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A Proposed Platform for the Guild

This proposal is from New Urban Guild co-founder Steve Mouzon, and is followed by responses from other Guild members.

I posted several dozen #NUfuture ideas over the past year and none of them saw any light of day when CNU came out with their results in Louisville last week, but that’s no big surprise because CNU is more of a policy-focused organization and these ideas were all about implementation. That makes them more suitable for the Guild. So here are the most important ones IMO for the Guild to consider for the next year:

Gentrification should not be a 4-letter word. Who doesn’t want higher property value? better schools? better policing? What’s the best way to achieve this without displacement of current residents?

#LEEDbrown code using natural measures first & blending architecture & urbanism. <Actually, I’ve begun this already with the Original Green Scorecard to which the new edition of A Living Tradition [Architecture of The Bahamas] is calibrated.>

A #LeanUrbanism #ToolBasedPlanning system to replace conventional planning with one that develops open-source tools for block & building types & works by tagging places with tools to be used on simplified regulating plan. @karawilbur is working on similar initiative. <The Guild could be central to this, and in great support of existing NU planning firms.>

A robust set of #InauguralCondition #BuildingTypes from #KernelCottages to #SingleCrewWorkplaces to include food carts, workshop sheds, shopping shacks, etc., all of which can either move, evolve to larger buildings, or both. The #NewUrbanGuild could spearhead this #CNUfuture initiative, as they designed almost all of the first #KatrinaCottages and all of the first #KatrinaCommercial & #KernelCottage plans and so therefore have a great store of expertise on inaugural types.

Continue @bdennistown legacy by strengthening what he started with #NewUrbanism #SketchUp library of building & urbanism types to plug easily into #ToolBasedUrbanism #LeanUrbanism system.

Create a manual of style for units built by many Urbanists so they can plug seamlessly into urban plans although drawn by many hands.

Move from #walkable to #WalkAppeal. Coercive codes to persuasive codes. Better regulations to living traditions, which self-regulate at their core. Elevate the strength of our top tools and abilities, in other words.

Test #NewUrbanism tools & practices with this question: if we died tomorrow, how long would these things continue on their own? Movements begin on the backs of champions, but continue when they take on a life of their own and spread, even after the champions are gone.

Finish. If we finish the great things we've started (Missing Middle Housing, Incremental Development, Sprawl Recovery, Lean Urbanism, Original Green, etc.) It would literally change the world. The #NewUrbanism has been a fountain of great ideas over the last decade.

We are small. The job is great. We must find ways of helping sustainable ideas for making #PlacesPeopleLove spread on their own, without us needing to be there. A #LivingTradition.

Sustain the true #NextGen. Leaders in the original #CNU NextGen movement are now busy raising kids, and less active. How is there a perpetual NextGen? Without it, the movement will age and die.

#NewUrbanism pioneers are mostly mired in 1990s communication. How do we persuade them to communicate in the ways that matter most now, or are their words destined to fade until they're gone? I really hope not, but haven't persuaded any of them yet.

A lot of parallel streams converging on the #ManySmall. I tried to put it all together in  A Living Tradition [Architecture of The Bahamas] which lays out several things I’ve been trying to figure out for years.

#NUFuture is #lean. How do you empower the young, the disadvantaged, and the immigrants to get started? If only the privileged can be in business, that’s a pretty small group.

Lower bars to entry. How close does the lowest rung on your ladder of success hang to the ground? The more people who can get on, the better we all do. The worst thing to so is the big boys excluding the small. I’ve seen it happen, and with vigor. Don’t do that.

The townspeople own the town. When most ownership is remote, a place’s future rests in the hands of a CEO whose shoes may even sit under a desk in another nation. It’s too easy to walk away when the hard times come.

Nobody wants to talk about this, but there is no problem with @airbnb if owners are local and own only a few. 3 max, IMO. Place-sharing can be a great experience; check out The Bahamas, where almost every home is available for an authentic experience.

#KnowThyself. Today, nobody in the the #NewUrbanism knows how many NU places there are, how many homes are there, or the quantity of shops, workplaces, offices, civic buildings, or civic spaces. Our detractors say we're a tiny insignificant niche. Are we?

Share Broadly. The #NewUrbanism aggregates world-class creators of great ideas, but we share them poorly. There are a few exceptions like @NewUrbanism, Rob Steuteville, @clmarohn & @johnthebad but the rest of us need to step it up.

Educate. Sooner or later, we must acknowledge that most #architecture schools serve the #NewUrbanism very poorly and that's not likely to change soon. We really must find an ultra-lean way to educate people to be #BuildingPlacesPeopleLove!

Embrace Everyone. High discourse has high purposes, but if it sounds like you need a PhD to participate, the conversation will be very small. To achieve broad change, we need a much broader conversation with a lot more people.

Be Generous. From the beginning, the ethos of the #NewUrbanism was to share tools and techniques of #BuildingPlacesPeopleLove. Everyone should ask "what are the byproducts of my work I can package and share that would benefit others?”

Encourage Patience. The design world is keyed to the latest fashion, but urbanism takes decades and in a fast style-based world is guaranteed to be completely outtadate when done. There's #SlowFood & #SlowFinance. What are the virtues of #SlowUrbanism?

Get Incremental. There has been much progress with #IncrementalUrbanism & #TacticalUrbanism, but they're still outliers. The #NewUrbanism should continue assembling a robust toolbox that can bring these ideas mainstream into a #LeanUrbanism.

