EngagingCities
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Over the past 50 years a citizen-led process of shaping and activating public spaces have grown from well publicised incidents and events in New York City in the early 1960’s to a movement of placemaking activities in almost every city and town, especially in Europe. The essence of participatory placemaking is actions at a hyperlocal level where citizens focus on a street, park, public square or open space in their neighbourhood. It is not simply another variant of urban design.

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Ball State University’s Urban Planning program has moved into a  storefront in Muncie Mall to help community leaders develop a comprehensive plan for Delaware County. The space is being transformed into a community design center where students can host meetings, conduct research and interact with residents as they help build a framework for the community’s future.

 

“The retail world is changing, and we are excited to finally see innovative thinking in the Muncie Mall thanks to The Woodmont Company," said Mayor Dan Ridenour . "When you’re willing to think outside the box and work with non-retail space, collaboration like this can happen."

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Plazas, squares, and parks, undeniable necessities in the urban fabric, have become, today, more vital than ever. This article includes a selection of projects that have successfully regenerated existing urban spaces and transformed them into active and vibrant squares, plazas, and riverfronts.

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In times of uncertainty, it’s the partnerships between the public and the private sector that ultimately provide resilience. It looks like Houston is making use of this partnership to become one of America’s leading Smart Cities.

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Urban planning often neglects or harms communities of color by cutting them out of the decision-making process. BlackSpace, a collective of architects, designers, artists, and urban planners, is quietly working to change that.

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Public spaces have long attracted people experiencing homelessness and those in precarious living situations, as they are open to everyone. Given the absence of sustainable solutions for homelessness in many cities across the country, these are places where people can go when they have no other options.

Like many other social vulnerabilities, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating homelessness, and public spaces are increasingly becoming homes for people seeking alternatives to the overly crowded shelters, hastily assembled outdoor lots, and poorly maintained motels that cities often offer. Rising homelessness has added urgency to a long-standing imperative: the need to identify strategies that connect people to housing and the social services necessary to thrive.
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With help from Spokane Parks and Recreation and Washington State Library, Spokane Public Library installed a Read and Walk activity at Comstock Park. 

A Read and Walk displays pages from a story along a path in a park, with activities available at each station. The new Read and Walk features “Duck on a Bike” by David Shannon (Blue Sky Press).

The Library’s Read and Walk will rotate to parks around the city of Spokane, starting with Comstock Park followed by Corbin Park and Chief Garry Park with more to follow.

“The Read and Walk activity is a delightful way for kids and parents to engage with a literacy activity while enjoying our City’s beautiful parks,” said Ellen Peters, Community Engagement Manager at Spokane Public Library. “The Read and Walk keeps families reading with their children and helps them to stay active within the community. We hope everyone has a chance to stop by a see it.”

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Within 30 years, hundreds of millions of people around the world will be forced to migrate due to climate change. While climate migration will occur within the United States, the most challenging aspect of this trend will be international climate migration, which must be managed against a backdrop of existing controversies over asylum and refugee policies. In this paper, the authors provide an introduction to the complex topic of international climate migration for local governments and community leaders engaged in climate action planning, including: 

  • International climate migrants are already coming to the U.S., especially from Central America, where drought has decimated farming economies over the last five years.
  • In the U.S., creating policies to accommodate climate migrants would require a significant shift in immigration politics. However, a proactive stance by U.S. cities, towns and counties can reduce human suffering while presenting opportunities for economic recovery.
  • Local leaders can take actions now with an integrated approach to climate resiliency and refugee resettlement such as including climate migration as a topic in climate action planning; working with universities and nonprofits to survey recent migrants who departed their countries due to climate change; and building on existing “sister city” relationships to explore climate change impacts.
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London’s suburbs are leading the capital’s economic recovery from the pandemic, as consumers shop and dine out locally, while the absence of office workers and tourists has kept city centre spending muted.

Consumer outlay on clothes and hospitality in smaller local centres, such as Southall and East Ham, either matched or surpassed January levels by mid-July, according to a report from the thinktank Centre for London and King’s College London.

The report tracked the impact of the pandemic on the capital’s economy five months after the coronavirus crisis began. Trend data from the credit card company Mastercard showed consumer spending had shifted from central London towards outer zones, as office staff continued to work from home even after lockdown restrictions eased, and international tourists stayed away.

Three-quarters of London’s white-collar workers have not yet returned to their desks, according to data from the US bank Morgan Stanley, benefiting residential areas.
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Hong Kong has been experiencing hotter summers and more extreme hot days in recent years due to climate change and the heat island effect. A study from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) found that hot nights pose a greater threat to public health than hot days. Specifically, researchers found that consecutive hot nights are more detrimental to human health than very hot days, although the actual temperature does not reach daytime levels.

Apparently, consecutive hot nights brought more health problems compared with very hot days, especially for five or more consecutive hot nights. It was also found that when consecutive very hot days were joined with consecutive hot nights, such as two consecutive very hot days with three hot nights, the health impact was significantly amplified, compared with only consecutive very hot days. Females and older adults were found to be relatively more vulnerable to extreme hot weather.
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ActivateATL will ultimately provide a ten-year vision for evaluating our facilities, programs, and services; acquiring and developing parkland; and taking a closer look at our maintenance and operations; as well as overall administration and management. Equity is a driving force of ActivateATL and will support Mayor Bottoms' vision for One Atlanta, where all Atlanta residents will have equitable access to high-quality parks and recreational activities that will meet their needs and promote health, wellbeing, and quality of life. The primary goal of ActivateATL is to reach more people, from all ages, backgrounds and zip codes.

