The Urban Times has a great piece on “10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space“. It speaks volumes to the work we are trying to do with the Local Initiative in Chandler. So lets take a look at what we have done to strengthen these areas.
1. Improve Streets as Public Places
When we first came to downtown Chandler we helped push for the widening of pedestrian ways, including adding benches and trees for shade. In fact, it won an International Downtown Association Award. We have pushed for the city to close Arizona Avenue on a more regular basis for events starting with the Chandler Block Party. We have a long way to go, but we are making a dent.
2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations
We have worked with the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership to strengthen the Chandler Farmer’s Market and the Chandler Art Walk in the historic town square and AJ Chandler Park. We have encouraged a number of events and expansion of the park to include a stage for 10,000+ person events such as the Great American BBQ and Beer Festival.
3. Build Local Economies through Markets
Once again the Artwalk and Farmers market are key examples, but Gangplank itself is an example of a bustling market for ideas.
4. Design Buildings to Support Place
We are working closely with the City on a number of RFPs for new building and have been active in zoning, adaptive reuse code and encouraging of pedestrian flow to connect all parts of the downtown area including access to public transportation.
5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda
We have failed here. We have tried a number of attempts to various bicycle depots and other connectivity. We have been moderately successful with the Gangplank Mile (GP Health) getting people out of their office and walking around downtown.
6. Reinvent Community Planning
Between City Camp AZ, Vibrant Phoenix, The Manifesto Project and various other events we have significantly changed the engagement level of residents by including them in the process of defining the future.
7. Power of 10
Gangplank, San Tan Brewing, Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler Library, Vision Gallery, Paletas Betty, Vintage 95, Bourbon Jacks, and more. We are getting closer, but still working on this one.
8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda
We have started discussions with the City but it is slow going. Change is hard. We have a few things up our sleeve.
9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment
We recently did a community garden using a neighbors front yard. We have done pop up events and played with space. We can do better here but we are trying.
10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces
It is hard, but it is happening. We meet with the city every two weeks and share ideas and explore new possibilities. Working towards a relationship of mutual respect and trust in building great public space together.
I am also President of the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership so my work with the Local Initiative and the DCCP blurs greatly. The Local initiative has a direct influence on the work in every way.
What are you doing for your community?