Public Spaces, Now More Than Ever

Is the whole plummeting economy thing forcing you take stock of what
you truly value in life? Yep, us too. And we’ll take a wild guess that
accessible, beautiful public spaces are on the short list for you as
well.

23885624_418f92a845_m.jpgPhoto by Petra and Baby Z via Flickr.

Which is why, today on the Streetsblog Network, we’re featuring a post from Making Places, the blog of our friends over at Project for Public Spaces. In it, they argue for continuing investment in parks and similar community resources, especially in these parlous times:

[A] glance at the news in any town or state can instill fears for fate of public spaces.

The economic crisis has clobbered state and local
governments as well as philanthropic institutions, resulting in
unprecedented threats to public spaces. In city after city, plans are
being drawn to close libraries, reduce hours at museums, cut back on
park maintenance, shelve community revitalization plans. There are
calls to sell off schools, recreational facilities, even airports to
the highest bidder.

That’s exactly the wrong thing to do right now. People
depend on these public assets more than ever. In a crisis like this, we
need to strengthen the public realm, not eviscerate it.

In
Phoenix, the new light rail system has raised awareness of the
importance of public amenities and community involvement in that city.
Member blog Light Rail AZ writes about a new ad campaign that’s promoting Phoenix as "the urban heart of Arizona," adding this:

Let’s face it, communities are changed by people. People that are part of the community, the lifestyle. It starts by shopping local, by bringing unique developments and cool projects instead
of just the chain stores and billboard material. I am really looking
forward to watching what the new advertising partnership has to offer.
I wonder how many of the advertising executives have been on the light
rail, have decided to live downtown or to help participate in its
growth by working with people in the communities? Do they know these
people can help them create the vibrancy in the neighborhoods that will
help make a tourist’s stay more enjoyable?

Plus: Preserving Savannah Neighborhoods looks to the example of Charleston, where some one-way streets have been improved by being converted to two-way, and Your Town Alabama highlights the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, which runs from Mobile, AL, all the way to Canada.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Metro Making Plans to Use Transit to Connect Communities with Parks

|
Nearly two years ago, President Obama noted the need for greater and more equitable park accessibility while speaking at the San Gabriel Mountain national monument designation ceremony: “This is an issue of social justice, because it’s not enough to have this awesome natural wonder within your sight – you have to be able to access it.” […]

In the Valley, Park(ing) Day is Beautiful

|
Next week, L.A. Streetsblog will take a close look at the Policies for Livable Active Communities and the Environment (PLACE) Grant awarded by the L.A. County Department of Public Health to the non-profit Pacoima Beautiful to create a plan to take advantage of the Pacoima Wash to create open space for the park starved community […]

NoHo Art Scene: With an Interactive Model Building

|
Develop an imaginary "Little NoHo" of parks, bridges, bike paths, plazas, streetcar lines, public art or anything you can imagine using recycled materials! The "Little NoHo" art installation, brought to you by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles and well-known Los Angeles urban planner James Rojas, is an interactive art project […]

A Look at Parklets from the L.A. Forum: L.A. Interrupted

|
(The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design Fall 2013 Newsletter, available here. For information on how to join the forum, click here. In addition to other benefits, members receive a paper copy of the newsletter in the mail. – DN) Last February, urban designers, architects, landscape architects, politicians, and […]