An important theme to have within a good city is a connection with nature. When I think of all of my favorite cities, they are connected with nature in some sort of way. Within East Lansing, I love the walk paths that surround the Red Cedar River. That is a perfect example of what cities need to be good cities and to have that strong connection with nature. I never thought of myself as someone who likes nature but there is nothing better than being able to sit outside and smell the fresh air. Whether it is sitting at a park or on a rooftop, a totally different atmosphere encompasses you. I believe that many others have this same opinion and any good city should have some sort of connection to ecology.
That connection may be more parks built throughout the cities with walk paths and bike paths. Not only do you make the community healthier by getting more exercise, and creating less pollution for the environment, the citizens will feel better. There are several studies done that show your emotional and physical well being with being able to be outside and out into the environment. A study from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine states, ‘There are seven mental health benefits if being outside. The health benefits of the outdoors are an increase in Vitamin D, more creativity, mood elevation with natural light, better concentration, increased alertness, less anxiety, and better sleep.”
Hopefully more community members would meet each other if they were outside more often and you would have the community grow as a whole. In a good city, there are benches and picnic tables and areas to congregate while being outside. It seems silly that a bench would make a huge difference within a connection to nature but how else would you sit outside without having a place to sit? Of course you can sit on the ground but many choose not to do that. With an accessible area with park benches, those who attend can meet up with friends and talk. Or they can use that time to have some peace and quiet and focus on the beautiful environment.
In a good city, you do not see a lot of abandoned buildings and scarce looking areas. If you are looking at a good city you see a connection with nature, which can also mean to include natural habitats. If you grow more trees and grow more flowers, the natural habitat will become prevalent in an area, and many like to see the beautiful creatures that inhabit those areas. Not only does this area become beautiful but also you can see butterflies, bees, ladybugs, birds, and many other creatures that would come to an area if their habitat were available.
A connection with nature is important when building or planning a good city. The benefits of having this connection outweigh any negative benefits, if there even is any. Good cities that have excess plants throughout the walkways and street are way more beautiful than those who do not. Those cities that have more community hangout areas are way more likely to see members of the community outside and hanging out. I believe that a connection with nature is the most important aspect that a good city can have.
|An example of this principle at work: Project for Public Spaces|
Culture is a commonly discussed principle that when incorporated correctly, influences cities for the better. What we mean by culture as a good city principle is recognizing diversity and difference within a community, and then giving it a belonging. So many cities home many differing: ethnicity, races, languages, religions, and faiths. Therefore, it is extremely important to be aware of these personality differences and use them to a city’s advantage rather than disadvantage.
An example of a city that has incorporated culture to it’s advantage, is New York City. New York City has used culture to create an identity for itself. The development of ‘cultural activity zones’ taking place in public spaces has enabled the creation of it’s identity. Using spaces (Union and Times Square) to host festivals and active street frontage and face to face engagement and events. Moreover, the creation of museums (The Met) and cultural centers to represent histories, using the past to develop the future. NYC has turn lower level residential housing into shop fronts, theaters (Broadway), and galleries. These are all successful examples of giving culture a place to exist and belong. As a result, New York sustains to be one of the leading cities in the world.
East Lansing, although not similar in size, can follow New York’s lead. East Lansing welcomes students from eighty-two different countries, myself included. I take pride in originating from overseas. From the differences in cultural upbringing between my peers and I, I can teach and be taught. Exposure to cultural differences and environments is educational. Bringing these dimensions to the surface creates an environment for learning and growth to take place- for the city and individual. Education, experience, exposure. Three cultural processes that help shape the individuals we are and thus our effect/ contribution to communities. For East Lansing it is about slowly but surely becoming a community that represents all it’s people by creating ‘cultural activity zones’ in and around campus.
According to the dictionary, culture is defined as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively”. Although I do not love this definition, we must take note of the word choice that is ‘collectivity’. Culture as a good city principle, when implemented successfully, it collects all different identities. The collection is the feeder to inclusiveness and connectivity, two significant themes in our understanding of good city principles.
And although here we are holding focus on culture as a good city principle, it is essential not to disregard physical, social, ecological, and spiritual qualities. A great public space cannot be measured by one medium alone, it is the intertwine of these principles, that allow functionality to always trump form. Ultimately, it is the people that are the heart of the city. It is the people that create function within a cities form. The difference is, a good city works to create a form that allows its people to function better. Culture can contribute in coordinating that form. But, it is not enough to only recognize culture in a city, it needs must be supported and integrated into a cities development.
|An example of this principle at work: NYC|
Residents, visitors and commuters in cities have always used multiple modes of transportation. Whether walking, riding an animal or cart, cycling, or using a boat, multimodal transportation seems to happen naturally; so why should we consider it as a design principle for improving current cities and implementing future ideas such as the smart city? Because current transportation and its domination by conventional car use – “unimodal transportation” - is at the heart of several of the most serious problems facing the current city. “The New Urban Crisis” illustrates the connection between transportation and the global urbanization crisis, gentrification, and other issues . I believe that multimodal transportation is central to addressing those challenges. It is also needed to implement other design principles aimed at improving city life in the decades ahead. In this essay I make this argument by first connecting the car to current urban problems, then showing how multimodal transportation is central to addressing such problems and to implementing other design principles. I then highlight in greater detail the importance of multimodal transportation to implementing two principles: tackling inequality, and creating economic opportunities. Finally I outline key challenges facing the implementation of multimodal transportation.
 Catie Marron, Editor (2016). City Squares. Harper Collins, New York NY.
 Laetitia Gazel Anthoine (2017). Building smart cities in 2017 will begin with transportation infrastructure. The Smart and Resilient Cities organization. Retrieved on 11/01/17 from: https://www.smartresilient.com/building-smart-cities-2017-will-begin-transportation-infrastructure
 Paul James, Belinda Young, Brendan Gleeson and John Wiseman (2017). What actually is a good city? Retrieved on 10/25/17 from:
 John Karras (2017). 29 Ideas to Activate Empty Spaces in Your Community. From the website of the URBANcsale planning/consultancy company. Retrieved on 11/05/17 from:
 Majora Carter (2016). Greening the ghetto (2006). Ted talk. Retrieved on 10/30/17 from:
 The Smart Columbus Project. Information retrieved on 11/02/17 from:
 Andrew Small (2017). When a city says no to bikeshare. City Lab. Retrieved on 11/03/17 from: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/08/san-francisco-gobike-launch/532083/
 Steven Poole. The truth about smart cities: in the end they will destroy democracy. The Guardian. Retrieved on 11/05/17 from:
|An example of this principle at work: San Antonio MultiModal Transportation Plan|
Housing inequality has never been a new concept in America. However, as the wage gap is expanding, housing inequality has become an increasingly alarming subject. While there has always been a wage gap, cities are struggling to support the citizens that wish to reside there and those being pushed out. When residents wish to live in urban areas, their safety cannot be guaranteed as unchecked building codes and environmental factors affect the already broken system. Government policies such as zoning regulations continue to have a detrimental impact on the communities affected.
Drastic changes need to be made to decrease the gap between those who want affordable housing and those who are sitting on massive amounts of property. While low-income citizens who wish to live in urban areas are forced to sacrifice their safety, developers seek to find the highest bidder on their flashy new complexes. Equality can be better accomplished through modernized regulation of land use. While some spaces are designated for specifically keeping spaces limited to a certain group of people, more modernized policies need to be enacted to ensure a more diverse representation of the population can reside in areas they would like to live in.
By creating a more equal zoning system, housing inequality will become a more manageable problem in today’s cities. As Majora Carter points out, zoning is responsible for the waste facilities that can be found in run down areas like that of her home. These waste facilities were placed here because the government did not find value within these communities. Policy makers did not think of the long-term repercussions of their actions. Waste facilities create a toxic environment for residents. Pollution, run-off, and other hazardous materials fill the surrounding communities with toxic substances and can harm its residents. Areas fell into further disrepair, encouraging the few middle-class citizens out and solidifying the low-income, crime ridden neighborhoods. By updating zoning laws, citizens do not have to worry about their communities being infiltrated by such hazardous operations.
The case study focuses on the inattention to housing inequality, in light of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London. The article highlights the lack of security provided to low-income citizens in urban areas. In the case of Grenfell Tower, a low-income housing area fell victim to 80 deaths due to the poor conditions of the complex. This speaks to the negligence on the government’s position to ensure safe, affordable housing to citizens in the community. Housing standards are not up to code, as 80 people lost their lives in this avoidable tragedy. The author further strengthens her point as she states, “A third of all urban dwellers worldwide lack access to safe and secure housing.” While the middle and upper classes have access to safe housing, the poor are left to question their safety in their own homes. While housing may be available, that does not mean it is equal in terms of safety measures. The poor must sacrifice their own health as safety codes are not enforced like they are in more expensive areas. This sacrifice has costed 80 people their lives, and many more if more is not done about the inequality that exists. Housing inequality is exemplified in this case study, illustrating the negligence of policy makers to ensure every person has access to safe, affordable housing.