Illustrate. Let's build the Bill Dennis Memorial SketchUp Library into  a robust library of #NewUrbanist building types modeled by many people to a consistent standard so it works at the scale of urbanism, not just the building. The #NewUrbanGuild could host.

Help Sprawl Recover. The US sprawl addiction will bankrupt us, as @clmarohn & @JoeUrbanThree have long been saying, and @GalinaTachieva & @DunhamJones have shown how to fix it. We have no greater challenge in this country now. Fail here & all is much worse.

Plant. There are few stronger silver bullets of urbanism than street trees. Continue building stories & tools that frame them in ways that make clear why it’s in everyone’s best interest to plant & nurture them.

#ComeAliveOutside. Enticing people outdoors where they get acclimated to the local environment is one of the greenest things you can do. A great public realm & great private #OutdoorRooms both work.

Short or Long? Length of communication is in flux across almost every node today. Long books are out. Long videos were out, but influencers are now hitting with an hour-plus, once thought to be death. @NewUrbanism should keep a finger on the pulse & share.

@NewUrbanism as nerve center. #CNU does great things, but can't do everything. The greatest service is to figure out how to help the membership do what they do better, and open their eyes to what else they could do. This will multiply good broadly.

Keep Finding @cnunextgen. This was a thriving organization a decade ago, but many have reached those middle years of marriage and kids. Keep keen eyes open for new voices before these years. <This should be a prime focus of the Guild.>

Unlock GIS. Wealthy firms have GIS, but many who would benefit don't have time or $ to play. What if @NewUrbanism opened a portal of some sort for its membership that let the rest of us in? I'd only use it to blog, so can't spend thousands each year.

Find Lean Types. The Guild should help create a platform for cataloguing lean building types. #PublicSquare discussion plus session at #CN27 in Louisville to introduce? Should be wiki for everyone.

Empower Lean Business. @LeanUrbanism has discussed at length how to enable the small, disadvantaged, and immigrant to get started, but this discussion needs to get much broader within the @NewUrbanism.

We Know Wellness. @NewUrbanism members have known for years of many wellness benefits of good urbanism, but it's usually an afterthought, like BTW, you'll be healthier here. How can #wellness be framed more centrally as an ethic of the #NewUrbanism?

Industry vs. Nature. Most of @NewUrbanism is plugged firmly into the #IndustrialDevelopmentComplex, but industrial scale is a huge #urbanism problem in many ways. Nature's ways are far healthier. @DWRau has great ideas here, and should speak at #CNU27. <Actually, he did.>

#BuildBootstraps The @NewUrbanism has for its first few decades worked largely with developers with millions. To foster broader @LeanUrbanism good, we should focus on stories and tools that help those of lesser means to do good that's in their best interest.

#LovableEdible. If we're ever going to create true #AgrarianUrbanism it is essential to learn how to design edible gardens as beautiful as ornamental gardens in the eyes of the non-gardeners. Front yard gardens everyone loves.

#SingleCrewWorkplaces are one of the silver bullets of urbanism, making businesses possible now that would be impossible until years or decades in the future, except as loss leaders. But build small enough, and they can make money now.

#SidewalkCafes, another of the silver bullets of urbanism. Nothing is more interesting to humans than other humans, and a sidewalk cafe is a place where you can reliably find other humans because they may spend an hour or more there.

#LinerBuildings are great tools of @LeanUrbanism, helping create great streets years in advance of when they could be built using full-depth buildings. A strong tool for @StrongTowns.

Groceries and eateries in places with strong #WalkAppeal come with embedded exercise, so they're inherently less fattening.

#WalkAppeal problems can be diagnosed and repaired beginning with a frontage audit. Here's how it works.

#StreetTrees are powerful #WalkAppeal enhancers on many counts. Here are some useful design principles.

#PublicSafety That Isn't. If the @NewUrbanism is going to get better at #BuildingPlacesPeopleLove, we must overcome dangerous misconceptions in infrastructure silos like traffic engineering & fire departments.

#SingleCrewWorkplaces don't even need bricks and mortar. Food carts and food trucks are two now-famous examples of mobile starting points, but there are others as well.

#Storefronts are a key to #WalkAppeal, but the @NewUrbanism isn't yet as good at building town centers as housing because for years, the housing came first. Here are some good storefront rules of thumb.

#LeanUrbanism Is The New Green. Here are implications in several fields, from building to development, business, regulations, infrastructure, and education.

#AntiLEED: #LeanUrbanism requires lean tools, but #LEED is slow, complex, and expensive. @NewUrbanism needs a green rating system that is fast, friendly, and (almost) free.

#BusinessPlansNotJustUrbanPlans. Urban plans are famously shelved and rarely used. But design combined with a business plan is much more compelling. Why do you think @johnthebad has just blown up in recent years? Because he does this, showing what AND how.

#ROI. Never again should an urban plan or building plan be proposed without a pro forma so the return on investment is clear. All designers in the @NewUrbanism should think like @clmarohn, @JoeUrbanThree & @johnthebad. We can no longer afford to do otherwise.

The following comments are from David Rau:

Can we add the #maintenanceclass? Maintenance is not a dirty word. The maintenance class means affordable housing in reverse. Maintenance is not a dirty word. It’s the opposite of both obsolescence and the myth of maintenance freedom.

Also, #craftisnoble. A college degree, and a professional degree in specific is not essential to entry into proper society. Craft workers are merely the other half of culture; the ying to our yang. The future will made by hand.


~Steve Mouzon 

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