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.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Yesterday was a good day

A lot of the time, I believe people don't understand what I am writing and saying because I don't see much action on the recommendations.  And people too often see "critical analysis" as "personal criticism" and reject it.

(This isn't exactly true.  I am 5-10 years ahead of the curve on a lot of urban issues, and yes, around 5-10 years later--after I've gone on to other issues or repeated myself like a broken record, public officials, government agencies, and various other stakeholders end up taking or supporting similar positions.  But by the time the issue gets to that point, it's long past any recognition or monetization for me.)

1.  I am a big proponent of the parks planning group of AECOM, which was the parks planning unit of the firm Glatting Jackson, which AECOM acquired a few years ago.  Their work concerning the "integrated public realm framework" is probably the most comprehensive approach to parks planning anywhere (see the past blog entry "Testimony: Agency Performance Oversight, DC Department of Parks and Recreation").

Shockingly, upon my referral and introduction, the NoMA Business Improvement District ended up hiring AECOM's parks planning group to do some brief planning in support of the BID's effort to get monies from the city to invest in adding to and improving that neighborhood's open space and public realm ("D.C. Council Gives Approval To $10.1 Billion Budget" from WAMU radio).  Obviously, AECOM sealed the deal on their own.  And I also connected them to some people in DC Government.

And I learned yesterday that AECOM is the lead consulting firm for the new DC Parks and Recreation Master Plan.  I can't believe it.  And I am very pleased.

Because regardless of access to parks space ("D.C. gets high marks for green space" from the Washington Post), the city has a long way to go in terms of great parks delivery and programming.

Although I suppose that DPR and the city could always set a scope that is hyper constrained and narrow, but I am hopeful that will not happen.

2.  Yesterday, Atlantic Magazine and AARP sponsored a session in their series of programs on aging issues and cities, called Generations Forum, which featured Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and Who's Your City, and a professor at University of Toronto and New York University, being questioned by Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic.

Professor Florida said a lot of important things and Steve Clemons had some great questions and insights too.  (A video of the program will be put up online.  The previous sessions in the series are online already.) I'll be doing a write up of the session in the next day or two.

In response to a point Richard Florida made about local elected and economic development officials focusing on the wrong kinds of big projects (like casinos) I asked a question making the point that there is a difference between what comprehensive plans call "economic development" and what we might term "building a local economy."

I got a great shout out as part of his response:

"Richard is a really important voice in this debate" [about the value of cities].

As well as another shout out later.  Other than the sponsors, no one else got this kind of recognition during the conversation.

It was pretty cool.

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At 11:32 AM, Anonymous H St LL said...

Got ya chin up, huh? Lol.

Well deserved kudos to you.

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

There is very little "value" in being 10 years ahead of curve -- but somehow a lot of "value" in being 6 months ahead of the curve.

It is stupid, but nothing we can do will change that.

IN terms of engangemnt, you are usually so far ahead of us that the helpful posts is where you go back, relink, and explain how your thinking has changed. Watching that process is useful.

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

1. I missed 'ya

2. Interesting. That is the benefit and the bane of being self-aware and constantly self-critical and constantly focused on mining the experience and the learning.

3. I joke that I'm a star in the field, but not a superstar, and there are only enough great jobs for the superstars...

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

I've said before when I've used your site as probably intended -- say to look up "green alleys" I can walk away in 5-10 minutes with a pretty good understanding of the currect practice and model as applied to DC.

Turning that into action -- much harder.

And me getting off the duffer and picking up trash, for instance, is really hard.

(I find Mari's blog the most useful there).

Clemons and Flordia are both good models of how to self-promote yourself there. Hell, I remember when Steve was doing the WNG events.


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