From the Nature of Innovation blog here is a new way to look at what’s really needed when we talk about health care reform.

“Most people are talking about iteration, not innovation,” said Jesse Dylan recently at Mayo Clinic Transform 2010 symposium. Similar to iPhone 4, he added.

Or, if the health care model you want to improve is as outmoded as a mechanical typewriter, the best approach is to think in terms of transforming the entire concept, rather than reforming it.

“Reform involves tweaking and revising, whereas transformation means we are aiming to totally liberate people from depressing, disease-causing environments,” Tye Farrow has said. He sees the cost burden of chronic diseases as a problem that requires a bigger lens, beyond austerity measures. “Obesity is not primarily a medical problem. We waste valuable time and money when we put pressure on the health system to solve problems that are rooted in built environment. People are being starved by their physical surroundings when they could instead be nurtured by design. Obesity is a sad daily reminder that we have gone way off track by creating desolate places.”  More…


We love Summer Streets and the quick and cheap way Janette Sadik-Khan has transformed some of Manhattan’s wildest urban motorways into graceful plazas so when the traffic cones came out and the sidewalk chalk went down at 5th and Olive, we were thrilled to see a little people-oriented oasis emerging in this bustling convergence of cross-town traffic.

But this is no trial balloon.  The transformation underway now is something we’ve been following for over a year and we’re excited to see the results, as soon as this Thanksgiving!

New Public Plaza Breaks Ground Downtown

Posted by Policy Guy • September 28, 2010 • Printer-friendly
A look at the plans for McGraw Park

Last Friday, DSA VP of Advocacy and Economic Development Jon Scholes joined Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith and Urban League President James Kelly to celebrate the groundbreaking of McGraw Square, a new Downtown public plaza adjacent to the southern Seattle Streetcar terminus.

DSA’s Jon Scholes addresses the crowd at the McGraw Park groundbreaking.

The City of Seattle is permanently closing Westlake Avenue between Olive and Stewart Streets to create a new plaza that will include a rain garden, secure and covered bike parking and space for mobile food vending. The plaza will be a great spot for residents and Downtown employees to gather for lunch, linger with a book or park their bike before catching the streetcar or light rail.

In his remarks to the crowd, Scholes touched on the need for more open space Downtown and the importance of making use of the city’s existing right of way to create new parks and open space at a time when money to acquire new expensive park property is limited.  He noted Portland’s recent success in creating a public plaza in its downtown and that Seattle can look to this .



From the New York Times here is more dire news on the obesity epidemic.  What can we do to plan an environment where the healthy choice truly is the easy choice?  We haven’t all just lost our will power in the last 20 years.  We have built a world where it’s nearly impossible not to be overweight.

Until 1980, fewer than one in 10 people in industrialized countries like the United States were obese.

Today, these rates have doubled or tripled. In almost half of developed countries, one out of every two people is overweight or obese. These populations are expected to get even heavier in the near future, and in some countries two out of three people are projected to be obese within 10 years.

Those are some of the disturbing statistics from a new report released today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a research and membership organization that focuses on the world’s richest nations. More…


Great news from the Streets for All Seattle coalition, of which Great City is a proud member!  The proposed 2011-2012 City budget includes a significant increase in funding for pedestrian, bicycle and transit.  During these tough times, this funding represents a solid first step and a display of good faith towards building a transportation system that works for today without mortgaging tomorrow.

We need to stand together and make sure the City Council keeps this funding in the budget. Only with your presence can we ensure that important mobility projects like sidewalks in South Park and Crown Hill, extending the Chief Sealth Trail, the completion of the Transit Master Plan, and even basic street maintenance receive the funding they deserve.

This is your opportunity to become a hero, a budget hearing hero. Starting this evening the City Council will listen to members of the public like you and make crucial decisions about the budget.  This budget process is crucial for our campaign to fund pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure, and we need supporters like you to turn out at each hearing.  Are you ready to stand with Streets For All Seattle?

Then join us at three incredibly important budget hearings where you can tell the Council your story and help shape the future of our city.  If you RSVP online we’ll even have a free Streets For All Seattle T-Shirt waiting for you when you arrive!

Wednesday, September 29, Northgate Community Center Gym, 10510 5th Ave NE, 98125, 5 p.m. Sign-in, 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing; afterparty at the RAM restaurant and brewery, 401 NE Northgate Way, Ste. 1102.  RSVP here so we know how many people to expect.

Wednesday, October 13, The Brockey Center at South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Avenue SW, 98106, 5 p.m. Sign-in, 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing, free, accessible parking is available in the South or General Parking lots; afterparty location TBD. RSVP here so we know how many people to expect.

Tuesday, October 26, Seattle City Hall, Council Chambers, 2nd floor, 600 Fourth Avenue, 98104, 5 p.m. Sign-in, 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing; afterparty at Collins Pub, 526 2nd ave, Seattle, WA 98104.  RSVP here so we know how many people to expect.

Can’t make it to the budget hearings?  Wondering how else you can help?  Tell the City Council your story, and/or donate to Streets For All Seattle and help us have the resources necessary to make walking, bicycling and transit the easiest ways to get around Seattle.