Affordable housing should not be something people have to lose their lives over. Affordable housing should be something every citizen should have access to, regardless of their income. Shifting the focus to zoning laws and building codes should be the focus of policy makers in every major urban area. Until policy makers bring attention to the housing conditions apparent in every major city, the inequality that has been a major factor in our country will only continue to become a bigger issue and persist into further generations.
|An example of this principle at work: The Crisis For Affordable Housing Is a Problem Everywhere|
One important part to a city, particularly a university city, is the correspondence between the local community and the university setting. Many university or college town face the discrepancy of the Town-Gown divide, where there is a lack of connection between the people who live in the town versus the people and culture that derives from the university. By closing the gap between these two identities and cultures, it has the possibility to create a globalized and economically booming environment.
Universities are centers of higher learning that tend to spark an environment of change within the culture and it cause clash within the local community. But this sense of “change” allows for growth in the increasingly globalized economy. Research-based institutions also stimulate this economic growth by promoting change and increasing intellectual capital. Richard Florida, an urban theorist, claims that the global economy is pushed by talented individuals that in the end, create a vibrant and interactive city. These ideas and personalities can arise through the connection of this divide between the university and the town.
involvement in the decision process because the campus-development can cause issues with traffic or a decrease in tax revenue without the consent of the community. As long as these issues are discussed before development begins, the relationship between the university and the local community will thrive. It also is beneficial if the university and the town have the same goal in mind such as attracting creative and talented people into the area. By working together, both the university and the town could benefit economically by attracting these individuals.
The city of East Lansing draws as a perfect environment to implement this principle into a university-city divide. The Greater Lansing Area is the home of Michigan State University that seems to border the local community and university community through the streets of Grand River Ave. and Michigan Ave. One way to close this gap is through the mixed use of old and new buildings. New technological advances mixed into the old building by creating modern businesses that attract the local and university people, such as a grocery store. This can support local businesses why also attracting the young talent the university could be searching for.
By focusing on the town-gown divide, both the university and the local community can work together to stimulate their economy and attract up-and-coming individuals. But it is also important to have community voice to make sure that the community will have the ability to thrive due to new project construction. This gap will then produce more businesses and growth to stimulate the local economy and should be able to bring the communities together over a shared identity. Overall, this principle, if implemented correctly, will have the possibility to benefit both communities while keeping the identity and culture alive.
|An example of this principle at work: Planning for Higher Education|
The idea of placemaking and incorporating aspects of power, culture and identity into creating a city is an approach that is often pushed aside when big investors and local governments decide they know what is best for a city. In the Projects for Public Spaces article on placemaking, it says that placemaking helps “to re-imagine everyday spaces, and to see anew the potential of parks, downtowns, waterfronts, plazas, neighborhoods, streets, markets, campuses and public buildings.” The idea of user-generated urbanism, which is also known as collaborative city making, takes these ideas into account for how we can make spaces that already exist better. The people of a community have the best idea for what will work in a space and what things could be added to a space to make it more popular or accessible to the public. Through user-generated urbanism, the people have an opportunity to directly transform a space through their own efforts. There are endless opportunities that would allow for this sort of creativity and expressionism to make a spot within a city a better place. The idea is more centered around temporary changes or tactical urbanism techniques that redefine a space – inviting the public to interact with it in a different way or encourage a stronger sense of community.
East Lansing has already taken steps to try to improve placemaking of the downtown area by including the public more in the decision making for the city. Through the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), they have been pushing for this idea called ENGAGE, a placemaking initiative that brings in aspects of user-generated urbanism to identify changes the community would like to see in terms of public art. The photo above is an idea for a pop-up library that has been pitched to the city of East Lansing as a way to engage residents more through reading and making reading materials more accessible to the public in the downtown area. This example of user-generated urbanism is a way that the library community is trying to create a different experience in the area through transforming a space. This isn’t the only way that projects of collaborative city making can be implemented in the area. In John Karras’s 29 Ideas to Activate Empty Spaces in Your Community, he presents the strategy of temporary activations. By creating a pop-up library, or even temporarily transforming an underused block in East Lansing to be more vitalized can change the entire mindset of a city in terms of urbanism and progression.
There are many factors that affect how this principle of user-generated urbanism can find success in a city. The biggest thing this idea drives from is a community or group within a community that is driven and dedicated to transforming a city and creating experiences within a space that benefits the public. East Lansing provides an eclectic demographic of groups already working to implement public art projects to transform the city and college students that power the revenue of the city for a majority of the year. East Lansing embraces this atmosphere that is on the brink of change as the city slowly transforms into a unique location. The other part of the equation is finding the right space to initiate some sort of tactical project in a community. Fortunately, the downtown stretch of East Lansing has plenty of small community spaces where people already congregate. The object is just to take these existing spots and making them places that people want to hang out or relax in during their day.
The idea of parklets started back in 2005 in San Francisco. The concept was to create a temporary park in parking spaces along the street through setting up benches and chairs or even laying down grass and yard games. This community-centered idea was to create public spaces people could interact within, even if they would only last until the meter ran out. According to the PARK(ing) Day project website, the idea for this initiative came about to “call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.” Today, this movement has expanded to cities worldwide as more and more communities are looking for ways to engage the public through collaborative projects and creative methodologies.
Sometimes, even the most minor of changes can completely transform a city. The idea of user-generated urbanism is not to build a new building or redesign the infrastructure of a space, but rather looking at existing places and seeing how the people can revitalize that area through tactical urbanism techniques. These sorts of projects can be anything from public art to more temporary applications like the parklets in San Francisco. The principle of urbanism makes city planning more collaborative and doesn’t allow for city leaders to make the only decisions for how space is used. Because these ideas are temporary, they are easily implemented when they have a dedicated community backing them. That is what makes East Lansing the perfect location for this type of initiative.
|An example of this principle at work: From Parking Spaces to People Places|
Kate Den Houter
|Author:||Kate Den Houter|
The four essential qualities of a successful public space are (1) to ensure that the space is accessible for community members, (2) the space offers activities for the community to engage in, (3) the space is comfortable and kept in good condition, and (4) the place is somewhere that people actually want to meet one another at and visit. Sounds simple enough, but several cities around the world continue to struggle with designing and building such places. Placemaking is the movement for reinventing and creating public spaces to bring together the surrounding communities and strengthen the already existing ties within the area. Through the support of civic engagement, placemaking aims to create public spaces that meet the needs of communities by focusing on the physical, cultural, and social identities specific to the area. Essentially, placemaking aims to create the types of spaces that post-industrialized communities need to be creative, vibrant, and sustainable.
The placemaking movement is paramount to the development of urban areas across the world. However, placemaking is not simply a movement to create beautiful places, but to actually reconstruct spaces that have been misused or left unutilized for the benefit of the people in the community. Effective placemaking can lead to increased community engagement and help to strengthen the economy of an area, which can ultimately lead to the revitalization of a town or city. Creating places that people actually want to visit, increases the communities’ pride for their town or city, and in turn, prompts them to do more for the place they call home. The reconstruction of one simple place can start a revolution that can help to reshape a community for the better.
Greater Lansing appears to be going through a renaissance of sorts. Over the past several years, numerous developers have presented their visions for what Lansing, East Lansing, and the surrounding communities should look like. While a few projects such as the Skyvue Development and Spartan Village have already gone through, many other projects remain on the table (ex. The Park District, and the Red Cedar Development). Several of these proposals discuss building luxury apartments and revamping the area to attract more national and regional chain stores, both of which will hopefully lead to heightened economic prosperity for Greater Lansing. However, many of these projects appear to do little for the community that already resides in the area. There are several ways that these proposed projects could include elements that would benefit local residents. However, there is a need for communication between these developers and the local community to ensure that their projects will build things the community actually wants to have.
