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.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Parks, libraries, and schools need annual open houses as a way to connect to and link residents and neighborhoods

PHOTO CREDIT DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni.

The Independent has many stories about the rampant closure of libraries in Britain, due to the national government's austerity budgeting. See "Closing libraries? Now that's crazy" and "Keep on borrowing: Libraries refuse to die."

At a hearing on the operation of the DC Parks department a few weeks ago, I used the opportunity to testify not so much about the operations of the department, but the fact that there isn't a master parks and recreation plan, so as far as departmental purpose goes, they flail. See "Testimony: Agency Performance Oversight, DC Department of Parks and Recreation."

One of the points I made is that I live about 3 blocks from the Takoma Recreation Center, a 4 block recreation area with two recreation buildings on the back side of Coolidge High School, and to my recollection in the almost four years I've lived in the neighborhood, there hasn't been even one "open house" or park community day that I can recall.

Similarly, while public schools should be key community-neighborhood anchors, how many of them have annual open houses, not just for parents of students or prospective students, but for the neighborhood? See "Sligo Creek Elementary School plans Open House: Parents can tour school, get answers to questions" from the Gazette.

Just like the Takoma Recreation Center, to the best of my knowledge, neither Coolidge High School or Whittier Elementary School have annual open houses for everyone in the community, not just parents of students.

And libraries?

If you want people to respect and utilize civic assets, we have to reach out. It's not unlike the point I make in the "action planning" method, about delivery of programs in a branded and integrated fashion.
Slide, action planning as systems integration

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