Tag: community

Use of the street by the inhabitants: Bristol and Brighton examples

Bristol

Article from the Gardian: Your street should be more than a road. Emma McGowan looks at how to reduce the noise of traffic and increase the noise of play in your neighbourhood. Bristol example in blue.

“People are growing much more aware of the impact of traffic, including air pollution and crowded residential streets,” says Sian Berry from the Campaign for Better Transport. “It’s not surprising that communities are taking action to make their streets quieter, cleaner and friendlier.”

There are a number of approaches you can take. The charity Sustranshelps communities redesign their streets to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists over cars. Its two-year DIY Streets project in Haringey in north London reduced traffic at monitoring sites by 10%.

Finlay McNab, national projects coordinator at Sustrans, says that people shouldn’t feel daunted by the process of getting a street layout changed to reduce traffic or to slow it down. “You can do more than you think if you’re prepared to go to council meetings,” he says. “You can achieve a lot, even with small amounts of money.”

Another approach is to try to change the mindset of road users by altering the appearance of the road. The Victoria Parade Residents Association in Bristol applied to its neighbourhood partnership access fund for money to purchase giant colourful stickers that were then blowtorched onto the road surface.

“Ours is a long, one-way street that’s used by drivers as a cut-through between two main roads,” says resident Jim McEwan. “We wanted to do something that would make drivers turning into the road think ‘hang on, people live here’.

“There’s no limit to how creative you can be with thermoplastic road markings. We viewed the road as a 150-metre long canvas. We ran art workshops and had a street party where we tried out our designs in poster paint on the road. And from the start we had our local councillor on board, which was critical.”

Getting people to see the street as a community resource is important. “A high proportion of traffic will be made up of people who live locally,” says Finlay. “A street party can make people more receptive to the idea of traffic reduction.”

Playing Out, the Bristol-based community interest company that encourages street play across the UK, successfully lobbied its local authority to introduce temporary play street orders, which allow residential streets to be closed to traffic for up to three hours a week, every week for a year.

“The orders work best when people really consult with their neighbours,” says Naomi Fuller, communications officer at Playing Out. 

“And it can be a good idea to apply to do a one-off to see if there’s an appetite to do more and whether you have enough people willing to be stewards.

“The benefits are felt by all residents, not just the kids. When I went to apologise to an elderly couple on my street about the noise the children had made, they said they preferred the sound of children playing over the noise of cars speeding down the road and doors slamming.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 15.33.34 Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 15.33.24

Visit the Playing Out website to find out if your local authority has some form of play street order. If not, lobby your local councillor.

Your local transition group is also a good starting point; it may have traffic-reducing projects under way that you could help with. Or ask your local council if your community has a neighbourhood plan, which should include information about transport and traffic issues, as well as ideas for improvements. 

A walk to school campaign can also help reduce traffic. The charity Living Streets has been campaigning since 1929 to make the streets safer and more attractive, largely by getting more people walking. If your school isn’t one of the 2,000 across the UK involved in Living Streets’ Walk to School campaign, contact your headteacher or ask your local authority to involve all schools in your area.

“One of the things we do is look at what is stopping people from walking their children to school,” says Kevin Golding-Williams, public affairs and policy manager at Living Streets. “It can be anything from poorly maintained pavements to traffic congestion around the school gate. Addressing those barriers can have a big impact on getting people out of their cars. 

“We also conduct street audits with local authorities and community groups to identify what improvements could be made. That might be removing unnecessary bollards or other obstructive street furniture to help make walking safer and easier.”


Brighton

Article from the Gardian: Tidy St: Shining a light on community energy efficiency. Residents of a Brighton street are taking part in a project to monitor daily energy use

The old adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure is particularly pertinent when it comes to household energy use, which soared by 13.4% in 2010. Few people measure their weekly or even daily electricity consumption, which makes it hard for them to work out, where cuts might be possible – even if they wanted to.

Enter Tidy Street in Brighton. Residents who volunteered for a new energy-saving initiative have been given electricity meters so they can monitor their daily energy use, and identify which devices are using the most power, and when. For the past three weeks, they have been entering daily meter readings on tidystreet.org, to build up a picture of each household’s energy use.

Once people started measuring – 17 of the street’s 52 households signed up straight away – local street artist Snub was commissioned to paint the street’s average energy use against the Brighton average in a graph on the road outside their homes.

“It’s a great way to do it,” says Paul Clark, a software developer who has lived on Tidy Street for 10 years. “It engages people – passers-by often ask what it’s all about – and for those of us that live here, it’s something to be proud of.”

Open-source software designed specially for the project allows each household to compare their energy use not only with the Brighton average, but also with the national average or even that of other countries. Involving the community was key to getting the project off the ground, says Jon Bird, the project co-ordinator and designer of the software.

“I went along to the residents’ annual street party last year, and explained what we were trying to do; that it was voluntary and that no one was trying to impose anything on anyone,” he says.

“Then it was a case of identifying the ‘champions’ in the street – those who were going to tell their neighbours about the project; those who were going to be doing the measuring in the individual households.”

Each household has chosen its own icon to mark the data points on the street and online graphs and residents’ input helps foster the sense they own the project.

Electricity-usage-marking-009 Chart1

Ruth Goodall, 70, who has lived on Tidy Street for 30 years, says she wasn’t interested in her electricity use before the initiative but measuring it every day has inspired her to change her behaviour. “I always used to fill up my kettle to the top but having seen how much extra power that uses I’m careful to just boil what I need,” she says.

