That’s right! Regina Urban Ecology officially turned four today! It still blows my mind to think of how simply starting this blog has influenced many aspects (read: most all) of my life.
A lot has happened in four years and, though I know the blog has been rather quiet for awhile, it is still something that informs the way I think daily…
This summer I finished my degree as an urban planner (yay!) – as part of the McGill program, students must complete a supervised research project on any topic that is of interest to them. It isn’t quite a thesis but is a considerable amount of work. As long-time readers know, I have a real love for citizen-led initiatives, creative solutions to everyday problems, and straight-up urban subversion. I’m also a firm believer that planners and citizens need to collaborate more and that planners should empower citizens to be more engaged in the process of how their communities develop. So, for my final grad project I chose to look at the topic of tactical urbanism (small-scale, short-term interventions meant to inspire long-term change) — think guerilla gardening, chair bombing, and Park(ing) day.
I wanted to examine what role, if any, planners should have in these initiatives and how they might use these types of projects to collaborate with citizens. Planners are indeed starting to incorporate temporary and pilot projects into their work to test ideas in real-time before committing time and money to make an intervention permanent (the pedestrian plazas in New York City are a perfect example). I spoke to citizens, community organizations, planners, and municipal officials from cities across North America to get their perspective on projects they’d led and it was inspiring to say the least. A lot of wonderful, creative, and thoughtful work is being done in our cities. In the next month I’ll be posting a guidebook that I prepared as part of my project (I may provide a link to the full project as well).
All of this is to say that the conversations here at RUE and the community that has developed continue to inspire me. Thank you to everyone who has ever read a post, left a comment, or simply mentioned that this little space exists. I greatly appreciate it all and look forward to continuing the discussion, sporadic though it may be.