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2 days 14 hours ago

David K. Brawley, pastor of St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn, did not mince words when he stepped up to the podium in front of 1,400 protestors on Wednesday. “The indictment has been given” he shouted. “It is now time to tell you what the charge is against this man … The charge is betrayal.” The crowd erupted into cheers. “Bill de Blasio,” Brawley continued, “you have betrayed the seniors of New York City. You ran on a platform to close the gap between the tale of two cities, and since you have been mayor it has only gotten exponentially worse. You have betrayed black and brown people, you have betrayed the working poor, you have betrayed our people.”

The protest took place outside of the mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion. In furious testimony, religious leaders and struggling New Yorkers demanded that Mayor Bill de Blasio fulfill the promise he made a year ago to donate half a billion dollars to affordable senior housing.

As New York City’s population continues to age, the question of where and how seniors will live is becoming increasingly crucial. From 2005-2015, New York City’s over 65 population increased by more than triple the rate of the under 65 population’s increase. And elderly immigrants jumped by 42 percent over approximately the same period according to a 2019 report from the Center for an Urban Future.

Where affordable senior housing does exist, waiting lists can be as long as ten years. The Frances Goldin Senior Apartments in lower Manhattan received 65,000 applications for its 99 units when it opened in January 2018. In an interview with City Limits, Allison Nickerson, director of senior citizen program and policy organization LiveOn NY, said that 65 percent of single elderly households living in rent-stabilized units are severely rent burdened, spending over half their income on rent. All of these numbers: seniors, population age, the people on waiting lists for senior housing, and the severely rent-burdened elderly, are expected to continue to increase.

On June 12, 2018, in a press conference with the New York City Council speaker following budget negotiations, Bill de Blasio announced that the city had committed $500 million to build affordable housing for seniors initiative, or at least that is what most listeners—activists, politicians, journalists and especially seniors, understood. However, when the city comptroller, Scott Stringer, pressed de Blasio for updates on the project, his administration revealed that the $500 million was not in the 2019 budget and instead they would pay $100 million, financing the rest through other means. To date, the proposed senior housing has not been built or financed.

The protest, held on the anniversary of the mayor’s confusing announcement, lasted a little over an hour. It took on many aspects of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing, with residents complaining that what did exist was often uninhabitable.

Damian Gaillard, 39, said, “As a NYCHA resident, I can say the conditions are deplorable. De Blasio needs to step up as one of the biggest landlords in the city. He needs to step up and fulfill his promises. We deserve the quality of life that we wanted.”

Carmen Santiago who lives in a NYCHA building in the Bronx with her parents and two children, said the lack of space has taken a toll on their health, but there are no other options. “I am here because I am angry,” Santiago said. “The mayor promised us senior housing a year ago and he broke his promise. This hurts because, like so many others, I need help for my parents. At 77 and 83, my parents deserve privacy and dignity. They need a senior citizen apartment in the community where they can be supported by the community and church and still have their space.”

Organized by Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, the protest was spearheaded by religious leaders like Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, of Temple Shaaray Tefila in Manhattan, who denounced the mayor for only helping others once they came to his front door and begged. Mosbacher, who started his speech with a comparison between biblical figures—Abraham, proactive and generous, and Job, reactive and restrained—said, “God, we recognize that the mayor has a choice to make today: does he want to be like Job or like Abraham?”

Protestors were adamant that de Blasio resign if he could not fulfill his promises. They wielded signs with messages like “de Blasio you’re fired!” and “RESIGN.” Attendees booed and waved thumbs downs as Pastor Brawley announced the de Blasio administration’s counter-proposal to build two developments for seniors over the next four years. “We publicly, thoroughly reject that,” he said. “We do not want crumbs from the master’s table. We want a seat. So, we are here to take care of business. We are not here just to chant. We are here to give this mayor his sentence.”

 

2 days 14 hours ago

It was just another Saturday when I stumbled across a busy park in Seoul last year. The Gyeongui Line Forest Park, a 4-mile strip of greenery built atop a former rail line, was packed. Couples, families, and groups of friends planted themselves throughout the park, picnicking as buskers belted out songs.

