EngagingCities
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Creating opportunities for people and communities to engage is a first step towards building public trust, especially in shaping the experience for overlooked communities to participate.

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After three years of work, the Southside neighborhood has its new community plan.

The plan was developed through a collaborative effort between residents of the Southside and the city and may shape the future of development and infrastructure projects in Southside for years.

The plan, which was unanimously passed by the Flagstaff City Council last week, represents a significant step in the right direction in the city’s relationship with the Southside and its residents, said Deb Harris, president of the Southside Neighborhood Association.

The neighborhood association worked closely with the city to organize resident input into the plan.

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A new community engagement van is set to roll through Norwalk neighborhoods, the Norwalk Police Department announced on Thursday.

The customized Ford van was purchased with a federal Choice Neighborhood Grant in cooperation with the Norwalk Housing Authority and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

 

According to officials, the Choice Neighborhoods program "leverages public and private dollars to support locally driven strategies and solutions that revitalize neighborhoods with input from community leaders, residents, and other stakeholders."

The new van fits right into that mission. Its primary function will be "to encourage neighborhood-police interaction by allowing police officers to bring their office to the community," officials said.

"The van embodies the core components of our mission statement: providing quality service to our diverse Norwalk community, fostering a cooperative spirit with our citizens and community partners, and working to promote an environment that is safe."

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The first of four listening sessions to address police and community relations, criminal justice, and other concerns in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake drew about 40 people whose concerns focused on inequities and racism Sunday.

Those who spoke in the audience, which was diverse in its makeup, had two minutes each to address a number of suggested questions during the forum held at Journey Church. 

Those attending were asked to consider what they like or love about the city, their feelings of the events over the past several weeks following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, their concerns and fears about the protests and riots, and what they want to share about how to move forward.

They were also asked to consider what they would do to bring about “healing and unity” in Kenosha.

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With a lack of community events in Riverfront Park due to COVID-19, an art installation at the U.S. Pavilion is providing a chance for community connection.

 

“With COVID, we were struggling to find ways to meaningfully engage with the community,” said Jonathan Moog, director of Riverfront Park.

 

Each wall is created by local residents who want to make a space in their community to restore perspective and share more with one another,” the project’s website reads. “Each wall is a tribute to living an examined life.”

 

“Riverfront over the last year or two has been engaging with new types of events,” Moog said. “These are what we call community engagement events, and they’re usually smaller scale than the mega events we have in the park.”

 

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Chalk the Walk encourages members of the community to use chalk to brighten up their neighborhoods with drawings that anyone can see.

 

A committee of neighborhood leaders selected the winners of the first four categories. The “people’s choice” category was open to a public vote online.

 

The voting may have ended, but you can still participate in Chalk the Walk. Use sidewalk chalk to share an uplifting or fun message in your neighborhood. Share it with us on social media by using the hashtag #ChalkTheWalkOP.

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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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