“If there’s not sincerity on the part of all parties to work together collectively, and be a family around a common cause then [a placemaking initiative] is not going to work” (Project for Public Spaces). The placemaking movement is not a top-down process, but rather a collaborative discussion between developers, city officials, and the local community. By having people from all walks of life involved in the planning and implementation, one is more likely to end up with a public space that will benefit the community it was created to serve. Placemaking does not always have to be the expensive process of reconstructing a square or building a park. Several cities have implemented simple and low costs initiatives to spur public engagement in a space. The case study below, discusses several of the projects the city of Detroit has done to turnaround the city which has struggled for several years. These projects have included concerts and farmers markets, and even turning an underutilized lawn in the downtown area into a beach with lawn chairs for the local community to enjoy during a hot summer day. Changes do not always have to be large to have a strong impact. Ultimately, the aim of the placemaking movement is to create new relationships while also strengthening the existing bonds between urban spaces and its local communities, and is something that Greater Lansing could benefit from immensely.
|An example of this principle at work: Detroiters Work: The Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Regeneration of a Great American City|
Cities that encourage creativity are some of the most exciting cities to live in. L.A., Chicago, New York these are some of the greatest cities in America and they are also the cities that have the most creative jobs and opportunities. Art, theatre, film, music, these things bring a city to life. Creative cities are lively places where people want to live, local theaters give people something to do during the evenings, it brings people out into the city which in turn gives opportunity to business. Art and beautiful architecture makes cites physically appealing and more walkable. Art adds excitement to a city and life to a city. Cities filled with creative minds are vibrant and exciting. I want to make East lansing a place where creatives feel at home.
|An example of this principle at work: The Arts in Thriving Communities|
How can we make cities more attractive to the types of people that we would like to have live in them? The smart, innovative, and productive people that drive success in cities. Or in East Lansing’s case, how do we keep them here? Michigan Future Inc. has determined that, millennials, more than any other generation crave living in urbanized supercities. These supercities that exist in other states throughout our country are relatively obsolete in the state of Michigan. How did this happen? Many believe that the State itself has cheated itself out of the possibly of Michigan cities such as Detroit from becoming one of these cities. So how do we change the tide and create a city in Michigan that will attract young professionals rather than send them running for the hills?
|An example of this principle at work: Go to 2040|
When it comes to creating ideas for improving a city, those ideas that support a unique set of principles are the projects that are considered as smart growth. What a smart growth project entails is that it encourages community collaboration within the development of projects. Furthermore, as the community has a voice in what is developed, these projects support the multiple factors as previously mentioned. In detail, these main factors include using land for mixed purposes, using compact design, provide transportation choices, and give communities a sense of place and involvement within existing communities. As there are more specific principles, the overall idea is that as the community gets involved in development, the community creates spaces that everyone can benefit from and is cost effective. The idea is to take a step back and let the community get involved and develop what they need and would like to see within their communities. As these projects are completed, a sense of place is established and communal ties deepen. This only spurs more projects to be developed and it eventually becomes a cycle where the community has the power to bring about change they want. This idea goes along with the idea of “giving the people what they want”.
The principle of mix land means building different types of development close to each other, either on the same block or even building. The whole idea is based around trying to get and keep a certain location busy throughout the day, which is why different developments are the key as there are different hours and schedules of popular times. By keeping a certain area busy with foot traffic at various times during the day businesses will be supported more, life in this location will improved, and the safety level within these areas will rise. In addition by incorporating mixed land use near neighborhoods, the need for cars and other transportation will be reduced drastically as all needed outlets will be within walking distance. Furthermore, this boosts real estate value and thus tax revenue. This principle goes hand in hand with the idea of compact design.
The idea of compact design takes the idea of mixed land use and looks at a specific piece of land and how to develop it further. The whole idea of compact design is encourage development to “grow up, not out”. By taking underdeveloped pieces of land to create a new project which is home to multiple businesses placed on top of each other, attraction to this piece of land increases dramatically. By placing multiple businesses together in a compact space within an existing neighborhood, the same benefits from mixed land use will be seen as this allows access to various businesses in one location.
The idea of smart growth and the principles it promotes come together to give the community a sense of place and involvement. By giving the community unique and interesting places through the implementation of mixed land use and compact design, the community becomes drastically more attractive. Furthermore by having high quality transportation for all aspects to be able to reach these places with ease is essential to solidifying the idea of smart growth. Incorporating new design ideas and art help distinguish these places from neighboring places and attract the younger population while also supporting the community that already lives there. Overall, these principles come together to be smart growth. The whole idea is revolved around the community to help stimulate both social and economic growth.
|An example of this principle at work: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/direct-development-towards-existing-communities-uptown-district-san-diego-california|
Placemaking is a key concept in working toward good cities. However, it has just started to grow in popularity. In regards to Downtown Lansing, this concept is relevant in terms of revitalizing the Red Cedar and the areas that surround it. Along with, gentrifying the buildings along Grand River in order to promote growth through community. Placemaking is the next large stride cities need to take in order to become good, smart cities. Placemaking allows for human connectivity, inclusivity, and centrality that lead to a common voice promoting people’s health and happiness. As pictured above, placemaking capitalizes on local community's assets, inspiration and potential. Doing so with the goal of creating a public space that allows for free expression and well-being of an entire community. Placemaking would open up Downtown Lansing and help the city strive towards so many other steps in creating a “Good City.”
The benefits of placemaking go far beyond East Lansing. Placemaking creates community complicity. It allows for familiarity of the people whom live within the same neighborhood. The principle generates a meeting place, site of expression, creativity, opinion and political utterance. Placemaking deliberately embeds culture into the resurgence of a city. It bridges social differences while elevating the voices of residents. Placemaking even helps green cities. As discussed in the Ted Talk, “Green the Ghetto,” constructing a place for communities to come together not only allows for congruity and inclusion, but also helps with sustainability. Instead of utilizing more cars, factories, and industries that create pollution for entertainment, there is a green option. Option that may include a park with surrounding trees, benches with flowers planted by residents, etc. Creating a space for people to enjoy and made for the environment to reap the benefits as well.
Cites that have already shown strides towards becoming great cites through placemaking include Detroit, MI and New York, NY. Detroit is a key city to mention as it needed complete gentrification and revitalization. Quick to jump on board was Dan Gilbert, owner of Quicken Loans based in downtown Detroit. Gilbert, a keen businessman, saw an opportunity for growth and took charge. He created the Q-line, running from midtown to downtown, Detroit’s first method of public transportation bringing residents directly into the heart of the city. Gilbert was not ignorant to the fact this Q-line would bring people to one common area. He used this common space to create a community in the center of Detroit, Campus Martius. Bringing in local art, a beach with a bar during the summer, ice-skating during the winter, seating for families and couples alike, and not to mention an award-winning restaurant. This revival located directly in the middle of downtown Detroit, amongst the sky rises and businesses. Dan Gilbert’s use of placemaking in Detroit created a place of commonality for business people, families and those suffering from homelessness alike, to come together in a space of free expression and culture.
In a similar sense, the world famous Time Square in NY, NY is a placemaking muse. Time Square brings together cultures from all over the world. It creates a common place for art, both live and still on billboards, expression, and joy. People come from all over the globe just to witness the mass population, lights and action that take place in Time Square. Sidewalks line the square along with bike lanes and accessibility to a bike share, allowing for sustainability and multiple modes of transportation. Sidewalk shops and food trucks line the streets, creating activities in this common area and yet another way to bring people together. Time Square is a prime example of the power placemaking has in a city. The lights shine on Time Square creating an impact on New York City in a way all cities should follow, an iconic example of placemaking.
As many policy makers and academics alike have described, it is very difficult to define ways to gentrify metropolises into good, smart cities. In spite of that, there is always a place to start. Placemaking is this starting point. Creating a multi-faceted approach to design of public spaces in order to promote livability, vibrancy, and sustainability. Generating a location city goers can share proudly, feeling at home. Placemaking is the answer to gentrification and making cities great.
|An example of this principle at work: Creative Placemaking|
The development and outside factors of a city’s location can influence the success and failure of its development. Any city can be built or destroyed but a city needs to be built on a solid foundation and potential for growth for it to attract resident to build a culture. A city needs four basic domains to build a social life for its residents, ecology, politics, economics and culture. Ecology includes things such as natural resources, soil, temperature and terrain. These principles of ecology are influenced by climate.
|An example of this principle at work:|
Small businesses are a key component and major contributor to the stability of local economies. They offer unique employment opportunities and create a foundation for large corporations. They attract creative employees who have the freedom to be innovative and solve problems for larger firms through outsourcing. They stimulate local economies by providing small scale investment that strengthens the entire community. Food trucks are one form of small business that provide members of the community with a memorable experience and allow the operator of the food tuck a rewarding job giving back to the community they serve.
In cities across the U.S. the local food scene is dominated by nationally recognized fast food chains. These ubiquitous restaurants locate themselves on every busy intersection and provide customers with a homogenous experience. An experience that can be standardized in every restaurant across America. This gives the customer a sense of reliability knowing they will get the same product in multiple locations. However, there is no individuality to the dining experience. The customer has no connection to the cook, nor the community it is dining in. Food trucks are the solution to the problem.
