Steven Snell's blog

Steven Snell is a professional urban planner and novelist with a master’s degree in urban design. Opinions here are his own.
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Nature and Art: A Christmas Plea for Cities

I wrote an urbanist Christmas wish list last week for Fast Forward Weekly. I figured I'd elaborate on one of my wishes for weedy nature and public art: disturbance oriented art.

Destabilizing Urban Planning

How can the contemporary concepts in ecology studies—adaptability, resiliency, and flexibility—advance urban planning practices?

Bike Lanes, Maybe, But Let’s 'Lose Yourself to Dance'

Being on the street used to be a dance, but not so since the automobile took over. Is there a way for all modes to coexist through a mutual ethic rather than compete for a street’s right of way?

How Useful is Walkability: Are You Oriented to Walk?

The physical requirements for walkability—like narrow streets and wide sidewalks—aren't always enough to compel the activity of walking. How can we reorient toward the primal activity of walking?

Programmed to Need Urban Nature

Human beings are both born and programmed to need open spaces. As our existence becomes increasingly urban, cities and towns must provide the open spaces our natures require.

Jittery Places, Reducing the Right to Just Be

You’re being monitored. Everything you are is tracked and stored in a data centre. How do you feel about these digital and physical forms of regulation? Do they make you jittery? Do you feel more secure? Are you a wiser consumer?

The Wicked Problem of Urban Biodiversity, pt 1

Biodiversity is not something “out there”, studied in labs, outside of our cities. It is a borderless organism that resists complete solutions to the problems arising in such interconnectivity.

The Irony of Ring Roads

One way to address traffic congestion is to provide a bypass for vehicles around city traffic machinations. Ring roads, by definition, are meant to perform that function. In reality, they ignore the supply and demand model of traffic management.

Another Story of a City: Biodiversity

The short-sightedness of overarching proclamations for the right city form obscures the very context in which cities are built and expanded. City planning must become reconnected to its environmental context.

'We Pay Taxes; Parks Don’t'

Some argue that if something is not directly contributing to our public coffers, why protect it? Perhaps it’s worth broadening our understanding of the services – and tax implications – provided by parks.