“We perform at our best when we focus our energies not on the shortcomings of a current situation, but on its possibilities of positive transformation.” – Jaime Lerner, Architect and Urban Planner
While large-scale planning and building efforts have their time and place, small-scale incremental interventions are increasingly viewed as an economical way to instigate positive change in the built environment. This approach, called tactical urbanism, is the subject of the first Tactical Urbanism Salon, to be held on October 15, 2011, in New York City.
Sharing their ‘tactics’ will be a diverse group of architects, planners, designers, artists, and citizen-activists, including, but not limited to:
- New York City Department of Transportation
- 72 HUA
- Interboro Partners
- CMG Landscape Architecture
Earlier this year, The Street Plans Collaborative and its partners catalogued more than a dozen initiatives in Tactical Urbanism Volume 1: Short Term Action, Long Term Change, which has since been downloaded more than 15,000 times. In this free web document we state that tactical urbanism is defined by the following five characteristics:
- A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change;
- Implementation of local solutions to local planning challenges;
- Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;
- Low-risk actions which hold the potential for high reward; and
- The development of social capital between citizens and the growth of collective organizational capacity among public, private, and non-profit institutions and their constituents
As a process for city-making, tactical urbanism effectively addresses the convergence of three well-documented trends: shrinking municipal budgets, a generational shift to urban living, and the rapid exchange of ideas enabled by advances in information and communications technology.
Tactical urbanism also differentiates itself from similar, but somewhat less directed DIY or “guerilla urbanism” efforts in that it facilitates the proliferation of both bottom-up and top-down initiatives. In other words, tactical urbanism includes the work of self-starters establishing pathways to long-term change, while also allowing enlightened city leaders to sometimes do it for you (DIFY?).
With these basic ideas in place, the Salon will bring together urbanists and like-minded organizations (including this publication) from around the world to not only share insights with each other, but also discuss the meaning and many applications of tactical urbanism.
Additionally, Tactical Urbanism Volume II: Short Term Action, Long Term Change will be released at the event.
For more information and to RSVP please visit the Tactical Urbanism Salon website.
Mike Lydon is Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative and an internationally recognized urban planner. He is the coauthor of Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action, Long-Term Change. He works and speaks internationally on smart growth, livable cities, active transportation, and tactical urbanism. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.