Number 3 in a series of articles about Hive Tech Living Environments and Urban Villages
By Angela Conte of the Axis4 Group, December 2, 2013
Designing a community, first and foremost, is about bringing people and families together so they can live comfortably with economic stability and to thrive. And, if you want a stronger community than you need to work at bringing people together and out of isolation through your design plan. Here are some often overlooked suggestions for how to connect people and places:
- Green space is not just about creating earth friendly environments, it’s about getting people to come outside and away from their electronics into open, safe, well maintained public areas that offer diversity of sizes, uses and configuration. There are people who will want some privacy in open spaces and some who love the crowd; some who want to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and those who want to play.
- There shouldn’t be any neglected travel paths between public spaces. Everything needs to be well lighted day or night; clean and maintained; have visual clearance for safety; places to stop and things to see when walking. It’s also important to think about where you put your travel paths in relationship to businesses and their hours of operation, the local residents and the green space so everyone always feels connected and a part of the larger community.
- It’s nice to have local police who positively engage and blend with the community as ambassadors while being safety officers, such as pedestrian and bicycle patrols so that they and their community can stay connected with each other.
- Cities should encourage an easy system for all types of business sponsored community activities plus non-profit citizen organizing and free speech participation. Know and treat all your business owners, citizens and visitors with the same respect; and don’t bring in the heavy guns and artillery over a few people holding up signs because other cities are doing it. These other cities are taking political sides and not showing respect for everyone’s rights and/or trying to show strong leadership but instead are showing that they are in over their heads and a community that’s out of control. If you treat all of one group of people like trouble makers, whether they intended to be or not, you’re encouraging people to behave badly. If you have a vocal community, choose a nice specific areas for protesting so that those who want to take part have a designated place to go and those who want to avoid them can.
- New urban-ism is about every neighborhood in town having:
1) People who work there and bring in new and exciting things from the outside.
2) People who live there who feel responsible for the care of their home community.
3) Easy accessibility to food and basic everyday dry goods at a fair price.
4) Small clinic based medical services with other health care options.
5) Lots of entertainment and cultural activities.
6) Public transportation within walking distance to everyone and everything.
It’s not about isolating each of these into separate zones throughout the city. Besides being infrastructure inefficient, this type of zoning keep people and places separated into different economic and social classes, making some accessible only to those who can afford to get to them. It is about making a complete and balanced community in every neighborhood. And it’s about building a community of people through a balanced and cohesive infrastructure.
6. When you allow the build of housing, there should be a strong level of quality structural development for all. Whether it’s a single family homes or a multifamily complex, the quality standards should be the same for everyone, not cheap and shoddy for the poor and a higher quality for the rich. The level of financial diversity can come from how and what the resident puts into the building. If a contractor can’t afford to build at a minimum standard of structural integrity for every person in your community, than wait until someone comes along who can. A builder’s quality is not in how wealthy they are or how much money they make, it’s in the standards of their work. Anyone can get rich building bad quality buildings that they latter over price, but the best of the best can build structurally superior projects for everyone every time and still get a fair price point, if well planned out. So be very picky about who builds in your community.
The more balanced and equal your community’s economic, social and structural foundation that allows for diversity and freedom to be unique, the stronger a community you’re building.