Announcing Third Wave Urbanism: A Podcast on the New Normal of Livable Cities

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I am so excited to announce the launch of my first major project in a long time – a new podcast hosted with Kristen Jeffers of TheBlackUrbanist.com. We’re deciding to call it Third Wave Urbanism based on the notion that in today’s globalized world the “new normal” of livable cities for everyone is not something that should be kept silent.

We are young female urbanists a part of the millennial generation, and we consider ourselves to be a part of this third wave of urbanism. Years ago, pioneering urbanists looked at our cities and realized something was wrong. Whatever perspective they came from, they took those observations and did what they could to fight back against the top-down urban planning and lack of human-scale development. The next wave saw advocates in every city-making sector, from planning to traffic engineering, to everyday citizen urbanism, working to improve the status quo. The 21st Century is normalizing all of these elements of cities that they fought so hard for, bringing in the third wave of active transportation, public space as a fundamental right, and our biophilic needs as a species living in our (strange) urban environments to the forefront of cities everywhere.

As a part of this third wave, we don’t see this as a fight – we see this as normal, expected, and the future of our cities – and if it isn’t that way already, it should be. We expect our cities to be walkable and bikable, to offer equitable choices in public transportation, and for public spaces to be safe environments in our diverse communities.

Some of the topics we hope to cover range from the privatization of public space to the Black Lives Matter movement, the role of women and people of color in urban planning fields to urban anthropology. We plan on having guests from around the world, starting with our many amazing fellow female urbanists, to bring their global and personal perspectives on the issues at hand.

So long as our intention is good, and our goal is to improve the lives of the urban population, we believe we should speak up. As women, we also see and experience cities in a way that we hope will bring a unique perspective to the kinds of conversations we intend to have.

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Apparent “architectural features” in a public space in Queens, NY. (Photo by author)

Our Preview episode introduces the two of us, where we come from, and what we hope to achieve with this platform. The Pilot: Pokemon Go and Public Space, discusses the contentious debate around what augmented reality means for our city’s open spaces.

You can listen to both of these episodes and learn more about us and our respective blogs at ThirdWaveUrbanism.com. We would also love to hear from you on our Twitter @thirdwaveurban. In the future, you’ll be able to find us on iTunes and other audio platforms, but for now you can subscribe to us on Soundcloud or keep following our respective social media accounts to be notified of new episodes. And if you’d like to support us doing what we love to do, you can also sign up for a small monthly donation of your choice at our Patreon page.

Welcome to the 21st Century of cities. We hope you like it!

Recent Protests in Public Space: It’s All About Equity

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Thousands of protestors march in the streets of New York City | Image via PPS Instagram, regram via @Helenshirley

#ericgarner
#Icantbreathe
#whyblacklivesmatter
#crimingwhilewhite

All of these have topped the Twitter trending charts in recent days, and for good reason.

The reactions in the last two weeks over the grand jury decisions on the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson have started both online campaigns and important conversations about equity under the law. But it also brought people outside in ongoing protests to express outrage against these rulings – at times, shutting down streets and entire highways in the process. Continue reading Recent Protests in Public Space: It’s All About Equity

The Normalization of Livable Cities

This article was originally published on International Making Cities Livable. 

The suburban history of the last century in the United States can actually be said to be relatively short. It wasn’t until after the second World War that automobiles were more widely available and the suburbs became the standard for the “American Dream”. Since then, several developments have appeared which have worked to shape this dominant paradigm on how we live and work; Whereas once a great exodus left city centers abandoned from otherwise urban corporate headquarters, there is now a return of companies and people alike to these more walkable, livable downtowns. Indeed, I would argue that there is a newfound desire towards this sense of diversity and multiculturalism that a city brings.

Continue reading The Normalization of Livable Cities

Bicycle Share (or a lack thereof) in the Bike Capital of the U.S.

