An Urbanist's 12 Days of Christmas!

As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, let's remember all the "gifts" that our cities give us. Our cities deserve a Christmas Carol! Here is an Urbanist's "12 Days of Christmas."

3 minute read

December 24, 2013, 7:00 AM PST

By Brent Toderian


As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, I've been getting a bit warm and fuzzy about all the ways that cities make our lives better. It might be my current festive mind-set, but it occurs to me that our cities give us many "gifts" that make each day more merry and bright.

That got me thinking…our cities deserve a Christmas Carol! And I don't mean the kind with Scrooge in it.

So with apologies to my real "true love," and at the risk of this turning into an amateur Glee episode, here is an Urbanist's "12 Days of Christmas." Guaranteed with absolutely no lords leaping or swans swimming.

You really should try singing it, just like the real "12 Days." Reading it really doesn't do the trick. If you chose to record it and put it on youtube, I take no responsibility if you become a yuletide viral sensation.

"The 12 Days of Christmas"

On the first day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

A "Great Street" lined with street trees!

On the second day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Two LRT's!

On the third day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Three Green Roofs!

On the fourth day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Four Co-op Homes!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Five Street Cafes!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Six Food Trucks!

On the seventh day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Seven Cycle Tracks!

On the eighth day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Eight Farmers Markets!

On the ninth day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Nine Public Artworks!

On the tenth day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Ten Landmark Buildings!

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Eleven Public Gardens!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my city gave to me...

Twelve People Places!

I'm thinking the Carol, and maybe our collective singing, will get better the more glasses of "Christmas cheer" we enjoy today!

It was actually pretty tough narrowing this list of gifts down to just 12. We could include things like complete streets, widened sidewalks, BRT's, bike share, car share, road diets, flash mobs, shopping streets, geothermal, culture districts, waterfronts, employment zones, live-work units… we could have made an all-month advent calendar! And if great movements like tactical urbanism had the right number of syllables, we could have included that too.

Cities give us a lot, especially when we give back. They are a product of the collective contributions, efforts, and energy of all their citizens, and when we fully participate, when we're truly civic, we make our cities more fun, creative and successful. Maybe we can all give some thought to what more we can do for our city this year. A few civic-minded New Years resolutions just might result.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a very happy New Year!


Brent Toderian

Brent is President of TODERIAN UrbanWORKS in Vancouver, Canada, and has over 24 years experience in advanced and innovative urbanism, city-planning and urban design. He advises cities & innovative developments all over the world, from Ottawa to Oslo, from Sydney to Medellin, from Auckland to Helsinki.

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