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News & Notes

→ Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy [The New York Times]

While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear – to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.


→ Some local greens on the Greenway [Boston.com]

A public food market in downtown Boston will feature up to 100 vendors of fish, produce, wine, cheese, and other local products in a facility that will feel more like a bustling European bazaar than a grocery store, according to an operating plan released by the state yesterday.

After years of false starts and dead ends, state agricultural officials unveiled a detailed layout and financial plan for the market that will operate out of a state-owned building on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway near Faneuil Hall and the Haymarket pushcart vendors.

Two words: Kennedy Plaza.
Two more words: The Arcade


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LibertyFest 2011!, July 4th

LibertyFest 2011
Monday, July 4 • 12:00pm-9:00pm
West Park Street and Calverly Street, Smith Hill

LibertyFest 2011Come to the twelfth installment of Providence’s greatest Fourth of July tradition, LibertyFest!

This year we’ll have four stages going for nine hours with about 30 of Providence’s best musical acts and some touring guests!

As always, plenty of drink, a roasted goat, potluck food, a bouncy castle, children’s activities, good community, and a day you will not forget.

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2nd Annual RI Kosher Chili Cook-Off, June 5

The Second Annual Rhode Island Kosher Chili Cook-Off
Sunday, June 5 • 11AM to 4PM
Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island • 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence

Second Annual Rhode Island Kosher Chili Cook-Off Scheduled for June 5

PROVIDENCE – The Second Annual Rhode Island Kosher Chili Cook-Off will take place on Sunday, June 5 from 11 AM to 4 PM at the Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island, 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence. Twenty teams representing different community organizations will once again compete for the title of “Best Kosher Chili in Rhode Island.” All chili will be glatt kosher, and there will be meat, turkey, and vegetarian options. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with a max of $30 per family and includes chili tastings, voting tickets, live music, and children’s activities including bounce houses, a climbing wall, crafts, games and more. Expected attendance – over 500. An assortment of beers in a beer garden, soda and food concessions will also be available for purchase. All proceeds benefit family programming of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

Elite panel of judges include:

  • Chef Nemo Bolin of Cook and Brown
  • Frank Terranova from Johnson and Wales University & Cooking with Class on Channel 10
  • Anne Marie Bouthillette of Blackbird Farms
  • Karl Guggenmos – University Dean of Culinary Education at Johnson and Wales University
  • Chef Walter Potenza of Walter’s Ristorante d’Italia

For more information, go to rikosherchilicookoff.com.

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News & Notes

→ Little. Yellow. Dangerous. “Children at Play” signs imperil our kids. [Slate]

There are several reasons engineers don’t like the signs. The first, and most simple, is that if you are driving in an area where children are actually playing, you will, it is hoped, notice them before you notice a sign warning you of them. Or, more to the point, that you will have noticed that you are driving in an area (say, a residential street) where there are likely to be children about. “I find it amazing that people think that a 30-in X 30-in square sign (that is only a little less than 6.25 square feet of sheeting material when you make the corners rounded) will make a difference in driver behavior,” one engineer complained on an Internet forum. “If the driver does not notice the characteristics of a neighborhood as they drive down the street, why would they notice a sign as they pass it, or remember it for more than a few seconds once they have passed it.”

The physical make-up of the street, more than anything, influences how motorists drive. A street built for slow traffic will result in slow traffic.


→ In Defense of the Corner Market [Next American City]

The argument about food deserts seems to be premised on the assumption that supermarkets – suburban-style, big-box, corporate chain stores with plenty o’ parking – are inherently superior to walkable, family owned food markets that serve low-income populations. The media portrays these corner markets as liquor stores or “discount” stores carrying little fresh produce and lots of Hostess cupcakes.

While there is certainly a class of convenience store that lacks healthy food options, many analyses have completely ignored the presence of small, family-owned food markets and their important role in feeding urban populations.


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Providence, third best pizza town in the country


Bob & Timmy’s Pizza. Photo (cc) spablab

I think a lot of these Travel + Leisure Magazine superlatives are getting a bit silly. The whole “America’s Favorite Cities” thing just seems like a whole lot of link bait to me (even if, according to my Facebook wall and Twitter stream, Providence seems to be doing pretty well in the rankings1).

