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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Sarasota Modern [click image for source]

Our last post spoke briefly about Sarasota’s rich tradition of modern architecture—in Burns Court, on Lido Shores and Siesta Key, and scattered throughout downtown Sarasota. In case you might want to go check out some of these landmarks yourself, below is some info on a self-guided tour. We can’t guarantee that the guides are still available, but we have definitely seen them around. Anyhow, happy hunting!

With a daily heat index in the triple digits here, an architectural tour that lets you stay in your air-conditioned vehicle sounds pretty good. That’s what Sarasota is offering now, a self-guided drive-by of significant buildings in Sarasota County that features the famous Sarasota School of Architecture, bracketed by older historic buildings and contemporary ones. • For $10, you get a map with more than 70 locations and an explanatory booklet. The estimated time for the tour is about two hours. • The catch is that many are not open to the public, such as the two residences shown, so you’ll only be able to see what’s visible from the street. Still it’s a nice introduction to an area that has some of the richest architectural history on the west coast of Florida. And now that many of the remaining Sarasota School of Architecture buildings, built from 1940 to 1970, have been torn down or are in danger of demolition (including some by its most famous practitioner, Paul Rudolph), this could be a chance to see them before they’re gone. • The map is available at the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau, 701 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, or it can be ordered online at toursarasota.com.

Lennie Bennett, Times art critic (info from tampabay.com)

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Bike racks in Long Beach

Bike racks in Long Beach help attract customers to local businesses.

One of the truly encouraging trends we’ve seen the past few years is the gradual uptick in urban cycling around Sarasota. Many new bicycle parking racks have been installed and people are slowly catching on to the fact that the bike may just be the best way to get around the downtown area. Plus, the sight, smell, and sound of people riding bikes and walking is just so much more pleasant than those of cars, especially on Main Street. Even during a severe economic downtown, life in the heart of our fair city has become more vibrant, not less.

An article crossposted on Grist and The Nation took a look at Long Beach, California, as it works to better integrate the bicycle as a regular means of transport. Like Sarasota, Long Beach has a climate that accommodates year-round cycling (the only thing required in SRQ during the worst heat of summer is more shade from street trees), a high number of older and retired residents, and way too much traffic. That is changing, slowly but surely, in Long Beach and perhaps in Sarasota as well. Why? Well, besides being good for quality of life, bikes are good for business.

Of course, there are still plenty of cars in Long Beach…but bicycles are getting more respect, not to mention resources, than ever before. With help from state and federal grants and pressure from local cycling enthusiasts, the city government has installed 130 miles of bike trails, established protected bike lanes (that is, lanes separated from vehicular traffic by physical barriers) on major commuter thoroughfares, created bike boulevards that enable kids and parents to bike or walk safely to and from school, and installed 1,200 new bike racks.

Perhaps most innovative has been the city’s effort to establish bike-friendly shopping districts — the first in the country, officials say — engaging local merchants by showing them how, contrary to common belief, biking can actually bring more customers and vitality to shopping districts.

“The math is pretty simple,” says April Economides, the principal of Green Octopus Consulting and the leader of the city’s outreach to local businesses. “You can park 12 bikes in the amount of space it takes to park one car. And someone who shifts from owning a car to a bicycle tends to have more discretionary income, because, for a commuter, the typical cost of a bicycle is $300 a year, compared to $7,000 a year for a car.”

Separated bike lane in Stockholm, Sweden. Where the weather isn't nearly so favorable for cycling.

Besides putting extra money in your pocket, pedaling more and driving less makes it easier to remember why you chose to live in paradise in the first place.

“I like a line by Aristotle, ‘Beware the barrenness of a busy life,’” Long Beach mayor Bob Foster says. “Sometimes I can’t remember at the end of a day what I did the past eight hours. That’s moving too fast. A bit slower pace in life is a good thing.”