It was midnight, and from the look of things, the night had just begun.

In many ways, it wasn’t an unusual scene at all. Nightlife is a fixture of vibrant urban parks all around the world. But it’s a rare thing to find in the U.S., where parks often close after sunset—even if there’s nothing stopping you from walking in if you really want to.

In 2018, the Trust for Public Land surveyed parks in the 100 largest U.S. cities and found that most close from dusk to dawn, while some others are open until 11 p.m. A few remain open later into the night, but they’re the exception to the rule: The National Mall in Washington, D.C., is open 24 hours, for example, and New York City’s Central Park closes at 1 a.m. Still, aside from a handful of joggers and late-night strollers, you’re unlikely to find a lively crowd in either park at night.

Park-goers in Japan enjoy late-night picnics after attending a popular festival. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

So why don’t American parks have the after-dark activity found in many other countries? It largely comes down to differences in culture, geography, and climate, says Leni Schwendinger, a nighttime designer who works internationally.

“In Spain and India, they have a habit at having dinner [as late as] 11 p.m., and then going out,” she says as an example. “In the cooler countries, no matter how cold it is, it gets dark so early that people are used to being out.”

The American Dream has something to do with it, too. Suburban sprawl means Americans generally live farther away from parks, and have fewer opportunities to casually stroll through them while walking home.

“Americans look at their homes as castles, and we have everything we need in our little homes,” says Cynthia Nikitin, senior vice president at the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces. She contrasts that with high-density cities across Asia, where long work hours and smaller homes mean people often entertain at night and outdoors.

There’s also a bad reputation to contend with. Americans in particular have historically viewed parks as dangerous places to be after dark. Nikitin says that’s largely a result of disinvestment in urban parks, as wealthy white Americans fled to the suburbs in the decades following World War II.

Among the more notable victims was Manhattan’s Central Park. Beginning in the 1960s and through to the ’70s, statues were left crumbling and defaced with graffiti, and spikes in crime committed in the park heightened existing fears driven by class, racial, and ethnic tensions.

Still, there’s hope for change. As more Americans move to urban areas, many cities are focusing on ways to improve the condition of their cities after dark. Parks haven’t been much of a priority in that context, but there are reasons to think they could be.

Take Paris, for example. The city, known for its strict rules on park use and equally strict adherence to park hours, began a few years ago to open its parks 24 hours a day in the summer. It’s part of the city’s “cooling initiative” to help people enjoy time outdoors without the threat of excessive heat. Now, residents can enjoy midnight picnics, nocturnal strolls, and late-night celebrations in more than a quarter of Paris’s nearly 500 parks, and security teams ensure safety and control excessive noise.

With summer days only getting hotter, Rich Dolesh at the National Recreation and Park Association expects increasing demand for American cities to follow in Paris’s footsteps.

“The fact is if you have a long period of excessive heat, your park infrastructure will not be used enjoyably [during the day],” he says, pointing to Phoenix’s 100-plus consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures last year. “So being able to use some of these spaces after dark is a really valuable public benefit.” Dolesh says it’s “an inevitable response” to a climate-changing world.

The U.S. will have to push past some challenges first, namely funding and rebranding parks as safe and welcoming places for families after dark.

“Safety is very bottomline,” Schwendinger says.

While it was a long slog, Central Park offers one path to change. The Central Park Conservancy took over management of the park in 1980, bringing in over $500 million worth of investment over 30 years—much of it from public-private partnerships—and hundreds of volunteers to restore the park.

In 2014, a late-night park-goer described Central Park as “boringly safe” to the New York Times, which detailed scenes of couples strolling under lamplights alongside joggers, cyclists, and carriage horses well into the night. It also cited a steady decline in crimes committed in the park, from 731 cases in 1981 to 37 in 2001, and to just 17 by 2014. Few, the reporter wrote, recalled the infamous rape and murder of a Central Park jogger in 1989.

Yet the time and money it took to change Central Park aren’t available to every city. The 100 largest U.S. cities currently spend some $7.1 billion on parks each year, with other organizations footing another $597 million, according to the Trust for Public Land survey. It’s a considerable recovery from the period between 2007 and 2009, when the recession pushed funding for local parks and recreation to the bottom of cities’ budget priorities.

