Having lived in Minnesota for the entirety of my life, I did not think there was much more I could learn about this state. I associated the suburbs with my past, and I sought to find new adventures in far-off cities. However, after coming home to Minnesota, and moving to Minneapolis, I realized that I was never more incorrect. With every morning that I wake up and travel to class, I witness something new and different along Como Avenue. As the buses pass by, new advertisements of city life fill my eyes. With every stoplight, I see new students and community members for the first time; and as I bike past housing, I find new details in the infrastructure that engages my interest in design.
With the opportunity presented by The Grid, I had the chance to explore why people and infrastructure are the way they are in the Twin Cities. I was able to investigate issues such as how trees affect the scalability of streets and moreover the crime in our city, how modern architectural elements are changing the aesthetic dynamic of our city, and how community organizing and planning have affected the bikeability of our transportation system.
What I have learned most from this experience is that there is no single answer to alleviating the issues our urban environments are faced with. The Twin Cities are a complex network of communities, each with particular cultural and geographical dynamics. To progress towards more livable cities, we must delve into communities, research the current relation inhabitants have with their environments, and communicate with the people about present conditions and goals. Strong and healthy communities are within our reach; however, in all fields of work, whether it be engineering, design, or urban planning, the community must always be involved.
This is my last post with The Grid, but it is only beginning of my work in the Twin Cities, and hopefully many more urban environments. Wherever I am, in whatever I am doing, I hope to always ask myself: what makes your city dynamic? In what ways do you see hope for progress in your city?
A special thanks to all of those who assisted me in investigating the Twin Cities, and to The Grid for allowing me to be part of this opportunity.
Credits: Images by Abbey Seitz. Data linked to sources.