Tag Archives: karja hansen

Tactical Urbanism Sparks Ideas at CNU21

ioby was very happy to participate at CNU 21 in Salt Lake City this May. In addition, to running a pop-up idea café (that also provided new urbanists with much needed caffeine), we were part of an innovative 202 on tactical urbanism with Mike Lydon, principal at StreetPlans, Tommy Pacello with the Memphis Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, Ian Wolfe Ross, City Design Collective, and Jason Roberts, founder of the Better Block.

Tactical Urbanism, similar to Lighter Quicker Cheaper, is a concept that hits to the core of ioby’s work. Small-scale or short-term demonstration projects can be implemented quickly, or temporarily, on a small budget, but work to transform the community’s understanding of public space.

An example is the 78th Street Play Street, that, using a Department of Transportation Play Street permit was temporarily opened for play and closed to car traffic three summers in row, and is now designated a permanent playground.

Easy wins are an important way to ensure participation in what can often be a slow and grueling public process. Moreover, small-scale projects remind residents that they have the ability to make change in their communities, a key part of civic engagement.

And in fact, the scale of ioby projects is often small. Projects are either short-term demonstrations or small-scale neighborhood projects (see above section on tactical urbanism). While some may be quick to dismiss small projects, we believe small projects play an important role. They provide an opportunity for quick results and easy feel good wins, which are incredibly important for a community that is fatigued with a legacy of hopelessness and skepticism, as is exactly the case in Miami, or Detroit, or possibly your home town.

In addition, because with ioby people contribute relatively small donations and volunteer for just a few hours, there is a feeling that change can happen, without herculean effort. An important reminder for all of us changemakers out there.



Comeback Cities: Detroit & Miami

We were privileged to have ioby’s own Karja Hansen take part in the inaugural Placemaking Leadership Council, convened by Project for Public Spaces, so that ioby could spend some time in America’s leading current comeback city, Detroit, as an inspiration for ioby’s work in Miami.

The Leadership Council was an incredible 2.5 day working group of 300 “zealous nuts” from all walks of life and profession, who believe that creating place is integral to creating community and value. And we had Detroit as not only our backdrop, but also as our living classroom. Motor City. Paris of The Midwest. Red Town. The D. Whatever you call it, we’re quite taken with it.

Detroit is a city with a surprising amount in common with Miami. Built in different eras, the cities nonetheless share both a structure and, to some degree, a culture. Not a culture of geography or population – though there is more than you would think. There is a culture of perseverance, of stick-to-it-ness, as well as stick-it-to-the-man-ness, for sure. And now, a culture of innovation that has only minimal regard for The Way Things Are and The Way Things Are Done.

Miami is often mistaken with the rest of South Florida as being incredibly sprawled out, which yes–it is around the edges, but not nearly so much as the rest of Florida, or the Southeast Region. And it retains much of its historic neighborhood centers. Nor did Miami’s population bleed out into the suburbs. Detroit’s did, leaving the city empty. Things may not be perfect here, but at least it’s inhabited.

And the car. Yes, the car has left just as much of an indelible mark on Miami as it has on the world famous Motor City. What the automobile has wrought on our community that is the most profound, hard to recognize, and hard to repair. Just as important as the physical structure of the street–pavement, buildings, trees, etc–is the activity on the street, the collisions of people which lead to conversations rather than the collision of cars which leads to critical conditions. It is these conditions from which people recoil in fear, until they are isolated from and anonymous to each other, no longer seeing and treating each other as neighbors, rather as strangers.

Detroit is far from dead, it is absolutely ripe with opportunity. Without an active citizenry opportunity is very hard to take advantage of. It’s uncommon to have the right combination of both opportunity and an active citizenry. But that great combination is what has given rise to such an explosive positive shift in Detroit’s center city and neighborhoods, and it is that same combination that we see in Miami. It is people coming together over a common hope and vision for their neighborhoods and seizing opportunity to effect positive change.

Neighborhoods have always been made by the neighbors: the residents, local businesses, and those who choose to spend time there. In Miami, we’re making neighbors, and hope we can lend a hand in making Miami’s neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable.

