As President of the PCA, I am constantly thinking about the quality of life of Parkdale and how we make our community thrive. In January, I spoke about the advocacy with The City of Calgary and Budget and Service Plans 2019-2022. As a very macro effort, Parkdale presented to Council our ideas for our community and the overall quality of Calgary. When I think about the micro initiatives that we can undertake as a community, I think about one of my favourite online articles 101 Small Ways You Can Improve Your City published by Curbed https://www.curbed.com/2016/9/22/13019420/urban-design-community-building-placemaking
The article outlines small actions we can take to make our community better. Here are 10 of my favourite ideas:
- Redesign a crosswalk. In 2015, a handful of Seattle streets were reborn when a rogue designer painted colorful new crosswalks. Instead of wiping them away, the city made them a permanent part of the landscape, and even appropriated the idea, setting up a community crosswalk program so other neighborhoods could create their own colorful street art. Between promoting community pride and increasing pedestrian visibility and safety, it’s a quick, colorful step forward.
- Create a little free library. Libraries may change and evolve, but the pleasure and joy of reading a book remains. Inspired by the wider Little Free Libraries movement, it’s creating a real-life literary community on city streets.
- Hang some chandeliers. Need a way to brighten a blah block and add whimsy to a dark sidewalk? The Chandelier Tree in Los Angeles has become a local landmark for the dozens of lighting fixtures ensconced in a sycamore. Neighbors donate to the electric bill using a repurposed parking meter.
- Network your alleys. Reinventing an alley can turn a dark, scary space into a vibrant place. An even better idea is to combine several alleys into a network of public spaces that stretch on for blocks. In Vancouver, the project More Awesome Now, is turning alleys (they call them laneways) into assets with basketball courts, foosball tables and shady cafes. And they’ll all be connected with a way-finding system using bright paint and eye-catching graphics.
- Map a 40-minute walking circle around your house. Measure and draw a two-mile radius circle around your house to determine your “walkshed,” the places you can easily walk. You’ll realize how many local amenities are closer than you think—most people can walk two miles in about 40 minutes—and you’ll be more likely to hoof it and support local businesses.
- Paddle to work. Bike share and ride share have become commonplace. But paddling to work is another thing entirely. In Minneapolis, a paddle share system lets commuters ride the Mississippi, traveling between two stations on the mighty river. Since the boat docks are connected to the city bike share system, it uses both modes of transportation to get you to work.
- Set the table for community conversation. After breaking bread with someone, it’s hard to consider them a stranger. That’s the philosophy that informed The Longest Table, a 400-person feast put together by community groups in Tallahassee, Florida, to break down social barriers and get neighbors talking to each other.
- Become a tour guide for your neighborhood. You don’t have to live in a famous zip code to show people around. Using Vayable, you can create and share guided tours of the hidden gems in your neighborhood, or discover a unique experience nearby that allow you to become a tourist in your own city.
- Screen a movie outdoors. An impromptu movie night isn’t as hard to organize as it may sound. From a small gathering with neighbors to a larger, site-specific, artistic spectacular, cinema can expand horizons and bring people together. This guide on how to set up your own screening offers tips on how to host your own screening, whether it’s on an actual screen or the side of a building. Need a movie recommendation? We’ve got 101 of our favorites, right here.
- Throw an amazing block party.
I leave you with this thought – also the subtitle of this online article, The least you can do to make a big difference where you live. Let’s make Parkdale great!
I look forward to seeing you at our community engagement session on the childcare initiative, at the outdoor skating rink, at our AGM, and on the soccer field.