Everyday Urbanism: Celebrating Ordinary Life in the City

Photo credit: Josh Fassbind on Flickr

Everyday urbanism celebrates and builds on the ordinary life and reality in a city. It doesn’t envision an ideal urban environment. Rather it explores ways to improve what already exists in incremental ways. The term first gained prominence with the book, Everyday Urbanism by Margaret Crawford, John Chase and John Kaliski in 1999. The book notes that the city (and its planners) ongoing quest to incorporate “the elements that remain elusive: ephemerality, cacophony, multiplicity and simultaneity.”

Every day urbanism builds on the concept of adaptive urbanism and looks at urban planning as a process of perpetual engagement and reiteration. It views cities as a conversation between and among its residents. This leads to a dynamic urban form that evolves not from outside pressures or plans dropped from above, but from activities that occur within a neighborhood.

If you have spent anytime in a city, you no doubt have witnessed small, understated, often ratty spaces that are teaming with life and vibrancy next door to large master planned developments that look like ghost towns. This is the impact of everyday urbanism. Vibrancy can not be planned in a board room, it needs to evolve on the street level trough regular ‘everyday’ interactions.

But unlike DIY urbanism, everyday urbanism isn’t simply a bottom up, grass roots approach. Rather, it is a mixture of the residents’ bottom-up expression of their economic, political and social preferences and the top-down decision-making process of developers and city governments. Vibrancy may no be able to be planned, but it certainly can be encouraged. Developers and city governments can help everyday urbanism survive and thrive by ending their quest for the ‘big urbanist’ mega projects and understanding that often times tiny gestures make the biggest different a difference.”

Check out the full ABC’s of Urbanism in this handy e-book!

Other ‘E’ Urbanisms

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Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.