2013 seems to be shaping up as the Year of Bicycle Share across the U.S., with New York City getting its Citibike and Chicago’s Divvy launching just a few weeks later. Portland (and Seattle as well) would be joining the party this year, too, if it weren’t for delays in its launch. And this got me thinking – Portland is hailed as the bicycle capital of the United States, so you’d think that we’d have a bike share system long before a city like New York. While Portland has a history of progressive bicycle treatments (bike lanes, boxes, and signals, to name a few) there is definitely a stall in truly groundbreaking developments. A bike lane may be widened or finally there’s a stretch of separated bicycle lanes near downtown, but where is the Indianapolis-like wow-factor? Where is the buffered corridor that provides a safe connection downtown? Where is our bicycle share?

Continue reading Bicycle Share (or a lack thereof) in the Bike Capital of the U.S.

The Future of Public Space

The Urban Center Plaza at Portland State University, topic of my thesis research. Photo credit: Doug Macy of Walker Macy (used with permission)
The Urban Center Plaza at Portland State University, topic of my thesis research. Photo credit: Doug Macy of Walker Macy (used with permission)

Public space isn’t something typically on everyone’s mind on a daily basis, though of course it dictates much about how we live our lives – Where do you cross the street? Do you have sidewalks? Where’s your nearest public park or plaza? For those without private open space (apartment/condo dwellers, houseless individuals) public space is the only space they have to travel, walk their dog, have a picnic, or just plain experience the rest of their society (myself included). Considering that urban environments now contain over 50% of the world’s inhabitants, and that this is only going to increase, I believe that an emphasis on public space is necessary for the future of cities.

Continue reading The Future of Public Space

Post-disaster Transportation

Imagine your city in crisis. For some of us, that might not be far removed from a recent painful natural or man made disaster. For others, like us here in Portland, it could be the near future when, not if, the overdue earthquake hits. In New York City, millions of people are still without power and in this very situation. If this were to happen to you tomorrow, how would you get to services and supplies? What if a friend or loved one across town needed your support? Without public transportation and accessible roads, immediate travel will likely not involve a personal automobile, but instead be on foot or by bike. Even after roads are cleared there may be shortages of gasoline leading to long lines, rationing, and even fights as people compete for filling their generators and status quo for getting to work.

Thousands of citizens commuting by food and bike post-Sandy (Via Project for Public Spaces Facebook page)
Thousands of citizens commuting by food and bike post-Sandy (Via Project for Public Spaces Facebook page)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy numerous reports have come out depicting a surge of people on bicycles and foot travelling in great waves across the city. While cars in certain areas are required to have three or more passengers to pass, even then the long lines of automobiles form an impractical way of getting around right now. In a way this is the ultimate test of recent active transportation progress in New York City headed by Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan. It’s also a testimony to the community in New York City that neighbors can come together to help distribute supplies (again, often by bike). Even the Occupy Movement is coming up again utilizing their bike-powered generators from the original protest camps to recharge neighbors’ electronic devices, complete with a barbecue. We here at Think.urban are excited to see this sort of community action and hope that everyone is safe after this historical disaster. In the meantime, we’ll be using this as a reminder to prepare for whatever disaster might befall us in the near future. Is your bike ready?

Pedal-power on the lower east side (photo credit Forbes article)
Pedal-power on the lower east side (photo credit Forbes article)

Bicycle Commuter Stats Maps

[Originally written by Allison Duncan]

A simple graduated symbol map from Governing.com shows the range of commuter rates for cities – with a roll-over for specific cities to show more detail. The map for Bike Commuters shows a comparison of commuters to total workers – so each is proportional.   The high margin of error in the data (which in the notes is attributed to 2006 and 2011 American Community Survey – ACS) means, as with all maps and data, one must take it with a grain of salt.

To compare, another map on the site shows total people who Bike to Work – which could be construed as the same thing, and obviously there would be some correlation – but is a specific question and not a comparison of bike commuters to overall workers, as shown above, so does make for a slightly different spread – for instance Eugene, Oregon – which is larger on the above map – is significantly smaller on the map below – because the plot is based on total riders – so obviously Portland would be bigger due to larger population.

It would be interesting to dig into some of the ACS data and see what the specific questions are, and hopefully the survey will still be around in future years (more on this to come) for future longitudinal studies.