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It is of great significance that a major Texan city wedded to the automobile has created a main square free of traffic. Sundance Square, framed by fine early 20th century buildings, transforms two parking lots into the pedestrian heart of Fort Worth. The IMCL Awards Competition Jury selected Sundance Square to receive the IMCL Honor Award for “Excellence in creating Public Places for Community, Democratic Dialogue, Health & Equity” at the recent 54th IMCL Conference in Santa Fe, October 2-6.

Did you miss the conference in Santa Fe but wish you could still read the papers and view the slideshows? Perhaps you attended the conference but didn't get a chance to see all the presentations and wish you could fill in the gaps. In either case, the eConference is your ticket!

Every day, there are people who leave their home and feel unsafe in the world. They experience inescapable threats to their lives and livelihood from the system that has been built up around them, forced to move through spaces that feel at best uninviting and at worst mortally dangerous. These people are not abstractions. They are your friends and your neighbors, members of your community, your loved ones.

IMCL is delighted to announce that the 55th IMCL Conference will take place in Ottawa, May 14-18, 2018, with the very active partnership of the City, and will focus on the immensely important theme of Healthy, 10-Minute Neighborhoods.  

Efforts are under way around the world to create healthy neighborhoods where walking, biking and public transit are more attractive, reducing dependence on the car. We all know this is the most important way to assure an active, sustainable future for our grandchildren, and to fight climate change.

By Taylor Campi

I spent a large portion of my recent 4-day trip to St. Louis, Missouri, in the suburbs west of the city. As is true in the majority of American suburbs, the development and activity in this part of town revolve heavily around the use of cars. I first noticed this on my 6-minute walk from the Metro Link light rail stop to my hotel. The hotel is a massive 8-story rectangular structure that juts noticeably from its rather flat surroundings, and is clearly visible from the light rail stop (photo below). To reach it, however, one must cross under the interstate and through a number of large parking lots.

By Hannah Jarman-Miller

Sunday Parkways was hosted in my neighborhood this past weekend. Organized in partnership by the City of Portland and Kaiser Permanente, Sunday Parkways is a free event where streets are entirely or partially closed to car traffic so that community members can discover and engage in active transportation in a safe and welcoming space. It is an amazing feeling to move through a street where pedestrian safety and mobility is the clear priority. Families with young children learning how to be on a bicycle in the public realm, and not feeling threatened by a vehicular presence.

By Hannah Jarman-Miller

When you consider your favorite building, what does it look like? What drew you to notice it, and which pieces of its construction stick out in you when you go to describe it to someone else? When we think of the structures that surround us, we might consider it valuable that we have a coffee shop down the street or a grocery store around the corner. However, the aesthetics of our built environment are playing an essential role in guiding the emotional state of our daily life that is just as significant as the functional purposes that these buildings serve. So, why is it important for a building to be beautiful, and from what impetus does our aesthetic variety grow?  

By Hannah Jarman-Miller

The Zupan’s in my neighborhood closed recently. After nearly 20 years of occupying a mixed use private-public space in SE Portland, a design that spurred much of the development on the changing Belmont strip, the grocery store closed its doors, leaving the space vacant with an uncertain future. I felt unmoved, perceiving that I had many other options at my disposal. I couldn’t help but think of the Whole Foods less than a mile away. However, the comings and goings of grocery stores have ramifications much deeper than whether you can still have your pick of preferred produce provider.  A growing body of research suggests that the suburbanization of food retailers in North America in recent decades has contributed to the emergence of urban 'food deserts', or disadvantaged areas of cities with relatively poor access to healthy and affordable food[i].

By Hannah Jarman-Miller

Laurelhurst Park is one of my favorite places in Portland. Once the site of a prestigious cattle farm, the area was sold to the City of Portland in 1911 when the east side neighborhoods were beginning to develop and the land became too valuable for agriculture. The area was converted into a public park, intentionally designed to serve the needs of the growing community, which it has continued to do for many generations. It was even named the most beautiful park on the west coast in 1919, and though it may not hold this title in 2017, it is still one of the most beautiful parts of my day.

by Hannah Jarman-Miller

This time of year is intertwined with a deep and sudden compulsion to be outside. As the first sunny days of spring begin to bloom, and the world becomes welcoming again, I often find myself drawn out to meandering walks through my neighborhood. As an apartment dweller, I don’t have an outside space to call my own. Instead, I turn to my city to provide me the lush backyard, shady patio, and front porch view that I so long for on this particular kind of spring day.

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