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Archive for June, 2011

 

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Walkscore.com, the top online evaluator of a neighborhood’s walkability, has given Laurel Park a rating of 85 out of 100, good for 3rd place (mere percentage points behind downtown and the Rosemary District) among Sarasota’s 31 ranked neighborhoods. Of course, this only confirms what we’ve long known—Laurel Park’s location is nearly ideal! We can walk to restaurants and shopping, walk to services such as supermarkets and hair salons, walk to parks, walk to the bay, walk to Main Street. For those of us employed downtown, walking to work is a breeze.

Here’s what Walk Score had to say:

Laurel Park is the #3 most walkable neighborhood in Sarasota. This neighborhood is Very Walkable with an average Walk Score of 85. Laurel Park has 1,579 people—or 3% of Sarasota’s population.

Laurel Park is similar in walkability to Downtown and Original Gillespie Park. Laurel Park’s Walk Score is 28 points higher than Sarasota’s Walk Score of 57.

Not too shabby.

 

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Some places just feel right. The buildings, the street, the proportions, the trees, the aesthetics, the uses—in some places they all converge to create little nuggets of urban perfection. Certain medieval Italian vias and French boulevards come to mind, but so do many minor nameless roads in American towns and cities. These are the places people find themselves gravitating towards, sometimes for no more explicable reason than that they feel good to be in. Today’s post puts Laurel Park’s own Hawkins Court under the microscope.

Why? Because every time I walk it I start thinking about how cities are laid out almost exclusively for cars (and what a shame that is), about the variety of rights of ways that we rarely avail ourselves of, and about how important moments of discovery are to the urban experience. I start thinking about how and why this insignificant little road, barely more than an alley, draws me back again and again, and about what it can teach us about urban design. Hawkins Court isn’t flashy, but it suggests an alternative to the typical orthogonal gridding of cities and towns. It suggests how we might make cities not only functional but also lovable.

What
Draw a bow-legged stick figure with hands raised as if under arrest then rotate it ninety degrees. It’s the best description I can come up with for the layout of Hawkins Court, a charming residential lane that’s more than an alley but not quite a street.

Where
The Laurel Park neighborhood, bordered on the west by Osprey Avenue and on the east by Julia Place.

What’s nearby
Towles Court Artist Colony, Laurel Park, Payne Park, Burns Square Retail Area, Main Street.

General description
Hawkins Court is hidden from adjacent roads by alley-esque entryways that make narrow right-hand turns before joining the main 500 foot long, 20 foot wide right of way. It is mostly paved with brick, and features a number of charming single-family bungalows along its southern edge with mostly one and two story apartment buildings on its northern edge. A mixed-height tree canopy provides shade for the eastern half of Hawkins as well as sections of both east and west entryways.

Hawkins Court calls to mind Dutch woonerven, which allow autos to travel at foot speed through pedestrian space, as well as the (also Dutch) principle of “shared space,” in which all road users are given equal status and lines, signs, and signals are removed. Despite being only three blocks from Main Street, Hawkins Court manages to conjure something of the idyllic neighborhood vibe associated with the early days of suburbia and Small Town, USA.

How it is used
As a scenic throughway by locals on foot and bicycle and as an access road by residents.

How it might be used
As more of a community gathering place. For block parties. Possibly for neighborhood services and amenities.

What works
The sharp turns of the entryways (where the road narrows to 10 feet), the uneven brick surface, narrow lots, and minimal building setbacks privilege pedestrians and slow cars to a crawl. Lack of sidewalks make it clear that the right of way is to be shared by all users. Two-story bungalows and ample foliage combine to create an authentic sense of place and necessary shade. Overall design creates a buffer from nearby collector roads. It’s undeniably charming and feels safe at any hour. (more…)

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We at Laurel Park Management aren’t out to save the world. We know that task is a little tall for a rental management company. Like most of you, we’re trying to do our jobs well and support our families. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be conscious of our actions, of their consequences. It doesn’t mean we can’t act responsibly and do our part to lessen our impact on this beautiful part of the world that we are so fortunate to inhabit.

Last week’s post was obviously tongue-in-cheek…The Onion is, after all, a satirical publication. But all good satire is rooted in truth, and the truth is that even as busy as our live sometimes get, there is always time to stop, think, and decide whether the action we are about to take is truly the right one.

