I know this topic has been covered much more thoroughly by Light Rail Blog (and I encourage you to click & subscribe), but I figure I’m in the camp of “more support never hurts”, so here’s a quick list of spots I love to frequent along the Light Rail route.
(to non-Phoenix readers, sorry)
1.) All About Books & Comics
In truth, I first started going to this shop because of their Central location, but the service and ambiance at AABC would keep me coming back even if I moved. Just like a bar, a barber shop and a burger place, every nerd needs a comic book shop to call his own, and this one’s mine.
2.) Phoenix Muni / Chase Field
There’s something about being able to leave work at lunch time on a spring day and spend the rest of the afternoon at the ballpark. Admittedly, we’ve been getting total crap baseball for our dollar here in Phoenix lately, but I still hold out hope that someday we’ll stop being ripped off when it comes to America’s Pasttime. Until then, enjoy the day games when a team you like comes to town.
3.) AJ’s Fine Foods
This may seem like an odd addition to my list, but other than Pizzaria Bianco, this place serves the best slice of pizza along the Light Rail. I like to go there on Thursdays after-work and grab a slice, a salad and a random craft beer before I head home.
4.) George & Dragon
As much as I like The Turf, my pub will always be the G&D. This place is always packed on Friday nights and most weekends, and has everything you’d need in a watering hole. Huge drink selection: check. People watching: check. Good wings: check. Random accents: check.
5.) Cheese-n-Stuff / Pane Bianco
Depending on what mood you’re in, these two represent my favorite place to get a real, honest to goodness sandwich. For randomness, Pane Bianco has rarely let me down, and the ingredients are always top-notch. For comfort food, Stan & his family at Cheese-n-Stuff are my go-to. Get a Doughboy and a Yoohoo and you’re set for the rest of the day.
Yesterday I wrote about how I’ve recently started venturing into biking about town, and of course I did plenty of reading before I jumped in the saddle. One of concerns I’ve heard people repeat a lot is the need for bike lanes, especially ones in relevant areas. I know that in my neighborhood we have a bike lane, but it goes for about 2 miles through a residential area, not really near the local businesses I like to frequent, unless I want to take the back way.
But what if we minted our own bike lanes? What if we showed where we wanted them to be?
I’m reminded of an allegory I heard when I was younger, attending a village planning meeting of some sort. A city planner and a developer were arguing over how to properly align the sidewalks near a development they were going to revitalize, and after a long time bickering, the moderator of the meeting took both parties outside, and pointed to the footpath that had been worn into the grass by pedestrians who could not wait for a sidewalk to be planned, and said “put it there, that’s where people are already going”.
Of course, bikes don’t usually leave a path through the grass to show we’ve been there, but now I’ve stumbled across an item that could probably fill the same role, the Contrail.
“Contrail, a receptacle filled with colorful chalking fluid that attaches to a bicycle’s frame and leaves a bright line in the rider’s wake. ‘It turns your bike into a paintbrush,’ says Gelardi”
Imagine seeing the zigs and zags left by an event like critical mass, or just the daily up and down the block from the copious cyclists helping to improve our air and daring to live car-free. I think it’d be great to watch the paths come back to life after one of our trademark storms washes the streets clean. Let me leave my mark and just maybe someone will take notice.
Of course you don’t. You’re not a heartless bastard. (unless you’re one of my heartless bastard readers, in which case today is not your day, sorry.)
Do you hate this ugly red square?
I know you do. Parking lots are ugly and hot and salty and probably smell like last week’s trash. Trust me, I walked through one barefoot last year and it was NOT a good place to be. It was actually the one in the top left there.
So in a world where those two pictures I’ve shown you are locked in mortal combat, which side are you on?
Are you Luke or are you Darth Vader?
Smog or puppies? (or better yet, cute ASU girls watching you walk your puppy?)
This idea is being spearhead by the energizer of urbanists, Sean Sweat.
Several times over the last year I’ve talked about getting a bike.
I’ve looked into it
I’ve researched online
I’ve stared enviously at the cool kids gliding by on their fixies and cruisers and even the crews of Tour de France enthusiasts speeding around downtown like Spandex-ed flocks.
Every time the weather gets “nice” (you know, those 3-4 weeks during spring & fall that we aren’t melting or freezing solid) I tell myself that I should become a bike person.
Alas, for a long time I was a big talker only. Despite encouragement from transit aficionados like Light Rail Blogger, I was still a train or carpool kind of guy.
Then Europe kicked me in the butt and made me wonder why I was being so reluctant. When I went to visit Anie in London & Paris at the end of summer, I was amazed how many people I saw commuting by bike, and I mean seriously commuting, not just cruising a bike lane, but getting out there, taking the round-abouts, skirmishing with buses and cars and owning their share of the road.
