I don’t live downtown, but I work and play there and my heart is there. I can’t say that the series of videos and posts I’ve launched into this week had any grand plan. It just dawned on me, as I’ve listened to ongoing discussions about plans for this city’s future that maybe, just maybe, I could trick those of you following me on this blog into a condensed version of what Blair Humphreys is learning and observing at MIT in Boston.
I can’t, of course, claim to know even a small fraction of what Blair has learned earning his masters in planning. And certainly there are great minds, people like Russell Claus, Ron Frantz, Devery Youngblood, Hans Butzer, Anthony McDermid, Rand Elliott and more in this town who I must admit have taught me what little I know as I’ve jotted down their thoughts, their opinions and wisdom in notebooks on the way to writing stories for The Oklahoman.
At some point these people I cover, people I’ve sometimes upset when stories didn’t always go their way, became my teachers.
But I’ve got the means to communicate to many, whether it be the newspaper, at NewsOk, or on this blog.
So I started out with some vintage videos that I knew would probably irk most of you. The Dynamic American City film suggested that density and urban design are historic relics to be discarded, and that suburban design was the wave of the future. As Blair noted, the film shows that suburban sprawl and the demise of downtowns may not have been without some provocation.
This weekend I’ll be posting a series of videos Saturday and Sunday. And as all this rolls out, you’ll discover that this discussion isn’t just about downtown Oklahoma City, but the entire community.
There are some people out there who follow this blog, and follow me on Twitter, who I’m calling out by name and urging to invest some time watching these videos.
By the end of the weekend, you’ll have spent less than an hour on this blog. But I’m hoping this whole discussion will advance us from the beginner sessions we’ve seen repeatedly on how the younger generation is more tied to urban living and the need for mixed-use development.
So, who am I calling out?
Let’s start with Jeff Click, who has shown at least a bit of interest in what he perceives to be new urbanism and has tried to take some of those ideas into his work in northwest Oklahoma City.
Mark Ruffin, come on down as well and get Nick to watch the segments on Jane Jacobs before he makes any decision on The Lunch Box or tries to buy out Coney Island.
Jim Cowan, I’m going to bet you’ll take this all in without any nudging.
Casey Cornett, I’m not sure if your dad has ever visited this site. But I’ll leave it up to you on whether he might find some of this interesting as he balances out all the city’s needs.
Tomorrow morning the learning begins – Robert Moses vs. Jane Jacobs.