Strikingly, over the three weeks the project has been running, the street’s average energy use has dropped by 15%, with some people cutting usage by as much as 30%. Much of this has been achieved by simple behavioural changes such as turning of lights and devices on standby.

“Now the challenge is to see if those reductions can be maintained,” says Bird.

Phase two of the project is about to be launched, during which 10 households on Tidy Street will for the first time measure their gas usage over the next six months.

“We are also looking at working with community groups based in the city, such as Brighton and Hove 10:10, to encourage other streets and organisations in the city, to start measuring their energy use,” says Bird, who has recently been approached by one school, keen to set up an electricity-use measuring project with its pupils.

Perhaps energy companies should take note. Next year sees the introduction of the “green deal”, a scheme whereby people can invest in energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses at no upfront cost, instead paying through installments on their energy bills. Community engagement will be key to their ability to deliver the programme.

Happy, a documentary about happiness

What makes you happy?

HAPPY – Directed by Roko Belic – seeks to share the wisdom of traditional cultures and the cutting edge science that is now, for the first time, exploring human happiness. Through powerful interviews, we explore what makes people happy across the world. 

Some notes i took during the movie:

compassion – gratitude – caring – love -> spiritual emotion
make you think about things that are bigger than yourself
seek your own happiness, self happiness -> selfish
move to the wellbeing of the world -> your life grows, you car about something bigger than yourself, transcend your own life.

If each of us spend a little bit of time each day practicing to cooper happiness and also to call the other vertus quality: compassion, altruism -> the world would be a better place -> it would transform our brain in a positive way

It is about being authentic with who you are

Thinking happiness as a skill -> no different to learn how to play violin or golf

The formula for happiness is not the same for everyone
the things we love to do are the building blocks of a happy life: play, new experiences, friends and family, doing things that are meaning full, appreciate what we have -> things that makes us happy are free -> the more you have the more everyone has, benefice from it

social bounding, interaction, co-operation -> rewording to human, how we inhibit our self-interest in order to do something with someone -> otherwise you don’t cooperate, self cent rated. We don’t behave that way, we are human, social creature

Co-operation -> elicit dopamine signals, the act of co-operate with another human can, in the right circumstances, feel as good as taking a drug that increase your dopamine.

In a culture which often encourage competition instead of cooperation

Joy comes from connection to others, the best things we can do for child is to learn them to love well

Before modern culture influenced our thought about happiness, what made us happy before video games, internet and television, car and electricity.

Dalai Lama: to teach me the value of compassion is my mother. Compassion, from birth is in our blood, your whole life.

People who do a specific form of meditation, compassion and loving kindness can increase their happiness level to a greater extend and for a far longer period of time.

Richard J. Davidson Phd

When we work in a community we realise that: my life is pretty good as it is, I have something to give to someone, who doesn’t have something that I have. You switch from thinking about what don’t I have to what do I have that I can share.
-> we know from research that it is a very powerful thing which makes people happier

We all need something bigger than our self:
– structure religion
– compassion, caring
– gratitude
– spiritual feeling
-> be connected to the univers to other people

Swing Time

 

In Boston, playgrounds are no longer just for kids. Twenty LED-lit circular swings have been installed outdoors as a part of “Swing Time,” Boston’s first interactive sculpture installation. The hanging, glowing orbs are a twist on traditional rubber-and-rope swings, dangling from a minimal steel structure similar to those used in conventional playgrounds. LED lights embedded in the swings activate and change color as each swing moves, returning to a dim white light when static. The piece is designed to blend Boston’s design community with its expanding technology sector while playfully engaging residents.

Inspired by traditional playgrounds, Swing Time aims to activate outdoor spaces in Boston using technology and creativity, and was designed by Boston-based Howeler and Yoon Architecture in response to a lack of opportunity for urban play in the city. Swing Time is located at the Lawn on D, a contemporary sculpture park that borders on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on D Street on the city’s southern waterfront. The Lawn on D belongs to Boston’s newly minted Innovation District, an experimental area designed to foster the city’s burgeoning technology sector. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has defined the Innovation District as an “urban environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship,” creating a unique challenge for the designers of Swing Time.

 

 

The project represents a fusion of technology and community engagement while providing a new platform to celebrate local ingenuity. Each swing is formed of custom moulded and welded polypropylene built in three sizes for optimal use by residents of all ages. Movement in each swing is measured by an internal accelerometer that triggers the change of colour in the LED lighting system, ranging from white to blue and purple. The brief from Howeler and Yoon adds: “Swing Time‘s responsive play elements invite users to interact with the swings and with each other, activating the urban park and creating a community laboratory in the Innovation District and South Boston Neighbourhoods.”

From archdaily

More on dezeen

Walking/cycling bus

 

A walking/cycling school bus is a group of children walking/cycling to school with one or more adults. It is simple, and that’s part of the beauty of the walking school bus. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school to as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers.

  • Encourage physical activity by teaching children the skills to walk safely, how to identify safe routes to school, and the benefits of walking
  • Raise awareness of how walkable a community is and where improvements can be made
  • Raise concern for the environment
  • Reduce crime and take back neighborhoods for people on foot
  • Reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and speed near schools
  • Share valuable time with local community leaders, parents, and children
  • Gives them a chance to meet new friends and interact with old ones
  • Opportunities to identify intergenerational activities
  • The wider community can enjoy access to improved local
  • Engage communities around the walking / cycling stops
  • Support greater numbers of young people being involved in positive activity

Read more