Last weekend the Eco-Village sponsored a weekend of events designed to empower the residents within and surrounding the Eco-Village and reclaim their streets. On Friday night, they hosted Portland architect and activist Mark Lakeman, founder of the City Repair movement, who encouraged those listening to think of themselves as villagers empowered to take control of their streets instead of vassals to the bureaucracy known as local government and DOT’s. On Saturday, they took his words to heart and went to work on their own street at Bimini Place.
Local activist and author Eric Knutzen gives a good description of the talk at the Homegrown Evolution blog:
Lakeman believes in actions that correct what he believes is our
disassociation from nature and our alienation from each other. He’s a
passionate opponent of the grid, the imposition of street networks and
regimented thinking that he traces back to Roman imperialism. He’s
probably most famous for inspiring groups of like-minded neighbors in
Portland to adorn their streets with furniture and elaborate murals,
usually done without asking for permission (see examples on an interactive map).
He wants to empower us all as "villagers", in charge of our own
collective fate, rather than as serfs subservient to distant
bureaucrats and moneyed interests….
….we’ve got to look to nature and at each other to devise the form of our
cities. The form these villager led interventions take in Los Angeles,
Austin, Iowa City and Brooklyn are going to be different. What all our
cities share in common is the need to get started immediately to undo a
century’s worth of bad planning and disempowerment.
What better way to follow-up that sort of inspiration than with a street party designed to re-claim a street and provide the local children a safe place to interact with their community and have fun. A number of Eco-Villagers have written about what happened on Saturday and there’s a lot of pictures of the event. Briefly, the villagers barricaded the streets, brought out the street paint and got to work. In addition to decoration, they also installed crosswalks at the intersections in front of the Eco-Village. Naturally, they did this without the sanctions over our bureaucratic overlords Downtown.