May 1, 2013

I facilitated an event called Networking Recess last night. It was basically Give & Take without prepared presentations or chairs, and BYOB. Organized by the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, held in Public Functionary. And it was a great time. Wonderful group of people, totally game for anything.

The highlight: a new game called Artist Statement. I asked for volunteers to present a work of art in the gallery as if it were their own, but they actually had to tell their own story through it. Amazing.

Photos by @jjmillard

April 16, 2013
Reused gas station in Amsterdam by Sophia Valla Architects
h/t Jake Voit

Reused gas station in Amsterdam by Sophia Valla Architects

h/t Jake Voit

March 29, 2013
Downtown Project: Part Five
Killing time at the most attractive restaurant I saw within a few blocks, Park on Fremont. Weathered wood exterior. Complete dissonance from the surrounding buildings, which are mainly 70 year old casinos.
Me: “When did you open?”
Her: “Oh, we’re not open yet! We open Friday.”
Me: “Do the owners any connection to the Downtown Project?”
Her: “I don’t know what that is!”
Me: “None of those birds live around here, do they?”
Them: “Haha. No. It’s a joke.”

Downtown Project: Part Five

Killing time at the most attractive restaurant I saw within a few blocks, Park on Fremont. Weathered wood exterior. Complete dissonance from the surrounding buildings, which are mainly 70 year old casinos.

Me: “When did you open?”

Her: “Oh, we’re not open yet! We open Friday.”

Me: “Do the owners any connection to the Downtown Project?”

Her: “I don’t know what that is!”

Me: “None of those birds live around here, do they?”

Them: “Haha. No. It’s a joke.”

March 29, 2013

Downtown Project: Part Four

From their website: 

CREATE THE SHIPPING CONTAINER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.

Most urban revitalization efforts are centered in cities with vacant, crumbling buildings. Our Downtown doesn’t have those. To quickly create spaces for new businesses here requires innovative thinking, so we’re using repurposed shipping containers as places for entrepreneurs to follow their passions.”

Container Park 

March 29, 2013

Downtown Project: Part Three

Work in Progress, the co-working space affiliated with the project, which is seeking to create, “The Coworking Capital of the World.” 

These were the only bike racks I saw in Las Vegas.

As I walked up, I passed two homeless people and one twenty-something guy on a mechanized skateboard.

Me: “How long have you been open?”

Her: “A month. We’re getting full!”

March 29, 2013

Downtown Project: Part Two

This is The Ogden in Downtown Las Vegas. Tony Hsieh from Zappos lives up top. The graphics. The graphics! They are promoting Emergency Arts to sell condos, and there’s a sexy blonde in a sarong in front of it! Is this the most Vegas thing ever?

March 29, 2013

Many city dwellers avoid the suburbs, and vice versa. Consequently, small changes in a city neighborhood - a new apartment building, a new business, etc - get a huge amount of attention from city folks while larger projects in the suburbs - new subdivisions, corporate headquarters - do not. The Twin Cities region has 3.3M people in it, and 700k live in the core cities. We care about our specific community, we’re most sensitive to changes we can see, and we’re accustomed to big investments happening elsewhere that are not our concern. If you can about sustainability, this is not a great idea.

So, what happens when there’s a mutation in how and where investments are made? What happens if all of that capital that normally flows to the suburbs flows to a city neighborhood? Is that good?

Tony Hsieh sold Zappos to Amazon in 2009, then he read Triumph of the City by Ed Glaeser in 2011. He took the message about cities being dynamic places to heart and was inspired to relocate their headquarters from suburban Las Vegas into the city’s largely moribund downtown. They bought the old City Hall. They decided to invest $350,000,000 in the neighborhood - knowing that they would be unable to attract and retain employees if the new location wasn’t safe, interesting, and fun. The result is the Downtown Project.

I took a day off from a climbing trip to check out the neighborhood, and it’s insane. These photos show Emergency Arts, a creative cooperative in a former hospital that opened in 2010.  A representative from the Downtown Project told me that the coffee shop / record store inside, The Beat, is their informal headquarters. It was the first independent coffeeshop in downtown Las Vegas when it opened in 2010. I didn’t see a single customer shopping for records. During the afternoon I worked there, I heard snippets of conversation like, “Well, it turns out we’re opening another bar across the street from the other bar we’re opening,” and, “Yeahh, I guess we’re buying a building? In the Arts District? It’s pretty big. How big? Like… this one. Similar to this one,” and lots and lots of pitches. 

So, clearly the Downtown Project didn’t make Emergency Arts, but they opened a coworking space upstairs, and the building was humming with related activity. Most of the former hospital rooms are individual studios, and there was virtually no one in any of those spaces while I was there, but they were all unique and interesting. More interesting than normal - not slapdash, clearly there are more resources available than normal. There is a lot of stuff in the hallways: art, billboards, a zine library (!). It’s how you’d imagine an art studio building in close proximity to a huge benefactor that wants the neighborhood to be interesting to look and feel.

March 6, 2013
"There was even a failed experiment in buffalo husbandry. By 1600, huge herds of bison had migrated to the Lower Mississippi Valley due to the overgrazing of the Great Plans. The French thought they could domesticate these powerful beasts and harvest their pelts. Besides interbreeding poorly, buffalo are impossible to keep penned. up. The splinter wooden enclosures. The Mobile colony tried confining small herds on Dauphin Island, only to discover that bison are strong swimmers as well."

— This tidbit about the French trying to figure out how to get Louisiana to turn a profit, in The Accidental City by Lawrence Powell, is my new favorite historical footnote. Visiting New Orleans for the first time tomorrow.

February 21, 2013
The Wake Magazine: SAVE DINKYTOWN!

wake-mag:

If you’re like us Wakers, then you’re sick of seeing all of these luxury condos popping up all over campus and its surrounding areas. It seems as though there’s no end in sight- they’ve already taken over some of Dinkytown (our beloved UTech building) and now there’s new plans to tear down

I understand fondness for the low-slung, low-rent, fairly dingy Dinkytown  we’ve all known - I feel it, too (RIP, Purple Onion). I prefer interesting local businesses to chains. But our region is going to grow by ~900k over the next three decades, and I don’t want sprawl. Single story buildings and surface parking lots near major transit lines are exactly what should be replaced. The connection between cheap buildings, low-rent tenants, and attractive redevelopment sites is obvious. The prevailing system in which students live in single family homes that have been chopped into smaller units and neglected is not a good outcome for the students or those neighborhoods (ask families in Marcy Holmes and Como). 

(via stuffaboutminneapolis)

February 18, 2013
weworkhere:

Join us for our Give & Take event this Thursday February 21st @ 7:00 PM at the University Enterprise Laboratories in Saint Paul! Free and open to the public!
Here is the link to the event on Facebook
Link to Give & Take event

weworkhere:

Join us for our Give & Take event this Thursday February 21st @ 7:00 PM at the University Enterprise Laboratories in Saint Paul! Free and open to the public!

Here is the link to the event on Facebook

Link to Give & Take event