Much has been said around these parts lately about who the streets belong to, whether there’s a place for bicyclists in our transportation system and whether they are paying their fair share. Today, we came across this thought-provoking post from

Share The Road

What does “Share the Road” mean? What do Share the Road signs convey to road users?

Bike Lawyer Steve Magas attacks the Share the Road concept, explaining that once you have the right of way on a public road, no matter your mode of travel, you have the right of way. There is not legal obligation to share the lane, according to Magas.  More…

So, what do you say: take the lane, or share and share alike?


So says Dr. Richard Jackson (via ASLA’s The Dirt).  He goes on to advocate for expanding public transportation and other aspects of the built environment that promote health.

Dr. Richard Jackson, Chair of the School of Health at UCLA, and former head of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), argued that how we shape our environment impacts our health. There are now deep-rooted structural issues with the built environment that are creating epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and depression. Also, the current way of dealing with these structural issues is only just increasing the annual amount of spending on healthcare (now at 17 percent of GDP), instead of addressing the underlying problems. “We are now medicalizing the problems people are experiencing with their environment. We are no longer creating wellbeing.”

Instead of addressing the public health impacts of the absence of trees, low-albedo streets (which contribute to the urban heat island effect), as well as a lack of sustainable transportation planning, which can help spur the growth of public transit options, we are instead “looking at the end of the pipeline,” the medical effects.  More…


Here’s an announcement from the King County Board of Health on their support for healthy planning and land use guidelines.

The King County Board of Health today passed a resolution approving and supporting the 2010 Board of Health Guidelines: Planning for Healthy Communities, intended to inform land use and transportation planning decisions to promote healthy living throughout King County.

“Our environment, such as our roads, walking paths and economic infrastructure, has a significant impact on the physical, mental and social well-being of the people in our communities” said Julia Patterson, Chair of the King County Board of Health. “These guidelines are intended to help local jurisdictions ensure that their land use planning decisions do not compromise the public’s health, and to serve as a reminder that planning issues remain at the root of some of the most widespread public health problems like obesity and substance abuse.”  More…


Using the street for cafe seating?

From one of our favorite blogs, comes news of exactly the sort of smart use of the right of way in New York City we’ve advocated for Seattle here (and on which Seattle Transit Blog and Walking in Seattle have weighed in too).  The Seattle Times has noted the growth in sidewalk cafe seating around the city.  What happens when we run out of room on the sidewalk?  Leave it to Janette Sadik-Khan

The narrow streets of Lower Manhattan date back centuries and pose a set of challenges nearly unique in New York City. With the city’s first “pop-up café,” DOT is testing out a solution to one of those challenges: the lack of public space caused by cramped sidewalks.

The wooden platform of the café takes the place of a few parking spaces along Pearl Street, sitting on top of the roadbed. With 14 tables — the same red model now familiar from Times Square — and 50 chairs, the space will be able to absorb some of the neighborhood’s lunchtime rush. Sidewalk cafés are generally not allowed in the neighborhood because the sidewalks are too narrow.

The name “pop-up café” is perhaps a bit misleading. No food is being sold in the space — it’s just public seating. This first café is sponsored by two neighboring restaurants, Fika, a coffeeshop, and Bombay’s, serving Indian food, but they don’t offer table service and anyone who likes may sit down. More…



We have ourselves a new favorite website. Type in any zip code and it will map where people are commuting to/from. What a great website and what a time sink!


Just across the street from the Seattle Center is this new proposed project.  The Seattle City Council’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously to support alley vacation so this project could advance to full council for approval.

The developers of the new residential/retail complex called 100 Republican unveiled a list of public benefits today in exchange for the city vacating part of an alley.  The project is going up at the site of the old QFC on Lower Queen Anne next to Seattle Center.

“It’s an important redevelopment on what is now a substantially dead block of Republican,”  John Coney, co-chair of the Uptown Alliance, told the City Council’s Transportation Committee.  “It is going to bring housing onto Warren Avenue North.  We believe that is important because that is another dead block in an urban center.” More…

Where: GGLO Space at the Steps, 1301 First Ave., Level A
Date: Thursday, September 23, 2010
Time: 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Enter through door located about 1/4 of the way down the Harbor Steps (click for map)

The planned multi-modal transit station at Broadway and John in Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s best opportunities to realize the full benefits of equitable transit oriented development.  The neighborhood is among the densest residential neighborhoods in the city and is home to a diverse and engaged community, eager for improved transit access and revitalization in the commercial districts of Broadway, 12th Avenue, and the Pike and Pine corridors. In the coming years, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle will extend link light rail to Broadway and the University of Washington, and build a new streetcar line from the International District to Capitol Hill. These investments will in turn create significant redevelopment opportunities in the Broadway Station Area.

The Capitol Hill community has been engaged throughout the planning process for these projects, effectively advancing the community’s vision for the equitable and vibrant development that reflects the culture and character of the neighborhood. This presentation will provide an overview of the planned transit investments, the ongoing planning process, as well as development opportunities and community priorities.


