August 27, 2009

An urban vacant lot blossoms, if only briefly

Great column in the Globe yesterday about an outdoor film festival in Chinatown this week:
An event that brings the city to life without a lifetime of planning and divine intervention; it belongs completely to the neighborhood while drawing people from all over; it converts an urban dead spot into a vital place.

“People come around that corner, and instead of the vacant lot, they see Christmas lights and people sitting there eating takeout and watching a movie, and it’s remarkable,’’ says Sam Davol, who plays cello with the band The Magnetic Fields, and helped start the program after moving to Chinatown with his wife, Leslie, and their two kids four years ago.

It's a great and innovative idea on how to bring a sense of community - and some enjoyment - to a usually empty space. Definitely worth reading in full ... and then perhaps pondering how that spirit could spread to events in other communities.

August 24, 2009

Separating traffic and sidewalk

It's so much more pleasant to walk on a sidewalk when that sidewalk is separated from traffic whizzing by. That separation can be as simple as on-street parking or as pleasant as an actual landscaping buffer.

Main Street, Lenox

That came to mind a couple of weeks ago when we were in Lenox in western Mass., and there was an extremely wide buffer between the sidewalk and traffic in an area of Main Street without on-street parking. This buffer and a pleasant streetscape makes for an enormously more appealing walking environment than just sticking a sidewalk right next to the street (as is done way too often in Framingham).

Don't let the lack of pedestrians in the photo fool you into thinking people don't walk here. I actually waited quite awhile to find a time where I could get a picture without a lot of people blocking the view!