Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Be part of Baltimore's 20-Minute Neighborhood Workshop

Welcome to the EnvisionBaltimore blog! The blog has been launched to coincide with the upcoming workshop scheduled for Thursday, April 21st, 2011 from 9AM to 12PM at theAmerican Visionary Art Museum in Federal Hill.

The workshop, entitled, "Life in the 20-Minute Neighborhood," is being held in conjunction with the 8th Annual Baltimore Greenweek, and will explore how Baltimore can start to become a more transit-, bike-, and pedestrian friendly place in the near term. The term "20-Minute Neighborhood" originated in Portland, Oregon, and is really a simple idea: identify, promote, and connect places where it's convenient to walk (or bike or take transit) to most of life's daily needs within 20 minutes from home.

Despite the simplicity of the concept, achieving that goal may seem daunting, given how things are today: much of our built environment, including homes, commercial centers, offices, schools, etc. were developed in the suburbs after World War II, where they were designed to be accessible primarily by car. Yet, Baltimore has a remarkable amount of "walkable urbanism" - both existing and planned - that can provide the supporting framework for a network of 20-Minute Neighborhoods. Baltimore also has a great deal of transit infrastructure as well as a rapidly expanding bicycling culture that could be leveraged and fine tuned to support walkable places.

We'll delve into these ideas in more depth at the workshop to explore and discuss the possibilities and challenge ourselves to push this new thinking forward and develop the beginnings of a solid action plan for implementing tangible change.

The program for the workshop is as follows:

9 AM: Welcome and Framing the Discussion, Stu Sirota, Principal, TND Planning Group
- Place-making and Transit, Richard Layman, consultant
- Innovative Bicycle Infrastructure, Patrick McMahon, consultant
- Bike-friendly Baltimore Update, Nate Evans, Bicycle & Pedestrian Planner, Baltimore City

9:45 Table Exercise #1: Identifying Places and Possibilities.

10:30 Table Exercise #2: Connecting Places with Transit and Bicycling.

11:15 Group report out and discussion.

11:45 Wrap up and next steps.

The workshop is expected to be only a starting point. The collective ideas and themes gleaned from the workshop will be posted on the blog, along with the ability to provide comment and feedback. This will allow ideas to be discussed, expanded, and refined continuously among the online community.

In order to start thinking about identifying special places in Baltimore that could become part of a network of 20-Minute Neighborhoods, a special interactive Google Map has been set up on which anyone can - and are encouraged to - provide input. Feel free to start now or anytime prior to or after the workshop. The map can be accessed here.

There is still some room available at the workshop, and registration is required. If you would like to register but have not already done so, please send an e-mail to rsvp@tndplan.com with "EnvisionBaltimore" in the title and your name and organization (if any) in the body.

Hope to see you at the workshop!

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