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What makes your neighbourhood great? What would you change, and why? And what does urban design have to do with it? To chat about these and many more questions, join Sustainable Transportation specialist Ryan Martinson for a walk through Bridgeland, à la Jane Jacobs, to swap ideas on what’s working, what isn’t, and what you can do about it – right now and in the future. Join us August 27, 2014 from 7pm until 8 pm. We’ll start and finish at First Avenue Northeast, between 8 Street and 8A Street.
Active Neighbourhoods was recently profiled on Space + Place, a weekly program covering architecture, the city and visual culture on CJSW 90.9FM. Space + Place is hosted by Amery Calvelli of D.Talks – a Calgary-based not-for-profit leading discussions on design and the built environment. Amery interviewed Active Neighbourhoods Lead Facilitator Celia Lee and Sustainable Calgary board member and Active Neighbourhoods steering committee member Ryan Martinson about the pilot project, it’s origins, goals and the concept of Active Transport. You can listen to the interview in the episode, “Landscape Lessons” here.
Ryan also spoke about Sustainable Calgary’s most recent WalkTalk, held in Martindale this past Spring. That edition focused on walkability and the health benefits of walking. Check back August 20th for more information on our next event, the Bridgeland Jaunt.
D.Talks are a series conversations on design and the built environment in Calgary. Each event is focused on a design topic and can include presentations, documentary screenings and exhibitions – all opening up a discussion about how the topic is relevant locally. Read more about D.Talks and upcoming events at www.dtalks.org.
Whether watching summer storms or enjoying the hot sun and a cool breeze (who can say in this town??), relax to these five sustainability-related podcasts on neighbours, ordering on the internet, happiness, running for office, and bear love.
Neighbourhood Watch, Episode 420 of NPR’s “This American Life”: It’s amazing just how much drama can take place in the mini-universe of a neighborhood. This week we bring you stories of neighbors watching out for each other, for better and worse, including a story from CBC’s Wiretap.
Brown Box, January 28, 2014 on NPR’s “Radiolab”: You order some stuff on the Internet and it shows up three hours later. How could all the things that need to happen to make that happen happen so fast?
Say No To Happiness, May 21, 2014 on CBC’s “Ideas”: Life is about being happy, right? Just ask the Dalai Lama…or any of the best-selling authors on the subject…or the scientists who study the benefits of being happy. But are we losing something else along the way: the need for meaning in our lives?
Take the Money and Run for Office, Episode 461 of NPR’s “This American Life”: For anyone who has ever heard the term “Washington insider” and felt outside — we are with you. So this week, we go inside the rooms where the deals get made, to the actual moment that the checks change hands — and we ask the people writing and receiving the checks what, exactly, is the money buying?
Neanderthal Man, Plus Banff Bears Cross Bridges to Romance, Boning up on Zebrafish, and more, February 22, 2014 on CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks”: Bear Bridge To Love, No Discrimination Against Disabled Monkeys, Quirks Question Period: Heating With Refrigerators, Zebrafish Hold Key To Regrowing Limbs, Dating The Grand Canyon, Neanderthal Man.
Weigh in on the best (and worst) places in your neighbourhood! Where could you spend the whole day? What are the best places to walk, cycle, or enjoy nature? Which places hold the most memories?
Active Neighbourhoods asked Bridgeland these questions and more at the 2014 Relocalization Fair. 120 community members placed 136 stickers on a map of Bridgeland to show locations that were significant to them. Here’s what they had to say:
- The Bow River bike/walk Pathways, the Bridgleland Community Centre, and Tom Hopkin’s Hill Park are centres or “hearts” of the community. These locations had the most stickers placed on them
- The Bow River bike/walk pathways are by far Bridgeland residents’ favourite place to bike and walk around the neighbourhood. Residents also enjoy biking and walking in Tom Campbell’s Hill Park
- The Best places to enjoy nature or bird watch in Bridgeland are the Bow River pathways and Tom Campbell’s Hill Park
Stay tuned for more information about the Bridgeland community and active transportation! We will be collecting more data at upcoming community events throughout the summer.
Don’t live in Bridgeland? Weigh in on the best (and worst) places in your community here, and we’ll release the results next month.
Join us today at the Bridgeland Riverside Farmers’ Market today and weigh in on your favourite hubs are in the community for dog-walking, recreation, coffee-drinking and more. Come find our table, we’d love to hear how you access and utilize services in your communities. Plus: check out vendors at the market and take home summer-fresh produce. The market runs 3:30 pm until 7 pm at the Bridgleand Riverside Community Association (917 Centre Ave SE) and you can find us there July 24, 31 and August 7.
A call for citizen projects to transform your neighbourhood
Have you been mulling over a great project idea to help transform your neighbourhood? Are you ready to take the next step to make it a reality? Win a matching grant for your neighbourhood – up to $ 2,000.
The Montreal Urban Ecology Center, in partnership with the Center for a New American Dream is now launching the 2014 Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge all over Canada.
How It Works
- Submit a project, and create a short video to explain your idea;
- Attend two webinar trainings about crowdfunding;
- Raise funds for your project;
- Receive a grant matching what you have been able to raise, up to $2,000;
- Transform your neighbourhood!
The sun finally broke in Calgary, making for a beautiful Saturday at the Relocalization Fair in Bridgeland! Active Neighbourhoods asked locals to weigh in on the best spots in their community—best hubs for activities such as dog-walking, lawn-bowling, coffee-drinking, people-watching, recreation and cycling. Thanks to Open Streets Calgary, Arusha Centre, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), REAP Calgary, Women’s Centre of Calgary, The Calgary Foundation and Bridgeland Riverside Community Association for a wonderful event!
