Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jargon and Crickets: Who is the Intended Audience for Gil Penalosa? - Updated

So tonight is Gil Penalosa's talk on 8 to 80 Cities and the Ciclovia movement, but who will be attending? There's no mention of the talk in the paper today! (There's more on closing streets for a movie production and filming than on closing the streets for Citizens to walk and bike...)

For whom, even, outside of transportation geeks who already know of Penalosa, for whom is the talk intended? At this point, it looks like a state secret for insiders only!

The Facebook is an imperfect proxy for publicity and interest, of course, but it seems to be the way a lot of stuff is shared and discussed in Salem.  So let's visit some public Facebook pages!

Cherriots own publicity, alas, talks past those who aren't already in the know:

Cherrots Facebook:  "Active Transportation Expert"
If you aren't already participating in conversations about "active transportation" - if you're not already a transportation geek in on the jargon - who the heck wants to attend a talk by an "active transportation expert"?  Shouldn't the lede be about kids and seniors and walking and a good civic life?

The post has been shared twice, it looks like, but comments on the post are all about the lack of weekend bus service.  No one from Cherriots has tried to redirect conversation or elicit interest in the talk. Cherriots doesn't seem to be very engaged with the Facebook.  (How much does Cherriots really care if anyone attends?)

As for electeds, the City Councilor who might most be expected to be excited - because she is married to Cherriots' Director of Transportation Development, Steve Dickey - hasn't posted it to her own Facebook.

Nothing on Councilor Dickey's Page
Nor does it make a ripple on the City of Salem's Neighborhood Services page...

Nothing on the City's Neighborhood Services Page
Or even Salem Sunday Streets, an event modeled on Penalosa's own Ciclovia.

Sunday Streets inactive since September
It's not on the YMCA "Pioneering Healthier Communities" project, nor on the County's Community Health Improvement Partnership.  Who are the allies and other sympathetic partners?  Where is the talk making waves?  (Do you know of pockets where it is being discussed?)

Based on the sample of Facebookery, there's no buzz here. (This also raises questions about how social media is used in official and semi-official capacities:  It's not being used very actively, and maybe more crucially it's used for announcements, but maybe not much for "conversation," for the sharing and back-n-forth that is "social.")

So really, who except an inner coterie of people who already know who Gil Penalosa is, who outside of this circle is likely to be interested in and even know about this talk?

How do we pop the bubble and get stuff like this out of the echo chamber?

On the face of it, this looks like a missed opportunity to talk about the value of walking and biking, about creating more livable neighborhoods, about investing in public space and public events.

Update from a Cherriots Board member!
Update, 2: Eugene - with Electeds!

Update 3, March 4th

Here's the full presentation!


Laurie Dougherty said...

There's this article in the 2/5/14 Salem Weekly (no byline but I wrote the article. I didn't write the headline but I do hope to still be riding a bike when I'm 80)

Also this item I put in the SW calendar:

Also, Straub Environmental Center sent an email blast about it to their list.

I will be interviewing Gil Penalosa later this afternoon before his presentation for an article in the next Salem Weekly.

Mike D said...

You're right that the public and interested groups needed more notice. i didn't see anything in the SJ recently. Maybe tomorrow's paper?

As for local gov't officials, i didn't see anyone from Keizer (although three Planning Commission members were there) or Salem (although I don't know them by face. There was at least one Planing Commission member there). i think there should have been State government officials there too. As one of the major employers who has a big impact on the design of Salem, they should be there and actively engaged in making Salem and Keizer better places.

Ultimately, we need to keep banging the drum loudly for the things we know to be right.

Brian Hines said...

I hugely enjoyed Penalosa's talk. Great energy and passion. Even with two hours of talking and PowerPointing.

Afterwards I wondered why the organizers didn't capture contact information for those attending. If there is going to be follow-up efforts to make Salem into an 8-80 city, people and organizations of all sorts need to put pressure on public officials to make this happen.

Most important thing is changing those officials. Getting a new Mayor, City Manager, Public Works Director, and City Council would go a long way toward making Salem into the sort of place Penalosa talked about last night.

It was frustrating to see his photos and videos of public officials in other cities embracing these much-needed changes, when it's obvious that Salem lacks any public official (so far as I know) who will stand up strongly for the 8-80 vision.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

two quick twitter updates

Curt said...

It was best attendance so far of any of the experts that have visited Salem so far. Not just the usual suspects.

I also appreciated the mayor in the state of the city address taking on the downtown business interests that have sabotaged whatever steps the city has taken to implement the 8-80 vision. As Gil said, people don't want to be the pioneer because the pioneer gets the arrow in the back.

A few of those people shooting the arrows were in the audience last night. It doesn't sound like the talk has caused much self reflection among that group.

Laurie Dougherty said...

The people who don't care about an 8-80 city are not the ones who are going to get it done. I understand that many people here are burned out & frustrated from years of trying to get things done. But who else is going to preach beyond the choir if we don't? Too bad there's no BoB blog post here today following up on Gil Penalosa's talk that we could cite and link to.

My own frustration is different, being from Boston I do know that, alas, Salem is not Boston, but I don't know what Salem is or what Salem could be. What's a good model for Salem? Portland, Corvallis, Eugene - similar regional and regulatory environment? Chattanooga, TN - similar population size with renowned sustainability initiatives (really Chattanooga, check it out)? Boulder, CO - "well known for its bicycle culture, boasts hundreds of miles of bicycle-pedestrian paths, lanes, and routes that interconnect to create a renowned network of bikeways usable year-round"? Wikipedia)

There's video (at least right now) at the Statesman Journal of the part of the Mayor's speech dealing with "no such thing as free parking." The Mayor gets it about parking, doesn't get it about the 3rd Bridge. These (and other) issues need to be considered in the same frame: cars are the problem. Multi-modal transportation (walk, bike, transit) is the solution.

Anonymous said...

I was pleased to see the under-60 crowd better represented in the audience than at other civic-related events I've attended in the past few years. The City of Salem Budget Committee met last night, so our local elected officials have a solid alibi if asked why they didn't attend the presentation. Laura Tesler was there, but she will be out of office at the end of this year so it will be interesting to see what she does with all this inspiring information in her last months as a councilor.

I think Mr. P has an "if you build it, they will come" view of infrastructure designed for pedestrians and cyclists, and this view appears to be supported by the many examples he shared of successful re-design projects in cities of all sizes and on almost all continents. He encouraged Salem to seek out the best examples of pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly design and projects in cities similar to Salem--same size, same climate, same topography (I think he included topography...not sure). A great project for someone ready to take this on.

Different things Mr. P said have been popping into my mind all day today. I know someone was recording the presentation, but the Cherriots rep I asked about it didn't know who was doing the recording or if it would be available for later viewing.

Laurie Dougherty said...

Someone from Cherriots told me it was being recorded for CCTV. She wasn't sure when it would be shown.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with video