Cities are changing faster than city planners are able to keep up with. How can city residents be a part of encouraging more rapid, thoughtful change – and what are effective ways for them to participate?
A new movement called “tactical urbanism” provides a way for residents to experiment with pop-up parks, traffic calming, colorful signage and other temporary projects to change an urban area rapidly – but temporarily – so that communities can see how these ideas might work.
Mike Lydon of the Street Plans Collaborative, the leading figure in the tactical urbanism movement, will speak in Portsmouth June 1st at 6:30 PM at 3S Artspace (RSVP), part of PS21’s series to stimulate discussion about policy and planning issues affecting Portsmouth.
Lydon’s free community talk will focus on how tactical urbanism tools and experiments are helping residents improve neighborhoods in rapidly changing cities around the country, much like what is happening in Portsmouth.
His talk will spotlight a week-long West End project called “Islington Street Lab,” which Lydon has been helping to facilitate with PS21 and the city this spring.
City governments tend to take a long time to change things because first they design, then they present to the public, then they spend a lot of money building something very permanent. Since many of the changes occurring in cities today are dynamic, that process can result in outdated designs, according to Lydon.
“That project area around Islington and Bartlett streets will be a community hands-on example of tactical urbanism. At Lydon’s presentation on June 1st, attendees will see how tactical urbanism projects work and they’ll hear about its colorful, sometimes subversive, history,” said Doug Roberts, chair of the volunteer group Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century (PS21). ” Later in the week, everyone can experience it themselves by walking, biking and driving through the Islington Street Lab project area in the West End.”
PS21 events such as this are free and open to the public. Please register for June 1 at www.ps21.info/rsvp/ to help ensure sufficient seating.
(Note: Block Six, the restaurant at 3S, will be open prior to the event; receive a 10% discount that night when you mention PS21.)
PS21 is producing the events with support from the City planning department and input from residents. More than 30 volunteers met with Lydon and the City at a design workshop in May to sketch out ideas for Islington Street near the Bartlett Street intersection.
Using temporary and inexpensive measures like street striping and landscaping, the project will demonstrate what residents and business owners think can be done in the near-term to improve walkability and vitality. Volunteers with the cooperation of the city will help to install the changes on June 2. The community will be invited to visit the area and respond over the following days.
While the Islington Street Lab installation in the West End will go away within a week, community response to the experiment will inform the city’s long-term plans for a makeover of Islington Street, a multi-year, multi-million dollar project that will rebuild the street from Maplewood Avenue to Bartlett Street. It could also serve as a model for other tactical urbanism projects in neighborhoods throughout Portsmouth and the Seacoast.
Updates and more information are available at www.ps21.info
This free event is presented by Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century (PS21) as part of its 2015-2016 series to stimulate discussion about policy and planning issues affecting Portsmouth.
Event Sponsors: New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, City of Portsmouth, Griffin Family Corp., STREET, White Heron Coffee & Tea, VHB, Harbour Light Strategic Marketing, Weekender House, Port One Architects
Season Sponsors: Chinburg Properties, Piscataqua Savings Bank, Seacoast Rotary Club, Coruway Film Institute
Event Partners: Martin Hill Inn, SIS Bank, Signature Escrow & Title Services, Sunoco Islington Street, West End Business Association, Port City Makerspace, 3S Artspace, Seacoast Media Group, The Sound
ABOUT PS21: Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century (PS21) presents ideas and encourages discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouth, N.H. and the Seacoast. Our goal is to support a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and walkable community compatible with the principles of smart growth, the historic nature of Portsmouth, and the context of the 21st century. PS21 maintains a blog and e-newsletter at www.ps21.info, and archives video of many events.
Past events have included: a public talk and workshops on affordable housing with planner Jennifer Hurley; a public talk and workshop on “Walkable Cities” with author and planner Jeff Speck; a presentation by parking expert Michael Manville; a walking tour of the city’s developing North End; an overview of Portsmouth street design by expert and Portsmouth resident Rick Chellman; a conversation about Seacoast transportation modes; a presentation on changing cityscapes by Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Robert Campbell; a workshop with Plan NH about leading Portsmouth to a healthy and vibrant future; a book discussion; and a film screening of the architectural film “The Human Scale.” PS21 also maintains a blog and e-newsletter at ps21.info.