LPM does what it can to support green living. We use long life CFLs, energy-efficient appliances, low-VOC paints, and low-flow faucets. We offer a recycling program with incentives. We reuse historic buildings rather than knocking them down to build new ones. We support a bikeable, walkable, urban village style of living. None of these things are terribly difficult, and all make a difference. What we’ve found is that green living is really just about consciousness. If we choose to pay a bit more attention and to educate ourselves, even a little, our lives become a bit greener.

So, to remind ourselves and to help those newer to the green movement, here are some easy ways to Go Green (borrowed from Treehugger):

Top Back to Basics Tips

 

 

  • Transport Having got a little reading under your belt, you’re probably itching to get started. One of the biggest impacts we have on the planet is a direct result of the way we move ourselves around. Fortunately, for many of us, this is also easy to do something about. You might consider walking, biking or using mass transit, at least a few days a week. Maybe you can convince your boss to let you work from home? Maybe you can carpool with a friend? If nothing else, you should certainly consider fuel consumption as a major factor in your choice of next vehicle. And when it comes to longer trips, flying is notoriously carbon intensive – so let the train take the strain wherever possible. Find a greener route from A to B with How to Green Your Car, and our Cars and Transportation section.
  • Energy With all the talk of solar panels, fuel cells, building-integrated wind turbines, and flux capacitors, it can be easy to think you need a million bucks to go green at home. Not so. Many of the most effective ways to cut carbon emissions are also the cheapest. Turn lights off when you go out, install energy efficient bulbs and appliances, insulate your home, and keep an eye on consumption. Once you’ve done all that, why not investigate if you can buy green energy from your local utility? Check out our guides on How to Green Your Heating and How to Green Your Electricity for a more detailed plunge.
  • Water This is where the folks in Seattle or the UK start switching off, but stay with us, please! Even if you live in areas of abundant rainfall, water is still a major ecological issue. Clean, drinkable water is precious and needs to be used most efficiently. Every drop of tap water we use also requires energy to filter, purify and transport, and that means fossil fuel emissions. And for those of you in dryer areas, you know only too well that water is becoming an ever-scarcer resource. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to do something about–install water-saving shower heads and aerators, turn the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth, switch to more efficient appliances, or collect rainwater for use in the garden. All this and more can be found in our guide, How to Green Your Water. For those wanting to go a little more hardcore, the Navy Shower, or the “selective flush” are worth a try–if the comments on these posts are anything to go by, you’ll be in good company!
  • Food We’ve all got to eat, and most of us do it every day. It stands to reason that our collective food choices have a huge impact on the planet, and with the global food industry shipping products further and further around the world, and with farming becoming ever more intensive, this impact is only getting bigger. Fortunately, there is a resistance underway. More and more people are getting interested in sustainable food systems. To bring it back to basics, there are four principles that can help guide you to greener meals: eat local, eat seasonal, eat organic, and finally, eat less meat. For a comprehensive guide to a more sustainable diet, check out How to Green Your Meals and the Food and Health category.

Want to read more? Check out the whole article at treehugger.com!

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CHAPEL HILL, NC—A study published Thursday by psychologists at the University of North Carolina concluded that all American problems—from stuck jacket zippers to the national debt—could be solved if citizens just stopped, took a deep breath, and thought for two seconds before they acted. “We found that in 93 percent of cases, a positive outcome could have been achieved if Americans simply splashed a little water on their faces prior to dealing with an unfair boss, being out of clean spoons, signing on to direct a second Wall Street film, or answering a call from a parent,” Janet Mallory, the study’s lead author, told reporters. “Our data indicate that when U.S. citizens don’t take a second to compose themselves, they typically charge in like maniacs and hurt either themselves or several million Iraqi civilians.” Mallory said a good rule of thumb for Americans is to think of a plan, stop, and then do the complete opposite.

E.H. Gombrich, in his A Little History of the World, wrote of Caesar Augustus, “It is said that he never gave an order or made a decision in anger. Whenever he felt his temper rising, he slowly recited the alphabet in his head, and by the time he had reached the end he had calmed down.”

Sometimes as the Sarasota summer heats up our fuses shorten. But the next time somebody cuts us off in traffic or forgets to pick up after their dog or doesn’t take our order as promptly as we’d like it might be good to do as Augustus did and count our way to calmness. We’re all neighbors after all, whether we share a block, a city, or a planet. So, let the little stuff slide, neutralize hot tempers with cold drinks, and help Laurel Park Management keep paradise peaceful.

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