Last night the Founders Square neighborhood hosted Musical Front Porches. We picked up a map at the Washington Street cemetery and wandered around to the 11 participating homes that were hosting musicians on their porches. Folks of all ages were walking, skateboarding, biking and driving from site to site. Some folks decided to stay in one place and set out lawn chairs to enjoy the evening. I was impressed by all of the musicians and the overall energy of the event. It was fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. Once again, Geneva proves what a great little city it is.
This past spring, I spent a few days in Montreal right in the thick of the student protests. For those who are unfamiliar with Canadian politics, the protest began in response to a proposed increase in university tuition fees. Every night, a large mass of people meandered through the city parks and streets with their message of resistance. It was something else – check out this video, below.
The lively street energy wasn’t just a product of the night-time protest — it was also alive and bustling during the day. I think the lovely built environment and the transportation network are at least partially to thank for this phenomenon. I was traveling with a friend who was five months pregnant and we had no trouble managing on foot, bus and subway. We did, however, choose to leave the bike share for next time.
Our hotel was located near UQAM (l’Université du Québec à Montréal) as well as the gay neighbourhood. Saint Catherine Street, the main street in the gay village, was closed to all car traffic and remained so for the whole summer. We wandered this festive street many times and enjoyed the people watching, the food, the art installations and the generally fun-filled atmosphere. As I headed back to Geneva, I was exhausted by all the walking but exhilarated from the trip. Montreal is a great city for a number of reasons, not the least of which, is the ability to amble along and enjoy the action taking place on the street.
I am slowly coming out of summer hibernation and have a whole bunch of AMAZING things to highlight. Check this stuff out:
Geneva Photo Walk: Join local photographer Kevin Colton on October 13, 2012 at 4 pm at HWS for a free Photo Walk of Geneva. For more information or to register, please visit the worldwide photo walk website. This event brings together a bunch of things that I really enjoy – walking, photography and Geneva!
Love Geneva: The facebook page for this group describes Love Geneva as “an independent, grass-roots movement supporting economic and social sustainability in Geneva, NY”. This past weekend they organized a cash-mob and encouraged folks to show some love to local hardware store, FA Church.
Bicycle Astronomy: According to the website, “the idea of Bicycle Astronomy is to pair a long-tailed cargo bicycle with a telescope and run sustainable, spontaneous star parties around the city.” Living on the west coast I thought I had seen every kind of bike imaginable. But I was wrong. I had yet to see a star bike toting a telescope around town.
How innovative is this stuff? I love that all three initiatives are pedestrian-oriented (the hardware store is in our little walkable downtown). Gooooo Geneva!
In some cities, folks don’t ask permission to improve their communities, they just go ahead and make change. For instance, the City Repair project in Portland started when a group of neighbours decided to spruce up their hood. They installed a bookcase where people can lend and borrow books, they added benches and they painted intersections. They did all of this without asking for permission. This kind of guerrilla urbanism is being chronicled by Street Plans Collective, an urban planning, design and advocacy firm. The label loosely associated with this kind of stuff is called “tactical urbanism“.
Another example of tactical urbanism is yarn bombing, or covering trees, poles, bikes, statues, or anything at all, really, with yarn. Today, we were down at the water enjoying some ice cream and noticed that the pier has been delightfully yarn bombed. Little, rural Geneva has some creative folks who have spruced up the pier. I’ve included a few pictures, below, but it’s worth checking it out for yourself the next time that you’re down at the water.
Tactical Urbanism recently included this post on their Facebook page. Since most of our public space in cities is paved (roads and parking), communities are asking themselves whether or not this is really the best use of this public resource. Other examples include the City Repair Project in Portland and International Park(ing) Day.
This is a picture of a park(ing) space in Victoria, BC.
Rust Belt recently posted an article about this fun initiative called Group Hug, which is taking place in Cleveland. Sponsored by Saving Cities, Group Hug asks residents to hug what they love about their city and then submit a photo, which will later be displayed at a Group Hug party. What a great idea, eh? I’ll have to think about my Geneva Hug picture and get back to you on this one.
It reminds me of this thing that happened in Toronto a few years ago — someone spray painted “I love you” all over town (check it out here). Regardless of where you fall on the graffiti/art debate, you can’t help but smile when you see “I love you” – especially out of context like that. Or maybe it’s the prefect context. I dunno.
The folks at Atlantic City blog just posted an article about these guerrilla wayfinding signs in Raleigh, NC. Aren’t they great? I’m always surprised at how quickly you can actually get places by walking. I just realized that it only takes me 10 mins to get to the Geneva Public Library from my apartment. I often drove there because it was “downtown” (which is really freakin’ close).
Speaking of signs, have you noticed these new neighbourhood signs around town? The Geneva Resource Center posted this picture on facebook a few weeks ago. Another great idea.