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May 2010 Blog posts

Are shop windows a thing of the past or the future?

Candy Chang's Post-it Notes for Neighbors project

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the role storefronts play in the pedestrian experience. Mike Toolis got me started on this train of thought at MPC’s Talking the Walk roundtable on April 21 when he gave a thought-provoking analysis of the impact building design has on streetscapes – especially windows that open to the street and give passers-by a glimpse into the space. Then MPC’s partner on the Polish Triangle project, WPB, announced a program to bring life to empty storefronts. The contest, Make Believe: Reactivating Vacant Spaces in WPB, asked artists to submit proposals that show how they imagine commerce in Wicker Park and Bucktown will look in the future. I can’t wait to see the amazing ideas people came up with when the installations are…

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MarySue's Midweek Links

Are federal policies that encourage sprawl a thing of the past? Did you feel the seismic shift last Friday like I did? In front of the 18th Congress for the New Urbanism, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan declared that the time has come for the federal government to stop encouraging sprawl in its policies. Donovan boldly and proudly announced that his department’s $3 billion worth of projects annually would all use location efficiency and LEED-ND criteria -- a rating system that MPC has supported since its early stages -- when scoring grant applications. This announcement is a mighty victory for MPC and other sustainable communities advocates across the country and it might just inspire imitation by other federal agencies and by state and local governments.…

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New report offers promising strategies to address foreclosures

PolicyLink has released a set of recommendations to help communities respond to foreclosures, in a new report titled When Investors Buy Up the Neighborhood: Strategies to Prevent Investor Ownership from Causing Neighborhood Decline. The authors note that rental housing is a key element to meeting communities' diverse housing needs, and the recent foreclosure crisis has reminded policymakers that not all families should be homeowners. Communities can ensure that rental options are a community asset through such means as enforcing building codes and licensing landlords. Foreclosed homes can also provide a source of affordable homeownership, and communities can offer incentive programs that assist individuals to buy and rehab these foreclosed homes. The report offers a number of strategies…

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Tackle three urban challenges at Infrastructures for Change workshop 6/3

If you're a design practitioner, planner, engineer, environmental scientist, ecologists, or policy maker, you'll want to attend Archeworks' semi-annual Infrastructures for Change symposium on Thursday, June 3, 2010, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Inspired by the 1909 Plan of Chicago, the symposium, jointly planned with MPC and Openlands, will focus on the design and planning of the next 100 years of Chicago, Lake Michigan, and the built urban environment within the Great Lakes Basin. Sessions will focus on three urban challenges facing Chicago and cities everywhere in the 21st Century: shrinking economies, health crises, and ecological security. Participants will discuss how to design cities that work better with natural systems to conserve energy and sustain diminishing natural…

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Trade 4 wheels for 2 on upcoming Bike-to-Work days

This post was written by John Mitchell, MPC research assistant What better way to celebrate the recent return of spring than trading in those four wheels and congested commutes for two wheels and fresh air as part of today’s national “Bike-to-Work Day?” In addition to being an environmental friendly and less expensive way to commute, biking is generally quicker (for trips less than 3 miles) or just as fast (for trips of 3-7 miles) as commuting by car. Plus, unlike sedentary transportation, biking is great exercise. For an average 10 mile round-trip bike commute, a 180 lb man burns 400 calories and a 130 lb woman burns 300. Did today’s event come a bit too quick to put air in those unused bike tires? If so, there is still plenty of time to prepare and plan for…

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