Saturday, February 1, 2014

Two Visions of the State of the City February 19th?

Salem will be hopping on Wednesday the 19th!

Not sure if this is an unfortunate or a felicitous coincidence, but that day at noon the Mayor will give her State of the City address:
Salem Mayor Anna M. Peterson will present the 2014 State of the City Address at noon on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, in the Salem Conference Center.

Mayor Peterson will highlight her vision for the coming year and report on the accomplishments from the past year, particularly the results of public‐private partnerships and other projects that the City funded or otherwise supported. Economic Development activity will highlight the speech with emphasis on the City’s collaboration with SEDCOR, the State of Oregon, and the business community. City Councilors will join the Mayor for this event and are looking forward to the opportunity for community dialogue.
Later that same day, another civic leader will be giving a talk, and it could provide an interesting contrast - certainly it will be more cosmopolitan and less informed about specifically local conditions. It may also offer very different notions of what constitutes a good civic life.

Cherriots is bringing Gil Penalosa of the 8-80 Cities project to Salem, and if you enjoyed Sunday Streets in September, you already know one of the most important things about Penalosa.
As former Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the City of Bogotá, Colombia, Gil successfully led the design and development of over 200 parks of which Simón Bolívar, a 360 hectare park in the heart of the city is the best known; here he created the Summer Festival, with over 100 events in 10 days and more than 3 million people attending, making it the main annual recreational and cultural event in the country. Gil’s team also initiated the “new Ciclovia”— a program which sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday, and today it's internationally recognized and emulated.

Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for all: from 8 to 80 years old. His focus is the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as on sustainable mobility. As Executive Director of the Canadian non-profit organization 8-80 Cities for the past six years, Gil has worked in over 130 different cities in all continents.
As we think about our "ornamental emptinesses" at the Civic Center, and the prevailing auto-centric environment on our streets, largely inhospitable for anyone else - people on foot, on bike, in wheelchairs - it might be that this talk will say more about the "State of the City" than anything Mayor Peterson might say.

Mirror Pond from Liberty, empty at 5pm on a weekday

Peace Plaza. empty on a weekday at closing time
In addition to having good and active public spaces, a 8-80 city is one that meets the popsicle test - can you send your eight-year-old out on her own to get a popsicle? Do you trust the street enough that your 80 year-old grandmother can get groceries by walking and/or transit? Do the streets function for people who aren't making a drive-alone trip? Do the streets and development patterns support public health, or get in the way of it?

One of our giant stroads:
Even with low traffic, do you send your 8-year old out on it?
Can your 80-year old grandmother take the bus and cross it?
There aren't many streets in Salem that meet an 8-80 standard, and it would be great to create more of them. Great to accelerate implementation of what we've adopted already, and great to raise the standards for what we've yet to adopt.

Salem right now has all these semi-dormant studies - Bike and Walk Salem, the Downtown Mobility Study, the River Crossing Alternate Modes Study.  There are plenty of adopted plans with projects that express the 8-80 ideals to various degrees, but most of the projects are not funded, and none of them have much urgency behind them.  Sunday Streets is scheduled for one day only in 2014.

Penalosa's lecture will be an opportunity to introduce more people to the concepts and to build more support to take to City Council and our neighborhoods. 

The lecture will be Wednesday, February 19th at 6:30pm at the Willamette University College of Law, 245 Winter St. SE, in the John C. Paulus Great Hall.


Jim Scheppke said...

Kudos to the Transit District for bringing Penalosa to Salem. Go listen to him and then read Happy Cities by Charles Montgomery and you'll be a convert.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

Totally support and applaud the Transit Board for bringing this speaker and his wonderful ideas to Salem. Too often we think in terms of bigger is better.

I am tired of Salem policy makers making decisions to build huge traffic projects that cost millions and make it harder and harder for people to live in their presence. If we had better design standards we would not need to waste millions of dollars just to accommodate cars...faster and faster...more and more cars!