But it’s never enough, says Charlie McCabe, the director for the Center of City Park Excellency at the Trust for Public Land. Parks, just like anything else, wear out, and cities are always in need of more money to restore and maintain them. That leaves little for, say, staffing parks at night and retrofitting them with design elements that feel inviting. Like lighting, which Schwendinger says is a prerequisite to keeping parks open at night. Brighter isn’t always better, though. Instead, she says, it has to be done strategically so that parks are lit enough to enhance security but not be so bright that it disturbs the wildlife or nearby residents.

Currently, Dolesh says, the athletic community is among the most likely to use public parks at night or before sunrise. To make them more family friendly at night, and to improve their public value, communities need to invest in more nighttime programming.

(Seth Wenig/AP)

“Like nighttime basketball, or movies in the park, ice skating in the dark, fireworks,” says Nikitin. “It gives [residents] an option to be in a safe place with other people.” And in that way, activities in parks at night can actually improve safety.

Dolesh points to Los Angeles’s Summer Night Lights program as a good example. Started in 2008 with funding help from various philanthropies, the program aimed to reduce gang violence among at-risk youth by opening up parks and recreation centers at night across 32 sites, and filling them with activities for teens like dances, fitness class, art workshops, and food festivals. Evaluation by the Urban Institute found that by 2010, the program had led to, among other things, 55 percent fewer shots fired and 57 percent reduction in gang-related homicides in those areas.

And in March, the Los Angeles County parks department kicked off this year’s Parks After Dark program, which began in 2010 with the goal of making parks safer by bringing evening activities to them. It started with just three parks and has now expanded to 33 locations. A 2017 study of the initiative by UCLA concluded that 95 percent of those who participated in 2016 said it improved the community’s relationship with local authorities and among neighbors. Seven in 10 participants who described their neighborhoods as “unsafe” also reported that they felt safe attending those programs. And the researchers estimated that by reducing crime, it saved the county nearly $6 million in law enforcement costs that year.

McCabe calls for American cities to experiment more, and to learn from cities that host night markets and food festivals in parks.

“I think the mingling of commerce with public land has always been more fraught in the U.S.,” he says, adding that early landscape designers like Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux—who designed New York City’s most popular parks—intended parks to be an escape from the city.

However cities want to encourage more park use at night, he stresses that they need to consult the “community anchors” to ensure that it meets the needs of the entire neighborhood.

“They might be store owners, the senior committee, or they might be a collection of younger parents,“ he says.

Nikitin says U.S. cities still have a long way to go: “I personally don’t know of many cities that are making this a priority, but it could be a wonderful trend.”

2 days 14 hours ago

What We’re Following

Movin’ out: The rent is always cheaper on the other side. At least that appears to be the hope of many aspirational renters who search for new apartments in other cities. A new interactive from Apartment List shows where apartment hunters are looking for new digs outside of their own metro area.

Many Detroit renters are itching to leave, according to an Apartment List report that analyzes online searches. (Apartment List)

As it turns out, lots of renters are eyeing a move to Tampa, Denver, and Baltimore, while people who want to skip town are most likely from Orlando, Detroit, and San Francisco. The map offers an interesting look at a set of renters who think about moving, but it doesn’t mean they’re actually going anywhere. CityLab’s Laura Bliss explains: Where America’s Renters Want to Move Next

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

The Gig-Work Bill That Has Uber and Lyft Spooked

As California considers a gig-work bill to make ride-hailing drivers employees eligible for benefits and bargaining rights, Uber and Lyft ask for compromise.

Sarah Holder

Why Don’t Americans Use Their Parks at Night?

American cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

Linda Poon

In Safety Towns and Traffic Gardens, Kids Rule the Streets

These miniature towns and roads that dot America aren’t just cute—they’ve helped teach children pedestrian and bike safety since the 1930s.

Katherine LaGrave

Why Housing Policy Feels Like Generational Warfare

To Millennials, at least.

Alexis C. Madrigal

Seniors Get Angry About Broken Promises for Affordable Housing in NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio walked back a promise of $500 million in affordable senior housing. New York’s rapidly growing elderly population came out to protest.

