Saturday, June 02, 2007

Living Locally


I'm taking a class on Digital Libraries this semester, and I discovered this extraordinary video library today.

htp://www.ted.com/

In particular, I found this video of James Howard Kunstler, whom I mentioned in an early post as one of the influences that prompted me to start this blog. In Mr. Kunstler's view,
"public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about. Reengineering our cities will involve more radical change than we are prepared for, Kunstler believes, but our hand will be forced by earth crises stemming from our national lifestyle. 'Life in the mid-21st century," Kunstler says, "is going to be about living locally.'"


I urge you to watch all 20 minutes of the talk. Some of the photos he shows will remind you of similar places in and around Danbury, so while you're watching, think about the best and the worst civic features of Danbury, and what we can do to enhance the best and redesign the worst.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Worse Spots
-The 'big box' arterites of Newtown,Mill Plain Roads and Backus Avenue
-The shopping center at 301 Main Street where the dollar store is
-The grocery store, autozone and cvs on Main Street as well the gas stations right off Exit 5
-The firestone tire store on Ives Street

Best
-223 Main Street, the union savings bank building
-The library plaza
-The grass area on Ives


What can be done to fix the areas?
-Tear down the 301 Main Street Shopping Center with 4 or 5 5 story buildings, with 1 level shopping and 4 levels on owner occupied apartments, and parking level below street
-Make a walkable grocery store to the front of the current store and build a compact townhome develpment behind it (like of like the Enclave)
-Tear down firestone, build night club on 1st level and 5 story owner occupied apartments above with basement level parking.

Sharon said...

I hadn't thought about the Firestone Store as being out of place--it's convenient and I use them frequently--but you're right. It is out of place now. I don't remember, but it may have been there before the Danbury Green became the new Green.

The Green on Ives Street, where the Summertime Festival takes place, was sort of an accident, as I recall. It was a temporary measure, cleared and intended to be sold for development. But that was delayed, and meanwhile the good people of Danbury got very attached to the place. For once the City listened to its citizens, and the Green remained.

Yes, the Green should not be bordered by "industry." We've already got a great start with Ciao's, Two Steps, Bella Luna, Webster Bank, the Parking Garage, and the diner (although I wish they would repair the broken glass door). We need Firestone to move--not too far--maybe over to White Street--and replace it with some shops or a couple more small eating places.

I like your idea about underground parking, too.

Connecticut Man 1 said...

Hi Sharon, I agree with you 100%, as far as your comment over at my little spot. And I love what you are doing over at here at Main Street.

Smart growth and some of the other issues, like the transportation issue you plan to look at over the summer, are big changes that will have to come eventually.

Even if technology overcomes some of the environmental problems with today's society, some changes just make sense as far as improving people's quality of lives.

Beverly Writer said...

Sharon
I was, for a time, positively addicted to the TED videos. I have not seen the James Howard Kunstler one (and will have to soon) but have found since reading Geography of Nowhere, that I can't look at anyplace without thinking of his ideas from that book. (A great testament to him & the book I think).

Re: Firestone, downtown Bridgeport Connecticut has one of these, plopped in the midst of an otherwise somewhat urban landscape. I wonder if they worked out a deal in that tear-down era, where they came in to put of low-slung tire shops where historic buildings used to be.

I see you are taking Advanced Reference (with Charles Greenberg) and the Legal Libraries class (not called that) in the Fall. Good choices! One of my classmates from Advanced Reference (who is also a lawyer) is teaching that one.

Beth

Sharon said...

Hi, Beth! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

I have mixed feelings about Firestone. I think it was probably there first. In hindsight, perhaps the Green could have been located somewhere else, maybe at the old Amphenol lot. (Raise your hand if you really believe that the luxury condo project is going to go ahead as planned.) But as I indicated in another post, the existing Green came into being almost by accident. I do like the convenience of having a place to drop off my car that I can walk home from if necessary. But I recognize that it no longer belongs where it is now. I think that eventually it will have to move, maybe over to Federal Road where there are already several auto service businesses. I'd like to see the diner moved, too, and another new brick building go up that would mirror the one on the other side of the Green.

Well, I can dream, can't I?

I'm looking forward to this fall, and to getting over my disappointing experience of last semester.

scott Johnson said...

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