Author’s Main Ideas
The article on “Tactical Urbanism 2: Short-Term Action, Long-Term Change,” presents Mike Lydon’s ideas on what he considers the best steps that a government should take in transforming community neighborhoods. Through their actions, the outcomes will have significant effects on the projects that people embarked on at the beginning. The use of the word tactical alludes that the actions performed by the collective effort of citizens amidst the small tasks, albeit small-scale in nature, serve a larger purpose in the society. There is a perception from people in society that all projects should have a lot of funds allocated to them in order to operationalize and achieve the desired results. However, most of the actions accomplished using fewer resources still produce great results. This may happen by performing small realizable tasks. Therefore, setting short-term goals may work for most public projects (Lydon 1-18).
The author demystifies this common belief that immense resources are a necessity to accomplish significant projects, whether at a personal level or in the public sphere. He further gives illustrations throughout the article that people could undertake. According to the author, projects need to act on plans and actions. This is because acting is the action that will push the start of a long-term project in the right way. This happens through proper planning of actions, especially in the public sphere, which requires pushing the projects and taking less amount of time and resources than speculated (Lydon 3-5). The tactical part of the title captures the whole idea that the author puts across as they embark on activities that will help society and the individuals in their personal actions. An action by a senior worker in government will have equal repercussions to the lowest-class citizen (Lydon 11-21).
Another major idea that the author brings across is that through tactical urbanism, urban centers could undertake small-scale projects that will have a reflection of their plans in the long term. He feels that the small-scale projects set the stage for larger investments. It also becomes a testing phase within a strained budget (Lydon 13-15). This can be likened to Walter Christaller’s central place theory in that the tactical approach helps in improving the city based on ideas of optimized returns on minimal resources. According to Christaller, the optimized approach leads to the change expected as it offered the residents the ideas they require in planning for the challenges expected within the undertaking of city projects (Week 8, Lec 23).
A critical look at the ideas that the author brings across reveals that some are applicable and relevant in some parts of the country, especially in areas where the government does not take small-scale projects. It is also for areas within the world that are tired of the old systems of doing things and push for change through their own actions. For instance, the issues of play streets are not for densely populated urban centers as there would be no room for the plays as the housing problem affects most of the locals within the area (Week 9, Lec 25). The lack of parking spaces in many neighborhoods is an issue affecting most areas in many countries and state developers have solved this problem through underground parking slots in buildings as well as rooftop parking in others. This ensures that the same building holds vehicles on the rooftop and on the ground as well as having businesses run normally with no distractions (Lydon 4-15).
A commendable idea applicable within my area is the public sitting arrangements in the urban centers within busy environments. Such arrangements are temporal and people occupy them for a short time, us them to rest, and leave them for the next person to use. This helps in reducing the traffic of people standing at a place, which is also a security problem (Lydon 2-7). As discussed in lecture 25, guerilla gardening is a perfect match for any place, including Dallas, Texas state, as it occupies less space within the compound (Week 9, Lec 25). People also use readily available materials to encourage gardening and planting of plants and flowers to beautify the environment. Moreover, as discussed in lecture 26 on Levittown and Fordism, such happens even in rental places where people can hang their plants using any available material that can hold soil. This works in two ways, beautifying the environment and using readily recyclable materials to undertake the projects. Planting grass and flowers in roundabouts also work by making the city beautiful and making them appear natural in comparison to the fake and plastic flowers that some people advocate (Week 9, Lec 26). The natural plants allow for the natural circulation of air exchanged between the plants and animals (Lydon 8).
Application of Ideas in my City, Dallas, Texas
The ideas brought forward in the article would apply in Dallas, Texas, considering that it is a major urban center. The local administration, through the local government, could authorize and undertake the projects by creating a partnership with individuals and non-governmental organizations. For instance, the provisions of safe pedestrian walking pavements in the city require a permanent solution for such. Raising awareness on safe places where people ride bicycles and motorbikes would work as not everyone within the locality owns a motor vehicle. Accommodation of every type of transportation leads to a harmonized society that does not have a high dependence rate on the state of public projects. This would also affect the way people interact as such social activities bring people together. Such an open street initiative works even for unsocial places (Week 8, Lec 24).
In places where there are large pavements, there is also the possibility that the local government can reclaim the underutilized asphalt as part of the public space initiatives. Such projects take less space and do not require a large amount of capital. Large pavements could act as parking lots for motorbikes and bicycles or could be earmarked for people with disabilities to rest (Week 9, lecture 26). Other options that the local government could do is to rent the space to local investors who do not need large space through putting up roadside cafes that target the crowds walking around in the urban centers and would pay some amount of money as they enjoy a drink or take a snack. Such activities turn people into employers as they contribute to the local government by paying taxes applicable to the businesses. This becomes an advantage as the local municipal authorities gain more.
Application of Tactical Urbanism in Dallas, Texas
As part of the ideas that fit the author’s concepts of tactical urbanism, Dallas may apply some ideas applicable to the state. These ideas attempt to rectify the current situation in the environment as well as pass the idea of making use of the space within the area. Some of the ideas that I have is that due to the limited amount of space available, individuals and specifically the entrepreneurs could invest in movable food kiosks within the state urban center. The mobility of the kiosks will help them reach the markets and move to an area with a demand for goods and services. For instance, the movable food kiosks would move around learning institutions during lunchtime and after serving the students, they can move to the offices to serve fruits and salad for the afternoon tea. Such mobility helps in improving the town by serving more people within a short time while reducing the possibility that an organization will face a shortage of customers (Week 9, Lec 25).
The ideas fit with the author’s ideas of tactical urbanism as it attempts to improve the life that people in the urban centers live while at the same time making the locals spend a few resources over a limited space. This improves the Dallas area in Texas if a good number of people living in rental apartments or have limited space in their kitchen garden execute the ideas. This may attract the attention of the local administrators and have the cereals board in the country distribute the seedlings for plants that mature within less than three months hence acting as a form of encouragement to the locals.
Lydon, Mike. “Tactical Urbanism 2: Short-Term Action, Long-Term Change.” Tactical Urbanism 2 (2012): 1-47. Print.
Week 8, Lecture 23 on Central Place Theory 1.
Week 8, Lecture 24 on Central Place Theory 2.
Week 9, Lecture 25 on Introduction to the Suburbs.
Week 9, Lecture 26 on Suburbs, Levittown & Fordism.