Whalley Triumphant!

In case you might be thinking the Champs-Elysées is a bit far fetched, OK, did you know Whalley Avenue, one of three New Haven avenues with the audacity to honor 17th c. regicides, is exactly the same width, curb to curb, as the Esplanade in New Orleans (the Esplanade differs only in that buildings set back more from the curb than those on Whalley). You’d never guess the two streets were the same by looking. Poetry and dramatic arts get written on the Esplanade, tires get changed on Whalley. 

Significantly, the Esplanade, and all the other avenues in New Orleans for that matter, were very intentional, the French invention of Adrien de Pauger in the 18th century. As with Route 34, intentional is the key word missing from Whalley.

In point of fact, Whalley Avenue, along with partners-in-crime Goffe and Dixwell, started out lending intention to the city, bringing order and dynamism to first ring residential neighborhoods as they fanned out from Elm Street and downtown. But those valiant intentions are entirely obscured today.

If one were to put on an intentional de Pauger brain, the original potential of Whalley Avenue might very well be reborn, achieving exactly the same heightened desirability as the Esplanade offers its surrounds. 

Once again, private development can take on leadership (and pick up the tab) for street transformations if, if codes are re-written to demand intentional street forming configurations (it’s the streets dummy, not the buildings). The sheer breadth of such codes raises the desirability of all properties in the subject area, making even small properties worthy investments. Simply stated, suddenly the gate to development drops to where even small scale lower capitalized investors can turn a profit. The predictability of guided processes means that all participants, regardless of access to wealth, become positive contributors, piece by piece healing, joining and organizing the disjointed forlorn parts we see now into desirable wholes. 

Here’s the Esplanade superimposed on Whalley, at the same scale.

Esplanade superimposed on Whalley. 

Cities are finding that first steps to intentionally have to include changed thinking. The long accepted standard of making streets safe for cars where people are interlopers, has to change to a new standard of making streets safe and comfortable for people where cars are the interlopers. Desirability inevitably follows when the value of people gets promoted to the head of the class.

Instead of people nervously trying to survive in a car world, as they do on auto-centric Whalley today...

Whalley Avenue street view.

Whalley Avenue street view.

desirability magically materializes when the car-first standard flips to make cars drive cautiously in a people world, as on people-centric Esplanade today...

THe esplanade in new orleans. source: www.smartgrowthamerica.org

THe esplanade in new orleans. source: www.smartgrowthamerica.org

Prosperity follows.

Job Oriented Development

Recently, I have been trying to inaugurate a slightly different (from TOD : Transit Oriented Development) concept with my graduate students at the University of Hartford couple years now, which is Jobs Oriented Development (JOD). Unlike TOD, which is a people exporter, JOD is a people importer. People seeking jobs also seek to live near where they work. People stay in their communities. They just need sturdy facilities, sturdy enough to house manufacturing job opportunities from which to grow new neighborhoods. 
Right now, my students are investigating complete form-based neighborhoods surrounding the Colt Manufacturing buildings, and other abandoned industrial facilities along the Connecticut River just south of the Capitol in Hartford. Other job opportunities of this site can be found on now-fallow agricultural lands, capitalizing on the frequently flooding Connecticut River's rich organic soil deposits.
Significant to CNU-NE is the fact that New England has a rare untapped (and now long abandoned) resource, which are all the water powered (i.e. free non-fossil fuel energy) mills that used to (right up through WWII) run the entire country from the 6 New England states, mostly Connecticut, which had 4,700 of the damn things, like this:

source: www.longleaflumber.com

source: www.longleaflumber.com

Not too shabby sturdy manufacturing facility (no CMU in evidence).

JOD could be the theme of a new CNU - CNU/NE - FCNU Council, perhaps in New Hampshire. The Fellows (FCNU) could be involved bringing gravitas, out of the box thinking and motivation. And CNU has NEVER looked at the jobs side of walkable neighborhood creation. This could be a whole new chapter in the CNU saga, possibly moving into a future Congress.

Recently, I discovered another JOD compatriot in arms, on the West Coast in Seattle, with whom I’ve been conversing for a while. Rod Stevens is a Stanford/Dartmouth-Tuck graduate, who has been following what started as “beer and bread” artisan maker-spaces (Artisan Asylum in Somerville, and a million other places nation wide) as they turned into high tech software design maker-space (Greentown Labs in Somerville, and a number of places nationwide, usually near higher-ed tech, such as MIT, IIT, Cal Tech, etc.), and Rod sees a new trend underway called Advanced Manufacturing, which is basically building on the former two trends to bring higher paying jobs and more productive industries. But they’re happy to share space, just like the previous maker-spaces.
Advanced Manufacturing does not need to be near higher-ed tech, and New Hampshire seems to be showing the most hunger for this new kind of industry, as identified by Rod. Rod is reaching out to his Tuck contacts to locate people and places that might make the best location for a Council, perhaps next spring (Rod says, "30 years ago, there were Tuck people dominating a prominent manufacturing firm in Nashua that owned Wheelabrator Frye and others. They gave a talk to my finance class on how to raid the pension fund for financing buy-outs!”). These kind of ideas, higher pay, and the still strong desire to live near where you work could make Advanced Manufacturing the most dynamic challenge to land-hungry-car-dominated seemingly irreversibly-failing cities all across the country.
I wasn’t able to go, but Manchester hosted an Advanced Manufacturing Conference this past Saturday. But here’s a link to a recent article on what’s going on in New Hampshire, leading the charge:
‘Time is now’ for action on manufacturing - New Hampshire Business Review - October 16 2015