Neighborhoods: Windows into Boise. The plan, the progress and the exhibit.

Preliminary brainstorming process on neighborhood capacity.

For the past five months we have delved into three Boise neighborhoods. The City of Boise approached our Community and Regional Planning graduate program with one broad task: help us understand how to increase and build neighborhood capacity. Provided with three different (and surprisingly similar) neighborhoods, we began a process that would be tiring, frustrating and most importantly, rewarding.

For a more comprehensive look at our initial goals and implementation steps, take a look at our blog on the beginning of our neighborhood project.
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Looking at Boise, historically, currently, and geospatially.

Boise Rendering, Google Earth 2013

Boise Rendering, Google Earth 2013

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, when you combine pictures from multiple eras focusing on the same thing, the differences (or similarities) can speak volumes for themselves. In this video blog below, I wanted to draw attention to an area that I feel needs some serious TLC on the development side. While there are likely reasons, stories – or even excuses – as to why these areas are undeveloped after so long, it seemed quite logical to use some of the free technological tools at our disposal to make an argument or two. First, is that 30 years is far to long for a parcel in a downtown area to be a dirt plot, and second, the main high-speed entrance to the downtown area should be a welcome sign, not a brown, dusty parking lot. Continue reading

How the Market Was Won

Residents and visitors perusing Pike's Place, accessed 2/18/2014,

Residents and visitors perusing Pike’s Place, accessed 2/18/2014,

As the first proposed project slated for Urban Renewal in Seattle, the Pike Plaza Redevelopment Project had big plans for what is now one of the most recognizable landmarks in Seattle.

So, how exactly did this once “blighted” area escape its slated doom and transform into the beloved neighborhood commodity enjoyed by residents and visitors alike today? Continue reading

Dolores Hayden: The Cycle of Suburbia

"Dolores Hayden", accessed 2/3/2014,

“Dolores Hayden”, accessed 2/3/2014,

Dolores Hayden is an accomplished academic, author, poet, historian and urbanist. Her career has been speckled with success and notoriety; the notability of her publications would make some of the most-read authors cower with respect. Hayden is most known for her work delving into the antithesis of “idealistic” living: the Suburb. Continue reading

Chicago Commercial Club: Early planning’s philosopher kings.

Burnham's Civic Center Plaza - Wikipedia, 2/2/2014

Burnham’s Civic Center Plaza – Wikipedia, 2/2/2014

An intentionally pretentious, while moderately accurate title. While they may not have been exactly what Plato had in mind, it would appear they were empowered in the way he might have imagined. In many ways, the organization ‘built’ Chicago, steering it and planning for its future – a course that led it to today’s Windy City. Their names adorn neighborhoods, streets, museums, and public infrastructure. These individual’s contributions to the city, perhaps, kept it from stuttering incrementalism or economically stalling at times. Without their power, influence, and money, Chicago would look altogether different, and other places that emulated designs and plans would clearly not look as they do. Organizations such as the club have helped to bring change to stymied growth and development, revitalize city areas, and capture culture.

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Stand and deliver: testifying at a planning and zoning hearing

Meridian City Hall, Idaho - Wikimedia, 12/16/2013

Meridian City Hall, Idaho – Wikimedia, 12/16/2013

The need may arise, or you may be called upon, to testify at a public hearing. For some, it may be as intimidating as a courtroom – perhaps in some respects like being the defense counsel, or in others, like being a party pursuing a civil suit. This pressure might feel overwhelming, but there are ways to prepare and educate yourself that may enable you to deliver a ‘pitch-perfect’ performance. That does indeed mean that there is a responsibility on your part (the citizen) to know the proverbial “Field of Play” when it comes to hearings, and it is the responsibility on their part (the planning body) to make the process clear and equitable.
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When is it okay to fail?

Aerial Vignette – Katy, TX. (Salon des Refuse, Illustration by author)

In 2010 I was a member of an ad hoc design team backed by the environmental groups, Sea Grant Texas and the Texas Coastal Watershed Program. We pooled our resources in order to create a conceptual project for a design competition — for a piece of land in rural south Texas. Continue reading