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Field Notes

Public Art: Project vs. Process

Public Art: Project vs. Process

Just as we at Strong Towns do not have a formula or solution for productive growth, but rather an approach to development, I believe that effective art is more about process, than project.

Almost half of Americans have dogs. Do they also need cars?

Almost half of Americans have dogs. Do they also need cars?

In early January, I adopted a dog. As with many rescue stories, we ended up with more dog than we anticipated, which has put me and my new neighborhood through a rigorous test. My dog has given me a tough decision: get a car, or become the neighbor I want to be.

Best of 2016: Please, do not build that crosswalk

Best of 2016: Please, do not build that crosswalk

A signalized crossing is an unnecessary expense for what a few traffic cones could easily accomplish. Humanizing Brunswick Street, on the other hand, would be in the best interests of the province and city.

The Service of Burn

The Service of Burn

What if some of the stuff we think we can leave to history were core features, rather than unfortunate side effects of the traditional city? What if we can’t have the good without some of the bad?

Places Where I Don't Want to Sit

Places Where I Don't Want to Sit

We live in cities starved for good public space. There are so few spots in North America where you can sit comfortably for free. And when we do try to create sittable public space, we often fail spectacularly.

New Life for an Old School: Part 2

New Life for an Old School: Part 2

A year ago, I wrote about an old school being converted into a community center. This photo collection shows what has happened since, the results of Strong Citizenship.

The butcher, the baker, and candlestick maker

The butcher, the baker, and candlestick maker

What would a contemporary neighborhood in which people work and proudly display their names and livelihoods on the door be like? It's not what I'd call revolutionary, but in 2016, it's a completely novel and magnetic idea to me.

Please, do not build that crosswalk.

Please, do not build that crosswalk.

Rather than allow for natural pedestrian movement and traffic calming, my city has recommended funnelling pedestrians into a signalized crosswalk so they can wait their turn to cross the street in an approved manner. I believe that is the wrong answer to the right question.

Becoming Strong at Home

Becoming Strong at Home

If one were to follow Schumacher’s advice and put the inner house in order, testing out our biggest goals at the household level, what does that look like?

Pick a place. Stay there.

Pick a place. Stay there.

As I engage more in this work of neighbourhood-level doing, the role of local knowledge is becoming clearer to me. It seems almost cruel that at a certain scale, local knowledge is worth everything. 

Haiku for Homebuddies

Haiku for Homebuddies

What do homebuddies do? Homebudding: growing homeyness. (Or in Strong Towns terminology, they create productive places.) Here's a video with examples of homebudding.

10,000 year old traditional development

10,000 year old traditional development

Built and social environments are interdependent and right now, that relationship in the world around me is out of sync. Indigenous people who have lived on this land for thousands of years have a lot to teach us.

On becoming a local go-to person

On becoming a local go-to person

What is the process involved in becoming locally influential on urban issues if you don't work for the government or a planning firm? Here are some tips I’ve pulled from my experience so far.

On Technical Debt in the City

On Technical Debt in the City

I recall listening to a conversation about technical debt a few short weeks ago and nodding my head at the metaphor. So I asked my partner Ryan, and our friend Brendan, both of whom work in software, to explain technical debt a little further.

Making Places Where I Want to Sit

Making Places Where I Want to Sit

This summer, Gracen Johnson documented the absurd incidence of benches and other seating arrangements built where no one would ever want to use them, then she created a solution.