Molly Keisman


Grenfell, Two Years Later

It’s been two years since the Grenfell Tower fire killed 72 people in London. Police have said they won’t consider bringing charges over the fire until the public inquiry is completed and submitted in 2021 at the earliest (Financial Times). But this week, survivors and relatives of the fire’s victims have brought a lawsuit against companies for products that fed the blaze, and they’ve chosen an unorthodox venue for the lawsuit: a Philadelphia court.

According to the New York Times, the lawyers filing the claim say they intend to link the disaster to design decisions made by three different companies based in the United States that produced cladding, insulation, and the refrigerator that ignited the blaze. While the materials themselves were manufactured in Europe, the lawsuit accuses the companies of exploiting lax English rules to sell products that would have been too flammable to sell in the U.S. CityLab context: Britain plans a memorial for Grenfell, a tragedy that’s far from over


What We’re Reading

The White House and Kim Kardashian have teamed up on a program to provide Lyft rides to former prisoners (Forbes)

Florida governor to sign anti-sanctuary city measure into law (Politico)

Ignoring warning signs of misconduct, Baltimore Police praised and promoted its Gun Trace Task Force leader (Baltimore Sun)

How Amazon cloned a neighborhood to test its delivery robots (Wired)

Wasted funds, destroyed property: How Alabama sheriffs undermined their successors after losing election (ProPublica)


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2 days 14 hours ago

Millions of people in the U.S. get sick every year (often with a gastrointestinal illness) after swimming, boating, or fishing at a beach. Not that cities and states with beaches don’t try to prevent this. Authorities measure fecal bacteria—from sewage, birds, or other animals—in the water as an indicator of what other illness-causing organisms might have been released with the waste. If the levels are too high, they post a warning.

Under the usual method, labs grow bacteria from water samples, a process that takes about 24 hours to show results. So by the time high pathogen levels are evident and a beach warning goes out, “Mom is picking up the baby, washing sand out of their pants, and getting into the car,” said John Griffith, a principal scientist with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project.

Three years ago, Chicago became the first large U.S. city to issue same-day water-quality warnings for its beaches. More than 200 of the yellow “risky swim” flags the city planted across its beaches last summer were there thanks to water analyzed that day.

A sign on the beach at Sunapee State Park in New Hampshire warns people to stay out of the water in 2014. Most beach authorities in the U.S. use a testing protocol that takes at least 24 hours to show results. (Jim Cole/AP)

For the sake of public health (and good PR), other local jurisdictions and states across the country have considered switching to the day-of testing protocol—but it’s easier said than done. So far, Chicago is the only major city to use a new method for the majority of its beaches, a choice facilitated by political will, capable labs, urban density, and some good fortune.

Chicago’s first stroke of luck came in 2010, when the Obama administration launched the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The city had been investigating better ways to monitor beaches for a few years already, says Cathy Breitenbach, the director of cultural and natural resources at the Chicago Park District: “We had the same frustrations that most beach managers had with the culture-based method that was available at the time.”

The initiative funds enabled Breitenbach’s department to keep experimenting at a time when prompt warnings about water quality were particularly important for the city. That year, Illinois was ranked 28th out of 30 states for beach water quality by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Two years later, the U.S. EPA debuted its approved, same-day water-quality assessment method, which provided a sort of supply list and manual for departments wanting to use this on their own beaches.

This method required new expertise and equipment. At the time, “there probably weren’t any [commercial] labs that could do seven-day-a-week testing and turn results around,” said environmental scientist Sam Dorevitch, who had already been studying this kind of beach testing and leads one such well-suited lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago. If the Park District, which had contracted out the old-school water assessment method to a nearby lab, wanted to adopt the protocol, it needed to hire a new facility. And what do you know—Dorevitch’s lab was there. “I suppose that’s sort of happy luck on our part,” acknowledged Breitenbach.

