Not sure where this came from...happy to credit it...
This blog started back in 2004 as a way to track public space issues that interested me. Way back then, Curbed was the reliable neighborhood development blog (rather than a hack for realtors). Jen Bekman of the eponymous gallery used to gather us design, city, urbanist, architecture bloggers together for drinks every so often. Today, it would have to be a large bar to fit just the architecture bloggers out there.
I felt OK with amateurly covering this space back then because there weren't too many others covering it. Obviously, things change, and this space changed. Tracking news stories became more about how public space gets won (markets, streets, parks, etc). It got more personal as I managed to talk my way into working at a few favorite organizations - Project for Public Spaces, Transportation Alternatives, ZGF - who were tackling the issue in their own ways. Still amateur, but different.
Fast forward today. It's amazing how much the proliferation of media and free tools has led to such great coverage of space, design, architecture, urbanism, planning, and everything in between. I stopped tracking articles about public spaces, development, and cities because so many places did it so well (and much better than me).
My interest in public spaces started broadly. I came to focus on transportation (i.e., 80% of NYC public space are its streets). From transportation, I opened up to climate change and energy (i.e., 70% of our oil is consumed for transportation purposes). And now I've come full circle back to cities (i.e., metropolitan regions take up only 2% of the earth's land mass but are responsible for 70% of global emissions).
Over the course of the next few months, I'll be developing ideas and activities around cities, energy, and climate change. After being able to work on a variety of different scales, with various communities, and in design, planning, and policy, I feel that tying this broad, long-term, global issue - climate - to a very tangible, rooted perspective - cities - is a good way to try. The point is not to duplicate the wonderful work that so many organizations are doing on urban policy. The point is to advance energy and climate policy by examining opportunities and challenges in governance, policy, innovation, systems, and participation, through the lens of cities. The second point is to amplify the work that others are doing on urban policy and in elevating the profile of cities more generally.
I'm really excited about this. I've thought a lot about whether I should shut BttN down, since it really no longer is a place to come and look at public space ideas, but I think I'll keep it up for the rare occasion that I find something worth sharing. It's a chance to continue noting a couple of things important to me: the smallest scales (that's why I love little urban interventions) when working on big policy. And signals of cultural shifts afoot - hence the inclusion of art on this site.
That's where things are in 2011. Let's see how this goes!
Posted by Shin-pei at 6:14 PM