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My Four Wishes for the Urban Fabric, 2012 Edition


Last year, I wrote a list of wishes for 2011. Looking back, a number of those wishes have come true. The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, a beloved start-up incubator, is set to get remodeled and become bigger and better.We have the promise of HondaJet expanding in Greensboro. I witnessed the Greensboro City Council get better from the front lines.  Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are set to arrive. More apartments are getting built downtown. My car is paid off.

With some of my wishes fulfilled, now I look ahead to my 2012 wishes for the urban fabric. These wishes are a bit more personal, as I see myself as having a greater responsibility for advocating for an urban future.

Walking and Biking More (Even When It’s Cold and Rainy)

I got better about walking last year. When I am downtown, I make it a point to only park once. I attempted to purchase a bike, but it was just the wrong time and the wrong price to do so. This year, I’m just going to walk. I may live in a suburban area, but it will not stop me from walking the quiet streets. I’ll park farther from the door of my office. I’ll use airport shuttles and public transport when I visit places that have great systems. And I’ll keep calling for places that don’t to get their act together.

Becoming More Integrated Into the Better Places Movement (Formerly known as New Urbanism, Smart Growth, Third Spaces, Sustainable Communities and Community Development)

I was happy to see that the New Urban Network has become the Better!Cities and Towns site. If you are reading this on the site, you’ll notice I changed my tagline. If not, the tagline is now “A young black woman’s attempt to create real community.”  I also am working to broaden my own voice. Last year it was great to ride the novelty of being the Black Urbanist, however, this year I am working to add even more meat and raise awareness of more community issues. Accessibility and shared community need to be something all income levels enjoy. While people love having larger homes, they also like having options to walk to corner stores with fresh fruit and safe places to gather that aren’t geared to commercialism or privatized to the point of no entry. That’s my crusade for this year and I will be taking it to a number of venues, to be announced,  as we continue into 2012. Also, enough with all the different labels. Community is community and we all know what it looks like when done right.

Reducing My Dependence on Chain Retail

This one is hard. I am a mall rat. Also, if I fail to support my local mall, we will lose some of the good remaining retail near my home. However, I realize more and more that the possessions I have do not matter as much as the people I have and that I share said possessions with. I think that I can make the most of being in a suburban area, by reducing my car trips to shopping areas and taking up more DIY projects. Also, when I can, I want to carpool. My belly will love it when I stop going to Bojangles as much and I’ll begin to use the things I already have more and save for travel.

Becoming More Competitive In a Glocal Market

Yes, I used the word Glocal. I am hoping to become location-independent in the next few years. This way, I could pick areas that are walkable/bikeable, but reasonably priced. Many bastions of walkability area are  too affluent and pricey for the space provided. However, a nice small town with a lot of downtown stock (Sanford, NC and many New England towns come to mind), would be perfect. I could even set up a more permanent shop such as a coffee shop or fruit stand if I wanted, because I have an income stream that allows me to contribute to an area that needs it.  I am still open to being somewhere large and already vibrant, but without commuting expenses. I would like to start a family. Unfortunately, there is a great fight for urbanist and family friendly areas that are affordable. I want to set roots so that I can help ease that transition for myself and others.

My 2012 wishes are so big,  some will not come true in 2012. My goal is that I plant the seeds for all four of these activities and then watch them grow in the coming years. I was inspired by meeting so many different people in 2011 who have different approaches to placemaking. I feel like we all have a responsibility to let people know how we can all live better and to find incremental ways to repair the sprawl in our own lives. And that, is a major wish granted.

Photo credit above Flickr user: karusimionato under a CC BY-NC 2.0 licence

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