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TED Talk: How Public Spaces Make Cities Work

April 28, 2014

“Cities are fundamentally about people.”  –Amanda Burden

When immersed in the design of a city, building, or place, it can be easy to focus on the smaller details without realizing that most of the time we’re designing for people. For each other. To make a space or place, that fosters some aspect of the human experience: joy, learning, wonder, and a million more. I think that’s one of my favorite takeaways from Amanda Burden’s TED talk “How Public Spaces Make Cities Work” which looks at public space (particularly in New York) and the role it plays in shaping life in the city.

In my own experience, I’ve made pretty deliberate choices about where I live, work and travel based on the availability of public space. As many of my friends and family know, I’m pretty head over heels in love with my neighborhood. The public library, just down the street, is set back from the street with a huge public lawn used four seasons a year — from snowmen building to summer picnics and frisbee. My running route takes me along a path by the river flanked by trees. The public space in front of city hall is my go-to lunch spot with co-workers and people watching with friends after work. The things I love about where I live and work can mostly be attributed to public space.

What do you love about your community? Where’s your nearest public park?

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