Creative Ways to Communicate Mobility in Cities

Intersection

Navigating cities can be a challenge for anybody with mobility issues due to a lack of infrastructure and poor communication. Decades of efforts to improve urban design have made a positive difference while more recently apps for mobiles have come into existence. Not all solutions are valued by everyone, but the upward trend of making our neighbourhoods more accessible is a thing we should all appreciate.

People have been crowdsourcing accessibility data far longer than apps have been around. Disability activists have been drawing maps by hand for decadesto prove the need for curb cuts, wheelchair ramps, signage, and other features that make public access possible, particularly for wheelchair users. In cities such as Berkeley, California, and Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, environmental audits, mapmaking, ad-hoc design practices, and “guerrilla urbanism” have enabled wheelchair and power-chair users to get around otherwise inaccessible cities by, for example, fashioning curb cuts from found materials.

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Ship Slowly for Greener Online Shopping

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It’s that time of year when people buy objects for others because of social obligations or religious practices. When purchasing goods we obviously need to think about the story behind the things being bought (who made it, where it comes from, etc.). If you’re buying stuff online then you should also think about shipping methods beyond the quickest. It turns out online shopping can be the greener option as long as you don’t use the fastest shipping option. Of course, like many environmental issues this one can also be solved by not buying useless stuff.

A 2013 study from MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics calculated that the carbon footprint of a traditional shopper purchasing a toy in a store is higher than that of someone who buys the same thing online with regular shipping (more about that later).

That’s because parcel carriers use a more efficient delivery system than you driving to the mall, and the carbon footprint of a website is smaller than that of a brick-and-mortar store.

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Thanks to Delaney!

How San Francisco Helps Culture Survive Gentrification

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Major cities around the world continually grabble with the complexity of gentrification, at the recent World Cities Culture Summit San Francisco shared what they do. One of the city’s approaches is to protect cultural organizations that are unique to their neighbourhood. The idea is to protect what makes the city special while also keeping culture accessible to everyone. Indeed, what they’ve done is so effective that other cities are starting to copy it.

Like an idea London recently stole from San Francisco to reduce cultural displacement — Community Arts Stabilization Trust — or CAST for short.

“London has been completely inspired by the San Francisco CAST model, to the extent that we are setting up our own version of it,” Simons said.

CAST is a nonprofit real estate development and holding company that helps arts groups secure space through long-term below-market leases and a lease-to-own model funded by philanthropy and other sources. It has raised $36 million to support a handful of projects since 2013.

The company has also helped nonprofit cultural groups keep the lights on in the shorter term, through providing $1.8 million in grants and technical assistance to date.

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Talented, Smart People Want to Take Transit

Good Street from Streetmix

The amount of people who want to drive to work is dropping while the people wanting to take transit is increasing. This is happening despite of 100 years of car-focused urban planing in North America. Companies are finding that if they want to attract smart and talented people then they need to locate themselves along transit lines and not highways. This is a very good sign for a future where getting around is more efficient than today’s selfish car culture.

So instead of having 97 percent of McDonald’s corporate employees commuting to work with each of them alone in a car, Malec says, “right now, we have I think around 90 percent of our folks are arriving in a nonautomobile fashion.”

Chicago isn’t the only region experiencing this business boom along transit lines. From Seattle to St. Louis and Minneapolis to Atlanta, studies show that companies are relocating to be near transit lines, as they seek to attract workers, especially millennials, who prefer living in more urban areas and increasingly don’t want the long, driving commutes of their parents’ generation.

“Talent is choosing to ride transit,” says Audrey Wennink, director of transportation at Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council, a regional nonprofit research and advocacy organization on urban issues, and co-author of a new study indicating that more and more businesses want to be located close to rail and bus stations.

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Customers of Barclays Threaten to Leave Over Tar Sands

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Customers of banks are getting sick of their money being spent on destroying the world so they’re doing something about it. The Dirty Dozen banks are a group of banks that Greenpeace argues are the worst when it comes to investing. Barclays is one of those banks thanks to their investments in the shameful Canadian tar sands. Greenpeace started their awareness campaign and now people are taking the next step by losing their accounts with Barclays. It’s a great direct action to send an important message.

Of those who signed the petition, 6,000 told the environmental group that they were ready to close their accounts if Barclays did not heed their warning, while some said they had already done so.

“Moving your bank account is quite a big undertaking so we were genuinely surprised when people started doing it without us even suggesting it,” said Greenpeace oil campaigner Hannah Martin.

“This new information shows that the opposition to Barclays funding dirty tar sands projects isn’t just broad, but deep.

“People are prepared to put themselves through a bit of bureaucratic hassle to try to persuade their bank to do the right thing.”

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