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Great article about the economics of mixed-use development, something we’re always pushing here at Laurel Park Management. Mixed-use helps makes places walkable and livable. It helps make them better, more beautiful, and more vibrant. So, naturally, it provides an economic boon as well. What’s more, the study below was also performed in Sarasota:

Are cities across the country acting negligently in ignoring the property tax implications of different development types? Joseph Minicozzi thinks so, and he’s done the math to prove it.

The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality.
— Andrew Jackson

Downtown Pays
Asheville, North Carolina — like many cities and towns around the country — is hurting financially.

It’s not that Asheville is some kind of deserted ghost town. Rather, it’s a picturesque mountain city with a population of about 83,000 that draws tourists from all over the world, especially during the leaf-peeping season. But it’s also a city that appeals to its residents, who revel in strolling about a true walkable downtown chock-full of restaurants and retail shops featuring locally grown and crafted products. Downtown is not only one of Asheville’s main draws; it also serves as a major driver in helping the city overcome its budgetary doldrums.

Most of us – city planners, elected officials, business owners, voters, and the like – understand that the city brings in more tax revenue when people shop and eat out more. However, we often overlook the scale of the property tax payoff for encouraging dense mixed-use development.

Many policy decisions seem to create incentives for businesses and property developers to expand just about anywhere, without regard for the types of buildings they are erecting. In this article, I argue that the best return on investment for the public coffers comes when smart and sustainable development occurs downtown.

We’ll use the city of Asheville as an example. Asheville realizes an astounding +800 percent greater return on downtown mixed-use development projects on a per acre basis compared to when ground is broken near the city limits for a large single-use development like a Super Walmart. A typical acre of mixed-use downtown Asheville yields $360,000 more in tax revenue to city government than an acre of strip malls or big box stores.

If you were a mayor or city councillor facing a budget crisis, this comparison should serve as an eye-opener, both in terms of your policies and your development priorities. The comparison should also get you thinking about not just how you could encourage more downtown development, but also what kind of development could increase the value of buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods.

It’s not just officials in Asheville who should be asking these questions. In the growing number of diverse cities where we have studied this same equation (such as Billings, MT, Petaluma, CA, and Sarasota, FL) we’ve found that the same principle applies: downtown pays. It’s simple math. keep reading at planetizen.com

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Sarasota's First Labor Day Regatta, 1947

Event Details

  • Friday, January 27
  • 6-8pm
  • Mildred Sainer Pavilion
  • 5313 Bay Shore Road
  • Free and Open to the Public

Sarasota County and New College of Florida present the Sarasota Oral History Project reception and viewing. Enjoy stunning photographs and wonderful stories from people who lived through the good and sometimes not so good times on the Gulf Coast. Those interviewed for the project include Lorraine Rife, Richard Braren, Peter Stultz, New College alum and Assistant to the VP of Finance Jono Miller and Herman Johnson, who provides maintenance support for the New College Fitness Center. Meet and mingle with the interviewees, the student interviewers and your fellow water heritage fans. An outdoor reception will follow this free event. View past oral history sound slides at www.sarasotaoralhistory.com. For more information, contact Amanda Dominguez at 941-650-1089.

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Success is a funny thing, and more difficult to measure than one might immediately think. If a basketball player scores 30 points per game but destroys his team’s chemistry with a poor attitude, is he really successful? Is a presidential campaign successful if half the country doesn’t support the candidate? And is city planning only successful when it happens quickly and in lockstep with the planner’s vision?

A recent article from americancity.org looked at the issue of public participation in city planning, something that Sarasota has dealt with plenty over the past decade or so as New Urbanism has made its present felt. Charrettes—one or even multiple-day information sessions and planning workshops—are now standard operating procedure when new projects begin to develop. Surely, citizens are involved to a higher degree than ever before. But is the value of their contributions being maximized? And has increased involvement made the planning process better or worse?

