Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

If you don't engage people, they don't know and they don't care

Metropolitan Branch Trail Open House, Wednesday June 22nd, 2011
1. I thought that the Open House on the Metropolitan Branch Trail on Wednesday, organized by Stephen Miller (he works for Rails to Trails Conservancy but did it on his own), with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the participation of the Metropolitan Police Department turned out well.
Metropolitan Branch Trail Open House, Wednesday June 22nd, 2011
And there were a fair number of bicyclists on the trail throughout.

2. Brad Green of Takoma talked with me about the need to create a trails "friends" organization. I had suggested a city-wide one, but he's more focused on the MBT.

One of the problems with creating friends groups is the legal structure, if you create a "real" organization, the need to maintain it, etc.

I was thinking that maybe WABA could help foster the creation of such groups through the creation of "special interest group" categories of a kind of "add-on" to the standard membership, e.g., for the MBT, the Anacostia River Trail, and other initiatives.

3. The Washington Post reported in "A day of outdoors: Dominion Trail Mix comes to Northern Virginia" that there will be an event-festival-open house on Labor Day September 3rd on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Northern Virginia, although mostly the activities will be in Loudoun County. There will be a bike-walk-run, a clean up, and a festival at one of the schools.

-- Dominion Trail Mix website

Like with the MBT Open House, I think these kinds of events and activities are essential in introducing people to trails and to biking.

4. Chickens. Henside: the inside the beltway tour d' coop" tour of urban chicken coops has already occurred in Raleigh-Wake County North Carolina, but other communities have these kinds of events as well.

What better way to help people get their heads around this aspect of urban agriculture than to allow them to see it in action?

5. As always, neighborhood house and/or garden tours are a great way to learn about communities, get ideas, and to get a better appreciation for historic preservation. But I am not sure we're taking this opportunity to market historic preservation "generally" as much as we should be doing.

6. In Los Angeles, guided "Canoe, kayak trips planned along stretch of L.A. River" according to the Los Angeles Times, in part as a way to build greater appreciation and understanding of the River inside the city.
Kayakers make their way down the LA River near Atwater Village on Thursday, July 22, 2010
Kayakers make their way down a stretch of the Los Angeles River last year after it was declared a traditional navigable waterway. The water was so shallow in some areas, however, that they needed to pull their kayaks. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times / July 23, 2010)

DC needs to do more of this kind of stuff with regard to the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, although it's possible to go on a boat ride on the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia, from the Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Prince George's County.

Note that rivers can be quite dangerous. See "The River Wild : While the city renews its love affair with the James, there's something you should know: It wants to kill you" from Richmond's Style Weekly and this piece from the Post, "Park Service, paddlers bridge gap for river safety."

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