Not only are food trucks affordable for the customer, they are affordable for the operator. A typical family owned restaurant has high startup costs that range from two hundred eighty thousand to five hundred thousand dollars and take up to a year to open. Roughly twenty-five percent of these restaurants will close their doors within the first year, and sixty percent after three years. Food trucks cost roughly fifty thousand to one hundred fifty thousand dollars to start up and can open in as little as two months. Other costs associated with startups can be minimized with food trucks because they are not required to pay property taxes and require fewer operating licenses. Marketing expenses can be minimized with the use of social media. Overall, food truck operations are cheap and efficient.
Food trucks enrich the local community by allowing chefs to make dishes that represent the various people that reside in the area. They mimic fast food restaurants with convenience and affordability, but differentiate themselves with colorful trucks, interesting locations, and fluctuating menus. These highly versatile trucks give power to the operator by allowing them to move freely around the community in order to reach out to the most customers. They provide a heterogeneous experience that cannot be replicated by fast food chains. Food trucks are the small businesses that East Lansing needs to continue to stimulate the local economy, strengthen the community, and incorporate the city of East Lansing with Michigan State’s campus.
|An example of this principle at work: Food Truck Economics|
The greater Lansing area does not seem attractive to MSU graduates, according to Moody’s Analytics, one of the weaknesses for the Lansing area is its inability to retain MSU graduates. Many of the MSU graduates are intended to move to larger cities, such as Chicago, New York, etc. Also, the disconnection between Michigan State University and the city of Lansing has been persistent, the city of Lansing and the campus of MSU present opposite conditions. The city lags on attracting the students to spend time and gather together, the city needs to develop a modern and innovative public space that fulfills the needs of the students to gather and promote a unique culture that would spread through the neighborhood. Four components comprise the principle: a strong tide with the ecology, an inclusive atmosphere achieved by specific facilities, a technology-intelligent approach and trendy, “hip” commerce.
Being environmental friendly has been a buzz word for urban planning projects; indeed, people care more living with nature than they ever had before. Big cities have been striving to create more green space for the residents. Science has shown that tree and plants could cost-effectively clean and cool the city. Lansing area presents a large amount of green space throughout the city; the go better green principle is intended to extend the public space into the green space. Majority of the central gathering locations in Lansing, East Lansing seem to be concrete intense, go better green tries to connect the people with people and with the nature, it presents a picture of an inclusive group of people sharing an ecological harmony
Go better green involves with better ecological environment, it also includes a better humanity environment; cultural and race conflicts seem to be an age-old problem, this problem arises around the globe when people do not embrace globalization and diversity. MSU includes students from around the world. Go better green is a solution to create a public space to gather students with different background and culture, it aims to construct the place in a way that is welcoming and inclusive, people who gather are aligned with the same mindset: appreciate the difference between cultures.
Technology is highly advanced nowadays and the millennial generation is tech-savvy, they are open-minded to embrace and adapt quickly on new inventions on technology. Go better green is strongly infused with technology elements, it provides what people need and it extends the current technology picture into the perspective view. The space is an epitome of what future cities should look like, it experiments on potential technology that would make the cities to think, to calculate, to adjust and to navigate to provide a better presence for the human to inhabit.
Go better green includes businesses. To be financially feasible, the go better green selectively brings businesses into the space. Many said that commerce comes with politics, I would argue that bad commerce brings politics, good commerce does the opposite. On selective vendors and owners are allowed to run businesses and the businesses should facilitate the theme and intent of the space.
Go better green is not a utopian and unrealistic idea, with the efforts of different partners and participants, the project is governmentally and financially feasible. If successfully achieved, the Go better green project should present a view of equilibrium of nature and human, cultures with cultures, current with future and capital with humanitarianism.
|An example of this principle at work: Why Every City Needs a Central Park|
Economics are a fundamental building block of a city. A good economy can be the difference between a bad and great city. There are a lot of economic factors that are visible in a city. Infrastructure is one of the most important and visible factors of a healthy economy. A city has a lot of power to influence the local economy in many ways. Infrastructure planning and investment is a very important job of the city and it can have a great effect on the local economy. In order to do this effectively a city must use all of the tools at its disposal. Investment can and should be done by both the public and private sectors.
Infrastructure covers a large variety of resources that are fundamental for the economy of a city. It includes; roads, bridges, utility services (power grids, water supply, etc.), and buildings. Roads and the traffic system are extremely important for the public sector to invest in. Roads that aren’t maintained properly, like most roads in Michigan, are a hazard for drivers and can cause damage to their vehicles. However, it’s not just investment into the physical roads that is important, traffic patterns need to be studied and the signals must be altered accordingly. Civil engineers employed by the city can improve the flow of the traffic, and benefit the city.
Some infrastructure investment benefits can go completely unseen to the public, but it is important to not ignore these investments because they can occasionally cause harm if not fixed. For example, the development of a new water treatment plant may go unnoticed by the public if it is invested in, but could cause drastic harm to the public if the city ignores the current treatment plant that is failing. We saw the lack of investment in infrastructure hurt the people and the city of Flint, MI, by trying to save money the city switched water sources to the Flint River which had high levels of bacteria and lead in it. This lack of investment hurt the economy drastically, not only will it cost the city of Flint an estimated 400 million, but they will also lose residents and businesses that once called the city home.
Private sector investment can be quicker and more cost effective than public investment. Public-Private-Partnership investment in infrastructure is something that is becoming more and more popular in the United States. In this partnership, the city would contract a private company to maintain or develop infrastructure for the city. This benefits both the public and private sectors because the city gets the investment done without having to do the work and the private sector gets to profit from the work that it has done. Schools are one form of infrastructure that are developed through a public-private-partnership. Schools serve as a place to educate the children of a community, as well as serve as a place for community meeting needs; such as voting polls, and places to hold events. In Pembroke Pines, Florida, a partnership was established between the city and a private developer to build a primary school. The construction cost the private developer between 22 and 34 percent less than other schools built by the state during the same period. The savings that this creates allows for greater infrastructure investments in other places.
It is hard to say what type of investment in infrastructure is better; public or private investment. Both types bring significant benefits to the city and the people living there. I believe that the best investment strategy is to have a mix of both types of investment. The city can influence the local economy in a couple of ways and the largest of those is through infrastructure investment. New infrastructure can not only generate profit but it can also improve the quality of living and attract new residents. Without a strong economy, it is nearly impossible to have a good city, and without investment in infrastructure, it is hard to have a strong economy.
|An example of this principle at work: PPP Schools|
I have lived in the Lansing community for more than 3 years now. I would enjoy seeing it thrive socially and economically through urban planning. In this short essay I have stated two improvements on new or future developments in the Greater Lansing community. I believe the good city principle is community Involvement. Community involvement is imperative to having a “Good City”. It should be a reflection of them, meaning their cultures and ideas should be included. It helps the citizens feel apart of something greater. It also could is a reason for them to keep it up because they made it happen. Paired with community involvement, I believe the new Spartan Village development could benefit from adding some creativity by becoming a space for local art events. While placemaking would be a key combined with the influence of the people form the area to transform the Park district development.
|An example of this principle at work:|
East Lansing is home to a large variety of people that make up Michigan State University’s campus, but more importantly, the local community. It is a known fact that people crave a functioning sense of community. Within this community a new culture develops due to the influence of the unique cultures that are in the area. Culture is the collection of people with their many identities that have to live, work, and breathe in the same geographical region. However, in East Lansing the community is always evolving and always changing, these changes can cause the community to have mixed emotions of the culture in this city.
|An example of this principle at work: Bandhu Gardens|
Connection to Nature is an important theme that needs to be prevalent within in a good city. This is an important aspect for the community and the perception of the city. Cities already have a negative connotation to them; given all of the noise and pollution they create, along with the idea that the area was once green and filled with life and nature.
In East Lansing, we have the beauty of the Red Cedar River and the surrounding ecological environment that is made possible through the vast amount of trees that grow beside it. I view East Lansing and Michigan State’s usage of the environmental gift they have been afforded, and note they way they have designed their campus in a way that integrates people in the community to pass directly through the natural resources present in the city. Students have the luxury of attending class in a setting that in whichever direction they look, they view a characteristic that highlights a natural connection. Furthermore, Michigan State has made more improvements to this aspect with the addition of bicycle paths alongside the river, and benches in quiet areas surrounded by trees, squirrels, and the River.
Extensive research can be found that demonstrates the positive influence on health and well being that nature can create. Having a good balance of getting enough contact with nature has shown increased levels of concentration, overall reduced stress levels, and a positive correlation in the prevention of diseases and disorders, whether being physical or mental. This aspect is critical for healthy and sustainable communities, for within cities a natural area helps to restore the necessary biodiversity that we humans, from a biological perspective, require to live healthy efficient lives. Though many of us have transformed into urbanized city-dwellers, the connection to nature that was vital to our survival in primitive times still belongs within us, and in a good city, it can be found.