Scott Kirkpatrick
is TOD Program Manager at Sound Transit and is leading the design and planning process for the private development of 4 Sound Transit-owned sites above the Broadway Station. Private developers for these sites will be selected through and RFQ/RFP process in 2012-2013.

Ethan Melone
, Rail Transit Manager at Seattle Department of Transportation, is the lead planner for the First Hill Streetcar which will connect the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods on Capitol Hill, First Hill, and in the Chinatown/International District, while serving medical centers (Harborview, Swedish, and Virginia Mason) and higher education (Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University).

Vanessa Murdock
, a senior urban planner for the City of Seattle, is the City project lead for the development of an Urban Design Framework for the Sound Transit owned sites on Capitol Hill. The UDF will bridge the City’s planning policies, design guidelines and zoning regulations, laying out more specific design and development criteria for the development of the Broadway Station Area.

Cathy Hillenbrand
chairs the Capitol Hill Champions, a joint effort of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Capitol Hill Community Council to advocate for community priorities in the redevelopment of the Broadway Station area. Primary community objectives include a permanent home for the farmers market, affordable housing, community cultural space and affordable space for small businesses.

Now is our moment to shift city policy to  better reflect our society’s ongoing awakening and the growing preference for sustainable transportation options.

As our friends at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington point out, it’s up to you.

The Seattle City Council is considering its 2011 budget priorities; make sure they know that you want them to fund complete streets

Avid readers of the blog—and we know that your numbers are legion—may recall an earlier post about Seattle’s woefully-underfunded bicycle and pedestrian master plans, and the citizen-initiated movement to make them those plans a reality and fund transit service in the City. Called “Streets for All,” that movement has been endorsed by the Bicycle Alliance and numerous other organizations.

Now’s the time for Seattle cyclists, and anyone who cares about walking and transit in the City, to join the Streets for All effort and let your voices be heard at City Hall. More…


A good find on the Green Growth Cascadia Blog.

by andrewa99

Over the past 40 years, Arlington, Virginia chose intensification policies that shifted more intense zoning near transit stations while requiring a mix of both residential and commercial uses as well as requiring a walkable urban form. At the regional level, plans maintained certain established neighborhoods while focusing growth along specific corridors. The result offers a variety of built forms which appeal to a wider market while encouraging more efficient use of land and public infrastructure. Check out the documentary below as it traces this smart growth case study. More…


One of our favorite blogs, on the pedestrian-only concept and what makes a good urban place.

Do cars, bikes, pedestrians, etc. make a good mix in Pike/Pine?

Tell us what you think.

Recently some folks have been floating around the idea of making certain streets in the Pike/Pine neighborhood off limits to cars during weekend nights. To prove that I am not a fundamentalist car hater, let me say this: It’s a silly idea.

A potential benefit such closures would be the hype and identity that would promote the local night time businesses. But I think what grabs most people’s imaginations is the idea of pedestrians taking the street back from cars. And while that’s a wonderful idea in principle, that doesn’t mean it makes sense to do it everywhere.

One of the likely targets is Pike Street between Broadway and 12th, but the thing is that strip works just fine with cars in it. The striped crosswalks are fairly well respected by drivers. Because there is so much activity around the street, car speeds tend to be relatively slow. Cars and pedestrians and bikes all coexist to create a healthy urban street energy.More…


The man who coined the phrase “creative class” has been busy.  In a series of blog posts titled “The Power of Density,” Richard Florida is kicking off a series analyzing economic development as it relates to geographic clusterings of industry. Should be fodder for good conversation…

Density is a key factor in innovation and economic growth. The dense geographic clustering of economic activities was true of the industrial behemoths of the past – steelmaking in Pittsburgh and automotive production in Detroit. And, despite advances in communications technology, it applies even more so today: from high-tech firms in Silicon Valley to film producers in Los Angeles and recording studios and record labels in Nashville. There’s no doubt: The geographic concentration of firms, industries, technologies, people, and other economic assets plays a powerful role in innovation and economic growth.

The great economist Alfred Marshall long ago outlined the dynamic of agglomeration – that is, the process by which co-location of related economic activities and assets shapes industries and economic development. Jane Jacobs showed us how the clustering of diverse groups of people, firms, and industries in cities provides the basic engine of innovation and new product development. Harvard’s Michael Porter has shown how clusters of related industries, customers, and suppliers power innovation and growth. Density makes it easier for people and firms to interact and connect with one another, and it reduces the effort, friction, and energy that’s used to make these connections. Density increases the speed at which new ideas are conceived and diffused across the economy, accelerating the speed with which new enterprises and new industries are created.

The curious thing is that most of our key economic and innovation measures don’t take density explicitly into account. Economists, economic geographers, and other social scientists tend to normalize the numbers they’re interested in by population, representing the data on a per person or per capita basis. This approach has led to all sorts of important empirical insights and findings. But since density itself is an important factor in certain kinds of economic growth, it’s useful and important to develop indicators that take it explicitly into account. For that, we need to look at the distribution of activities and key variables across space. So instead of measuring them on a per capita basis, we can examine them on the basis of land area or per square kilometer. More…


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