Fellow Middle Main-iacs Andrew Sawtelle, Jenny Coronel, and Ed Murphy are off in LA this week to participate in a NeighborWorks America Training Institute. I’m betting they’ll come back energized by lots new ideas from some of the best minds in community development. As a tribute, here are some things LA-related in the world of downtown revitalization.
Okay, this first one’s actually about Utah, but its really about tacos and plazas, and how culture and food can make a place more vibrant. Susan Grove of Poughkeepsie Farm Project, who recently returned from my second-home state of Oaxaca, Mexico, and I were just asking ourselves: why does the US lack the central plazas that are so key to civic life in almost every other place in the world? Wouldn’t it be great if Middle Main had a small plaza? It could serve as a symbol of the burgeoning ethnic neighborhood, a gathering place for those just looking for a place to sit (nowhere to do that now), a home for mobile lunch carts that could lure the professional class into Middle Main while providing job opportunities, a home for public sculpture that’s been offered to Middle Main but that we currently have no place to put…I could go on.
In my post about Detroit, I mentioned an innovative mapping project currently in the works in that city. Here’s another one, much more LA-style: the “Map For An Other LA" featuring seemingly-fantastical yet totally-real locations like swimming holes, secret gardens, and robot-hacker clinics across the city.”
Today I’m spending time creating concepts for some vacant lots along Main Street in Poughkeepsie. The ideas will form the basis of designs created by an architecture class at the City University of New York, and are the first stage of what is a very flexible planning process, but one which I’m hopeful will include innovative collaborations that will make a big impact in Poughkeepsie. I’m looking at incorporating housing, green space, community meeting space, a restaurant/bakery that incorporates job training and locavore concepts, into a plan that can transform a neighborhood. Stay tuned…