Meet Karja Hansen. Welcome ioby to Miami.

Had you asked me prior to the summer of 2010 if I would ever consider living in Miami, I would have quickly answered no. I’d never been to Miami, but I’d been to Orlando, and Miami was south of that humid hot mess, and from what little I knew of it, populated by shopping malls, sprawl and body obsessed party-goers. Not really my thing. But, I was offered an incredible opportunity to work with incredible visionaries and leaders in my field, and the catch was that they were in Miami. So, I sucked it up and moved on down, expecting to hate Miami but just deal with it. And, wow, was I surprised.

I am just bursting with excitement about ioby en Miami! I’m not much of a morning person, but here I am, up and writing at 6:50 am – a time when I usually have no interest in, or awareness of, anything but my pillow.

Miami blew me away. In addition to being a tropical paradise and a cyclists dream (topographically anyhow – definitely not from a facility or safety perspective), Miami has serious assets and burgeoning energy. A young city-region, Miami-Dade is comprised of great historic centers which have seen an astonishing comeback over the past 20 years, starting with Coconut Grove and South Beach, but now having spread to almost every place with a walkable, dense, mixed use makeup – and there are many of them, having originated along the Flagler rail and streetcar lines (now defunct or torn up). The sprawl is still a major issue, the transit comes up sorely short, the government is decidedly Caribbean – don’t get me wrong, there are some serious challenges here. But there are also incredible assets and opportunities, across the board. People, especially younger people now, are moving here from all over to build, together, their own vision of how life should be lived – and, for the first time in a long time, they are intermingling with the natives. Imagine my surprise when I gushed to an awesome native Miamian about how exciting it was to meet someone doing something cool who was actually FROM Miami – and was told, in response, that she felt the same way every time she met someone doing something cool who WASN’T from Miami (Jeremy Glaezer wrote a great piece on this, here).

The native-newcomer interaction is an important one, bridging a divide that has yawned wide for decades. But, it follows on the heels of a bevy of boundary crossing uniting forces unique in this city. Add to that list the fact that we here are literally on the forefront of climate change and sea level rise – and you can begin to understand how greater Miami and South Florida in general is becoming a leader of renaissance regions.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of why I am so excited to be living and working in Miami, against all expectations. The change I have witnessed in my two short years in the city, the energy that is greater every day, the diversity and the push for change, for a better world, is so clear and central in the Miami I have come to know. But, like all great movements early in their life, much of the energy and effort is still happening in isolation, struggling to succeed. And this is where ioby comes in. The digital community-making tools and resources provided by ioby the platform are transformational – and easy to use. But, this is not necessarily unique. What truly distinguishes ioby is the people behind these tools and resources. I have what some would call a spotty employment history, as do many of my generation, because I have always pursued avocation over employment. I have always had a driving need to be putting my time and effort towards something meaningful that continued to expose me to new knowledge and experience. What I have come to know of the people behind ioby floors me. The passion, dedication and ability – not to mention enjoyment – with which they pursue their work is what has been long missing from the job market and economy. Pair this with the vision and foresight of the Miami Dade County Office of Sustainability, inviting ioby to come here and operate and help accomplish the goals of the GreenPrint plan, and the support of the Health Foundation of South Florida and the funders network to do so – we’ve got a dynamic and multi-talented partnership.

I am so excited to be joining ioby and bringing life to their Miami office. I look forward to sharing my efforts and experiences in the coming days, and to working with many of you. Lets set the world to rights, live and support a lifestyle that contributes to our shared bottom lines, and get back to aspiring and inspiring endeavors!

Get Involved

Karja is our new Miami Project Recruiting Manager. She’s a composting, tree-hugging, locavoring, kayaking, chicken-loving urbanist, and she is very excited to talk to you about supporting your ideas to make your neighborhood more awesome. Learn more about her, and the rest of the ioby team, here Karja is always often on the go, meeting the people living and working in Miami-Dade and helping them to make their ideas for a greater Greater Miami become reality. Get in touch to visit with her in YOUR backyard: email her at karja [at] ioby [dot] org, or call her at 305.428.2705.