Archive for November, 2011

Letting Children Create Their Own Play

November 30, 2011 2 comments

Water & Play: Just Try to Drag Them Away

Part of the interactive playscape at Darling Park, Sydney Australia by Aspect Studios

This what I’m talking about!  Creating parks that draw children in and capture their imaginations for hours on end through endless movement, experimentation and, what the designers of Dalring Park call, “acceptable risk taking.” (FastCo. Design)


Can you think of anywhere in your community where some innovation & inspiration is needed?


NOTE: Traverse City is no Sydney Australia and we won’t be matching this output on our waterfront. However, part of the goal from the 2010 planning process was capturing the essence of creating play through out the entire project, namely at Clinch Park. We do this through great design. 

For more inspiration:

Giving Strangers the Gift of an Absurd Story

November 29, 2011 1 comment

Video Tuesday

Improv Everywhere creator Charlie Todd on the power of absurdity in public spaces


* +1 the project shown at the 9 minute mark in this video. 


Downtown And the Mall, Different Beasts for Different Needs

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Downtown isn’t going to win big box shoppers and  the mall isn’t going to win the person seeking character & history. We could pay someone to park but the Bed, Bath & Beyond shopper still wouldn’t come downtown.”

- Steve Patterson,  Poll: Thoughts on On-Street Parking Downtown 

via StreetsBlog Network

Well said.

The Traverse City Bayfront Project That Thinks It Can, Thinks It Can

November 28, 2011 2 comments

Meeting Announcement

Tonight the City Commission will hold a study session concerning the 2012 construction project at Clinch park, including the fate of the mini-steam engine train ride. If you have a concern about what the direction that this space will take over the next 40-50 years, please consider attending or sending an email to the commissioners. At this point, they need to be reminded that people have high expectations for a re-imagined waterfront. For a few, that may include keeping a train ride, for many others it does not.

You can view the City Commission packet here or embedded below.

Same train, two views

Also on the agenda and of interest is a discussion of major projects and a 2-year strategic planning process…I know these two topics don’t jump out at you with excitement, but it is an opportunity to see the direction of staff and the commissioners.

If you want to help get the Bayfront project back on a path towards something great, please take a moment today to contact the City Commissioners. They need to be shown some love and support for a waterfront that City residents can be proud of. 

Public Restrooms, Destroying Cities, 45 mph to Nowhere …Chatter

November 25, 2011 4 comments

It is astounding the excuses made for the lack of public bathrooms in downtown Traverse City. #JustSayin

The fact that nobody thought of putting bathrooms into the two parking decks and then staff and representatives look around like they don’t know what to do is absurd (Ticker).  I understand that as a culture we under value immediate needs and human nature (MyWHaT), it is quite clear in some of the brush-off comments on The Ticker, but at a certain point it becomes obvious that if we are to have a place that goes beyond adequate, then dedicated, attractive and inviting public bathrooms need to happen.

My vote: convert “Lot O” into a park with a LEED certified bathroom/warming area and if another deck goes in, a bathroom is required. Where we pee shouldn’t fall on the backs of businesses, lest they choose to rebel (NYTimes).

~ photo by four12

The Chatter

(My apologies, there may just be too much here.)

with numerous studies from different cities the world over repeatedly suggesting positive economic benefits on a local scale, urban bicycle networks could provide our cities with a much-needed economic boost.”

We’ve built a 45 mile per hour world, one that moves too slow to be efficient yet too fast to provide a platform for value. Our transportation system embraces mediocrity, not from a lack of resources, but from a lack of focus. We must quit fooling ourselves, understand what it means to really create value in a transportation system and commit ourselves to building Strong Towns.”

Listen to to the Strong Town’s post:



  • RT everybodywalk Quote of the Day: “The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.” ~Buddha
  • RT stevemouzon One test for potential for greatness is how infrequently someone lets urgent small things trump important big things
  • RT transportdata “Social life happens when we walk or bike. It doesn’t happen in a car.”
  • RT urbandata $45 of every $100 spent at a locally-owned business stays in local economy. Only $14 of that same $100 spent at chain store stays.
  • RT Maddz4planning Not new knowledge. Crime leads to perceived risk and inactivity. Encouraging biking and walking is about more than just lanes and sidewalks
  • RT ellyblue Yeah! RT @remyholwick: elizabeth braun begs to differ; she bikes in heels, dresses, and suits– aggressively– daily, and has for years.
  • MT brainpicker “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

The Wrap

We can do better” is the winning film for a LA based contest called “Changing Your City for the Better.“– I’d like to see a campaign like this for Traverse City, just say’in.

