The 12 traits of a walkable community

What makes a walkable community? Dan Burden gives us the 12 most important things to rate when searching for a Walkable Community. Note how they apply so well to smaller towns:

1. Intact town centers. This center includes a quiet, pleasant main street with a hearty, healthy set of stores.

2. Residential densities, mixed income, mixed use. Near the town center, and in a large town at appropriate transit locations there will be true neighborhoods.

3. Public Space. There are many places for people to assemble, play and associate with others within their neighborhood.

Read all 12 at the Walkable Communities Web site.

— photo via stock.xchng

Lewis Mumford told it like it is

Quotes from Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), American historian of technology and science:

Architecture, like government, is about as good as a community deserves.
– Sticks and Stones, 1924

Mind takes form in the city; and in turn, urban forms condition mind.
– The Culture of Cities, 1938

Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.
– 1979

The right to access every building in the city by private motorcar, in an age when everyone owns such a vehicle, is actually the right to destroy the city.
– 1961

Restore human legs as a means of travel. Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities.

Hat tip: hugeasscity (yes, that’s what it’s called)

Can you reuse a parking structure?

One of the best features of a typical urban stone or brick building is that it’s adaptable. A former clothing store can become a bank, or apartments, or offices.

But what about parking garages? Can an underused parking garage be adapted to other uses in the future, or are we stuck with having to tear them down if we want something else? Can we even convert one or two floors into something else?

Although it’s been successful in some instances, David Sucher thinks you’re stuck with it.

Here are three necessities that he says are missing from most parking structures:

  • “Adequate” headroom for a range of typical uses.
  • Minimum ramps and maximum level floor plates as you don’t want to have to contend with a Guggenheim Museum ramp.
  • “Adequate” floor loads as believe it or not cars are not that heavy.

Read David’s entry here.

photo by Fetchy

James Howard Kunstler: The tragedy of suburbia (video)

Anthony, who lives in suburbia but who is a good sport about it, passes along this link to a James Howard Kunstler filmed in February 2004 and posted at TED. As that Web site says:

“In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.”

Warning: Contains coarse language.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.555525&w=425&h=350&] from posted with vodpod

What is the most crying need of the church in America today?

Here is how Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, answers the question, emphasizing the importance of cities:

I’m throwing in with Jim Boice on this one (cf. his Two Cities: Two Loves.)

The evangelical church must stay true to its biblical foundations, and it must maintain and enhance the effectiveness of its expository preaching, the holiness of its members, the ‘thickness’ of its counter-cultural community, the fervor of its evangelism. But if it doesn’t learn how to do this in our biggest cities then we don’t have much hope for our culture.

If our cities are largely pagan while our countryside is largely Christian, then our society and culture will continue to slide into paganism. And that is exactly what is happening. Christians strengthen somewhat away from the cities and they have made some political gains, but that is not effecting cultural products much. It is because in the center cities (NYC, Boston, LA, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC) the percentages of people living and working there who are Christians are minuscule.

Jim Boice proposed that evangelical Christians need to live in the major cities at a higher percentage than the population at large (See Two Cities, p.163ff.) Currently 50% of the U.S. population live in urban areas (and 25% lives in just the 10 largest urban areas.) Boice proposes that evangelicals should be living in cities in at least the same percentages or more. As confirmation of Boice’s belief consider how much impact both the Jewish and the gay communities have had on our culture. Why? Though neither is more than 3-4% of the total population, they each comprise over 20% of the population of Manhattan (and in other center cities. )

So we have two problems. First, evangelicals (especially Anglos) in general are quite negative about U.S. cities and city living. Second, you can’t ‘do church’ in exactly the same way in a city as you do it elsewhere, not if you want to actually convert hard-core secular people to Christianity. There are churches that set up in cities without adapting to their environment. Ironically, they can grow rather well anyway in cities by just gathering in the young already-evangelicals who are temporarily living in the city after college. But that is not the way to make the cities heavily Christian-which is the crying need today.

— Hat tip: Justin Taylor. Photo by Francois Schnell