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Public Spaces, Now More Than Ever

10:31 AM EST on March 3, 2009

Is the whole plummeting economy thing forcing you take stock of what you truly value in life? Yep, us too. And we'll take a wild guess that accessible, beautiful public spaces are on the short list for you as well.

23885624_418f92a845_m.jpgPhoto by Petra and Baby Z via Flickr.

Which is why, today on the Streetsblog Network, we're featuring a post from Making Places, the blog of our friends over at Project for Public Spaces. In it, they argue for continuing investment in parks and similar community resources, especially in these parlous times:

[A] glance at the news in any town or state can instill fears for fate of public spaces.

The economic crisis has clobbered state and local governments as well as philanthropic institutions, resulting in unprecedented threats to public spaces. In city after city, plans are being drawn to close libraries, reduce hours at museums, cut back on park maintenance, shelve community revitalization plans. There are calls to sell off schools, recreational facilities, even airports to the highest bidder.

That’s exactly the wrong thing to do right now. People depend on these public assets more than ever. In a crisis like this, we need to strengthen the public realm, not eviscerate it.

In Phoenix, the new light rail system has raised awareness of the importance of public amenities and community involvement in that city. Member blog Light Rail AZ writes about a new ad campaign that's promoting Phoenix as "the urban heart of Arizona," adding this:

Let's face it, communities are changed by people. People that are part of the community, the lifestyle. It starts by shopping local, by bringing unique developments and cool projects insteadof just the chain stores and billboard material. I am really lookingforward to watching what the new advertising partnership has to offer.I wonder how many of the advertising executives have been on the lightrail, have decided to live downtown or to help participate in itsgrowth by working with people in the communities? Do they know thesepeople can help them create the vibrancy in the neighborhoods that willhelp make a tourist's stay more enjoyable?

Plus: Preserving Savannah Neighborhoods looks to the example of Charleston, where some one-way streets have been improved by being converted to two-way, and Your Town Alabama highlights the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, which runs from Mobile, AL, all the way to Canada.

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