Is it strange that I am surprised to read that Providence is the third best pizza town, after Chicago and New York? Sure we have a lot of Italians, and sure we invented grilled pizza and that weird cold pizza strip thing (which I refuse to embrace, sorry), and sure we have a lot of college kids. But are we really that good when it comes to pizza?2

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I Heart Providence, Feb. 10

I HEART PROVIDENCE
Thursday, Feb. 10th from 6-8pm
Providence City Hall
25 Dorrance Street
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Last year’s event:
I HEART PROVIDENCE 2010 Video. Celebrate Providence with us on Feb. 10, 2011! from Mike Ritz on Vimeo.

  • Hosted by Mayor Angel Taveras
  • Live music by Symmetry & Girls Nite Out
  • Food & Drink! Ebisu, El Rancho Grande, Hudson Street Deli, Los Andes, Rhode Island Convention Center Catering, Sin, Tip C Cupcakes, Whole Foods

I Heart Providence on Facebook.

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News & Notes

→ avoiding car-centered language: a directive [Human Transit]

Yes, crash sounds emotive while accident sounds cool, so it’s easy to assume that accident is more objective or factual. But sometimes the facts are emotive, and only an emotive word will accurately describe them. The directive even notices that avoiding the emotive word can constitute an emotional bias in the other direction: “Sheila was in a car accident!” “Oh no, I hope she’s OK!” “Well, she killed three cyclists, so she’s pretty upset!” “How terrible! I’ll send her some flowers.”

→ Human landscapes in SW Florida [The Big Picture]

→ Save-A-Lot (grocery store) Grows by Targeting Low-Income Neighborhoods [Retail Traffic]

→ Reclaim Your Streets: How to Create Safe and Social Pedestrian Plazas [Yes!]

→ Ten tips for planners to convert a shopping center into a village center [New Urban Network]

→ Driven Apart: How Sprawl Is Lengthening Our Commutes and Why Misleading Mobility Measures Are Making Things Worse [CEO for Cities]

Driven Apart ranks how long residents in the nation’s largest 51 metropolitan areas spend in peak hour traffic, and in some cases the rankings are almost the opposite of those listed in the 2009 Urban Mobility Report.

For instance, the UMR depicts Chicago as having some of the worst travel delays, when it actually has the shortest time spent in peak hour traffic of any major US metro area. In contrast, Nashville jumped from 31st to first on the list of those with the longest peak travel times.

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Rocktucket (Sept. 25)

Rocktucket 2010

at The Grant
Saturday, 09/25/2010 – 2:00pm-11:00pm

Rocktucket is back and new for 2010. An all-day festival of music, art and food with some surprises in the mix, including Big Nazo for the kids! Come on down to check out the bands, grab a beer at the tent (brought to you by Narragansett, Harpoon, and Trinity Brewhouse), browse music memorbilia at the Treasure Hunt, or grab some food from one of the local vendors along the street. It’s a block party for everyone who loves a good time!

Confirmed food vendors: Plouffe’s BBQ truck, Poco Loco (Mexican food), What’s the Scoop (soft serv and cotton candy), Sugar Rush (cupcakes and cookies) and Like No Udder (vegan food and treats).

An art installation called Phone Talks: Pawtucket will be installed and on display near the fountain in front of the Sovereign Bank.

Friend Rocktucket on Facebook and get updates as they become available. Follow the Grant for Tweets about it.

Brought to you by: The Pawtucket Foundation, The Grant, Machines with Magnets, Milk and Cookies Gallery and the Pawtucket Arts Festival.

More info at The Grant and Live Pawtucket.

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A Better World By Design Conference – October 1-3, 2010

Brown and RISD students converge to inspire international community for social change

Providence, RI to host annual “A Better World by Design” Conference October 1-3, 2010

PROVIDENCE, RI: Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will invite a global community of innovative thinkers, professionals and students to Providence, RI to share and create new experiences in social and environmental design. A Better World by Design is a three-day, internationally acclaimed conference that takes place for the third year October 1-3, 2010. Approximately 1,000 students and leaders from around the world will gather on the campuses of Brown and RISD to discuss innovative solutions to extreme poverty, access to basic resources, environmental degradation and the future of infrastructure. Global leaders from the fields of architecture, design, engineering, economics, entrepreneurship, environmental studies, business, politics and global development will converge to discuss design’s role as an integrative application for world improvement.

