TACTICAL URBANISM WEEK STARTS TODAY

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Union Square and East Somerville residents invited to events and workshops
on building community and active neighborhoods
SOMERVILLE – Union Square and East Somerville residents: learn how to
change the landscape of your city, encourage physical activity, build social connections and make a positive impact on your neighborhood during Somerville’s first-ever “Tactical Urbanism Week” starting today.
Beginning Wednesday, May 28, and running through Sunday, June 1, Somerville by Design will hold brainstorming sessions and workshops on urban design concepts, such as how to build parklets and pallet furniture, build better streets and activate public spaces. Participating Somerville residents will work with leading experts in tactical urbanism, including Team Better Block in Union Square and the Street Plans Collaborative in East Somerville. A full schedule with locations of workshops and events is below.

The week culminates on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. with Carnaval at SomerStreets, kicking off the annual SomerStreets series that, like the tactical urbanism workshops, “This is East” community placemaking project, and “Dancing in the Streets” festival, all use the existing urban environment to promote civic engagement and social capital.

Tactical urbanism is a strategy for public engagement in city-building, using low-cost, temporary changes to the physical environment to test ideas for public space, pedestrian safety and economic development. Prominent examples include New York City’s re-establishment of Times Square as a pedestrian plaza and San Francisco’s popular “Pavement to Parks” program. The tactical approach draws heavily from the research of urbanists like Jane Jacobs, William H. Whyte and Jan Gehl, who proposed a more nimble approach to city building than the conventional wisdom of their era.

“Somerville’s civic life is one of our greatest assets, and the tactical urbanism philosophy plays to this strength,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “In a city of only four square miles, you need a little creativity if you want to use the built environment to promote active living and community-building, and we are lucky to have great organizations like the Somerville Arts Council, East Somerville Main Streets and Union Square Main Streets doing just that. When cities ask residents to diagnose problems in the built environment, brainstorm solutions and get their hands dirty building physical improvements, everyone benefits. Our award-winning, grassroots SomerVision Comprehensive Plan commits the City to continued innovation in municipal government, and the Somerville by Design program is helping us live up to that promise. I can’t wait to see what our residents come up in Union Square and East Somerville.”

“This type of planning activity has been gaining popularity all over the country, but Somerville already has its own well-loved examples,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. “Each fall, we hold a ‘Bulb Blitz’ where residents work with the City’s Department of Public Works to plant thousands of tulips in our squares and parks. Every spring, the Somerville Arts Council coordinates the incredible PorchFest music festival on front porches all over the city. These are great examples of low-cost, temporary neighborhood improvements that build community pride as well as momentum toward larger projects.”

“Here in East Somerville, we have great community organizations like East Somerville Main Streets and Teen Empowerment that are getting residents and small business owners plugged into the world of public policy,” said Ward 1 Alderman Matthew McLaughlin. “A project like the Broadway Streetscape reconstruction takes years of planning, design and construction. It’s very important to me that the City is able to simultaneously make meaningful small-scale improvements like the Cross Street East Cultural Corridor that was launched in April.”

Events are scheduled as follows:
• Wednesday, May 28
o 6:30 – 8:00 pm: “This is East” Brainstorming Session, 165 Broadway
• Thursday, May 29
o 2:30 – 5:00 pm: “This is East” Building Session, 165 Broadway
o 6:00 – 8:30 pm: “This is East” Building Session, 165 Broadway
o 6:30 – 7:30 pm: “How to Gather Metrics on a Block”, 35 Prospect Street
o 7:45 – 9:15 pm: “How to Activate Public Space”, Union Square Plaza
o 7:45 – 9:15 pm: “How to Make Wayfinding Signage”, Union Square Plaza
• Friday, May 30
o 2:30 – 5:00 pm: “This is East” Building Session, 165 Broadway
o 6:00 – 8:30 pm: “This is East” Building Session, 165 Broadway
o 6:30 – 8:30 pm: “How to Build a Parklet”, Union Square Plaza
o 6:30 – 8:30 pm: “How to Build Pallet Furniture”, Union Square Plaza
o 7:00 – 8:30 pm: “This is East” Completion Celebration, 165 Broadway
o 9:00 – 9:45 pm: “How to Build a Better Street”, 35 Prospect Street
• Saturday, May 31
o 1:00 – 2:00 pm: “How to Make Wayfinding Signage”, Union Square Plaza
o 2:00 – 4:00 pm: “How to Build a Better Street”, Union Square Plaza
o 2:00 – 4:00 pm: “How to Activate Public Space”, Union Square Plaza
o 2:00 – 4:00 pm: “How to Build a Parklet”, Union Square Plaza
o 3:00 – 4:00 pm: “How to Build Pallet Furniture”, Union Square Plaza
o 3:00 – 5:00 pm: Somerville Arts Council “Dancing in the Streets”, Union Square Plaza
o 5:00 pm: Major League Bocce Association “Introduction to Bocce” class, Union Square
o 6:00 – 7:00 pm: “How to Gather Metrics on a Block”, Union Square Plaza
• Sunday, June 1
o 12:00pm – 4:00 pm: Carnaval at SomerStreets, 165 Broadway
In September 2013, the “Somerville by Design” community planning initiative used three-day, temporary tactical urbanism installations to bring residents into neighborhood planning processes. A small parking lot in Davis Square was transformed into a public plaza, and in East Somerville two parallel parking spaces on Broadway were transformed into a temporary “parklet.” Vacant storefronts adjacent to the installations became open design studios, with city planners and elected officials hosting community meetings from dawn to dusk to solicit public input on neighborhood planning issues.

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