By Hannah Jarman-Miller

Sunday Parkways was hosted in my neighborhood this past weekend. Organized in partnership by the City of Portland and Kaiser Permanente, Sunday Parkways is a free event where streets are entirely or partially closed to car traffic so that community members can discover and engage in active transportation in a safe and welcoming space. It is an amazing feeling to move through a street where pedestrian safety and mobility is the clear priority. Families with young children learning how to be on a bicycle in the public realm, and not feeling threatened by a vehicular presence.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

A neighborhood square must be centrally located at the commercial and civic heart of a neighborhood, with a substantial residential population living within easy walking distance. The vitality of a neighborhood square is heavily dependent on a rich mix of uses in surrounding blocks. Nearby streets should contain apartments and condos, workplaces, schools, services, and shops providing all the necessities of everyday life.

By Hannah Jarman-Miller

When you consider your favorite building, what does it look like? What drew you to notice it, and which pieces of its construction stick out in you when you go to describe it to someone else? When we think of the structures that surround us, we might consider it valuable that we have a coffee shop down the street or a grocery store around the corner. However, the aesthetics of our built environment are playing an essential role in guiding the emotional state of our daily life that is just as significant as the functional purposes that these buildings serve. So, why is it important for a building to be beautiful, and from what impetus does our aesthetic variety grow?  

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

A square’s success is dependent on the subtle interaction of many factors – the right proportions of the architectural frame, appropriate building uses and urban fabric, hospitable streetscaping, a pedestrian-friendly transportation policy, and good management of the square. When any one of these factors is lacking, the square fails to achieve its potential for social life, community and democratic engagement.

By Hannah Jarman-Miller

The Zupan’s in my neighborhood closed recently. After nearly 20 years of occupying a mixed use private-public space in SE Portland, a design that spurred much of the development on the changing Belmont strip, the grocery store closed its doors, leaving the space vacant with an uncertain future. I felt unmoved, perceiving that I had many other options at my disposal. I couldn’t help but think of the Whole Foods less than a mile away. However, the comings and goings of grocery stores have ramifications much deeper than whether you can still have your pick of preferred produce provider.  A growing body of research suggests that the suburbanization of food retailers in North America in recent decades has contributed to the emergence of urban 'food deserts', or disadvantaged areas of cities with relatively poor access to healthy and affordable food[i].

By Hannah Jarman-Miller

Laurelhurst Park is one of my favorite places in Portland. Once the site of a prestigious cattle farm, the area was sold to the City of Portland in 1911 when the east side neighborhoods were beginning to develop and the land became too valuable for agriculture. The area was converted into a public park, intentionally designed to serve the needs of the growing community, which it has continued to do for many generations. It was even named the most beautiful park on the west coast in 1919, and though it may not hold this title in 2017, it is still one of the most beautiful parts of my day.

by Hannah Jarman-Miller

This time of year is intertwined with a deep and sudden compulsion to be outside. As the first sunny days of spring begin to bloom, and the world becomes welcoming again, I often find myself drawn out to meandering walks through my neighborhood. As an apartment dweller, I don’t have an outside space to call my own. Instead, I turn to my city to provide me the lush backyard, shady patio, and front porch view that I so long for on this particular kind of spring day.

Taylor Campi

The Center for Urban Design and Mental Health[1] (UDMH) recently celebrated World Health Day[2] with a flashmob… of tweets.

The theme of this year’s World Health Day was “Depression: Let’s Talk,” in response to a staggering rise in the rate of depression worldwide in the last decade. Planners, architects, and other placemakers posted photos and videos of ways to #DesignAgainstDepression. Tweets discussed the importance of engaging children, places that facilitate physical and social activity, and the connection between greenspace and mental well being.

Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

An admirable book called City Squares (Catie Marron, Ed.) was published last year. I was glad to see more attention being paid to this topic but, I must admit, a little disappointed by the book’s main thrust. Out of 18 writers who contributed chapters on “the spirit and significance of squares around the world” at least one third focused on the political demonstrations, sometimes violent, that took place in recent decades in Taksim Square, Tahrir Square, Tiananmen Square, Euromaidan Square, and elsewhere.

Carmel, IN today unveiled the Range Line Road Diet.  For about half the length of the road it decreases the number of lanes from five to two, and installs a median the entire distance of the project, with wider sidewalks, a cycle track, and two ten foot ped/bike paths for shorter trips. Go Carmel!

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