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NEW BOOKS — Beyond Mobility: Planning Cities for People and Places & Design As Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity

December 18, 2017 Books, Featured No Comments

Last week I received two new books from Island Press. Since both look interesting I thought I’d share in a combined post.

Beyond Mobility: Planning Cities for People and Places by Robert Cervero, Erick Guerra, and Stefan Al

Cities across the globe have been designed with a primary goal of moving people around quickly—and the costs are becoming ever more apparent. The consequences are measured in smoggy air basins, sprawling suburbs, unsafe pedestrian environments, and despite hundreds of billions of dollars in investments, a failure to stem traffic congestion. Every year our current transportation paradigm generates more than 1.25 million fatalities directly through traffic collisions. Worldwide, 3.2 million people died prematurely in 2010 because of air pollution, four times as many as a decade earlier. Instead of planning primarily for mobility, our cities should focus on the safety, health, and access of the people in them.

Beyond Mobility is about prioritizing the needs and aspirations of people and the creation of great places. This is as important, if not more important, than expediting movement. A stronger focus on accessibility and place creates better communities, environments, and economies. Rethinking how projects are planned and designed in cities and suburbs needs to occur at multiple geographic scales, from micro-designs (such as parklets), corridors (such as road-diets), and city-regions (such as an urban growth boundary). It can involve both software (a shift in policy) and hardware (a physical transformation). Moving beyond mobility must also be socially inclusive, a significant challenge in light of the price increases that typically result from creating higher quality urban spaces.

There are many examples of communities across the globe working to create a seamless fit between transit and surrounding land uses, retrofit car-oriented suburbs, reclaim surplus or dangerous roadways for other activities, and revitalize neglected urban spaces like abandoned railways in urban centers.

The authors draw on experiences and data from a range of cities and countries around the globe in making the case for moving beyond mobility. Throughout the book, they provide an optimistic outlook about the potential to transform places for the better. Beyond Mobility celebrates the growing demand for a shift in global thinking around place and mobility in creating better communities, environments, and economies. (Island Press)

Design As Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity edited by David de la Pena, Diane Jones Allen, Randolph T. Hester, Jeffrey Hou, Laura J. Lawson, and Marcia J. McNally

How can we design places that fulfill urgent needs of the community, achieve environmental justice, and inspire long-term stewardship? By bringing community members to the table, we open up the possibility of exchanging ideas meaningfully and transforming places powerfully. Collaboration like this is hands-on democracy in action. It’s up close. It’s personal. For decades, participatory design practices have helped enliven neighborhoods and promote cultural understanding. Yet, many designers still rely on the same techniques that were developed in the 1950s and 60s. These approaches offer predictability, but hold waning promise for addressing current and future design challenges. Design as Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity is written to reinvigorate democratic design, providing inspiration, techniques, and case stories for a wide range of contexts.

Edited by six leading practitioners and academics in the field of participatory design, with nearly 50 contributors from around the world, Design as Democracy shows how to design with communities in empowering and effective ways. The flow of the book’s nine chapters reflects the general progression of community design process, while also encouraging readers to search for ways that best serve their distinct needs and the culture and geography of diverse places. Each chapter presents a series of techniques around a theme, from approaching the initial stages of a project, to getting to know a community, to provoking political change through strategic thinking. Readers may approach the book as they would a cookbook, with recipes open to improvisation, adaptation, and being created anew.

Design as Democracy offers fresh insights for creating meaningful dialogue between designers and communities and for transforming places with justice and democracy in mind.

– Steve Patterson

 

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Spotted new lime bikes at the civic center MetroBus transit center today and north along 14th. #stl ... See MoreSee Less

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Metro’s Civic Center MetroBus Center reopened in August 2017, but the huge gap between the curb ramp and Clark street remains. #ADAfail ... See MoreSee Less

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Will be there to learn more about future transit plans for the St. Louis region.Join us, Trailnet and Great Rivers Greenway from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at the St. Louis Public Library Central Branch (1301 Olive). We'll be talking about Metro Reimagined.

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