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Archive for May, 2011

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It always feels a little strange to say Happy Memorial Day, since it is, after all, a day of remembrance of those who gave their lives. But even with such somber undertones it is certainly a day of celebration. Whatever your politics, the men and women who put their lives on the line (and sometimes lose them) deserve respect, support, and admiration. We can’t bring back those we’ve lost, but we can honor their sacrifice and let their families know how much their service means to us!

So, come out today for the Memorial Day Parade on Main Street (starts at Osprey) from 10am until noon!! The Laurel Park Management team will be there, as will many of our neighbors. There will be food, drink, and fun aplenty. See you there!

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You mean, besides the Arts & Crafts fest downtown, the triathlon on Siesta Key, or just good old-fashioned beachgoing? 🙂 Well, yes. We thought we’d let you know about two great offerings on tap in and around Sarasota over the next couple days—one for the family, and one the kiddies are better off sitting out.

The first—

Got bikes? Then grab the whole family to join Sarasota County and Carlton Reserve volunteer David Reynolds and his family for an off road wilderness bicycle ride through the beautiful T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve (Carlton Reserve) on Sunday, May 15, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. for approximately 1 to 2 hours. Expect to see lots of wildlife!

More information can be found here.

Then, on Monday, Ringling Museum of Art continues its Monday night movies series with the classic chiller Silence of the Lambs. For those who haven’t seen it, the Oscar-winning flick stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in iconic roles that you won’t soon forget…let’s just say eating Fava beans or sipping a nice Chianti will never be quite the same. Movies are screened at the historic Asolo theater beginning at 7pm and only cost 7 bucks. For more info, click here.

Have a great weekend!

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Andres Duany has been a polarizing figure in Sarasota ever since he and his firm helped author the downtown master plan in 2000. While some of his recommendations warrant criticism, it is probably more his demeanor that creates controversy. After all, Duany has referred to local governance in Sarasota as “ass-backwards” and “prissy,” among other things. Equal parts planner and provocateur, Duany (and his outsized personality) is largely responsible for building New Urbanism into both a legitimate force in planning and a divisive polemic.

Without agreeing with everything Duany has to say, we at Laurel Park Management support the tenets of New Urbanism and Duany’s efforts to apply them to Sarasota. We think walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, slower traffic, and better connectivity are great things. We think that downtown should continue to be Sarasota’s epicenter, and that there is work to be done to insure its future as such. And even the traditional architecture most commonly associated with New Urbanism is a natural fit for Laurel Park and the other historic neighborhoods of Sarasota, what with our history of Florida cracker bungalows. Again, without agreeing on every point, we think the man has provided a pretty good roadmap for Sarasota to follow.

Change is never easy. Especially in a place like Sarasota. It wasn’t so long ago that we were essentially a small village. It wasn’t so long ago that Siesta Key was a virtually uninhabited frontier, or that Bee Ridge was a barely-there path cutting through the wilderness. It was a special time in a special place, carefree and far removed from the responsibilities and troubles of city life. But we should all be careful not to gild the past too much. We shouldn’t forget that Sarasota was built by city people, with city money. That it supported a railroad. And that no matter how great the past was the future is always something different. Our task as a community is to thrive again in a new context, a more urban context, without losing some of those aspects of the past that we all remember so fondly. New Urbanism seems to be a good fit for such a future.

Laurel Park Management encourages residents to check out the master plan for downtown Sarasota and draw their own conclusions. We encourage you to walk around Laurel Park, Gillespie Park, Main Street, the bayfront…what do you see that moves you? That charms you? Where do you like to linger, or to meet friends? What paths do you seek out, and which ones do you avoid? Does the master plan speak to your concerns?

Duany might not be making too many friends by saying to our city, “I’m sorry, but you have to grow up,” but he has a point. That which doesn’t, dies. We do have to grow up, and we are. Growing pains are inevitable. But by embracing growth—maturation, not necessarily expansion—we can help guide the process. We will, however, have to abandon simple slogans and in-fighting (the “no boss mayor” campaign comes to mind). We can’t be one-issue voters. We will have to accept that Sarasota’s future will be more urban (and, consequently, urbane) than our past. We will have to treat each other and the issues at hand with respect and deep consideration.

It’s all well and fine for Duany to speak in sound bites; he is a public figure and a salesman for the ideology he helped coalesce. But let us be a bit more measured in our internal discussions while giving honest evaluations of the recommendations Duany has given us. By looking past the rhetoric, we might just find that the path to the future is right in front of us, and that it isn’t so scary after all.

For more from Duany, check out this recent article from metropolismag.com

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