Have a weekend!

Visualizes This: Every Roadway Death from 2001-2009

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Graphic Friday

Each dot = A life ended on U.S. roads

In total, 369,629 people died in crashes between 2001 and 2009.

49,827 of those deaths were people on foot, bicycle or some other non-motorized vehicle.

Dangerous by Design


Get to zero


* Graphic: Screen grab of the The Guardian’s interactive US road accident casualties: every one mapped across America using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Thank You

November 24, 2011 7 comments




Thank You…


…to all who bother to read. To everyone who contributes to the discussion. To those who contribute with guest posts. To those who contribute to the cause. 

…to all who engage and represent in their local governments. To those who engage and represent with area organizations. To those who are all in to protect and improve the commons.

…to all who gleefully use public spaces. Who take an elder to a park, sit on a park bench with a child and occupy our public drinking fountains. To those who stop to linger. To consider. 

…to all who feed our brains, minds and bodies.  To everyone who challenges us. To the strangers who pass by and leave behind subtle, powerful gifts. To those that become friends. 

…to all that believe it is worth the effort, thank you.



“Light the Night” A History of Hickory Hills Released

November 23, 2011 1 comment

Go Team!

After two years, two local high school students have finished their tribute history to Hickory Hills, Traverse City’s municipally operated ski hill. Molly Tompkins and Ryan Ness have collected stories from hundreds of people for the tribute to the hill where they learned to ski.

The result, titled “Light the Night“, will be on the bookshelves this December. The easiest way to purchase a copy is to order direct from their website at Preserve Hickory Hills. Proceeds from the sale of the book  will go to the Preserve Hickory organization to work with the City of Traverse City and the Ski Club to ensure that Hickory Hills is preserved for the coming generations.

We knew Hickory Hills contributed significantly to Traverse City’s heritage, but through the process of writing this book, we have come to realize its history is richer than we ever imagined, wrote the authors in the Record Eagle earlier this month.

Some fun facts they came up with:

  • Hickory Hills was the first Michigan ski area to have lights for night skiing.
  • Traverse City High School was the first school in the state with a varsity ski team.
  • Little known, but there are also 5-kilometers of cross-country ski trails.

As a reminder of what type of memories will happen in just a few weeks–how about a face-plant at the 48 second mark of the following video. Oh, the memories, you gotta have them.

Hickory Jumps by 

A big MyWHaT thank you to Molly and Ryan for the book and the continued support of a great community destination and service.

Have a memory of Hickory Hills?


NOTE: Hickory Hills remains a topic of discussion at the City since it was tagged as an “unnecessary subsidy” by some in the COFAC report. Although there is no immediate threat that the City would even think about selling it, that was where some people started. Currently, the City is exploring options of how to raise revenue from the property. Two suggestions out there include designing and building for summer events (mainly an attractive lodge) and the addition of a tubing run. You can view the Tubing study at the City’s Hickory Hills web page. If you’d like to contribute to the discussion, the Parks and Recreation Commission meets every first Thursday of the month or you can send us an email

Too Early to Learn Skills for Riding in the Springtime? Never

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Video Tuesday

Filmed in front of the HUB in New York:

“How not to flash people wearing a skirt on a bike?” via 

You might recall our visit to the HUB last year when we recorded this insightful discussion with the owner, George Bliss.

Hat tip to B.P. Ding! Ding!


NOTE: I understand that we are gearing up for winter bicycling now, and that this video might not seem time-appropriate, but you never know when a heat wave may come through and inspire spring attire.

Some Guidelines for Criticizing and Complementing

November 21, 2011 2 comments

Well Put

Humility is the recognition that we don’t know, even when we think we know. 

~ Tony Schwartz, in his article There’s No Such Thing as Constructive Criticism 

Worth a read for a reminder of how we are all in this experience of inquiry together.


Hat tip to @joelga  for the find. Ding! Ding!

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