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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The Bicycle as a Tool of Social Justice

Philosopher Ivan Illich believed that the bicycle could connect users back to the pace of community-oriented life, that the right of free movement does not lapse just because cities have strapped themselves into ideological seat belts.

How Lizards Can Teach Planners About Designing Cities

Ecologists offer scientific lessons in how to better build cities for humans and wildlife.

Ways to Think About Sprawl—and to Critique It

What motivates sprawl? It's more than just automobile infrastructure.

Add Complexity to Your Life

The City of Calgary aims to restore 20 percent of its open space to increase biodiversity. Complex nature is—and needs to be seen as—foundational to our day-to-day lives, both for our well being, and the health of nature itself.

Science and Friendships, for Wilding Cities

How do we personally advance nature in cities? This blog post looks at "urban nature" and the research revealing how me might lessen the damage we do to the nature that surrounds us every day.

Rethinking the Definition of City

A city has always been understood and defined as a pattern of human settlement. This op-ed suggests that a city needs to be a product of its environment, rather than the environment simply being a product of it.

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?