Over the past two years, a growing number of voices have criticized the role of public participation in urban planning. These voices include Andrés Duany, the architect and New Urbanist, who has decried America’s “absolute orgy of public process.1  They also include Tom Campanella, who argues in essays in Planning magazine and the journal Places that, “it’s a fool’s errand to rely upon citizens to guide the planning process.”2, 3  A position justified, Campanella claims, because, “most folks lack the knowledge to make intelligent decisions about the future of our cities.” Criticism of participation is not new, but the increasingly strident tone of anti-participation sentiment should worry citizens and policy makers alike. In fact, there are good reasons to encourage participation in public processes, perhaps now more than ever.

Recent criticism of participation comes at a time when comparisons between American urban development and other models are particularly stark. This is especially true when looking at the speed and scale of new construction. Highlighting the contrast between American and Chinese cities, Thomas Friedman noted in a 2010 New York Times article that, “the comparisons start from the moment one departs Beijing’s South Station, a giant space-age building”.4  In his article, he notes: “With enough cheap currency, labor and capital – and authoritarianism – you can build anything in nine months.” Friedman’s argument is that the status quo approach to development in America isn’t working, a sentiment shared by Duany and Campanella, as well as a large number of other commentators. As Campanella stated in a talk at Harvard: “Just as China could use more of the American gavel of justice and democratic process, we could certainly use a bit more of that very effective Chinese sledgehammer.”

Contemporary concerns that public participation slows development bear similarity to arguments voiced in the 1970s, during the Cold War. Then, the rival economic superpower was not China, but the Soviet Union. As Joseph Stiglitz points out: “In the years immediately following World War II, there was a belief…in a tradeoff between democracy and growth.  The Soviet Union, it was argued, had grown faster than the countries of the West, but in order to do so had jettisoned basic democratic rights.”5  Stiglitz continues by arguing that such a tradeoff, between participation and growth, does not exist and that, in contrast, participation is a key element of sustainable economic development. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see that American competitiveness has been more sustainable than the Soviet Union’s over the long-term, in part due to the country’s robust democratic norms. Keeping this history in mind, is it any more prudent in the current recession to think that rolling back participation will be a boon for American cities over the long term?

Keep reading at http://americancity.org/buzz/entry/3187/

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There are interesting stirrings afoot in the United States these days. From the Tea Party movement to the current Occupy Wall Street protests, Americans are making themselves heard. These two populist uprisings are generally thought to have opposing idealogical foundations, but maybe they share more common ground than is obvious at first glance. The Tea Party is a reaction to perceived government mismanagement, while the Wall Street protests are reactions to perceived corporate greed. In both cases those elected or appointed to powerful positions are being taken to task by the general public. Both are evidence that American democracy hasn’t gone the way of the dodo. Both are proof that we have not become an apathetic people. These are good things!

For those of you who might be interested in attending an Occupy Together event, whether in support or in dissent, Occupy Sarasota will meet today at 10am at the corners of Main Street and Orange Avenue.

While the individuals employed by Laurel Park Management have their own opinions (and will be happy to discuss them with you if approached on the street), LPM itself is more concerned with the airing and sharing of those opinions in a constructive manner—public discussion being one of the core attributes of a vital urban neighborhood—than with supporting any particular political party or movement. We hope Laurel Park will always be a place where neighbors of all political leanings meet and debate and challenge and uplift one another.

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Following up on the last post, the one about cities adopting a set of guiding principles, we’d also like to share this video from TEDtalks by Damon Horowitz. The entire talk is just over 15 minutes, and is well worth watching. Horowitz, a Silicon Valley technologist, begins by describing the sort of power that comes with technological innovation. He then asks how we should use that power. He shifts the question from the more common what can we do? to the thornier, but perhaps even more important, what should we do?

He then takes us on a quick crash course of ethical philosophy, from Plato to Aristotle to Kant and Mill, in search of a moral operating system—a formulaic procedure for determining right and wrong—that might mirror computer operating systems. And then things get really interesting…

I won’t spoil the rest, but I will say that this video is a splendid call to arms for reflection, consideration, and personal responsibility, and it is relevant to us all our lives. Enjoy!

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