Good cities are ones that have a powerful connection to nature. They include plentiful parks for people to play, engage, and interact. The streets are lined with trees, flowers, plants, and with that comes the plethora of animals and critters that are made possible through these additions. The area creates a habitat for creatures that were once pushed out by human development, to return and coexist harmoniously amongst us.
My best personal experience with a city that boasts an excellent connection to nature came from my visit to Rio de Janeiro. A city literally built within a jungle landscape, bordered by the ocean and in possession of unlimited natural resources, was also at one point close to losing its connection with nature. Its population too consumed with multiple aspects of human life that distracted them from the destruction they were causing to their home. Rio is a great city. It has mountains with beautiful forests, amazing exotic wildlife, and some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. Only through community involvement and a bit of government intervention, they were able to preserve this.
|An example of this principle at work: Putting Nature Back in the Natural Beauty of Rio de Janeiro|
East Lansing has several abandoned and underutilized infill sites that can be repurposed or replaced by new businesses, homes, and community centers. Infill development is a great way to preserve land, improve the environment, reduce transportation congestion, and improve the economy. Recently, East Lansing has had some issues with city development due to fragmented ownership, limited financing, lengthy approval processes, higher capital costs, conflicts of interest, and lack of reliable information. Although these barriers are real and have discouraged some developers from continuing projects, they are not unique or unsurmountable. East Lansing’s recent development ideas have been complex, elitist, and expensive. Although these Utopian designs are beautiful, they lack understanding of smart growth innovation. East Lansing is a great place for new development and will largely benefit from the implementation of smart city solutions, which will help the community achieve its goals of economic expansion.
The fundamental components of smart growth within cities consist of mixed-use buildings, compact and walkable areas that are in close proximity to homes, and aesthetically appealing focal points that create a sense of place. These areas are also diverse, easily accessible to the public, and uphold an exceptional level of public safety. Smart growth development methods focus on expandable and adaptable designs that set realistic expectations for the future and are financially responsible. These methods also help cities become more flexible during economic fluctuation because of improved risk management and responsiveness. Smart growth initiatives encourage innovation, maximize the benefits of future opportunities, and help cities become more resilient and proactive.
A recent case study written about an infill development project in Mizner Park of Boca Raton, Florida researched the overall impact that smart growth innovation had on its design. The infill site originally contained an underused shopping mall, but was replaced with a mixed-use town center in the 1990’s. The town center now consists of residential housing, a movie theater, a museum, restaurants, office space, and a tree-lined central boulevard. The project was reasonably financed by the city with $50 million in infrastructure improvements and $68 million in bonds. Before the redevelopment of Mizner Park, there was very little housing and office rents were the lowest in all of Palm Beach County. By 2002, the property values increased 14-fold and office rents were the highest in south Florida, which increased the city's taxable income. In 2010, the American Planning Association named Mizner Park’s Plaza one of the Great Public Spaces in the United States.
In order to achieve successful smart growth in East Lansing, the public agencies and developers must have a holistic understanding of the city’s social and economic culture as well as its physical characteristics. Development ideas that only focus on separate issues such as mobility and economic advancement are less likely to have a lasting, positive impact on the community because they do not support all of the essential aspects within the city. City planners that are knowledgeable about smart growth will give ethical consideration to certain variables such as income levels and family demographics within the city and will engage all stakeholders during their discovery process. Residents that are actively involved in their city’s development will have higher levels of satisfaction and pride within their communities. When smart growth development is properly implemented in East lansing, the city will attract long-term investors who are excited about the city’s progress and will want to help fund projects for future expansion.
|An example of this principle at work: Direct Development Towards Existing Communities: Mizner Park, Boca Raton, Florida|
The beauty of a city can be seen in all aspects of life that encompass it. With the emergence of urban development sweeping its way through the global world, it remains vital that cities keep a strong ecological connection. The need for green sustainable cities is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s societies. Connecting a city with the nature that surrounds it gives the residents and visitors not only a beautiful city to explore, but also a sense of belonging to a sustainability community. The new urban movement needs to help foster these ecological ideals in modern and creative ways.
In many urban cities, the issue of expansion and growth is being met with issues of sustainability for the environment. One program that is helping to counteract this negative growth is the Urban Health Initiative. This initiative aims to effectively connect city development with issues of environmental health. By informing cities on things such as better waste management and cleaner air quality this initiative is making steps towards cleaner cities. This is just one example of a program that is encouraging cities to look at the links between sustainability factors and smart growth in an urban area. The city of Curitiba, Brazil is another example of how a city is working towards a greener future. This city has been successful in integrating more green space and cleaner transportation despite the rapidly growing number of residents in the area. Their initiatives target lower income residents by giving them access to a broad spectrum of environmentally clean and healthy programs. This in turn leads Curitiba residents to recycle over 50% of trash and to have longer lifespans than the national average. Implementations for sustainability such as the ones set by this growing Brazilian city can be mirrored in other expanding urban cities.
An immense factor of ecological and sustainable success in a city is a strong push from not only the individuals in the community but also the government officials and urban builders. Influential organizations and members of a city can greatly impact how ecology is integrated throughout an urban space. As mentioned in the Shaping space for civic life: Can better design help engage citizens article, the importance of a civic space such as neighborhood parks is vital in the engagement of a community. Clean and highly used parks in a city are directly related to satisfaction in local government. How a city connects to the nature around it can be more than simply green park spaces though. Creative and innovative minds are the building blocks to which great urban ideas are formed on. Integrating nature into urban spaces can be challenging but easily solved with innovative solutions.
Along with the environmental and health impacts of greener cities, urban cities that have areas with strong connections to nature create a more livable city overall. Successful cities are more than just the infrastructure that encompasses them, but rather a thriving and appealing space for all to enjoy. Green parks create gathering points for the community and visitors to enjoy an escape from the constant hustle of urban life. Walkways surrounded by nature connect areas of a city while also supporting healthy physical activity. By implementing areas such as these, cities are not only cutting down on environmental costs but also healthcare expenses as well. Underlying benefits to green spaces such as these are often being taken over by the need for expanding cities to urbanizes with buildings and transportation. The importance of integrating ecology cannot be lost in the need for expansion. If the urban movement is going to be successful in all aspects, cities need this integration of nature for not only sustainability but also livability.
When thinking of reasons students may come to Michigan State, one of the first to pop into my mind besides academics, is the beautiful campus students here call home. This connection to nature gives the campus an identity of attractiveness and sustainability. Whether it is the river that runs through the center of campus or the thousands of trees that line the walkways, MSU has deeply integrated nature into its development throughout the years. These natural aspects and ideas expand out into the greater East Lansing area and provide a sense of community in all aspects of life here. As Majora Carter says in her TED Talk, a connection to nature can provide a sense for a unified community. Implementing eco-friendly projects in a city helps to revive dead spaces. Her example of using these eco-friendly projects in the Bronx and how that lead to revitalization in less privileged communities show the power of ecology in a community. So, whether it is East Lansing or the Bronx, a strong connection to nature provides sustainability for all aspects of a city.
|An example of this principle at work: Urban Health Initiative/ Healthy and equitable urban planning|
The pioneer land-grant university, Michigan State’s campus, embodies nature, culture, and creativity by including ties to the landscape in the surrounding the area. A stark divide lies between MSU and the greater East Lansing area, Grand River, a loud, busy, dividing road that separates the two. Not only is this separation between the two entities, but is a separation point between a more natural setting, MSU, and the developed EL downtown. Planning a city is not simply buildings and stores, but learning how to connect the unnatural with the landscapes. Trees, courtyards, city parks; these are things that draw people into a city. The greater EL area has an amazing resource and example across the street. Michigan State’s campus flows between nature and infrastructure quite seamlessly. From the River Trail to Beaumont Tower, inviting and special spaces are easily found. While the economic development of East Lansing needs to be done, forgoing the need to incorporate nature and greenery negatively impacts the residents of EL and thus, the economic growth of the city too.
When you think of areas that you enjoy to spend time in during the day they typically include areas with light and windows. Humans need fresh air and sunlight to feel happy and that is why we are drawn to places that we feel connected with nature in one way or another. Whether this is tons of windows, taking a walk, sitting in a park, nature inherently draws people to it. There is a hypothesis called biophilia, the idea is that humans an innately drawn to other forms of life and that the urge to be surrounded by greenery and other people is inherently natural. Instead of focusing on massive skyscraping cities, looking towards an innovative idea that draws on the unconscious needs of humans, biophilic cities promote incorporating nature into the design to create a multisensory experience.
Some instances of creating green spaces and better connecting to surrounding nature are creating a green roof on businesses, creating bike trails that connect both business and people and different city gardens like a learning garden or a picnic lawn. These are just some of the numerous ways to create a biophilic city landscape. One of the keys to creating a better community is to ensure that greenery is used in not only a way that betters the environment but also one that encourages social interaction and involvement from the local communities.
