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Now, this certainly is no panacea. Like any form of participatory government, there is significant risk of, well, lack of participation (or non-representative samples of interested parties) messing up the results. But I think there is some interesting potential to bring new people to the table–whether due to the demographics of Internet users or the availability of citizens to attend meetings–in a way that might promote a more progressive agenda. (And, might I hope, one that looks at whole-city solutions instead of just a bunch of vocal neighborhood groups fighting for speedbumps.)

(via uclahelo@flickr, cc by-nc-nd)

I would be interested to see if Tacoma’s government would ever use such tools to try to bring more people to the table. And for that matter, whether the citizens of Tacoma would step up to the plate and get involved. I think we could get a fascinating diversity of opinion, but with that diversity would come neighborhood-specific knowledge from all around the city. And the tools would allow public access to planning data that was currently only available in proprietary planning tools. Seems worth trying…

A few things I would champion:

  • City-wide streetcar system. ‘Nuff said.
  • Building codes centering on transit-oriented development in commercial areas. Reduce the amount of required parking to encourage people to walk, bike, and take public transit.
  • Shorter traffic light cycles. Sitting at a long light in the car is annoying, but is even more of a pain on a bicycle or foot. Long light cycles are for the suburbs where you’re trying to move cars. In the city, I should never have to wait more than a minute at a light, less if I’m a pedestrian and hit the cross button.

Read about it at Wired.
Check out The Open Planning Project.

]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2009 03:30:49 GMT jamie,2009-02-03:a06200f80a3d5afe752de87383147dcf/be2a6d4845028e901671e13699ea3928
Stuff White People Like #73: Gentrification The Onion tackled it a couple of years ago, to amusing effect, but now the awesome Stuff White People Like blog has their own take on gentrification (and, of course, why white people like it so much).

I quote:

White people like to live in these neighborhoods because they get credibility and respect from other white people for living in a more “authentic” neighborhood where they are exposed to “true culture” every day. So whenever their friends mention their home in the suburbs or richer urban area, these people can say “oh, it’s so boring out there, so fake. In our neighborhood, things are just more real.” This superiority is important as white people jockey for position in their circle of friends. They are like a modern day Lewis and Clark, except instead of searching for the ocean, they are searching for old properties to renovate.

As before with the Onion article, some of this sounds embarrassingly familiar to some of our day-to-day talk in the Tacoma blogosphere. Ouch. And I’m not pointing fingers, because I’m in the scrum, too. But, um, it’s all in good fun? Right? Anyone??? Sigh…

]]> Fri, 22 Feb 2008 17:51:25 GMT jamie,2008-02-22:a06200f80a3d5afe752de87383147dcf/158460f20f185e6bdf7b102bf2e20f48