After trials in 2015 and 2016 to see how the same-day technique compared to the traditional method, the district went all in. The department pays Dorevitch’s lab about $300,000 a year to sample, analyze, and report results from water collected at 20 different lakefront locations every day from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Lab members leave around 5 a.m. in three groups, each on a different route to take two samples at their designated locations and return by 8 a.m., says Dorevitch. By 12:30 p.m., the test—a DNA analysis of how much bacteria is in the water—is done.

Consolidating all beach monitoring into a single lab simplifies switching to this more complicated, time-sensitive method. A same-day protocol is only beneficial if samples get from the beach to a lab fast enough for a notice to go up in the morning, says Julie Kinzelman, one of the research scientists who helped validate this technique for beaches. She helped make Racine, Wisconsin, the first city in the U.S. to earn EPA approval for same-day analysis in 2012, and that was partially possible because her lab is within two miles of both of Racine’s beaches.

Chicago is also fortunate in its geography. “Because we’re in a dense urban community, it doesn’t take that long to get to everything and get over to the lab,” said Breitenbach.

In Michigan, pivoting to same-day analysis is a statewide effort. Since the state has 1,222 beaches, coordinating which lab tests which beach takes more work. “It’s been a complicated five years,” said Shannon Briggs, the toxicologist and beach-monitoring coordinator for the Michigan Water Resources Division of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

This summer will be the first time that Michigan health departments can post notices from same-day results. One of Briggs’s responsibilities during these years of preparation has been ensuring each region that wanted rapid analysis could be reached by an equipped and trained lab, whether the lab is federal, county-owned, or university-based. Up to 14 labs will serve beaches for same-day results, and Briggs and her colleagues wrote lab guides so that those without a masters in biochemistry can run the sensitive tests.

They plan on having to train a new batch of testers each year, too. Some will move on because they are students, but “when we train people with this new method, there is such a need for it that they’re able to go get better jobs,” Briggs said.

Briggs also spent much of the past few years developing a same-day analysis that’s compatible with the bacteria Lake Michigan beaches traditionally study. There are two kinds of bacteria a beach service can analyze to estimate water safety: E. coli and enterococci. Only enterococci survives long enough in salty water for ocean beaches to test. It’s also the species the EPA produced its first rapid method for in 2012.

Traditionally, freshwater beaches test with E. coli, says Briggs. Her state chose to develop a new EPA-backed protocol—which it’s using this summer—that would let it stick with the indicator species it had been using for decades. Though it also has freshwater beaches, Chicago was fine breaking with tradition and taking on the EPA enterococci rapid method. The park district’s job is to focus on best results for the public, and it doesn’t have to be concerned about data continuity, says Breitenbach.

Michigan also wanted to adopt a same-day technique that would alert labs of high contamination levels as often as the old method does. In Chicago, the new tests don’t reach the beach-warning threshold as frequently as the old ones did. Dorevitch isn’t sure why this discrepancy exists. But seeing as the old, slower method is “not too much different than chance for predicting water quality” (given the time that elapses between test and result), less-frequent yet timely warnings can keep more people out of contaminated water.

Even at beaches that are already reliant on enterococci testing, switching to same-day has taken a long time. In San Diego and other parts of Southern California, a reputation for fairly clean shores made it hard in the beginning to convince local politicians that this new method was worth the hassle, says Griffith. His agency works to give water managers across California the most accurate monitoring tools, and Griffith has helped San Diego move toward same-day methods.

He suspects changed attitudes have to do with wanting to show the city is a good beach steward and tourism being the city’s third-largest industry. Even if closures are rare, it’s important for them to be accurate and timely at beaches with a lot of traffic. Griffith can imagine same-day analysis becoming a selling point that other cities would have to catch up and offer, too: “You can see being the first to do that and publicizing it could be seen as an advantage to help lure more tourist dollars.”

San Diego recently submitted the results of its trials to the EPA. If officials decide to take it on full-time for every beach, they’ll soon navigate the logistics of having sufficient labs and people for the job.

Though it’s encouraging to see beaches offer prompt water-quality warnings, Briggs notes that another exciting thing about same-day analysis is that it’s a form of DNA assessment. That means labs can examine the samples further to see if the bacteria came from humans, birds, or other animals, or even test for genetic information indicative of an algae bloom or swimmer’s itch—all for the sake of going back and keeping the problem from developing in the first place.

