It really did all start with a map. I’ve told my story before, but I wanted to revisit it again this week as we will be talking about grassroots planning.
This week also marks the launch of my new weekly e-newsletter, the Blackurbanpaper. Be sure to use the purple box on the top right to subscribe so you don’t miss an issue. If you already subscribe to my posts via email, you are all set to receive the newsletter.
Anyway, back to the story. Lately I’ve been feeling a little lost. I don’t exactly want to draw plans (although I like sketching in my notebook) as a career. Also, I’ve never pounded the pavement to save my neighborhood either. Never had to really. I’ve always lived in stable environments, but had a hunger for making less sustainable and stable communities better. After wrestling over this question in the middle of the night, at CNU and in the middle of downtown Greensboro, I’ve determined that there’s not really a need to put a label on what I do. Well, besides the one that adorns the top of this page. So what do I think makes me qualified to be an urbanist? Here are my reasons:
- I love my city and I want to see it grow.
- I never stopped believing in the idea of the city, even as I’m forced by economics to live in more suburban terrain.
- I think we can solve a few social problems with improved urban and suburban forms that promote connectivity.
- As a person of color, many of us found opportunity and then lost it in the urban form. I think we can regain opportunity in this new smart city framework, as well as regain the connectivity and community my elders speak of.
- I have no problems using the city bus, riding a bike AND driving a car, when appropriate.
- I believe community goes beyond, but is strengthened by a positive built environment.
Even though I made my decision to become a writer and public relations guru for great causes and companies, I feel like I still need to tell this story. The story of the city. The story of the community. The story of life.
I know I don’t have all the answers. I’m not the expert (yet). I know that my definition doesn’t match perfectly the Charter of New Urbanism or even popular opinion on what a city is. However, I’m going to keep doing what I can to make my community better. Even if some days it’s just putting up another post on this blog. Hopefully someone will read it and know how important it is to make their community a better place.