How One Strong Towns Member is Helping His Seattle Suburb Rediscover "People-Oriented Places"

Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

Think about the places in your city or town that you most enjoy visiting. Several places likely come to mind, such as your downtown, your main street, or your local park. 

You enjoy visiting these places for a reason: unlike the sea of parking lots you must traverse to patron a big box store on the edge of town or the narrow (at best) sidewalks you must navigate along a stroad, at these places, you feel like you belong. 

That’s because these places are people-oriented: a term you’ve likely heard used to describe places where people outside of motor vehicles—whether they’re on foot, bike, wheelchair, push scooter, whatever—feel prioritized. 

But with a development pattern that favors the automobile above all, cities and towns have created few people-oriented places—despite the fact that they’re far more economically productive.

Thankfully, people in small towns and large cities alike have recognized the value—both social and financial—of people-oriented places and have taken steps to create more of them. They’ve ended parking minimums so more entrepreneurs could expand or create local businesses downtown; created pop-up shops; and even started a local food movement so residents can find produce without leaving the neighborhood. 

We know people can reclaim their communities to create people-oriented places. The question, however: how can you start creating people-oriented places in your community?  Especially if that community wasn’t designed around walkability from the get-go?

To help answer that question, we have Cary Westerbeck on the podcast. He’s a member of the Strong Towns movement and founder of Bothellites for People-Oriented Places (Bo-POP): a Bothell, Washington-based organization that educates the public on and advocates for people-oriented places. 

 In this episode, Cary shares how you can create people-oriented places in your own community, including how to educate people about people-oriented places, how these places are more financially resilient, and how you can demonstrate your vision for the community.