Looking towards the future, East Lansing can take a lot away from the idea of a biophilic city, most notably ensuring that in future developments include active greenspace. Active meaning it is not simply a courtyard thrown between cement walls, but spaces that seamlessly flow between the infrastructure and nature. Luckily, East Lansing has the perfect wealth of knowledge and innovation directly across the street, Michigan State’s campus. Efficiently using what resources the city has means that EL will not only look towards the campus design but use the vast knowledge and creativity of MSU to better create a downtown area that furthers economic development, community culture, and inclusion.
|An example of this principle at work: Biophilic Cities|
The Greater Lansing area right now would be described as a pit stop for the younger generations. Attracting thousands of freshmen per year, but also saying goodbye to many seniors as they graduate and move on, looking for cities where they can start their career and achieve economic stability. The fact that most graduates decide to leave the area means that the city is missing out on possible revenue that could've been generated through jobs right here in the Lansing area.
I suggest that the Greater Lansing area try to bring those jobs here, by lessening the restrictions on their tax exemption laws, in order to, attract more businesses to open up in the area. Lansing has adopted the Michigan Uniform City Income Tax Ordinance, effective July 1st, 1968 and a few changes has happened to it since then, which makes it outdated for our current struggle of stimulating the economy. Although the Michigan senate has recently, in March of 2017, approved more tax breaks for businesses transferring to Michigan; I believe that the number of new jobs conditioning these breaks is not enough to affect the economy of the Lansing area and that they should increase this prerequisite to adequately match the economic stimulant needed to put Lansing on the tracks towards economic prosperity.
Michigan State University students' love to party, and the bar area located around the Grand River and Abbott corner is a vital area to the community as people gather around from all over East Lansing to drink and celebrate. But there are a few problems one of which is the availability of food around the area. I believe that turning that corner to a community park, acting as a spot for food trucks to congregate would be highly economically beneficial to the East Lansing community in specific and the Greater Lansing area as a whole. With the help of the community, by providing jobs, it will provide a spot for people to come together and enjoy all kinds of different foods. It will be a vital economic stimulant as it generates revenue from those sales.
According to Alex Mayyasi, a food critic for Atlas Obscura and a resident of San Francisco’s Mission district, residing only 100 yards from The Mission Dispatch, which hosts a variety of food trucks providing lunch and dinner to the residents of the community, who wrote the Food Truck Economics article. He concluded that setting up a food truck is quicker, cheaper, and less risky, making it an easier business for chefs to break into. The revenues are exponential, upwards of half a million dollars per truck is considered a good day and a million dollars of revenue per year is around the maximum for a single truck. Josh, the Communications Director at Soma Streat Food Park, another food truck venue in San Francisco, stressed on how the lower barriers to entry enable minority, low-income, and immigrant chefs to start their own business.
Community involvement in the decision making of big projects in this case the Skyvue apartments. In my opinion, a very modern approach and seems out of place when compared to the architecture of the other buildings in the Greater Lansing area. I believe if the community had a vote on the design or location of Skyvue apartments it wouldn't be where it is right now. That location could have been utilized as a community food park or a gathering spot for the residence of the area. Community involvement is essential for any successful city, as it brings the people and the government on the same page resulting in economic prosperity and a better sense of community between individuals.
|An example of this principle at work: Soma StreatFood Park|
In designing contemporary cities, developers, policy makers, and concerned citizens tend to become wrapped up in the minute details of development. They have legitimate concerns with finances, time-frames, and personal interests. These areas of focus, however, tends to result in a less conscious form of decision making which favors profitability and short-term ideals over the functions that produce and sustain productive and vibrant places. Instead of putting effort into short-sighted development projects, municipalities must begin to focus intently on producing long-term solutions to typical urban problems through cultivating environments which convince people to make long-term investments. Creating intelligently designed shared spaces, hereafter Community Places, can reframe people’s ideas of their communities and encourage them to actively participate in both public and civic life.
The concept of identity is central to the idea of a community. Communities do not come about due to proximity, but rather through continued interaction, reliance, trust, and a convergence of goals. The design of a city must incorporate and encourage a sense of shared identity through its use of space. All cities exhibit a diverse set of inhabitants and intentions, so community places should be developed at the intersection of the functions fundamental to their respective cities. For example, university towns should encourage public exchange in areas where university life, local professional life, residences, and commerce converge. These people are going to converge regardless of the developmental circumstances, but it is those circumstances that decide the utility of the convergence; that is, whether or not the exchanges will become productive, encourage active participation, encourage development, or create a sense of purpose and belonging.
|An example of this principle at work: The Social Dimension of Nature in Cities|
When building a city we need to have an overall sense of what it is that we want the overall culture of the space to be when it's finished, this helps the city hold its identity while large developers come in and begin renovating. Developers look at MSU and see college students with money and a chance to build something new and make a buck. MSU I have never viewed to be a flashy school that needs a big city around it, what the city of East Lansing needs is a vibrant square and innovative shops that will draw the students from the campus and out into the city.
With the development of Skyvue we have seen MSU and the Greater Lansing Area begin a trend towards a more flashy and economically thriving look for the city. Skyvue was the first tipping point with this movement which will eventually lead to the construction of similar or more expensive housing in downtown East Lansing in the Grand River/Abbott area. The problem I see arising is when everything is developed, what keeps Skyvue filled? With Skyvue being located closer to Frandor than campus you have to wonder why so many people were attracted to living there, its because it was new, nice and flashy. Once more housing like Skyvue is added closer towards campus Skyvue's demographic would need to change drastically from their high rent prices and far location. Their main market right now is students but with its location and rent prices this could quickly be substituted away in the next few years. This could have been avoided this by keeping Skyvue a simpler project, instead of making it a luxury new apartment complex they could have had more long term success and easier market transition by making it into affordable housing and taken some of the luxury and amenity needs. By keeping MSU and East Lansing area a simpler yet developed center you keep much of the feel and the simplicity that many alumni love and come back to, if the Abbott area becomes giant buildings like Skyvue you could see a large disconnect from the older graduates and a shift of many students to farther away and more affordable housing.
With Millenials on the trend of renting homes instead of buying this leaves the question of how do we keep people around once they graduate? Many students, if they chose to stay in East Lansing after graduation, have no connection to downtown or the school anymore. Graduates move away from the center of town and try to find affordable housing deeper in Lansing or further up Abbott, this creates a large segregation between the students of the city and the people who choose to call it home. With more affordable housing closer to downtown instead of these large apartment complexes they could see a much more revitalized city life and an economic increase by getting many of these recent graduates to return and live closer to their city square.
This concept of segregating higher income earners from lower income earners with developments such as Skyvue and housing such as Hopcat has systematically led to much of the campus wanting to escape and find the cheapest apartments on the outskirts of the city. This systematic segregation isn't as profitable and as sustainable and the original developers were to believe according to the case study. "Although concerns were raised about whether higher income residents would want to live alongside households with lower incomes, this does not appear to be a major problem (Myerson, 2003). Over the years, mixed-income housing has become an attractive development approach for for-profit, as well as nonprofit, affordable housing developers (Bratt 11)." Mixed-income housing or cheaper complexes rather than luxury mega complexes like Skyvue would cause a cultural mix of students, graduates and people from all around the greater Lansing area. The city of East Lansing could see a larger socioeconomic impact rather than an increase in activity surrounding the one apartment complex.
