Links To Sources
Communities are creating small-footprint, urban forests. (12 min read). Catch the TED Talk here. (4 min vid). The business making it happen.
Outdoor dining award in NYC. (wsj paywall, 3 min read). Here's the program page.
Bring back streetcars? (5 min read)
Amsterdam journey from no cars to cars. And then back to less cars. (4 min read)
Hey everybody it's Kyle. Where, on this podcast, I share, discuss, ponder, and try to connect some dots through the best content I've discovered each week related to urban planning, architecture, and cities.
What are the patterns of development?
I want to share with you case studies, examples, ideas, that might inspire you where ever you're at in your journey as a developer, real estate agent, city staff, builder, or citizen. If you don't have time to read, I'm trying to break down the patterns here.
Right out of the gate, something that I couldn't shake out of my brain this week...well the last 24 hours...An article in Nat Geo, "Why ‘tiny forests’ are popping up in big cities" by Elizabeth Hewitt and some of the source material from the TED talk, "an engineers vision for tiny forests."\
I love tiny things. I love building and thinking incrementally. Here we have incremental forest building and how we can improve the microclimate in our community by building these dense bio rich tiny forests?
A forest planted by humans, then left to nature's own devices, typically takes at least 100 years to mature. But what if we could make the process happen ten times faster? In the space as small as 6 parking spots, the vision goes, designed the right way you can accelerate the growth of 100s of trees in a 10th of the time.
The idea has gained popularity world wide, with projects like this happening in over 44 cities.
Ok so it's popular but like how? How can you plant all these tress and plants and have it mature at 10x speed? The secret lies in the Miyazaki method. Survey the nearby trees to determine the natural species in the area then design the forest in a way so that plants will grow up to compete for light and mature at different heights. Creating a true, dense, OG forest.
This type of project boosts many types of benefits. You get a biodiversity boost. When you make room for nature, you get nature. In the Netherlands they did a study across their 11 Tiny Forests they identified 298 native plant species that weren't originally planted in the plots. You get a noise barrier. You get a carbon sink. You get something that's maintenance free.
If you're looking to replace your lawn or that abandoned lot, maybe there's an idea or a couple places to start your research.
While we're outside and thinking about planting a low maintenance, dense forest. Let's talk about outdoor dining. Dining alfresco. We know that restaurants needed some creativity to negotiate the tough pandemic business climate, namely, how can we have a great dining experience outside. The big question, how many will stick with the investment? How many businesses might attempt to go back to normal?
Humans love rankings. We love our lists. We love reading the 10 reasons you know you're a 90s kids. Or you won't believe these 7 tricks to tiling your backsplash. We need to know. What are the 7 tricks? Am I a 90s kid? I always saw myself as an 80s kid. ANYWAY.
Who is number 1 we need to know?! The Regional Planning association in New York City is tapping in the human desire for competitions and lists with the 2021 Alfesco Awards. Their tagline:
--Nominate your favorite place for "the Oscars" of Open Restaurants and Open Streets--
Yes, that's right. Restaurants and streets.
I can see the meeting now in NYC. How can we keep the energy behind outdoor dining? How might we encourage people to continue investing in making outdoor dining a fantastic experience and always be an option?
The Alfrescos will award several $500 prizes in three different categories to NYC establishments that innovate in design, safely re-imagine our streets, and build partnerships with their communities:
Sustainability, Innovation & Design
Community Partnership, Integration, & Promotion of Values
Safety & Mobility
I love it. Something I wish I had in my town.
Something else...that maybe I wish I had in my town...I'll have to think about that some more...but something Buffalo wishes that they had in their town...
Cities around the US have all this newly printed money. We need to spend it.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes sees streetcars as an alternative for those who are reluctant to take the bus. Quoting The Assembly Leader, \
"I think any level of transportation that has historic value and a level of nostalgia would be good for the City of Buffalo. Any value you add to public transportation that makes it easier for people to get around is a good value."
Ok. Interesting thought assembly leader. If you have buses and you thinking that people won't take the bus but they will take a street car. But she might be onto something in her quote.
It reminds me of the 3 hurdles any business needs to clear. If you haven't gotten anything from this podcast. I'm going to give you MBA quality talking points here. You're about to sound so smart in your next meeting:
Every idea, position, business, solid strategic plan need to clear these three hurdles:
- Are you Differentiated?
- Are you Relevant?
- Is it sustainable?
If you can't clear the three hurdles you're going to have a hard time. Ok street cars in Buffalo, and to the Assembly leaders quote, Differentiated. Yes. Street cars, I think have some type of novelty to them today. They're not a bus. When I think street car, I think San Fransico. It reminds me of that old screen shot of when you used to travel to San Fransico in Carmon Sandiego? Maybe if you make design the street cars in a way that stands out, gets attention? Not any ordinary street car. This this the Buffalo Mafia Mover...horrible idea. But I think you get what I'm saying...Differentiate. Street cars. Yes.
Is it relevant. eeeehhhhh. Maybe not. What about the other local transportation options. Is there a demand issue? Best quote I've heard in a while is you don't build a product and hope to find customers, you build a product for the customers you already have. It sounds like you've got a bus system that isn't being used? Now we're hoping that having another choice for people would make it better but we're dividing our resources in the mean time?
"I think they're over-romanticizing the optics of streetcars," said Simon Husted of Buffalo Transit Riders United. Sounds likee Simon is anti-street car.
Next up in the 3 hurdles...sustainability. Is it sustainable. I think I already started to talk about this. Sounds like we've got low ridership. Is adding another option the right thing to do? Could we take that same investment and make our buses serve our community better? So probably a no-go on sustainability.
It's fun to think about but it doesn't clear the 3 hurdles at a glance, so I'm skeptical. The success of public transportation is hugely reliant on the density of the already built community. The DART in Dallas is a great example. Huge transformative project but...once you get on the train and get off...you need a car to get somewhere else...so why not skip the DART and just take your car.
That's it for this week. I'll talk to y'all soon.