I’m big on local. Not because I hate Walmart and 3,000 mile Caesar salads but because, as I see it, communities built on interdependent systems are better suited to taking on the challenges and opportunities presented by time.
That’s why, when it comes to the decisions that most directly impact day-to-day quality of life, I tend to advocate for smaller, more local, more responsive increments of control. Things like neighborhoods, NPUs, districts, and towns.
The world around us, whatever form it takes, comes to reflect the priorities of the people setting policy, making rules, and allocating funds. The more those people understand the nuances of context and maintain a shared stake in the outcome, the better things tend to be.
Call me naive.
When I was first exposed to the New Urbanism in the 1990s, it was as a 9 to 5 ad-man with an appreciation for music and art. Killing time one day in my dentist’s waiting room, I stumbled upon “Bye-Bye Suburban Dream,” the cover story of the latest Newsweek magazine.
I still remember the feeling I had as I read it. Unbelievable, I thought. This is a movement creating places where people, community, beauty and culture are once again prioritized. Where the interconnected everyday experiences that color our lives are valued. Where commerce and art can both thrive.
Living in a century home with passive air and choosing cycling as my primary mode of transportation during this unusually warm summer may sound like hardcore Greenie behavior, but it’s been particularly satisfying.
This enjoyment of a modernized take on methods that have worked for generations has made me pick up Steve Mouzon’s Original Green book again, where he notes:
Delight is often a side effect of buildings that operate naturally for most of the year.
If the attendees list of Placemaking@Work, my monthly webinar series, is any indicator, we’re increasingly united in our desire to improve the places we call home, wherever those places might be. Last month, I had participants from Hawaii to Russia, from British Columbia to Saudi Arabia, and many points in between.
The common thread among these seekers is their search for tools and tactics that have proven effective. And increasingly dominating these conversations are form-based codes.
How California will redevelop its existing communities in the future is up for debate. And, it’s about time.
The role of redevelopment in shaping our built environment came to its crescendo in the halcyon days of 2005 over Kelo vs. New London. Today, Susette Kelo’s home sits as a vacant scar on business-as-usual redevelopment practices.
Get right with God. Fix your zoning.
That’s not something you hear regularly from the pulpit, maybe. But it’s gospel nonetheless. Here’s why:
If there’s one common thread woven through the world’s most enduring religions, it’s the call to connectivity: Self to others to everything. Continue reading
A year ago, Apple’s sales of its iPhone and iPod Touch eclipsed 40 million units, confirming their potential to fundamentally retool our future opportunities and patterns of daily life.
Today, a year later, form-based codes hit a similar milestone, with similar implications, as over 330 cities and towns around the world — representing over 40 million people — have embraced the idea of form-based coding as an alternative to the sprawl-inducing zoning models of the past century.
We’ve hit the tipping point. Welcome to the other side. Continue reading