All in City Design
I have lived in several cities in the past five years including Lubbock, Texas, Rochester and Columbia Heights, Minnesota, and most recently Minneapolis. Each city has imparted some lasting impressions and I taught me invaluable lessons about how cities function. But of all the cities, Minneapolis has taught me the most. Before I moved to the Twin Cities metro, I had never taken public transit as a commuter, biked to work regardless of the weather, composted, or installed a rain barrel.
Since the 2016 elections, I have followed the news chronicling the latest demonstrations and protests on a wide range of issues — including immigration, inequality, and women's rights — and felt inspired by the people who are no longer content with waiting for someone else to make change happen.
I do not travel nearly as much as I would like, so when the opportunity arose to visit New Orleans for the National Planning Conference I jumped on it. I was only in the city for about four days, but I covered quite a bit of ground, while still attending sessions during the day. The two things that helped me accomplish both was waking up at 6 am every day and running through the neighborhoods.
A few weeks ago I took advantage of living in a city that has a population to support the routine showing of documentary films. I went to see The Experimental City presented by the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul that featured a Q&A with director Chad Freidrichs and Todd Lefko, member of the Minnesota Experimental City Authority afterwards. The documentary revived the story of the Minnesota Experimental City project from the 1970's, a project intended to solve issues of population growth with futuristic ideas.
The International Making Cities Livable Conference held their annual conference the first week in October in Santa Fe, New Mexico this year. Each year a new city is selected based on the innovate approaches that have been implemented by their local governments. Dozens of countries were represented at the conference this year despite political tension, immigration bans, and natural disasters that kept many from traveling. Despite the lower than usual attendance, the sessions were well rounded and provided a wealth of information on how to make our cities more livable.
I recently flew from Minneapolis to Santa Fe, stopping over in the Denver airport. While waiting for my connecting flight I noticed something about the the airport that I had not seen before. Airports, those large enough to support multiple terminals, function like a city. Each one has restaurants, retail shops, transit (the train between terminals and moving walkways), separate lanes for faster moving traffic, and nodes of activity. The airport works like an ideal community, providing a safe environment for spontaneous interaction among the inhabitants.