.com

A view of the rehabilitated area in Lexington, KY http://www.city-data.com

Lexington, KY has been a city of earlier discussion on this site, so I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the city. One of the main sections of the city, the area surrounding Triangle Park, had been severely under utilized. Like a typical American city, disinvestment in the downtown areas in favor of suburban areas left this area of Lexington in need of a make over. But residents did not want to scrap the old architecture that had stood for many years and was part of the culture of the city. Instead, buildings in Victoria Square were allowed to stay even amongst new building codes thanks to the willingness of a few local preservation and revitalization advocates.

What had been a haven for rats, pigeons, graffiti, and the homeless, has now been transformed into an enjoyable square with restaurants and studio apartments overlooking Triangle Park.

The revitalization of this area of Lexington is a great example of how planning a community with the involvement of local residents can be a great tool for a successful rehabilitation project.

Take a moment to look at the picture (from http://www.city-data.com) above. Notice how nearly all the buildings are 3 stories, each building has a small relatively small building street fronts, and the buildings are real close together (in fact they are touching). This is typical of older style urban design and is very desirable for people. The streetscape of small banners, lights, and trees also contributes to this being a desirable area, and is an sample for good urban design.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Inter, Vertices, LLC

Bringing Cities to life with Plant life

A prospering garden in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio

A prospering garden in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland has had its fair share of downtime in recent years, but now it seems small community efforts are helping to recreate the image of the city- and it doesn’t involve superstar LeBron James.

In the West Superior Hill section of the city, Burning River Gardens has been putting small community efforts to work. 15 garden plots were erected last year and now in its second year, 13 volunteers have been assigned garden plots to grow organic only vegetables. Rules strictly forbid any unnatural weed killers or fertilizers, making organic food each year and avoiding soil contamination and river contamination (when rain drains the chemicals into the water via runoff).

A community garden such as this one are good ways to bring local food into local homes and therefore create more productive people and communities. One instance pulled from this article I was reading from examiner.com says one of the gardeners who had a plot offered a nearby homeless man a few dollars a day to water her plant while she was out of town, but the homeless man said he had already been watering them for her.

Despite how little this community garden may be, it offers recreation activities for more community residents on a plot of land that might otherwise go unused. The site is also lined with brick that was left over after a local school had been torn down. A small image of a trickle down effect in the community can be seen from this by connecting different types of people with different activities. Many people being able to say they played a part in a local success, whether it be the person who donated the bricks, the homeless man watering the vegetables, or the person who finally eats a ripe product of the garden (they’re eating local).

Community gardens are just a small example of community interaction methods that can be employed in nearly every city, suburb or rural area. Small actions like these gardens reproduced many times will have an exponential effect on the livability, likeability, and overall quality of urban areas for future living. You can start by planting just one seed today.

Max Stember-Young, Rutgers University Student Intern, Vertices LLC

All resources drawn from: http://www.examiner.com/x-6824-Downtown-Cleveland-Examiner~y2009m6d17-Urban-gardens-help-make-downtown-Cleveland-more-green