EngagingCities
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YIMBY, pro-development, politics are gaining support and attention in New York City at an opportune moment in the city's planning history.
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A visionary model of cooperation or a planning and architectural nightmare? Co-op City has been viewed both ways, but for many New Yorkers it remains an enigma, tucked away in the urban periphery of the northeast Bronx.
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The primary objectives of Safe Routes to Schools planning involve removing the physical and emotional barriers that currently prevent children from actively walking or biking to school. These barriers include lack of sidewalks or other infrastructure, unsafe walkways and crossings, and lack of educational and encouragement programs for children, parents, and the community that promote walking and bicycling. However, to be truly successful, these well-intentioned and necessary planning efforts must be built on block-by-block, systematic documentation of physical conditions around the schools, coupled with direct and sustained engagement with school leaders, parents, and children for whom the programs are designed to benefit. Teams of energetic and mission-driven university students, through structured service-learning projects, can be an instrumental component of Safe Routes to Schools planning.
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Today, Mayor Jim Kenney joined City officials, regional partners and SEPTA to release the Philadelphia Transit Plan, A Vision for 2045. The Philadelphia Transit Plan is the City’s roadmap for improving public transit.

Philadelphia is both built around and sustained by public transportation. By focusing on a Policy Platform, Bus Corridors, and High-Capacity Transit, the Philadelphia Transit Plan sets out a vision of: A City Connected by Transit.  
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A few weeks ago, the GGWash publication quietly had its 13th birthday. Like most quarantine birthdays it was a muted affair, but it marks the end of a really important year for us, and we wanted to take some time to let you know what we’ve been up to, and how you can help us succeed this year.
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Trying to please everyone will grind your project to a halt. Use these strategies instead to build consent and get things done.
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Cities are facing extreme fiscal challenges, from increased costs associated with pandemic response and civil unrest to an economic recession that has caused severe losses in revenue. COVID-19 has revealed underlying racial disparities in access to healthcare and economic opportunity, making more salient the need to integrate equity as a core principle in the municipal budgeting process.
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The digital divide is not a new topic; yet, the pandemic and city-wide lock-downs reminded us that we rely on digital connections more than ever. Given the in-person gathering restrictions, residents are increasingly disconnected from the society they live in, and access to the internet and internet-enabled devices becomes even more crucial.

In our previous Bridging the Digital Divide blog post, we talked with the team behind the City of Toronto’s Free Wifi project. This post sheds light on the Toronto Community Network project by Toronto Mesh and their collaborators.
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Squeezing in more housing with ADUs allows the Canadian city to give new life to spaces once consigned to throwing trash and parking cars.
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Singapore has warmed notably since the mid-1970s when rapid urbanisation took place, at a rate of 0.25 degrees Celsius per decade according to the Meteorological Service Singapore. The rate is higher than the global average rate of 0.17 degree Celsius per decade since 1970, based on data from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If the current urban development approach remains unchanged, local warming will lead to a rise in electricity demand for cooling and the risk of residents suffering from heat stress.

To help Singapore stay cool and improve urban climate resilience, Presidential Young Professor Dr Yuan Chao from the Department of Architecture at the NUS School of Design and Environment led a team to examine the heat balance in the street canyon – where the street is flanked by buildings on both sides – and developed a user-friendly Geographic Information System (GIS) tool to estimate the impact of urban planning on anthropogenic heat dispersion.
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The Catalan city plans to roll out a large-scale plan to tackle longstanding problems of pollution and lack of public space in its central district
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A six-month journey has begun for the 2021 Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) Fellowship class – 15 leaders and entrepreneurs who work in education, healthcare, justice, agriculture and more – to address inequality in metro Atlanta. “These Fellows are going to change outcomes for people in this city,” said Rohit Malhotra, executive director of CCI.…
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Chicago's requirement that sidewalks be shoveled after a snowfall might be an inconvenience for most homeowners, but it presents challenges for disabled residents and older homeowners. Volunteers are trying fix that.
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The project is called Eden Village, a community of 32 tiny homes in Wilmington for people who have experienced homelessness for at least one year and who have a physical or mental disability. The village, gated and pedestrian-only, is being built on a four-acre site adjacent to a planned Salvation Army complex, Dalton says. The land was sold to the group at about a third less than the market rate. The complex is only for single adults. Residents will pay $300 a month for rent and utilities, and as long as they observe the community rules, they can stay forever.
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The plan, announced January 19, further diminishes vehicular traffic, boosts pedestrian accessibility, and sees the total amount of open public space at and around Union Square Park jump by a staggering 33 percent through the creation of new plazas and expansion of existing ones as well as the addition of parklets along the neighborhood’s namesake, formerly traffic-clogged main east-west artery, which will emerge as a “world-class boulevard” with widened sidewalks and other “walking experience”-related enhancements.
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Jeanette Bavwidinsi, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, said she knew that younger voices were missing from city government. She’s 29, a millennial, and acknowledges she isn’t old either but still wants to encourage the generation after her to learn. The goals behind these sessions are to teach young people how government works but also to provide them resources on how to make their ideas a reality.
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From public transportation to affordable housing to infrastructure, the new US president has outlined a wide range of initiatives that will profoundly affect how cities recover from the pandemic – and beyond.
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Earlier this summer, SDOT completed a Reconnect Seattle survey as part of its community engagement. Nearly 17,000 survey responses were collected and that data was used to inform the Reconnect West Seattle draft plan, which was released by SDOT in July.