All photos: Bita Jamalpour
Celia Lee, Project Lead Facilitator for Active Neighbourhoods, reports on the project’s status and how we’ll be selecting and working with our chosen communities.
We’ve been hearing a lot about Active Neighbourhoods and what they mean; can you tell me about the main goal of the Active Neighbourhoods Project?
We’ll be working with communities to help them implement a project – some kind of physical change to their neighbourhood – that makes cycling and walking easier and more enjoyable.
Have you chosen a community yet?
Right now we’re working with our Advisory Committee and with communities to find out which communities meet our criteria, and which ones are interested. I think we’re pretty close to selecting our first few communities, which is really exciting, and we’ll definitely post an update when it’s official.
What kinds of criteria do you have for selecting communities?
We’re mandated to work with economically and/or culturally diverse neighbourhoods. The main reason is based on research found by our Montreal partners, showing that lower income and new immigrant areas are comparatively underserved when it comes to infrastructure for cycling and walking. We also want to work with neighbourhoods that are interested in active transportation. And lastly, we want to work with communities that currently have the capacity to engage citizens, so we can hit the ground running with this pilot project. What we learn through our four chosen communities can hopefully then be applied in other neighbourhoods.
How will you work with communities?
We might start with group walks or simple mapping activities to get people talking about their communities. Once we’re formally working with a community, we want to keep these conversation going, and focus them towards some action. We’ll get a sense of the best places to cycle, the scariest places to cross the road, the places with the heaviest car traffic, and the places with the most foot traffic – a process we call “community mapping”. From there, we’ll provide strategies to help communities identify areas of need, prioritize them, develop design options, and choose one design change to start with. The idea, basically, is to flesh out how residents use and enjoy their neighbourhoods, and how could they make them even better.
How significant are the changes these communities would make?
It really depends on the community – on what they would like and on the opportunities available to them. For this project we generally encourage starting with interventions that are achievable in the short – medium term, with the idea that if we can prove success with participative planning on smaller projects, we can then scale up. Extending the curb in a school zone, for example, and planting a garden within it, was one change successfully implemented in a similar project in Montreal. Some communities may have opportunities to engage in larger projects, however, particularly if they are slated for major development or repairs.
What are you most excited about in this project?
I really like the scale of this project – it feels achievable, while having the potential to build momentum for active transportation and participatory planning at a broader scale. Like other pilots I suppose, there’s room for experimentation with manageable risk, and we’ll be able to learn from our work in our first communities and apply it to the next communities. From a personal perspective, I’m excited to spend more time cycling and getting to know the city.
Celia Lee is the Project Lead Facilitator for Active Neighbourhoods. One half of Community Matters Consulting, she’s also worked for Vibrant Communities Calgary and holds a Master of Environmental Design with a specialization in Social/Environmental Sustainability, Economics, Design.
Commuting to work and school can seem like the most arduous daily trips we make and therefore draw our attention. In reality, they account for just a fraction of our daily travel. The majority of our travel is for social, recreational, shopping or other purposes. Providing opportunities in our communities for people to socialize, participate in activities or purchase goods, is a simple way to promote the use of active transportation, since destinations would be shorter and more easily reached via walking or cycling.
In order to entice people to shop and play locally, however, we need to look at what we provide in the way of destinations. Are there shops with goods that people want and need? Are there activities for various age groups and abilities? Have we provided places for people to sit down and rest, either alone or with others? Are there open spaces with grass for picnics or play spaces for children?
A growing number of communities in Calgary have been working to make their neighbourhoods more people friendly, with weekly events such as farmers markets, art installations or little free libraries, tables and chairs or other informal seating. These are just a few examples of how we can begin to create destinations for people to walk or cycle to, that will ultimately build the active, vibrant, and liveable neighbourhoods we want for our communities.
Roxanne LeBlanc, BSW, MSc is an avid cyclist and is a member of the Active Neighborhoods project’s steering committee.
Check back next week for an update on the Active Neighbourhoods project’s progress and more info on our upcoming Walk and Talks. In the interim, check out the energizing Happy Commuting Playlist we’ve been assembling to kickstart your morning commute.
Active Transportation is about getting around by using your own steam, be that walking, biking, and even transit. It may seem strange that transit is in that same mix, but since there are usually fairly significant portions of a trip that are spent walking (be that to a transit stop or to your destination after you leave transit), it often qualifies under the active transportation umbrella. These travel options also happen to be more sustainable since they require fewer resources to get from A to B and also require less capital investment from the City in order to be accommodated. The City of Calgary’s Sustainability Triangle illustrates the progression of sustainable transportation modes.
Planning for active transportation is about having options. The problem is that we haven’t designed our cities with walkability in mind, meaning that we haven’t designed our cities so that short trips can occur. Nowadays progressive city builders (urban designers, transportation engineers and land use planners) consider short trips as a key indicator of a sustainable and vibrant urban fabric. As with life, a specialized tool kit is necessary, meaning that getting around our city requires walking, biking, driving and utilizing transit.
The City of Calgary has an overarching guiding policy to ensure that our city is built to allow for choices. Making sure that we as a community are focused on creating an environment that invites a number of modes, is important in ensuring our communities remain or become more connected.
Ryan Martinson M.Eng., P.Eng. is a Sustainable Calgary board member and sits on the Active Neighbourhoods steering committee. Check back for upcoming information on his neighbourhood walk and talks in June.