“We’ve focused on building more collaborative platforms for this year’s conference,” commented Lillian Mathews, Brown ’12 Environmental Studies, one of the conference’s chief organizers. “New faces and skill sets enrich the conference dialogue and allow for greater partnership opportunities between disciplines. A Better World by Design offers the opportunity to add to the pot of innovative ideas in a uniquely intimate environment.”

A Better World by Design will feature a number of talented speakers, panelists and workshop leaders who develop trailblazing solutions to pressing social and environmental problems. Speakers include Robert Fabricant of Frog Design, serial entrepreneur Lisa Gansky and Anil Gupta of the Honey Bee Network. In addition to the world-class lineup of speakers, the conference features 12 intimate panel sessions where conference attendees work alongside leaders of local and international communities. Panels will introduce new ideas in integrative design methods and tackle contemporary problems like sustainable economies, urban transit, disaster-resistant housing, and arts and activism.

In addition, the 2010 conference will unveil the first-ever winners of the Better World Challenge (BWC). The BWC is A Better World by Design’s inaugural student design challenge that focuses on finding an implementable solution to food deserts – areas with limited to no access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. The conference will also host the second year of the One-Hour Design Challenge with Core77, the award-winning international industrial design blog. Providence’s The Steel Yard and the Box Office will host weekend social events and an art gala.

The conference also boasts workshops and tour sessions inviting attendees to work on local social and sustainable design projects aimed at improving the Greater Providence community. These sessions utilize Providence’s forward thinking attitude and rich history for innovation as a case study to model worldwide.

To register visit: A Better World By Design

Greater City Providence will be attending the Conference and will have reports on the goings on over the weekend.

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A likely unpopular take on Food Trucks

Bool BBQ truck
Photo (cc) stu_spivack

I’ve been watching the slow emergence of Food Truck culture in Providence and have mostly been happy about it. The Food Trucks popping up thus far have good food, they bring a certain cachet to the city, they are hip, young, fun, all the things Providence wants to be. However, in the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I don’t like about the Food Truck movement.

Payton at west north articulated my reservations pretty well:

I’m know it’s so very trendy, but I really don’t understand the fascination with littering Chicago with food trucks. I’ve found them quite annoying in NY and LA:

  • they don’t pay rent for the valuable public space they take up
  • they unfairly compete with fixed-premise restaurants, particularly since Chicago suffers from many miles of empty storefronts
  • they only go to trendy areas which already have lots of shops and foot traffic, thereby merely overcrowding existing transient hotspots and potentially preventing new areas from emerging
  • they leave clouds of diesel fumes and noise in their wake, since they run generators even when idling
  • they generate mountains of trash in said areas’ already-overflowing trashcans, since there’s no capacity for onboard dishwashing and few sidewalk recycling bins
  • they’d be yet more unwieldy vehicles careening through the streets, killing people in crashes.

I certainly don’t dispute the overall goals to have broadly available, inexpensive food and easing the way for entrepreneurs to open foodservice businesses. However, these goals frankly have nothing to do with adding more smelly trucks to already choked streets

Payton has a follow-up post expanding on his points above which I encourage you to read.

Like I said, there is something that really pleases me about the Food Truck movement, but the points Payton brings up bother me. Really, the biggest part is that we have so many vacant storefronts. A truck pulls up, creates some excitement and leaves. An occupied storefront contributes to the street activity always, think Farmstead on Westminster.

There are of course real barriers to opening a food based business in a brick and mortar location in Providence, which probably contributes to the quick adoption of food trucks here. One is regulation. Everyone I’ve talked to who has opened a business in Providence, or those whose business it is to get businesses to come to Providence, agree that the regulation is confusing and onersous, and discourages business creation. I’ve heard people who have located businesses here from away say they would never do it again and would tell others not to, not good.

