Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Placemaking in suburbia

This lady lives near me and like so many who live in Byron she enjoys walking about our suburban neighbourhood. I spotted her with a friend in front of my home; They had stopped while she, clearly a serious photographer judging by her camera, grabbed some careful images of the crabapple tree in bloom.

Our street is lined with crabapple trees and in the spring it is beautiful. I must tell you that my wife disagrees. Oh, it looks nice, she'll grant me that. But the bees that are attracted to the blooms --- big, loud-buzzing bumblebees --- in the hundreds!

Maybe tomorrow I'll try and grab a picture of one or more of the stinging little devils. It's best I take an antihistamine before the shoot.



Sarah said...

Interesting Shot! You captured someone while she was capturing something...!

sndo said...

Hate to rag on you but suburbia is pretty much the antithesis of placemaking.

Rockinon said...

Dear sndo:

I can understand your opposition to the idea that a suburb and successful placemaking can co-exist. That said, people build cities and people can create successful neighbourhoods anywhere. I've lived both in downtown London and in Byron, a London suburb, and personally I have found that neither neighbourhood offered all that should be offered and easily could be offered.

I checked your link to the Wikipedia entry and read that the concepts behind placemaking originated in the 1960s, when writers like Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte offered groundbreaking ideas about designing cities that catered to people . . . Their work focused on the importance of lively neighborhoods . . . Jacobs advocated citizen ownership of streets . . . "

My court is so much more lively than the street I lived on in the core. Kids play hockey on the court while only cars and bikes used my old street in the downtown. When I want to take my granddaughters tobogganing I simply walk across the street. The slope here is even better than the one near St. Joe's Hospital in North London. We walk to the asparagus farm for fresh green spears in the spring, we walk to get ice cream in the summer and in the fall we pick fruit at an orchard of dwarf apple trees a short bike ride away.

Could Byron be better. Yes, it could. It could be a lot better. The city planning department is letting everyone down. Both the residents of the core and of the suburbs, like Byron, deserve better.

Rockinon said...

One last remark: When I was a boy I was raised in a 1930s - '40s mixed use early-suburban neighbourhood. Fathers walked to work (most women were not in the work force when I was born), everyone walked to everything (the store, to school and to church). If one had had a sheet with a list of what was needed for proper placemaking, my old neighbourhood would have rung the bell with every box checked. In a perfect world, we would still be making our suburbs like those early ones. We are not and that is the problem.