So Many Places with Potential…

My recently renewed enthusiasm about third places (see this, this, this, and this) has led me to do more research about “great good places.”

That research has opened my eyes to my myopia about places I’ve lived, places I’ve long since written off as stark, inhuman casualties of poor urban planning and narrow-minded, greed-driven development.  I’ve learned places I condemned and abandoned years ago as lost causes have begun to rebuild themselves and, in some cases, have become models of urban rebirth.

It’s ironic: I too often engage in diatribes condemning people for failing to open their minds to new information beyond their own narrow experience and points of view, yet I’ve done exactly that at the same time I scolded others.

I’m embarrassed to admit my own narrow-mindedness, but I’m delighted that there may be reason for hope; so many places buried under vast mountains of idiotic municipal bureaucracy and rigid governmental control and mismanagement are starting to emerge as places where people might actually want to live.

The links below show some intriguing sources of hope for the future of cities in Texas like Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, and Corpus Christi.  Houston, which has engaged in a very large number of “place-making” activities in recent years, was named Fast Company’s City of the Year for 2011.  When I left Houston in 1985, after eight miserable years,  I vowed I would never live there again…and I probably won’t.  But reading about what’s been done with that city and several others since then opens my eyes; cities, too, can change.

Dallas/Oak Cliff Houston
Corpus Christi San Antonio

When I’ve returned to Houston since I moved away in 1985, I’ve taken with me an attitude of loathing and closed-mindedness that has prevented me from even exploring what might have changed. That attitude didn’t have an impact on Houston; it had an impact on me. While I don’t excuse my close-mindedness, it does tell me something important: the negative attributes of a city, or any place for that matter, can leave a lasting and deeply negative impression.  So it’s critically important for planners and developers and citizens at large to always look toward improvement and, especially, to look toward making their cities good places to live.

Most of the links in this post (maybe all of them) are to articles posted on the website of the Project for Public Spaces.  In just a few short hours of reading about and then exploring the PPS website, I have become a fan of the site and the vast amount of information and resources it offers.

One final bit of valuable information and advice I found terrifically invigorating was this: Twenty-Six Ways to Make Great Spaces.  I eat this stuff up!  And, finally, more thought-provoking advice from Fast Company magazine.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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