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While nearly seven in 10 Maryland households have answered their census questionnaire for the once-in-a-decade tally, that still leaves more than 800,000 that have not. And there are neighborhoods in Baltimore where more than half the residents are still officially uncounted.
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BadgeWatch.org is the kind of impactful civic-tech project that Code for South Florida members can help people out with or initiate on their own. “What was really unique about the idea is there is this information that was caught up in these reports that most people couldn’t access,” said Johnson, who is also a civic tech innovation fellow for Microsoft. “I think this will be really helpful for a lot of people in Miami that probably didn’t even know this existed.”

Code for South Florida, codeforsouth.com, is a nonprofit organization that builds services with public interest in mind, leveraging a network of technologists, designers and problem solvers. It leverages open source data, builds prototypes, and supports data collaborations that push to make South Florida better. Code for South Florida currently has about 49 active volunteers.
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Giving people a more meaningful voice in policymaking helps states that are struggling to make policy decisions about healthcare and the social determinants of health. Many state legislatures are either stuck in partisan gridlock or simply disconnected from the daily needs and goals of their constituents – particularly people who belong to communities that are politically marginalized and historically underserved. Legislators, staff, and residents often lack the information they need to make smart decisions, and so our healthcare, social service, and public health systems don’t benefit the people they are intended to serve.

But there is an even more fundamental benefit to supporting better engagement in health. Many studies have shown that improving our health is not just about getting better health care: a huge part of the challenge is strengthening our social networks and addressing the social determinants of health, like housing, poverty, and safety.

Learn more about Community Voices for Health

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“Through storytelling we have the ability to showcase how government works and to engage our community,” Gilbert Chief Digital Officer Dana Berchman said in the release. “Amplifying our messaging by using all of our outreach channels to tell meaningful stories impacts lives and builds trust in our government when our community needs it most. I’m so proud to be a part of a team that’s focused on doing exactly that.”

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In early 2019, PCDC began collaborating with PolicyLink to develop a community-driven equitable development strategy, Chinatown Future Histories: Public Space and Equitable Development. The purpose was to resist increasing gentrification and displacement pressures facing Chinatown. Through community meeting and dinners, we engaged Chinatown community members to learn about their priorities and discuss what they believe is equitable development.

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Digital tools are essential for public participation in the age of COVID-19. This hands-on course will teach you to create online engagement campaigns that gather input creatively, enable collaborative online interactions, and sustain participation over time. We'll identify barriers to participation and examine strategies to build equity and inclusion online. Learn best practices for facilitating online meetings. Bring your questions and lessons learned, so we can learn from one another's engagement innovations during this global pandemic. Join by computer if possible (rather than tablet), as this course gives you an opportunity to experience both the convenor and participant sides of online participation.
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The novel Cornavirus has inspired some novel ideas. From personal glass greenhouses at an Amsterdam restaurant, stuffed pandas occupying chairs in a Bangkok eatery, to pool noodle hats at a cafe in Germany, people are exercising their collective creativity to maintain social distancing and make it safe to go out again. When the pandemic hit […]
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The pandemic has been a nightmare, but one silver lining is that citizens are increasingly becoming involved, even if begrudgingly, in decisions regarding local public policies.

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The City of Casey is on the way to developing a draft Smart City Strategy to identify how new and emerging technology, data and infrastructure can help overcome challenges and unlock new opportunities to support Casey’s diverse social, economical and environmental needs.

After engaging with a range of community members, local businesses and schools last month, feedback and insights are now being collated to assist in developing a draft Smart City Strategy.
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We’ve all been there. You want a short cut – to the bus stop, office or corner shop – but there’s no designated path. Others before you have already flattened the grass, or cut a line through a hedge. Why not, you think.

So goes the logic of “desire paths” – described by Robert Macfarlane as “paths & tracks made over time by the wishes & feet of walkers, especially those paths that run contrary to design or planning”; he calls them “free-will ways”. The New Yorker offers other names: “cow paths, pirate paths, social trails, kemonomichi (beast trails), chemins de l’âne (donkey paths), and Olifantenpad (elephant trails)”. JM Barrie described them as “Paths that have Made Themselves”.

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Alternative hip-hop artist Open Mike Eagle pays homage to his childhood home, a now-demolished Chicago housing complex.

For his fifth LP, released in 2017, alternative hip-hop artist Open Mike Eagle crafts a love letter to the Robert Taylor Homes—a now-demolished public housing complex in Chicago’s South Side—where he grew up in the 1980s and early ’90s. The Robert Taylor Homes were part of the State Street Corridor, a group of public housing projects constructed in the mid-20th century by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).

According to an August 2017 story from NPR, Open Mike Eagle sources his inspiration for Brick Body Kids Still Daydream back to documentaries about the life of the Robert Taylor Homes and its demolition.

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On Tuesday afternoons, North Oakland’s Driver’s Plaza is a lively place. Neighbors gather to listen to music, play chess, hang out, and share a meal. The chef is “Aunti” Frances Moore, a former Black Panther and founder of the Love Mission Self-Help Hunger Program, which has been serving a weekly meal for much of the past decade. Those gathering at Driver’s are typical of “the old Oakland,” largely but not exclusively African American, and struggling to get by in this rapidly gentrifying city. Many are visibly disabled. Most are elders, though there are also younger adults and children ranging from elementary to high school age. Some rent rooms nearby while others are homeless, crashing with friends or living in vehicles.

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More than 650 urban planning professionals lay out in a letter to the American Planning Association how neighborhoods that were racially segregated by a range of planning policies have become further denigrated by police violence and harassment of Black people — and that planners have done little historically to help change this dynamic.

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Around the country, cities and states are grappling with how zoning rules have deeply codified racial inequity and exacerbated climate change.

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