Affordable housing is something that can shape a city and be the pivotal point in its culture. With revitalizing a city and renovating it's space it's important to remember to build it to grow the city and its culture not just build to make to most money. Mixed-income housing could go a long way to connecting MSU with the surrounding area and close off this large right between the city but is only just a dream unless developers look for cheaper alternatives to these luxury complexes such as Skyvue.
|An example of this principle at work: Affordable rental housing in a for profit sector|
Connecting with nature within a city improvement project reaps benefits beyond what we see with the naked eye. The red cedar development is an exemplar of a mixed-use space featuring a generous amount of nature in between the man-made sites. Aiming to attract consumers with commercialized products and services provides a base-line level of satisfaction. The incorporation of a 22-acre park delivers an important aspect to the quality of human life. Viewing nature amongst the bustled streets and city commotion offers an aesthetically pleasing demeanor to the given space. An entirely new energy and atmosphere drifts along an area when nature is one of the focusing elements. The open fields and ever-changing leaves acts as a backdrop to the industrialized energy in which the building give off.
|An example of this principle at work: Project For Public Spaces|
Incorporating creative elements into a wide-spread area of vacancy is a key asset to challenging a city’s land use. The Grand River and Abbott Park District has the potential to do just that. Currently, this space is vacant and lacks creative output. This area is an excellent social region, surrounded by bars and dining. However, how do we further develop inclusion in ways that will draw non-residents to the space?
|An example of this principle at work: Project For Public Spaces|
Often times, even the smallest of changes can transform a city from a closed-off region to a welcoming, inclusive space. The Hub is a newly-developed 10-story apartment building located near the east of Downtown Lansing. Although in an excellent area for dining and population, The Hub is immersed within other standing apartments in which seem to group students of a higher socioeconomic status. In correlation to demographics, those who will more than likely occupy this space are young to middle-aged white residents. It can be assumed therefore that this space is quenched for cultural exposure and explanation.
|An example of this principle at work: Project For Public Spaces|
Keeping citizens at the focal point of a city’s development is integral to providing a wholesome, connecting experience. The newly-arrived MSU Art Lab gives the area of downtown East Lansing the chance to present these citizen-centered values to the community. This lab currently displays the artifacts from the art museum located on campus, hosts workshops, and holds meetings. However, to make this resource truly citizen-centered, featuring a wall for incomers to place a note or sticky note, stating ideas they would like to be implemented at the lab, or perhaps just to express themselves or provide words of encouragement. I have seen this element on college campuses across the state; this small element could have the power to connect community members and generate novel ideas for the next theme of the lab. Another interesting intersection is that of the cross benefits for the mental health awareness projected through this art expression as well as the feature of making the lab even more aesthetically pleasing.
|An example of this principle at work: Project For Public Spaces|
At one point,the area of Spartan Village was heavily populated with graduate students, families, and regular-working citizens. This village is quite known for its diversity, yet the population has been shrinking dramatically. In the sense of planning and design, Spartan Village covers the basis of incorporating nature with the complex, giving tenants a feeling of tranquility. On the opposing end, however, designers and tenants would both agree that there has been active neglect on this matter, although Michigan State University’s campus is known for its great emphasis on nature—as well as aesthetic. Nevertheless, these aging complexes are in a state of uncertainty, leaving many international students and those of several different cultures and backgrounds left feeling in the dark about the apartment’s development.
|An example of this principle at work: Project For Public Spaces|
This presentation is about citizen-centered development with a focus on creating a culture of engagement.
|An example of this principle at work: Culture of Engagement|
For my Great City Principle, I decided to research the implementation of green roofs as opposed to traditional roofing. I believe that incorporating these roofs will have a monumental effect on our environment through the processes that happen within green roofs. Not only do they have a natural and satisfying appearance but they also help remove harmful air particulates, protect the buildings they are implemented upon, help the consumer financially in the long run, along with so many other reasons. Green roofs are safe and natural and we need to get the message out to the rest of the world. There is no reason why we should not implement them as soon as we can, because it will take no time at all before we start to see their results.
|An example of this principle at work: Protecting our environment|
This presentation is about Community Inclusion with a focus of the voices of those who have marginalized identities on college campuses and other communities. It will cover some methods of how to ensure everyone is represented and how to benefit from the same community assets. It goes over some examples of inclusion taking place on our very own campus and area and why it is so important.
|An example of this principle at work: An example of this principal at work:|
This is my project regarding a great city principle in which I have created entitled Elevated Parking. This presentation offers a refreshing substitution for standard parking which may have the opportunity to develop our great city into a region of advancements and community collaboration.
|An example of this principle at work: GSAH|
This presentation is about placemaking and city transformations with a focus on community involvement.
|An example of this principle at work: City Culture Presentation|
For my Great City Principle, I focused on Infrastructure Investment, and how different investments can be made around both Michigan State University and the city of Lansing.
|An example of this principle at work: Infrastructure Investment|
By the revamping of unused and abandoned spaces in a city, it will make the city more appealing, lively, and have more mixed use areas that can not only benefit perception of the city, but the economy of the community as well as the involvement. In East Lansing, there are many dead spaces that are scattered around the area that make the city look unappealing and unsafe. Luckily, we are on top of tearing down abandoned buildings and putting up beneficial buildings instead. Other things besides buildings can be put up in a dead space area; farmers market, food truck, art fair, etc. Things that benefit the economy and social interaction are also a major plus when thinking of reinventing dead spaces. When we start to apply this principle to East Lansing, East Lansing will become more updated, safer, appealing, and a place where everyone feels welcomed.
|An example of this principle at work: Dead Spaces|
This presentation focuses on the importance of considering ecology and sustainability when engaging in urban placemaking efforts, along with the potential consequences of neglecting the demands of nature and global health paired with a few solutions to take steps towards keeping the earth healthy and cities thriving.
|An example of this principle at work: Ecology and Sustainability of a City|
What defines a community that one may live in? I believe that it is the people who define the community. When the people in that community are working together in a positive way it makes the community a better place. This is the goal of an Interactive Area with an Emphasis on Community Involvement. To bring people together in a rich and positive manner.
|An example of this principle at work: Interactive Area|
Our relationship with the Earth is only getting worse, as well as the community's connection to the environment. One multipurpose solution that can improve Lansing's advancement to becoming more "green" is a carbon sink. While there have been slow improvements, such as transitioning a coal plant into running on natural gas, it doesn't compare to the impact that carbon sinks can have on the environment. By becoming more involved and investing in carbon sinks, Lansing could reap multiple benefits through health, connectivity, efficiency, and most important, sustainability.
|An example of this principle at work: Carbon Sinks|
Going Green establishes community. This project emphasizes the importance of the following concepts:
Plastic Bag Reduction
Utilizing these concepts will help beautify the community physically and enviormentally.
|An example of this principle at work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbHdPtVnMD4|
Community events have the capability to both unite a community as well as stimulate economic success.
|An example of this principle at work: https://youtu.be/0oRLAcQTIa8|
Green Roofs create something out of nothing. Conventional impervious roofs provide nothing to the ecosystem or to the building itself. Green roofs have numerous benefits to buildings, the city, and the people that live in it.
|An example of this principle at work: Green Roofs|
A clustered Quad can be described as an area “designed to accommodate several densely packed uses such as student housing, academic facilities, learning and leisure environments, shopping areas, and open spaces”. In this presentation I will lay out some additional strategies to make any area a successful clustered quad.
|An example of this principle at work: Clustered Quad|
This presentation consists of information to connect and bring a variety of cultures together.
|An example of this principle at work: Diversement|
This Greater Lansing principle presentation is about the importance of creating and expanding intercultural communication programs and events. Focusing on innovations to help facilitate opportunities for international and domestic students to interact in meaningful ways to hopefully have conversations and potentially build relationships.
|An example of this principle at work: Intercultural Social Spaces In Higher Education|
The environment in a community and how it is sustained is really important. Many times, a company will buy a piece of land, cut down all the trees, get rid of the wildlife that once lived there, and use it for their own benefit. Obviously this is bad for the ecosystem and its effects will only decrease the green condition within the community. There are also places that have been developed, but in the long run, things don’t work out so the uncomplete areas just get left there.
|An example of this principle at work: Recover and Replace|
Implementation of this principle considers multiple aspects that help to form a deeper sense of community than is accessible for some places. This principle is based on the goal of encouraging the collaboration of many people that may not usually be required to collaborate. Individuals would not only form an understanding of other people, but also their experiences and as a result, form bonds based on the similarities they find. Probably more important though, is the bonds that could be formed as a result of identifying strengths in their differences. These interactions can help people to make better-informed, open-minded decisions. Another aspect of this principle is the idea that these places can act as spaces where people can ask questions about things they may not know about.
|An example of this principle at work: this presentation|
The city of East Lansing is considering implementing a form-based code to regulate directives such as “type of building materials, how much of a building’s front would have to be covered in doors or windows, how parking would work, whether balconies would be allowed on the sides of apartment buildings facing single-family homes, the permissible slope of roofs and more for new construction of structures that are located in a form-based plan area” (Dreger, 2019).
So, the question is should East Lansing implement stricter rules on how buildings should be designed and created in order to create a more vibrant, pedestrian friendly, environment of equality? If a form-based code is adopted, Grand River could manifest into a hip, aesthetically pleasing community that would naturally allow for a thriving economy and culture.
Katie Swenson, a “recognized design leader, researcher, writer and educator,” works with MASS Design Group who believes “that architecture can heal” [and] “promote justice and human dignity” (Baldwin, 2021). The mindset at MASS is to create conversation and memories in a vivid community based on critical needs from the people it will serve.
By taking on this form-based code, the city would be under very strict development and zoning regulations. Currently these codes force the consideration of rulings such as “signage, the distance between marijuana provisioning centers, how much parking and bike racks a new building must have, how many bedrooms apartment units can have, whether buildings have residential or commercial space on the first floor, and more” (Greger, 2019).
