From Martin K. Duke at the Seattle Transit Blog:

West Seattle Blog has a roundup and full video (part 1 is above) of last night’s event. It was a blast to participate, and I was pretty pleased with the things I had an opportunity to say. I’d also like to thank whoever it was at Sustainable West Seattle that decided to distribute copies of Oran’s frequent transit map, which turned out to be a useful prop.

via West Seattle Transportation Panel – Seattle Transit Blog.

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The moment arts and heritage advocates have been waiting for is here! King County’s Economic Development bill has dropped in the House. HB 1997 would secure a solid future for 4Culture’s arts, heritage, and preservation funding programs.

HB 1997 was drafted by King County leadership in conversation with key support from key legislative champions in the House and Senate. The lead sponsor is Representative Orwall. The bill proposes to secure existing visitor taxes and direct them toward economic development activities: arts & heritage, tourism-related facilities, such as the convention center, community development activities, low-income housing developments, and revitalization of the historic Pioneer Square district and culturally rich International District.” - Blog4Culture

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

1. Find the contact information for your Representatives. You’ve got two. They both need to hear from you as soon as possible. Call or email them and tell them you support HB 1997 and that bill needs to get passed this year, or the arts/heritage programs you value in King County will be cut by 90%. This is urgent and has no impact on the current year budget.

“Please support HB1997, King County’s Economic Development bill that includes 4Culture. Arts & Culture are an important part of King County’s plan to create jobs and improve our economy by bringing more visitors and tourism spending to King County communities.”

2. HB 1997 is scheduled for a hearing this Tuesday, February 22nd at 1:30 p.m. We need a flood of advocates at the hearing. We know it’s a burden for some to get off work, but if it’s at all possible, YOUR attendance will make a huge difference. Check the A4C blog for more info.

3. Join the Advocate4Culture Coalition.

4. Spread the word.

BACKGROUND

Great City is convening the Advocate4Culture Coalition because we believe that arts and heritage is vital to our economy, quality-of-life, education and pride in our communities. Since 1990, a portion of hotel-motel lodging taxes has been supporting arts and culture in King County. These revenues are managed by 4Culture, which is now the largest regular source of grant revenue for King County arts and heritage programs—programs that create jobs, enhance our quality of life and define our communities.

4Culture invests $4.5 million in more than 500 local organizations, artist projects and education initiatives every year. These funds are a powerful economic driver for local tourism because they make King County an attractive place to visit. Together, the cultural industry in King County pumps $250 million into the local economy each year, including $100 million from tourists.

Despite these enormous benefits, the lodging taxes that support arts and culture will expire in 2012 if our state legislature does not act now. The loss of the lodging tax would mean a devastating 90 percent reduction in funding for arts and heritage in King County.

While elected officials are facing considerable economic pressures, this crisis can be averted. Right now the state legislature has an opportunity to ensure the continued funding of 4Culture by reauthorizing a small percentage of future visitor taxes for investment back into King County’s cultural industry.

NOW IT’S TIME FOR US TO ACT!
All of our House Reps across King County and the state need to know that we support this bill, and we need their leadership to pass it. Thanks for taking action.

Cheryl dos Remedios,

Great City board member and chair of the Arts, Heritage, Historic Preservation and Public Art (AHHPPA) committee

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart recently welcomed Edward Glaeser, whose new book, Triumph of the City, explores how cities play to mankind’s ability to learn from each other face to face.

The Daily Show – Edward Glaeser
Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

via The Infrastructurist

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The Potato Rows - shared streets where people are prioritized.

A daughter and father enjoying the afternoon.

A recent blog written by Justin Martin of SvR Design caught my attention and brought back some fond memories of Copenhagen. I decided to pull out my external hard drive and find my own photos of Copenhagen’s “Potato Rows” – a community of townhouses in the Østerbro neighborhood that was built in the 1800s as housing for workers and is now one of the most popular and highest-priced addresses in Copenhagen (oh, gentrification).

Examples of private open spaces buffering homes from the public street.

The Potato Rows, or Kartoffelraekkerne in Danish, features narrow streets that are utilized as a shared space between people and cars. The townhouse homes all have small gardens or courtyards that face the street, with front porches where neighbors can enjoy their private outdoor space. The private courtyard space has landscaping and short fences to buffer residents from the street activities and provide privacy, but there is a visual connection between the street and yard. When I visited the Potato Rows on a sunny afternoon, many neighbors were sitting on front steps reading a book or just enjoying the sunshine. Others were taking advantage of street furniture within the public rights-of-way.

Chalk-filled streets with people walking down the middle are the "norm" in this neighborhood.


American planners know the advantages of density, the need for a proper transition from private to public space, and the importance of encouraging homes to face the street. But, to me, the Potato Row’s shared streets are what really makes the community stand out. While the streets have “sidewalks” that are slightly above the road, most people walk down the middle of the road. This is because the sidewalks are usually where cars park or where the many street amenities, including benches, play structures, picnic tables, and landscaping, are placed.

Streets for play.

Examples of amenities that double as traffic-calming elements.

A family strolls down the middle of the street.

On these streets, people are prioritized.  This is reinforced by street furniture, play structures, and landscaping that are all placed in the streets themselves. These amenities take traffic calming to a level that I’m sure most American fire marshals would find completely unacceptable. But, the residents of the community seem to approve. And I think that is an important factor. As Danish planner and architect Jan Gehl says, places must be designed with people in mind and creating human-scaled communities is crucial. The Potato Rows stands out because of “the vibrant street life, sense of community and the walkability of the neighborhood,” making it one of the most sought-after locations in town.

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More images:

Exit condition where the road abuts a busier neighborhood collector street.

A "sidewalk" where play equipment and benches are placed.

A cat-approved street.

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We loved Helvetica, and have been waiting with bated breath for the director’s next project: Urbanized.  GOOD has the scoop on how you can help be a producer…

The final film in director Gary Hustwit’s “design trilogy” is the new documentary Urbanized, which focuses on the design of our cities. You’ll remember that Hustwit made two of what are almost certainly the very best design documentaries we’ve ever seen, Helvetica (about type and graphic design) and Objectified (about product design). And now, as he ventures out into the urban environment, he’s enlisted the U.K.-based firm Build to create four posters promoting the film.

This is the second time Build has designed the poster for Hustwit’s film; their poster for Objectified featured silhouettes of every single product featured in the film, in the order of appearance. (Kind of like a roster of extras, if you think about it.) Here they’ve visualized four major themes in the film, from parks and public space, to transportation and mobility, to housing and real estate, and don’t forget the oh-so-sexy world of infrastructure.

Each print is $125 and proceeds benefit the film’s production. Should you order all four for $400 (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll get thanked in the credits. Like a real Hollywood producer!

via GOOD Design Daily: Buy a Print, Support the Film Urbanized – Design – GOOD.

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