2 days 14 hours ago

It was just another Saturday when I stumbled across a busy park in Seoul last year. The Gyeongui Line Forest Park, a 4-mile strip of greenery built atop a former rail line, was packed. Couples, families, and groups of friends planted themselves throughout the park, picnicking as buskers belted out songs.

It was midnight, and from the look of things, the night had just begun.

In many ways, it wasn’t an unusual scene at all. Nightlife is a fixture of vibrant urban parks all around the world. But it’s a rare thing to find in the U.S., where parks often close after sunset—even if there’s nothing stopping you from walking in if you really want to.

In 2018, the Trust for Public Land surveyed parks in the 100 largest U.S. cities and found that most close from dusk to dawn, while some others are open until 11 p.m. A few remain open later into the night, but they’re the exception to the rule: The National Mall in Washington, D.C., is open 24 hours, for example, and New York City’s Central Park closes at 1 a.m. Still, aside from a handful of joggers and late-night strollers, you’re unlikely to find a lively crowd in either park at night.

Park-goers in Japan enjoy late-night picnics after attending a popular festival. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

So why don’t American parks have the after-dark activity found in many other countries? It largely comes down to differences in culture, geography, and climate, says Leni Schwendinger, a nighttime designer who works internationally.

“In Spain and India, they have a habit at having dinner [as late as] 11 p.m., and then going out,” she says as an example. “In the cooler countries, no matter how cold it is, it gets dark so early that people are used to being out.”

The American Dream has something to do with it, too. Suburban sprawl means Americans generally live farther away from parks, and have fewer opportunities to casually stroll through them while walking home.

“Americans look at their homes as castles, and we have everything we need in our little homes,” says Cynthia Nikitin, senior vice president at the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces. She contrasts that with high-density cities across Asia, where long work hours and smaller homes mean people often entertain at night and outdoors.

There’s also a bad reputation to contend with. Americans in particular have historically viewed parks as dangerous places to be after dark. Nikitin says that’s largely a result of disinvestment in urban parks, as wealthy white Americans fled to the suburbs in the decades following World War II.

Among the more notable victims was Manhattan’s Central Park. Beginning in the 1960s and through to the ’70s, statues were left crumbling and defaced with graffiti, and spikes in crime committed in the park heightened existing fears driven by class, racial, and ethnic tensions.

Still, there’s hope for change. As more Americans move to urban areas, many cities are focusing on ways to improve the condition of their cities after dark. Parks haven’t been much of a priority in that context, but there are reasons to think they could be.

Take Paris, for example. The city, known for its strict rules on park use and equally strict adherence to park hours, began a few years ago to open its parks 24 hours a day in the summer. It’s part of the city’s “cooling initiative” to help people enjoy time outdoors without the threat of excessive heat. Now, residents can enjoy midnight picnics, nocturnal strolls, and late-night celebrations in more than a quarter of Paris’s nearly 500 parks, and security teams ensure safety and control excessive noise.

With summer days only getting hotter, Rich Dolesh at the National Recreation and Park Association expects increasing demand for American cities to follow in Paris’s footsteps.

“The fact is if you have a long period of excessive heat, your park infrastructure will not be used enjoyably [during the day],” he says, pointing to Phoenix’s 100-plus consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures last year. “So being able to use some of these spaces after dark is a really valuable public benefit.” Dolesh says it’s “an inevitable response” to a climate-changing world.

The U.S. will have to push past some challenges first, namely funding and rebranding parks as safe and welcoming places for families after dark.

“Safety is very bottomline,” Schwendinger says.

While it was a long slog, Central Park offers one path to change. The Central Park Conservancy took over management of the park in 1980, bringing in over $500 million worth of investment over 30 years—much of it from public-private partnerships—and hundreds of volunteers to restore the park.

In 2014, a late-night park-goer described Central Park as “boringly safe” to the New York Times, which detailed scenes of couples strolling under lamplights alongside joggers, cyclists, and carriage horses well into the night. It also cited a steady decline in crimes committed in the park, from 731 cases in 1981 to 37 in 2001, and to just 17 by 2014. Few, the reporter wrote, recalled the infamous rape and murder of a Central Park jogger in 1989.

