EngagingCities
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Free instructional videos for you to use with your group, team or organisation.  Great for preparing a group for a facilitated process (Such as a community engagement workshop or activity), for training purposes or to enhance your internal presentation to your team.
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Residents of Hilltop, Tacoma, know what they want—attainable homes, space for Black-owned businesses, and a voice in the future of their neighborhood. Forterra is listening.

 

Last February Forterra, Fab-5, and the newly formed Hilltop Community Investment Council met for the first time. This 12-member group of teachers, artists, social workers, business leaders, elders, and neighbors came together to advise Forterra on the creation of attainable homes and business space on the site of a former Rite Aid in the heart of Hilltop, a historically Black neighborhood in Tacoma. 

 

Brendan Nelson of Fab-5, a local nonprofit that works with youth and has led community conversations around Hilltop’s future development, gathered them close and asked how it felt to be in this space. Their response—two conflicting emotions—reflected the frustration of a community left out of the conversation about its own future: sadness at this neighborhood blight and hope for the reclamation of the space for the community.

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Supervisor Solis authored a motion directing relevant County Departments to solicit stakeholder feedback and identify best practices to shape street vending regulations in unincorporated areas of LA County.

 

As a result, the County:

  • Held 16 meetings with brick-and-mortar business owners and sidewalk vendors;
  • Solicited over 1,200 survey results from stakeholders;
  • Researched best practices of government agencies throughout the country, and
  • Reviewed current County policies and codes that impact sidewalk vending.

 

Community partners expressed an eager willingness to work with the County to carry out this new program and applauded Supervisor Solis for her leadership.

 

“This new program could change the lives of vendors across LA County,” said Rudy Espinoza, executive director of Inclusive Action for the City. “Investing in a holistic approach to formally engaging these businesses in our economy is a historic move from the Supervisor.”

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UN-Habitat and the Nairobi City County Government released the Nairobi City County Public Space Inventory and Assessment Report this month. It offers us several reasons to start deeply reflecting on our cities and ourselves.

 

 

Public spaces in Nairobi largely remain under-protected, underdeveloped and inaccessible especially by people with disabilities, women and children. A mere 46 of 826 public spaces are in the 130 informal settlements where over sixty per cent of Nairobians live. Just under half of all public spaces are too noisy or dirty from uncollected garbage to be places of serenity. All of Nairobi’s green public spaces together is still 10-15 per cent less than the global average for successful cities. We cannot leave this to the Environment Ministry, Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the County Government of Nairobi to fix. 

 

Citizens and civic groups should speak up and demand the reclamation of all the public spaces listed in the report.

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With COVID-19 still in the headlines, gathering 8,000 people together for a good time just isn’t the thing this year. So for 2020, Día de los Muertos is entering NextLight’s turf and going virtual! The Longmont Museum’s annual celebration, sponsored by NextLight and Longmont Power & Communications, will still have everything you’ve come to expect – artwork and altars, history and memories, music and dance – through the power of your internet connection and the help of a celebration kit picked up curbside at the museum. (And yes, nobody’s forgotten the sugar skulls!) 

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The Bolingbrook community continues to support the "Eat in Bolingbrook" and "Shop Bolingbrook" initiatives. Both groups strictly follow a very positive and supportive #ShopLocal, #EatLocal, and #ShopBolingbrook message. With a combined membership now of over 5,000 local consumers, the groups are a free way for residents, restaurants, and businesses to interact with each other during a time when businesses are stressed, to say the least. Together, residents and community leaders want these businesses to be there for them on the other side of this pandemic. Together, they can safely make this happen. 

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Lapis Homes is joining forces with the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN) to bring 300 copies of Happy City by Charles Montgomery to the region’s little free libraries.

 

Happy City takes a look at neighbourhoods around the world and teaches readers about fostering connected and joyful communities through urban design. Montgomery’s book was influential for Lapis owner Ryan Jabs, showing how Lapis Homes could contribute to making happier communities in Greater Victoria.

 

This book “embodies the goals of our network and the city’s little free libraries – to build community and create connections that make people happier,” said Ray Straatsma, chair of the GVPN board.

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Upcycling, often of old furniture, wooden pallets or industrial materials, has been popular for some years with many “hipster” public spaces, restaurants and cafes recycling old materials in their construction or interior design. Yet consumer access to these markets and used materials is underdeveloped and often perfectly good surplus or used materials go unused because of a lack of investment and infrastructure in this market. It’s simply much easier to nip down to the hardware store and pick up the new, unused materials you need. This gap is one that the circular economy approach of the House of Materialisation aims to close.

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Huntington Beach City Council members on Tuesday extended the closure of certain blocks downtown for pedestrian use and restaurants’ outdoor dining operations through the end of the year – a coronavirus pandemic policy that’s overhauled the urban aesthetic of cities across Orange County and the U.S.

 

Even with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders this week that allow restaurants to somewhat resume indoor dining service, Huntington Beach officials cited the success of downtown’s outdoor overhaul in attracting business and moved forward with keeping the status quo.

 

But with that extension, council members also indicated another conversation is looming for their city and many others in the near future: a debate on whether to make it all permanent. Councilman Patrick Brenden said the idea calls for more public engagement and surveys.

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This critique of the “smart city” movement says while big data and new technology make bold promises about solving urban problems, they not only fall well short of solutions, but actually can end up making things worse.  
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Claire Weisz of WXY and David Seiter of Future Green discuss how to incorporate sociocultural and political realities when undertaking master plans for the fast-developing South Bronx.

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This article compiles 60 international public participation models dating back fifty years to Sherry R. Arnstein’s influential ‘Ladder of Citizen Participation’.

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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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