WXXI AM News

reshaping rochester

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The Community Design Center of Rochester is asking whether the pandemic is making people reconsider where and how they live.

The nonprofit, which promotes healthy, sustainable communities, is conducting a survey asking that and other questions about how Rochesterians are living during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Maria Furgiuele, the center's executive director, said people experiencing less traffic in their neighborhoods because of social distancing guidelines could be open to new ideas about how streets could be used when the pandemic is over.

How can so-called rust belt cities take advantage of the digital economy to revitalize their urban centers? It’s a question planner and developer Jennifer Vey at the Brookings Institution has explored in depth. Her work in transformative placemaking focuses on inclusion, innovation, and job creation.

She’ll be in Rochester next week as a guest of the Community Design Center for its 2020 Reshaping Rochester Series, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guests:

How can urban design help alleviate poverty? It’s a question that informs the work of Katie Swenson, the vice president of National Design Initiatives at Enterprise Community Partners in Boston. Swenson is a national leader in sustainable design for low-income communities. She and her team work with architects dedicated to social activism.

This hour, we discuss the history of urban development, its roots in segregation, and how to incorporate community planning models that emphasize dignity for all residents. Our guests:

What can Rochester learn from a city like Birmingham, Michigan? The city – just north of Detroit – has been hailed for completely implementing a plan called New Urbanism. The plan led to the building up of Birmingham’s downtown, higher commercial rent and land values, “complete streets,” and one of the most walkable cities in America.

Birmingham’s commissioner is an urbanist, an architect, and the city’s former mayor. We talk to him about the revitalization of his city, and what he thinks can be applied in Rochester. In studio:

We preview the final event of the Community Design Center's 2017 Reshaping Rochester Series. This time, the focus is on riverfront revitalization, specifically in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A private non-profit called the River City Company has served as an economic development engine for downtown Chattanooga. Its efforts have led to real estate and retail projects, entertainment venues, and community initiatives that have brought new life to the city center.

So what can Rochester learn from Chattanooga? We discuss that question with our guests:

How and where we build housing, streets, and stores can have major effects the health of our communities. That’s the focus of the next Reshaping Rochester event, which explores how to create equitable and healthy neighborhoods.

We discuss the rising popularity of Health Impact Assessments (HIAs), which analyze how public health can be impacted by proposed plans and policies. In San Francisco, for instance, developers building an affordable housing complex near an area with high traffic pollution changed their plans to construct windows on the traffic side of the building after seeing data from an HIA. The new plans led to windows facing a courtyard, with less noise and pollution, and more views of green space.

The solutions proposed by HIAs are pushing developers to think about construction and health in new ways. There are even a few HIAs in Rochester, including one exploring the city’s waterfront. We discuss all of this and more with our guests:

Urban agriculture: it's a growing and popular concept in many places, and it's the subject of the next Reshaping Rochester event. So what is the future of urban agriculture in cities like Rochester?

Our guests talk about the success of urban agriculture in Brooklyn, and lessons that might be applied here.

We talk about urban rebirth in upstate cities. Arian Horbovetz is a photographer and writer who has been traveling across the state to highlight the positive aspects of cities that may get a bad rap. He writes about his visits in his blog, The Urban Phoenix.

We talk to Horbovetz about what he learned from his travels to Utica, Troy, Rome, Binghamton, and more.

The Reshaping Rochester Series looks to an unlikely source for inspiration: Detroit. Maurice Cox, a respected veteran in community design and the former mayor of Charlottesville, VA, will share his vision for rebuilding Detroit during the series' next presentation. His plans include innovative land use, building renovation, and new construction. We preview the event by linking those ideas to what might happen in Rochester. Our guests:

The Community Design Center is launching its 2017 Reshaping Rochester Series, with a call for more civic engagement.  The new season of events is titled "Our City, Ourselves: Loving Where We Live."

The first event focuses on how to bring the arts to where they're needed most, to revitalize neighborhoods. We talk about how the arts are impacting Rochester neighborhoods, and we look at a successful endeavor in another city. Our guests:

  • Maria Furgiuele, interim executive director for the Community Design Center of Rochester
  • Helen Hogan, marketing and communications specialist
  • Gina Renzi, executive director of The Rotunda, and director of the 40th Street Artist-in-Residence Program

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