The frequency of bike rental stands in both cities was surprising and inspiring. If these folks could casually stroll up, rent a bike for 30 minutes and drop it off one-way, why hadn’t I atleast bought my own for recreation? I mean, hell, we all know I could use the exercise and I love my neighborhood, so why not put the two together?
So when I landed back in town, I set to scouring craigslist daily, looking for a bike that fit my build and intentions and seemed like it wouldn’t kick my ass. After a couple days, I found this guy, I call him Theodore:
(Free glimpse of the foyer at Casa Awesomesauce, too. Lucky you)
Thus far I’ve taken the bike:
to work (17 min commute)
to the grocery store (12 min commute)
out to lunch (made it to Verde & back in <10 min)
and on a leisurely stroll around my ‘hood.
That last one is how I found Jobot Coffee the day after the opened, and took some cool street art pics; does it get any better on a lazy day?
So now I’ve got a platform to build on, and it’s time to get to work on making improvements. A new paint job, a tune up, switch out the seat and figure out some kind of rack-option to put my pack on when going to the grocery store.
Either way, it’s good to finally hop on and move forward with a new chapter in my own urbanism.
Planning fails of this type seem to be a dime a dozen around here, but no, this video was not shot in Phoenix. Check out Slate V‘s coverage of this ridiculous idea. I’m sure we could find something just as good if we really looked around here.
This morning as I exited my building, walking to the Light Rail stop, I spotted a bright green flyer announcing a public hearing to discuss the razing of an old, abandoned building to make way for the creation of an interim parking lot.
Previous notices about this topic were ignored by me, because the appeal to “save a piece of mid-century history” didn’t hit home. To me this seemed like one of the several run-down, decaying buildings that dot parts of Downtown. In truth, “mid-century history” didn’t seem remarkable to me, and coupled with the intent to build a new ASU Law school in the heart of the city, it seemed VERY replacable.
However, what I do not agree with is the “interim use” for the space, another huge, likely vacant parking lot. Ignoring the arguments about how the land was bought and purposed, the concept of putting yet another parking lot in an area that needs in-fill and vitality is incredibly stupid.
What I take away from it is that someone honestly thinks we want this. Whoever has the responsibility, authority & accountability in this instance, really thinks that we, the citizens/workers/shoppers all want another parking lot.
If it’s on a 5-year plan, I’d much rather see a park, or a community garden, or hell, make the parking lot, but make it underground and make it to spec with the law school that will go over it someday.
It’s not a huge area, but it is a good opportunity, and could be a symbol, a new jumping on point of the many urbanists that our city needs in order to grow in stature and vibrancy.
Yes, I’m biased because I live downtown, but why should I want to live next to a parking lot? If that was appealing to me, I’d move to the suburbs and live between the Wal-Mart and the car dealerships along the freeway.
Instead of greenery, or history, or creativity, we’re trading a dilapidated building for a heat island. And when we all let this happen, maybe that’s what we deserve.
I first heard about Seedbombs when Jeff from @truckingoodfood mentioned them a few days ago.
Then low and behold what I found in my RSS reader today, from INHABITAT:
Guerrilla gardeners in San Francisco have some new ammunition with the recent installation of the city’s first seedbomb vending machine! Designed by L.A.’s Common Studio, the re-purposed gum-ball machine is set up in front of Bi-Rite Market in the Mission District, where it vends “bombs” containing seeds and compost encased in clay. All they need is a little bit of water and they will sprout – toss one into an abandoned lot or even a pothole, and voila: green space.
City slickers love telling everyone what neighborhoods they live in. It’s become a kind of shorthand for what sort of person they are, what they value, where they like to hang out. It makes sense: As small as the world has gotten, it’s still really big, and carving out a little piece of it that feels familiar and pride-worthy is a basic human urge.
But forget for a second where your apartment is, and think about the blocks that surround it, the guy one door down you’ve never spoken to, the people you mill around at the flea market or pass in the bike lane on your way to the grocery store. You probably have as much in common with them as you do with your friends, but you’ve never even met.
Now, if you’ve read my blog (TB3N) for any time now, you’ve seen me advocate for more lively neighborhoods more than once. At it’s base, what they said above is 100% true. We do tend of generalize people, even within our own community, based upon where they live.
Does your block have something to say about you?
Or do you have something to say about what your block really is?
The first step is getting out there and finding out the truth and seeing what you can do to be more involved.
The first step to building a better neighborhood is the step out your front door.
Lately I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about urbanism, and the benefits of living in a vibrant neighborhood, and that is clearly in small part due to my surrounds and the benefits I reap all around me.
Today I came across an article where the author took it a step further and drew up a map of how to improve his neighborhood so that it was more connected and accessible.
Below are the before and after maps created by David Roberts. To read the full details, click here.
This is a great concept, and clearly on that translates to our city very well.
How would you improve your neighborhood to make it better?