Yet the time and money it took to change Central Park aren’t available to every city. The 100 largest U.S. cities currently spend some $7.1 billion on parks each year, with other organizations footing another $597 million, according to the Trust for Public Land survey. It’s a considerable recovery from the period between 2007 and 2009, when the recession pushed funding for local parks and recreation to the bottom of cities’ budget priorities.

But it’s never enough, says Charlie McCabe, the director for the Center of City Park Excellency at the Trust for Public Land. Parks, just like anything else, wear out, and cities are always in need of more money to restore and maintain them. That leaves little for, say, staffing parks at night and retrofitting them with design elements that feel inviting. Like lighting, which Schwendinger says is a prerequisite to keeping parks open at night. Brighter isn’t always better, though. Instead, she says, it has to be done strategically so that parks are lit enough to enhance security but not be so bright that it disturbs the wildlife or nearby residents.

Currently, Dolesh says, the athletic community is among the most likely to use public parks at night or before sunrise. To make them more family friendly at night, and to improve their public value, communities need to invest in more nighttime programming.

(Seth Wenig/AP)

“Like nighttime basketball, or movies in the park, ice skating in the dark, fireworks,” says Nikitin. “It gives [residents] an option to be in a safe place with other people.” And in that way, activities in parks at night can actually improve safety.

Dolesh points to Los Angeles’s Summer Night Lights program as a good example. Started in 2008 with funding help from various philanthropies, the program aimed to reduce gang violence among at-risk youth by opening up parks and recreation centers at night across 32 sites, and filling them with activities for teens like dances, fitness class, art workshops, and food festivals. Evaluation by the Urban Institute found that by 2010, the program had led to, among other things, 55 percent fewer shots fired and 57 percent reduction in gang-related homicides in those areas.

And in March, the Los Angeles County parks department kicked off this year’s Parks After Dark program, which began in 2010 with the goal of making parks safer by bringing evening activities to them. It started with just three parks and has now expanded to 33 locations. A 2017 study of the initiative by UCLA concluded that 95 percent of those who participated in 2016 said it improved the community’s relationship with local authorities and among neighbors. Seven in 10 participants who described their neighborhoods as “unsafe” also reported that they felt safe attending those programs. And the researchers estimated that by reducing crime, it saved the county nearly $6 million in law enforcement costs that year.

McCabe calls for American cities to experiment more, and to learn from cities that host night markets and food festivals in parks.

“I think the mingling of commerce with public land has always been more fraught in the U.S.,” he says, adding that early landscape designers like Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux—who designed New York City’s most popular parks—intended parks to be an escape from the city.

However cities want to encourage more park use at night, he stresses that they need to consult the “community anchors” to ensure that it meets the needs of the entire neighborhood.

“They might be store owners, the senior committee, or they might be a collection of younger parents,“ he says.

Nikitin says U.S. cities still have a long way to go: “I personally don’t know of many cities that are making this a priority, but it could be a wonderful trend.”

2 days 15 hours ago
© Bruce Damonte © Bruce Damonte
  • Architects: OMA
  • Location: 488 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94105, United States
  • Category: Mixed Use Architecture
  • Lead/Tower Architect: OMA
  • Podium Building Architect: Fougeron Architecture
  • Area: 906470.0 ft2
  • Photographs: Bruce Damonte

Read more »

2 days 15 hours ago

“Nothing is harder to do than nothing.” So begins How to Do Nothing, a book by artist and critic Jenny Odell that examines how to reclaim your attention in a world that asks for more of it each day.

I gobbled the book up recently after a friend pointedly gifted it to me, suggesting I could benefit from learning to stop every once in a while. The book doesn’t exactly lay out a five-point plan for doing “nothing,” but Odell does have some tips to help you get there, which include: Noticing nature, and appreciating it.

I just moved to Oakland, where I’m trying to make that kind of noticing a habit. It’s not that hard: Every flower I meet on my morning commute still feels foreign and fresh and ebbs with new-home magic.