The City Council is seeking public feedback and input in order to consult possible future architectural developments. Due to Michigan’s Zoning Enabling Act, East Lansing must present a structured plan to take the next steps for a form-based code.
Like Swenson, East Lansings’ Associate VP of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, Daniel Bollman is taking the wants and inspiration from the city’s population into consideration. Sustaining a mindset like this would allow for a collaborative environment between the city and its people. This attitude is most prosperous when it comes to curating a rich, equitable and flourishing collective.
|An example of this principle at work: A Face Lift by MASS Design|
Form Based Code can be incredibly beneficial to a city. It allows for a cohesive look, walkability, and an overall excellent city experience for its residents and visitors. Unfortunately, this is not true for all cities. Many developers face issues with the code due to the specificity of building designs. Businesses attempting to implement structural improvements are often forced to make the decision to rebuild or not make the improvements. The result is delayed development or a complete lack of development all together.
The biggest issue with Form Based Code is that it is highly specific. Developers must follow strict code when building. These regulations make it not only difficult to build but also expensive. The East Village of East Lansing has experienced these issues since the form based code was implemented in the area. In an area that was already lacking development the new code has only made things worse. The lack of improvements in this area is apparent in comparison to the rest of the city. Form based code can be up to four times as expensive as conventional code. At the time the code was implemented developers believed they would be able to create a great environment in the East Village. That soon changed when the costs became too high. The Hub that sits on the edge of the East Village is the only new building in the area. This did not come with ease the developers fought with the City to adjust the code in order to be able to build. When creating form based code it is important for officials to not only work with business owners and developers but to also consider how the code might affect the city.
Another issue with form based code is that buildings within the area might not be conforming, creating issues for businesses already there. When established businesses are non-conforming improvements to these buildings are nearly impossible. Unfortunately, the East Village is the poster child for this issue. The buildings need so much in order to comply that it is too expensive for many of the owners. Due to the lack of progress, there is a lack of economic growth. Mount Rainer in Maryland has also experienced this issue. In this city there is not so much of an issue with the business sector as there is with neighborhoods. A large number of the homes in this area are not up to code and therefore improvements on properties are difficult. Owners must submit special requests to the city to make changes. Form based code does not necessarily just affect business owners but also residential property owners.
Creating form based code for a city must be done with caution. There can be serious negative effects when not done with care. Not only can development be an issue but issues within the government can arise. In East Lansing the city council has fought over this issue for years, and both sides stand strong in their beliefs. Some believe that the East Village is proof that form based code does not work and therefore no more risks should be taken. Others think that a lot can be learned from the East Village and therefore these issues would not occur again. With such consequences it is crucial that government officials and citizens pay attention and properly research and discuss the negative and positive effects of form based code.
|An example of this principle at work: Mount Rainer is non-conforming to its own zoning codes|
The East Lansing, Shaping the Avenue committee is working with the Cata Transportation services in order to foster a beneficial plan for better transportation in the East Lansing area. The goal; to "make the city into an integrated, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented, and transit- supportive environment," (Graham). Cata, or Capital Area Transit Authority, is the main source of public transportation in the Lansing area with more than 30 urban fixed-route services in the region . Cata services provide transportation not only for the residents in the Lansing area, but they provide an essential piece of life on the campus of Michigan State University, with approximately 11,049,317 trips in the 2019 fiscal year alone following the incoming surge of students in the fall semester (Cata.org).
Transportation planning does not simply cover the bus systems, but allows space for other modes of transportation, as well as an easier system for pedestrians to flow about the city. The Shaping the Avenue plan includes and is working with transportation services like CATA, to create a better flowing city, but also to help improve impacts on the environment. With mass public transportation systems, such as buses, less people are using cars, which reduces dependence on driving and reduces the environmental footprint. More people would walk in a more inviting environment which also reduces environmental damage and creates a more connected community.
Creating a more integrated zoning plan in conjunction with transportation has many benefits not exclusive to; Better access to jobs, improved connectivity, reduction of environmental impacts, stimulation to the economy, and a community where residents can work and live in the same area (Tod.org). Places like Miami Florida have implemented form based zoning and have thus expanded and improved their transportation services to include things like; Buses, railways, public spaces, and STS’s (Special transportation services) (Miamidade.gov).
The Lansing Shaping the Avenue Subcommittee was created specifically to create a solid plan for the development of Form Based Zoning in the Lansing areas. Though they have a lot on their plates, one portion of their plan specifically discusses transportation and their collaboration with the townships and CATA services. The development, and future development of the city, requires public transportation and pedestrian friendly spaces to work accurately.
|An example of this principle at work: Miami, Florida’s form based zoning includes an extensive transportation network.|
Racial and economic inequality may seem an idea of the past, however it is still prevalent today through many ways, a major way being zoning laws. Zoning is a method of urban planning where a municipality or another tier of government divides land into areas called zones. Each zone has a set of regulations and rules for development that differs from each zone. Unfortunately, zoning has been and still is used as a tool for discrimination against minority residents to defer them from moving into white neighborhoods.
But what is exclusionary zoning?
Exclusionary zoning is the use of zoning laws in a way that excludes from certain zoning districts persons protected by law from discrimination. Sadly in the United States, it is a legal practice that has been used for decades to keep lower-income people, disproportionately racial minorities, out of wealthy and middle-class neighborhoods across the country. This in turn leads to children of these households to attend lower-income schools and then the cycle begins all over again with their children. This is called redlining and it is commonly linked to discriminatory zoning laws.
According to the “Race, Ethnicity, and Discriminatory Zoning” Case Study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “zoning is used to steer industrial activity towards minority neighborhoods, leading to disproportionate toxic exposure and depressed land values” also “neighborhoods with a larger share of southern-born blacks or first-generation immigrants were more likely to be zoned for industrial uses than comparable neighborhoods with white natives”. Zoning served as a channel where the government could reduce the value of minority-owned homes relative to homes owned by white, U.S born residents.
These unequal ordinances can be seen happening right here in Michigan, specifically the Southeast. Residents of Dearborn have been seen to hang up signs displaying “We only want white tenants in our white community” throughout the 1970s. While signages like these are no longer used, exclusionary zoning laws have allowed cities like Detroit, Oakland, and Dearborn to provide affordable housing in accessible neighborhoods for white residents. Whether this is intentional or not, it needs to be fixed. 77.3% of residents in Detroit are Black or African American. Black communities make up more than three-fourths of the population in Detroit, however they are the most affected by unequal zoning laws. Zoning ordinances have been used as a way to concentrate minorities in more dense neighborhoods, which heavily contributes to segregation and environmental disparities for decades in Detroit and Oakland. Zoning ordinances must be fixed and provide equal and affordable housing for all, regardless of race.
|An example of this principle at work: The Effects of Zoning on Economic and Racial Inequality in Southeast Michigan|
The debate of whether or not East Lansing should be constructing more high rise buildings or investing resources in other projects such as renovations or office spaces continues to have differing perspectives from both sides. The main reason for investing in high rise buildings is that they are guaranteed to bring more people into downtown East Lansing, which is good for the businesses in surrounding areas and the city overall. This has been proven with developments such as The Hub, The Landmark, and the newest addition to Grand River, The Abbot. More proposals are being submitted for high rise buildings up to 14 floors, which brings up the question, "how tall is too tall for downtown East Lansing?"
It is obvious that density is what the city is aiming for. The more people, the more business. By accepting proposals for 14 floor high rise buildings, such as the proposal for The Hub 2, you are guaranteeing an increase in foot traffic in the downtown area, which is the ultimate goal to expanding the city of East Lansing as established in the City’s Master Plans adopted in 2018. However, the Master Plan allowed for proposals of no more than 10 floors which means that as the city of East Lansing begins to consider the addition of more high rise buildings, they are straying away from the original goals outlined in the Master Plan (Root, 2019).
In response, many people from the community argue that these high rise buildings act as "walls" that change the appearance of the downtown, defeating the purpose of attempting to create a more engaging and welcoming environment to attract more business. People argue that we should not be moving away from the Master Plan because of how many resources, time and investments we have already made. These new developments certainly stomp on the Master Plan's restrictions for heights of new buildings, so residents wonder if they should even be approved.
East Lansing is not the only city struggling with these new developments. Ann Arbor, East Lansing’s natural rival due to the universities both of these cities showcase, is also introducing new high rise buildings. They recently voted to accept a proposal for a 19 story building near downtown, the tallest building approved for development in over 50 years (Stanton, 2019). East Lansing needs to follow Ann Arbor’s lead, as well as cities all over the country, in continuing to build toward a better future.
As the city continues to grow, so does the debate as to whether or not we are growing in the right direction, and the only answer is up.
|An example of this principle at work: Ann Arbor, MI proving to be an example in terms of acceptance of high rise buildings|