The other barrier is the spaces themselves. Especially Downcity, but throughout town, there really aren’t many small hole in the wall retail spaces available. The kind of space where someone who runs a Food Truck might opt to settle down permanently. A counter and a few stools, those spaces don’t exist. So would-be restauranteurs are forced to pay rent on greatly outsized spaces that they don’t need.

I’m not saying Food Trucks should be banned, far from it. What I would like to see is, the city thinking about ways to encourage other forms of street food, be they micro-storefronts, push carts, Food Trucks, or something else.

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GC: Photos

More photos submitted to our Flickr Group by our readers.

Hot Dog Heaven
Photo © BlueisCoool

Brown University boat house
Photo (cc) provbenson2009

Providence sunset
Photo (cc) provbenson2009

Shepard Fairey Mural
Photo © BlueisCoool

If you’d like your photos featured here, join our Flickr Group and submit them.

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News & Notes

→ A team of scientists from the University of Rhode Island (URI) has recently published an article describing a self-healing concrete that would be inexpensive to produce. Such concrete could help reduce structure repair costs, lower cement-production carbon emissions, and even save lives, as it will help design safer buildings. [The Future of Things]

→ Markets Investing In Neighborhood Health — Shop Here
Two corner stores on the Southside of Providence will get a healthy store “makeover” this week thanks to the Providence Healthy Corner Store Initiative (PHCSI), a new initiative that unites Rhode Island farmers, corner store owners, and community residents to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain items, low-salt and low-sugar canned goods, and healthier snacks available in Providence neighborhoods. [Providence Daily Dose]

→ Paul Krugman: America Goes Dark [The New York Times]

→ Traffic reduction: An urgent public health priority
Traffic is the leading cause of death among children worldwide and the leading cause of death among 1-34 year olds in the United States. So, why isn’t traffic considered the top threat to public health by the CDC, WHO and federal, state and local governments? [Greater Greater Washington]

→ The WPA’s legacy in Rhode Island [WPRI Blog]

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News & Notes

→ [Boston] Public food market gets $10m promise [Boston.com]
The Boston Public Market will be located along the Greenway in a building close to the location of the current Haymarket. The market is expected to be open in 12-18 months.

→ RIPTA trying to avoid reductions to bus service [ProJo]

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is looking into avoiding service reductions by substituting a fare increase — or perhaps by fundamentally changing its fare structure to make riders pay more for longer trips.

→ The “Best Place” is no place at all [OnTransport]
Money Magazine’s Best Places to live have no there there.

→ Wooly Fair 2010 this Saturday [Wooly]

Wooly Fair is Providence’s homegrown art carnival, a vibrant spectacle that showcases the city’s creative community at its most joyful. This year’s theme is Back to Nature, and the fair’s centerpiece is the Flower Tower, a pyramid of container gardens that will be distributed after the July 31st event to hospitals, schools, and other organizations.

→ paris: the street is ours! [Human Transit]

It’s simple: the default setting for pedestrian signals is green, and they turn red only when your safety requires it. (In Sydney, where I currently live, the opposite rule applies. There, pedestrian signals are always red, but if you push a button and wait patiently, often for a nearly complete cycle of the signal, wondering if you’ve submitted an application to some bureaucrat who will get to it after his lunch break, you’ll finally get green for a few seconds. But don’t blink or you’ll miss it and have to start again.)

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News & Notes

→ State of Maine on board with high-speed rail; upgrade work on the popular Downeaster begins [FastLane USDOT]

→ Too hot to cook? A few heat-wave recipes [Projo Subterranean Homepage News]

→ Hours extended for Providence water parks all week [ProJo]

→ Forecast for the Future’s Cities: Hot! [The City Fix]

→ Gas taxes give us a break at the pump [USA Today]
“Holiday drivers will pay less than ever at the pump for upkeep of the nation’s roads — just $19 in gas taxes for every 1,000 miles driven, a USA TODAY analysis finds. That’s a new low in inflation-adjusted dollars, half what drivers paid in 1975.”

→ St. Louis’ Mayor Slay signs ‘Complete Streets’ bill, with promise of bikeable, walkable city [St. Louis Today]

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