Day 1 — Small Urban Spaces

We started the first day of the PLACE program with an impressively large group of individuals who all had unique reasons for joining. Each reason was slightly different than the next. After the basic introductions, we went through the outline of the program, what we hope to achieve, and expectations for us throughout the project. This includes a great deal of respect, responsibility, and will power. A couple get-to-know-each other games were played, followed by a video from the 70’s that showed us what it was like to analyze open spaces and how people react to them. We learned the basics of what does and doesn’t “work” in an open public space.

We then went out to different park blocks in the area for lunch in small groups. We were to observe and record out findings of each park, including what we thought could be improved. It was interesting how we could pull out so much information and details that we normally wouldn’t notice from it. It was especially noteworthy on how the people reacted to the implements of each park. We had notes, photos, and even drawn diagrams of the multiple parks and covered topics regarding the amount of open space, shade (such as trees), and other provided services, deciding wether or not these implements were useful or discouraging to visitors. Factors such as the weather also contributed to our judgement of the necessity of trees in a park area. With this exercise, we are now much more watchful of parks, making sure to take note of their location and layout. This first day was hands on experiential and really enhanced our understanding of public areas and their use. Onward to the next day!

— Meghan

Today was a fun beginning for the program. I am excited and eager to learn more about urban planning and am looking forward to the new friendships that we will all make. We began with a little overview and history of the program and then George introduced our project. We will be creating some sort of greenway from two blocks of a street in the Pearl District. I don’t know how this is going to work yet but hopefully we can get creative. Judging by our noise game in the beginning of the day I am sure that this won’t be a problem. Some other students surprised me with their humorous sounds and actions. After a short video, mainly on observation, we split up into groups and did our own observing during lunch. Each of six groups went to a different park and noted on the light, migration of pedestrians, seating, etc. After sharing our findings we concluded that people like sun and seats! Pictures from our first day are also on Flickr.

— Adele

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