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In reply to: Designing Better Urban Spaces for Kids - CityLab

This is pretty much my dream article.

In grad school, I read this article about why kids in Japan are so independent right after having finished reading Yi-Fu Tauns Topophilia, I started to wonder, what would a public transit system designed specifically for children look like?” Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by the idea. Fascinated not only by the potential design challenges, but also because I really think if more aspects of public, private, and digital life were designed with children specifically in mind the world would be a better place.

What if, instead of devising ways to deter kids from using public space, cities were built to encourage it?

Continuing,

Not only [would] better design help these children thrive and become healthier, more successful adults, but planning for children, with their more limited range and unhurried pace, means simultaneously planning for other vulnerable groups, such as the disabled and the elderly. And the well-being of children can have a way of uniting policymakers who disagree on most everything else.

Not only that, but I think design with children in mind would help to break most folks’ inability to comprehend hyperobjects, and other diffuse disasters that we generally struggle to address with any urgency (I’m lookin’ at you climate change…and debt crisis…)

So what does designing a city around kids mean? The Arup report’s authors are clear that it’s not just about building more playgrounds, however important such spaces are and will continue to be. The report focuses on two main aspects of design: everyday freedoms and children’s infrastructure….Everyday freedoms refer to children’s ability to travel safely on foot or bike and without an adult in their neighborhood—to school, to a rec center, to a park….Children’s infrastructure means the network of spaces and streets that can make a city child-friendly and encourage these everyday freedoms.

So, maybe a weird question — but how does the indieweb address children? Does it? Should it?

On the personal climate essay

I’d never stopped to think about the degree to which weather shaped my consciousness until I moved somewhere without much of it.

From This Was The Winter When It Rained In LA,” by Doree Shafrir

I think this essay is fascinating. In a recent issue of his fantastic 5it news letter, Alexis Madrigal described this essay as a personal climate essay.”

I’m a total nerd for established climate fiction, and emerging climate genres. 💯 nerd.

In response to Frankenstein (perhaps the first piece of climate fiction?) the question was posed: How do you write about the psychological impacts of climate change on an individual and on a society?”

I think the personal climate essay is a good way of doing just that!

Timothy Morton describes climate change as a hyperobject.” In 140 characters or less:

  • A hyperobject is a phenomenon or object that is so massively distributed in time and space that we struggle to perceive it.

…which is maybe the reason some folks struggle to understand the urgency of our global climate situation. Climate change is REALLY REALLY big. Mind boggelingly big. HUGE. Bigger than huge. The climate has, historically, gone about its business at a fairly geologic-pace. Come the dawn of the industrial revolution, however, things started to change. The pace started to quicken. We’re reaching a point where the climate is getting ready to lap us, and leave us in the dust. We need to act. 😱 😰 😵

None of this is news. I’m just panicking now. Back to the topic at hand. Personal climate essays.

I think the personal climate essay is a powerful tool in combating climate change because it offers individual entrance to, perspective on, and articulation of a hyperobject.

Some folks don’t have the luxury of needing literary articulation of a hyperobject. A climate refugee’s lived experience is articulation enough. Nonetheless, I’m glad to see this excellent piece of writing published online because we probably need all the perspective we can muster.

Woof, post got a little heavier then I anticipated it would! 😳


Follow up item: Buzzfeed is knocking it out of the park! Here is an intimate (as opposed to personal?) medical essay, this one contextualizes the importance of affordable healthcare.

Who should pay for Evan Karr’s heart?”, by Anne Helen Petersen.