Buffalo Bill Center of the West- Explore concepts like the American cowboy, conservation, dude ranches and other facets of the American West at this Cody, Wyoming Center. The research library offers rare blogs, photos and manuscripts pertaining to the American West.
National Museum of Wildlife Art- This Jackson Hole, Wyoming museum features stunning wildlife art exhibits like the current exhibit of National Geographic’s greatest photos of the American West. The museum’s collection includes more than 5,000 works by over 500 artists.
The Crisis The Great Crawl of China Thousands of motorists have been caught up in a 60-mile tailback since August 14-an incredible 11 days ago.
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And it could last a further three weeks. While many motorists took detours, some ended up trapped for up to five days, sleeping in their cars and taking shifts behind the wheel. 400 police were drafted in to ensure the communal road rage was kept in check. Imagine being caught in a traffic jam for five long days, not due to any natural disaster, but entirely man-made. Ironically, in this case, caused by roadwork planned to ease traffic congestion. What are the costs? We must include not only loss of productivity and the increased costs to the community and businesses, but also the lost opportunity to spend time with friends and family, the impact on health due to increased pollution, noise, loss of amenity, and driver stress. This one example is reflective of what is happening in urban centers all around the world. We spend a significant proportion of our available time in the ‘in-between spaces'-the streets, highways, transit-stations, and hubs- struggling to move between destinations. This should prompt us to explore the nature of these spaces and the experiential quality they offer to travelers and commuters.
Prior to the automobile era, people used these spaces to meet other people and experience cultural amenities. This facility has been largely lost as these spaces have been transformed into movement conduits. Studies show that face-to-face contact or the proximity factor, while important to creativity, innovation, and livability in cities, has always been invaluable in attracting people, firms, and private investments. People-oriented rather than movement-oriented places allow for ‘agglomerations' which, studies show, spark innovation and prosperity. A smaller carbon footprint is associated with the more intimate scales of people-oriented places. Well-designed, livable places can also be more socially inclusive, promoting affordable housing and enabling those with limited budgets to economize on travel by living close to goods, services, and employment opportunities. Neighborhoods that promote interaction and everyday face-to-face contact, experiences show, have lower crime rates, promote friendships, and feel safe. Highly engaged communities allow natural surveillance, what Jane Jacobs called ‘eyes on the street'. Furthermore, with IT advancements, ‘formal social capital' is shifting to the virtual realm. While this has its attractions, it raises questions about the future roles of streets, plazas, sidewalks, bus stops, train stations, and other parts of the public realm, which formerly encouraged face-to-face interactions. A role repositioning of these spaces- of destinations, and connections between destinations-is more vital than ever.
There are two main ways to reconfigure urban spaces. First, make the connections between destinations stronger, speedier, safer, more equitable, and affordable. Planning policies aimed at bringing destinations closer to each other, thereby reducing the vehicle kilometers traveled, have been put to the test. Plans catering for multi-modal traffic and active transport, integration of transport modes, and prioritizing public transport are being forwarded. A careful placement of these connections cutting through dense, mixed land uses is being laid out for accessing jobs, schools, shops, and housing. Strategies for linking the needy lower socioeconomic areas of the cities are being planned, and cities like Medellin in Colombia have already implemented them.
As important as these plans, strategies, and policies are, their implementation has been rife with obstacles in many places, while hitting dead ends in others. This brings us to the second level of reconfiguration that needs to happen through community partnership, which is a vital key to success: to transform destinations and connections between destinations into high-quality places with a strong sense of place and of community ownership.