RUD: Learning From and Planning For a Post-Pandemic East Bay: Streets and Public Spaces
The coronavirus has exposed a basic problem with urban planning, baring plain and true the fact that we simply do not plan with human core values in mind. Instead, we have spent the better part of the last hundred years planning for the requirements of infrastructure. However, in times of crisis we are seeing and experiencing first-hand that people seek comfort and intimacy within their homes and immediate neighborhoods. As such, the pandemic has become a teachable moment for us, allowing us to call attention to the failure of our urban form to comfort us. Suddenly we realize in a more immediate way that we live in what amounts to a whole lot of concrete and asphalt, wide inhospitable streets, and all too little in the way of nature and space for human interaction. These core human values should shape infrastructure, not the other way around.
For example, in Oakland, the coronavirus has created streets free of cars, which has in turn exposed how unpleasant and unhealthy our streets and neighborhoods really are. There is always a sense of friction walking in Oakland because it’s an attack on our senses, visually, sensory, etc. With or without cars, Oakland streets are no place for nature and humans. People have to drive to the mountains or parks, or if they are lucky can withdraw to their back yards, because they cannot walk around comfortably in their neighborhoods. Commercial streets are wide concrete corridors and neighborhoods are full of lifeless lawns.
Authentic and meaningful community engagement begins with our core human values both in good times and times of crisis. This engagement fosters healing that allows participants to take a holistic approach and to work at a deeper level of thinking that restores the social, mental, physical and environmental aspects of their community.
James Rojas | Urban Planner & Artist, Place It! / Enacted Environments
James Kamp | Urban & Landscape Designer, Place It! / Prairieform
- The problems with current planning! How to plan for streets and open space beginning with Core Human Values
- Place It! description and process