Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
How Do We Share Design Innovation in Cities?
By Indy Media / filmsforaction.org
From WorldChanging.com
By Justus Stewart

To walk down the streets of a major US city is to experience the impacts of decades of bad design, in streets and sidewalks, in architecture, in density and use of space. . I do not use the word design as some subjective stand-in for ‘what I like’ (though aesthetics are a valid basis for criticism); I mean design for the future, design for human beings. Our cities are designed with an overwhelming bias towards the needs of automobiles, rather than people. They are designed with expectations of transportation, energy needs, and economic relationships that are badly out of date. They are often designed against known practices in what makes cities more livable, more beautiful, and more functional – cities that might survive this wildly unpredictable century.

What led me to a career in urban design & planning was the question – why? Why are modern cities – or at least the modern parts of cities – so poorly designed? The answer is obvious, of course, though it took me years to appreciate it fully: the people who make the decisions don’t understand design, and the people who understand design don’t make the decisions. Forgive me if that seems a touch reductionist, but it is essentially true.

What we need in cities is a mechanism for these two groups to come together. We need a meaningful dialogue between the politicians, developers, and engineers – the decision makers – and the urban designers, planners, and urban ecologists – who understand design and its impacts. Such dialogue is needed in general, but I am talking about a specific mechanism to discuss a specific issue, the design and function of a specific city.

My idea for such a mechanism is a funded training center – an institute – for urban design, which offers short, intense courses for developers, city engineers, and other decision makers to learn what makes a city function, from the perspective of human beings and other life.

This idea is inspired in part by the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, the brainchild of Joseph Riley, a whip-smart southern gentleman who has been the mayor of Charleston, SC for 32 years (the other is the pioneering work of Holly Whyte, in NYC). But I am proposing an institute in every city, which convenes local politicians not only when they have a design ‘issue’ (as the Mayor’s Institute does) but to prevent those issues in the first place. The design institute would offer education and examples about urban design fundamentals – what makes a public plaza work, what makes a street pedestrian-friendly, what makes a neighborhood livable – to those who are actually zoning, approving, building, and planning our cities. It would also provide a forum for a discussion on green design – teaching green building to the policy-makers that set building codes, and green infrastructure to the city’s engineering department. Not only would it breed better design, but since these classes would be collaborative, it could help to reduce the ‘silo’ mentality that is still pervasive in local governments.

How would it work? Why would these people go? How would you pay for it? Don’t developers already use design firms for their projects – why are the resulting projects badly designed?* I have answers for all of these questions, but I am more interested in your input. What do you think of the idea? How could it be made to work? How would you resolve these and other issues?
One thought I had is a simple incentive: those who had gone through the classes would be accredited, and could undertake certain projects that firms, agencies, or project managers who had not done the trainings could not apply for. Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

*(On this issue, in particular, it important to note that I am not discussing grand projects here, but the everyday design of the city, and that I am especially interested in improving the design of public spaces and public projects – or projects intended for public interaction.)
0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Who Are You? Watching This Breathtaking Video Could Be the Moment You Change Your Life
2 min · 23,945 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small · 16,761 views today · With virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 13,986 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently
Maria Popova · 11,525 views today · “Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
Forest Man
16 min · 10,867 views today · Since the 1970's Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC...
10 Shocking Facts About Society That We Absurdly Accept As Normal
Joe Martino · 8,627 views today · When you take a moment and look around at the world, things can appear pretty messed up. Take 5 or 10 minutes and watch the 6 o’clock news. Chances are, the entire time, all...
How a Trump Presidency Would Unleash a Torrent of Racist Violence-And Devastate the Left
Arun Gupta · 8,173 views today · The Left should take the Trump threat very seriously.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 6,185 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 5,792 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
Alan Watts: What If Money Was No Object?
3 min · 5,773 views today · How do you like to spend your life? What do you desire? What if money didn't matter? What if money was no object? What would you like to do if money were no object? Spoken...
Maya Angelou's 3-Word Secret to Living Your Best Life
3 min · 4,031 views today · Dr. Maya Angelou says that in order to be the best human being you can be, you must follow one simple directive: "Just do right." Watch as Dr. Angelou reveals how you can never...
Caitlin Moran's Posthumous Advice for Her Daughter
Caitlin Moran · 3,749 views today · My daughter is about to turn 13 and I’ve been smoking a lot recently, and so – in the wee small hours, when my lungs feel like there’s a small mouse inside them, scratching to...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 2,956 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
The International Criminal Court May Start Prosecuting People Who Commit Crimes Against the Environment
Tara Smith · 2,720 views today · The International Criminal Court is not known for prosecuting people responsible for huge oil slicks, chopping down protected rainforests or contaminating pristine land. But...
Do You Have Time to Love?
Thich Nhat Hanh · 2,651 views today · The greatest gift you can offer loved ones is your true presence.
American Cartel: How America's Two Major Parties Helped Destroy Democracy
Frank Castro · 2,645 views today · Cartel: An association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.
Better, Not More
5 min · 2,385 views today · As we assess the current state of our world and consider together the elements that are essential to a ‘just transition’, and ultimately, a just economy, we are called to...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 2,376 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Capitalism Is Just a Story - Rise Up and Create a New One
6 min · 2,332 views today · How many of us have a sneaking suspicion that something pretty fundamental is going wrong in the world? We keep hearing about the potentially devastating consequences of...
“You Can Have Your Weak Nominee If You Wish” – the Sanders Endorsement Backfires on Hillary Clinton, Empowers Sanders in One Masterstroke
Saib Bilaval · 2,288 views today · Ultimately, what the Sanders endorsement has proved is what the candidate was arguing from the beginning – that it was not Sanders and his campaign that was holding Hillary...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
How Do We Share Design Innovation in Cities?