January 30, 2021

Blog All Dog-eared Pages: Urban Acupuncture by Jaime Lerner

Urban Acupuncture by Jamie Lerner. A quick read. I think I was expecting more ideas and starting points for ways to improve areas, whereas this seemed more a set of vignettes of things that make cities alive or interesting.

Page 37

An important step is to add elements that may be missing from a given area. If there is plenty of commerce or industry but no people, then housing development could be encouraged. If another district is all homes and apartment blocks, why not boost services?

Page 48

The more cities are understood to be the integration of functions—bringing together rich and poor, the elderly and the young—the more meeting places they will create and the livelier they will become. The design of public space is important.

Page 52

After all, the Smart Bus already exists. It comes with a few basic features and requirements. First, it requires a lane all its own (painted or not, but exclusive nonetheless), a reliable schedule, and frequent runs. Next, there must be stepless boarding and exit ways, prepaid ticketing, and a choice of local or express lines arriving and departing at regular intervals.

Page 52

[...] the Smart Taxi would have to operate on the same integrated fare system. Imagine that—cabs working in partnership with mass transportation and not against it!

Page 73

There was a time in Paris when you could personally decide what time public monuments would be lit. All you had to do was call a city desk, mark the time and place, pay a service charge, and you had your personal lighting to highlight a monument or any part of the city for someone you wanted to impress.

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January 23, 2021

#LiverpoolHannahLinks

At the start of 2020, long before we were engulfed by a pandemic, I started visiting some of the more interesting organisations and businesses in Liverpool. I'd give them a copy of the latest Hannah Directory, have a chat, and post a photo of the visit to Twitter, Mastodon and Instagram.

This blog post is to provide an explanation of why I started doing that.

The seed of the idea was planted a year or two earlier, when I was reading through Impact Hub Birmingham's plans for their next incarnation. In particular, this diagram (click through for the full-size version):

As I read through the list thinking how exciting it sounded, I was also bringing to mind Liverpool organisations that offered parts of it: community events space? that's like DoES Liverpool; community kitchen, not unlike Squash; makerspace? DoES Liverpool again or Little Sandbox; cycle hub? Peleton...

Liverpool already has pretty much all of this, plus extras in related ideas—they're just spread out and not considered as much as a thing.

Personally, I think ours is a better approach. It provides more diversity: of people involved; of ideas; of approach—we've got CICs, CLTs, co-operatives... That brings more resilience too—the failure of one idea or model doesn't bring down the whole network.

But there are also downsides. It's not as obvious that there is a network of organisations. There's less crossover between them as you don't get to encounter all of the ideas when you encounter one of them in isolation. And although most of us know each other, we don't get to catch up and bounce ideas around as often as we would if we were all in the same location.

The idea of a loose-knit network of people doing epic shit reminded me of the Hannah Directory, and of organiser Andrew Wilson's annual pilgrimage around the North delivering the directories for distribution. We have a stack of the latest edition available at DoES Liverpool for distribution, so it makes a lovely social object for me to take as a reason for getting in touch with everyone to meet up for a coffee and a chat.

Naturally the pandemic has made meeting up with people difficult, and so the delivery project has been on hold for a while. However, it has also shown that we're sorely in need of the ideas and, more importantly, activity from these groups. So I'm sharing this as a work-in-progress in the hope of sparking more conversations around it even during the lockdowns.

I'll add more links below when I get back to delivering directories. I'd also like to hear ideas for ways that we can build lightweight, low-effort ways for people to navigate the network, and for those of us in the network to catch up more often. In my experience we need some sort of reason for things to happen, otherwise the day-to-day always gets in the way.

Who Are the #LiverpoolHannahLinks?

  • DoES Liverpool. "Tinkering, making, electronics, Arduino... Organises #makernight. Runs a co-working and makerspace in the heart of Liverpool."
  • Homegrown Collective. "Bringing the brewing back home. Resident led collective: growing, recycling & brewing from a Victorian terrace within the heart of Anfield & Everton."
  • Peloton Liverpool Cooperative. "We believe Liverpool will be better with more of its residents and visitors cycling", and its sister organisation Agile Liverpool delivering goods by electric cargo bike.
  • Greens for Good. "Greens for Good by Farm Urban. Food that's good for people grown in ways that are good for the planet."
  • Little Sandbox "the place for kids who love, making, computer science and design technology" and Sandbox Workshop, "A community workshop on Townsend Avenue, behind Norris Green Library."
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January 18, 2021

Interesting Things on the Internet: January 18th 2021 Edition

  • Dancing With Systems. A lovely set of thoughts on ways to approach, and dance with, and influence, systems.
  • Arthur Dooley, One Pair of Eyes. Wonderful video (with the end missing, sadly) of a 1972 film by working class Liverpool sculptor Arthur Dooley. Lots of this that i agree with, but not all. Would've loved to hang out and chat to him about the city now.
  • If it isn’t autonomous, and it isn’t a metro system, then what exactly is the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro? Really interesting analysis of a Cambridge mass transit proposal, showing its workings. Filing away for the next step in the Knowledge Quarter's process of walking us back from "new station on Merseyrail" through "trackless trams" to "maybe there'll be a bus"... "Have you heard the word “gadgetbahn” before? It is a portmanteau coined to describe transport proposals that, to all intents and purposes, ought to be delivered using proven railway technology and yet go out of their way to be anything but a railway. Typically, such systems are intended to distract from or be at the expense of investment in proper, functional public transport."
  • Weeknotes: Security/safety/economics, accountability, empathy. There were more than half-a-dozen new tabs open in my browser at the end of reading Laura's weeknotes this week.
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