Fun Friday Round-Up! BigTents and Great Places


I’ve been super-busy getting the surprise ready, but wanted to get together a little something for you guys this morning anyway! So here are a few treasures I’ve found along the way. Enjoy!

This article from Better Cities & Towns is a great read on the power of gathering in a big tent. There are groups in our communities with very different preferences and goals – or so we think. This article argues that not only do we have more in common than we think we do, but we can accomplish more than we think we can when we figure out how to work together. And it all starts with a new kind of math. An excerpt:

One example of that new mathematics: A 9-foot travel lane on a thoroughfare costs less than a 12-foot travel lane — and it may provide more prosperity, safety, and freedom, all of which adds up to a better life for ourselves and our children. This is so because when traffic slows, more people walk. When more people walk, the stores do better, and builders provide housing. More stores and houses mean there’s more places to go nearby. More places to go means you are freer and you dump fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Fewer carbon emissions means a better future.

The “more is more” version of the American dream has been ascendent throughout North America for decades now, but are increasingly waking up to the possibility that we may have reached the point of diminishing returns. Rather than a bigger house on a bigger lot, we want to be connected to our community – from the youngest to the oldest. From Vancouver (yes, in Canada):

The true value of this decision was crystallized for me one day, when I was at the office, having delegated my visiting parents with the task of walking my son to pre-school. I returned home to astonished anecdotes of his guided tour of The Drive: he introduced them to the many shop owners he knew, from “Auntie Tina”, who sold us fresh pasta (and gave him free cookies), to Michelle, who taught him ballet, and Kelly, who cut his hair. Every storefront had a story and a special meaning; and at the ripe young age of four, he already knew the people and places in his community like the back of his hand….

Our children can comfortably walk, bike, or scoot to and from school every single day; and soon enough, will be able to travel freely across the entire city, without the need of a driver’s license, or a ride from Mom or Dad to get them there.

This is what livability is all about.

Finally, a piece on how the Dutch did it – the beginnings of a bicycle-powered culture.

From November 1973 to January 1974, the Dutch national government prohibited the use of private motor vehicles on Sundays. This policy was meant to prepare the public for the scarcity of oil predicted ahead. The Netherlands, like the United States, was boycotted at this time by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

No cars on Sundays meant children could roller-skate down the center of normally congested streets and adults had reason to dust off old bikes. This reclamation of public space happened at a critical time. The 1970s – perhaps like the early 21st century America – was the decade when transportation policy shifted to favor more sustainable modes.

Off for the preschool run with a bunch of tired kids. Whew, FRIDAY!! Have a great weekend!