But Odell, who lives in Oakland, too, encourages diverging from those routines to seek out oases off the beaten path. So last weekend, I decided to visit her favorite local haunt, the Morcom Rose Garden. To get there, I biked to a bustling farmer’s market, then ascended sloping hills on foot. I arrived, flushed and sweat-soaked, to find what Odell calls architecture that “wants you to stay awhile.”

Labyrinthine paths unfurled, hugged by roses. Down one, a wild turkey preened to impress a mate. Down another, a teenager took quinceañera photographs beside a glowing fountain, sprinkled with pale pink buds. Three miles from my house, I’d found another, calmer, world.

Getting out of the city and into somewhere green is good for your mental health, recent studies suggest. But there are plenty of green spaces within city limits, too. In D.C., my favorite was Wangari Gardens, where I’d pick leeks from the communal veggie plots. In the New York town where I grew up, I’d watch ice floes drift along the Hudson.

Once you find your place, though, what Odell suggests doing isn’t nothing, after all. It’s listening for the gruff sound of a turkey dragging its tail in the dirt; or stopping to smell a particularly red blossom, and locking eyes with a friendly volunteer gardener.

“There’s something important that the moment of stopping to listen has in common with the labyrinthine quality of attention-holding architecture,” she writes. “In their own ways, each enacts some kind of interruption, a removal from the sphere of familiarity.”

***

Happy Saturday from Navigator! I’m one of your new hosts, Sarah Holder. What are your favorite green spaces, and how do they interrupt you from your familiar spheres? Let me know!

What we’re writing:

What to do in Atlanta’s new food forest: Forage. ¤ Tourists ruin a lot, but famously radioactive Chernobyl can’t get any worse. ¤ Gated communities create an obstacle course for Delhi’s late-night wanderers. ¤ Meet the sign-painters of Mexico City, and the designer behind New York City’s new park signs. ¤ In this traffic garden, kids rule the streets ¤

What we’re taking in:

Guerrilla artists in Spain are creating green space atop parked cars (Fast Company) ¤ Want a glimpse of San Francisco’s indestructible soul? Watch “The Last Black Man In San Francisco” (New York Times) ¤ With more thru-hikers navigating by app, what was once the “ultimate test of self-reliance is no longer as wild as it once was.”(Outside) ¤ An ode to the architecture of the public skate park (Curbed) ¤ Each elegant harp made at this Chicago workshop is constructed by 35 hands (Chicago Mag) ¤ Drag queens rule the world:We’re talking straight, gay, black, white. We’re talking everybody.” (New York Magazine) ¤ Reflections on Hong Kong’s extradition protests, written from prison (Time) ¤ There’s a black market for vintage Kool-Aid packet collectors! (The Takeout) ¤

View from the ground:

@kreshna visited a “Floating Park” in Ciracas, Jakarta. @matmazela relaxed in the grass in Dumbo, Brooklyn. @npochar gathered with friends in Grant Park, Atlanta. @axlaxlaxlaxlaxl highlighted an urban park in Casablanca, Morocco.

Where’s your favorite green spot in your city? Tag your photos with the hashtag #citylabontheground and we'll feature it on CityLab’s Instagram page or pull them together for the next edition of Navigator.

2 days 17 hours ago
Courtesy of Foster + Partners Courtesy of Foster + Partners

NEXT architects has curated the second annual Bicycle Architecture Biennale as a showcase of buildings that transform cities through cycling. Opening in Amsterdam, the BAB shows the work of international designers from around the world and explores urban design through social, economic and environmental projects. It was conceived by BYCS as a way to inspire people to imagine new possibilities for human-centric cities.

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2 days 17 hours ago

above the datum established by adjacent buildings, the south face of the building is sculpted with a series of steps or 'crenellations'.

The post OMA completes ‘the avery’, a luxury residential tower in san francisco appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.

2 days 18 hours ago
© Jaime Navarro © Jaime Navarro
  • Architects: Dellekamp Schleich
  • Location: Tlaxcala, Mexico
  • Category: Housing
  • Project Leader: Francisco Franco
  • Area: 52.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2019
  • Photography: Jaime Navarro

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Sustainability Week 2019



Sustainability Week