Many are puzzling over how digital technology can be designed to work more for us than against us. But countless such tools already exist to do that—it’sjust a matter of how we use them. This is a personal example of how individuals orchestrated our public-serving governmental entities and digital creations to improve a community’s quality of life.
On a beautiful day in 1999, a few years after we moved to our newly-built suburban neighborhood near Washington, D.C., I got the urge to walk with my six-year-old son to a nearby park.
This was no ordinary destination, but the serene and meticulously cared-for Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, the only such facility in all of northern Virginia.
Though barely a mile long, the walk itself was tough. We fought through tall grass along winding Beulah Road—surely trespassing on other people’s yards. As we trudged ahead, we noticed a trampled area, replete with the fresh detritus of a car accident.
In Portland, Oregon, they bike naked in the streets, hold laundromat happy hours, and neighbors adopt their intersections. The place is weird – which is a boon for the people who live there.
I learned a lot about the City of Roses, along with planners, politicians and policy makers, at the International Making Cities Livable conference. In his keynote, Portland mayor Charlie Hales ticked off some of the many ways his town makes its people the priority.
Spending $1 billion on the Willamette River so it’s clean enough for swimming
Giving every high school kid a free transit pass
Removing a riverfront highway to make way for a park
Hales says Portland’s land use and transportation policies “render freedom less dangerous.” With less time worrying about being hit by a car, Portlanders appear to be spending more time coming up with new ideas.