The crux of the advocates’ argument for increasing funding for bike improvements, which also benefit riders of other mobility devices like motorized wheelchairs and scooters, is that such the funding increase is necessary for the agency to meet the ambitious goals it has set for cycling and rolling as modes of transportation in West Seattle.
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If you’ve been one of 300,000 annual attendees at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival over the past decade or so, chances are you’ve heard Vance Vaucresson “barking,” — hawking his wares, in his case the famous Vaucresson Sausage. You may have been lucky enough to catch Vaucresson, also a jazz vocalist, performing the jingle he wrote about it.
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The Downtown Austin Alliance is looking for resident and visitor feedback on two proposed transit routes it hopes will make traveling between different parts of downtown faster and more convenient. The proposed downtown circulator routes, which would serve downtown, South Congress…
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As the city prepares to elect a new mayor and at least some new members of the City Council, the Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise has prepared a plan to help new leaders curate vibrant neighborhoods across the city.

Martina Guilfoil, CEO of the nonprofit agency focused on providing housing and creating financially diverse neighborhoods, said that the group was compelled to create a plan and guide the new administration toward thoughtful, strategic neighborhood improvement goals.

"Over the last few years, we just realized that there's no monthly fee that's really helping to inform the city around what makes sense in terms of good affordable housing and neighborhood policy. And there really hasn't been a clear vision articulated in the community," Guilfoil said. "And so we thought that CNE was well-positioned to be able to, with the new administration coming in, say, 'Here's a framework and some initial kind of strategies and action plans that we would recommend that you take in order to really build out a robust set of policies and vision.'"

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A new activist group, the People’s Budget Athens, is demanding “drastic” changes to the Athens-Clarke County budget to allow some items to be decided through direct democracy.

Imani Scott-Blackwell, founder of People’s Budget Athens, made a case for defunding the ACC police and reinvesting the money in other community priorities during a drive-in “People’s Assembly” on Nov. 20. In support of this idea, she referenced a survey collected by her group in which 84% of people picked policing as a top priority for divestment. This survey had over 1,300 responses, although it was not a scientific sample of residents.

At their assembly, People’s Budget Athens members examined the ACC budget and discussed ways they’d like to see it changed. For example, in addition to divesting from policing, they’d like to create “participatory budgeting” mechanisms within the local government. Participatory budgeting is a process integrated into the regular county budget cycle that allows average citizens to decide how a certain portion of their tax dollars are spent.

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Born to Ghanaian parents, Quarcoo grew up in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. She says her experience with the Reach Alliance offered an encouraging example of locally-led development in Africa.

“I think often when people talk about the continent, they talk about the work that international organizations are doing,” she says. “They don’t talk about the amount of agency that Africans have in their own development. The Reach Alliance project was even more interesting when we uncovered that. It was a great story of agency.”

Quarcoo’s interest in technology and social impact featured prominently in her internship with the MGA program. Through funding from a fellowship with the Open Society Internship for Rights and Governance (OSIRG), Quarcoo worked with Africa’s Voices, a non-profit organization in Nairobi that finds ways to use technology to centre African citizens in Africa’s development.

While at Africa’s Voices, Quarcoo worked on a consultancy project with the Mastercard Foundation, looking at how to use technology to engage with program beneficiaries.

“When you think about development programs, you often think of folks sitting in offices in Geneva saying, ‘Oh, we're doing all of these great things!’ But the beneficiaries of these programs don't really have an opportunity to be involved or give voice to what they're experiencing,” says Quarcoo. “So Africa’s Voices aggregates data to give a clearer idea of what issues beneficiaries are dealing with. That allows us to measure actual impact.”

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Today, DIY—do-it-yourself—describes more than self-taught carpentry. Social media enables DIY citizens to organize and protest in new ways (as in Egypt's “Twitter revolution” of 2011) and to repurpose corporate content (or create new user-generated content) in order to offer political counternarratives. This book examines the usefulness and limits of DIY citizenship, exploring the diverse forms of political participation and “critical making” that have emerged in recent years. The authors and artists in this collection describe DIY citizens whose activities range from activist fan blogging and video production to knitting and the creation of community gardens.

Contributors examine DIY activism, describing new modes of civic engagement that include Harry Potter fan activism and the activities of the Yes Men. They consider DIY making in learning, culture, hacking, and the arts, including do-it-yourself media production and collaborative documentary making. They discuss DIY and design and how citizens can unlock the black box of technological infrastructures to engage and innovate open and participatory critical making. And they explore DIY and media, describing activists' efforts to remake and reimagine media and the public sphere. As these chapters make clear, DIY is characterized by its emphasis on “doing” and making rather than passive consumption. DIY citizens assume active roles as interventionists, makers, hackers, modders, and tinkerers, in pursuit of new forms of engaged and participatory democracy.

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