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Daniel Nairn's Posts

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Measuring the historical diversity of a neighborhood

On this street in Washington, D.C., old and new stand harmoniously side by side.Photo: Dave ReidA great neighborhood improves over time, like a stew simmering in its spices. New homes or businesses fill in the odd left-over spaces or selectively replace those that have reached the end of their lifespan. The existing homes are added to, tweaked, redesigned, taken away from, and variously molded by the individual personalities of the people living in them. Trees mature, shrubs fill out. The neighborhood achieves a quality we can't quite put our finger on. So we call it character, almost as if it …

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Building with the disabled in mind means better access for everyone

Designs that are easiest for the disabled to navigate can benefit all users.Illustration from Inclusive Design: A Pattern BookLast weekend, I decided to initiate a little test on my walk home from downtown. I was pushing my daughter in a stroller, and I wondered if I could make it all the way without lifting the wheels off the ground. Our pedestrian mall funneled us through a tunnel under a busy road and back up a nicely landscaped path to merge with the sidewalk again. So far so good. But eventually the sidewalk abruptly ended with a ledge, and I had …

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The future of urban agriculture is not about the 10-mile diet

Grist's Feeding the City series began by exploring how the history of urban agriculture should inspire its future, then went on to spotlight the farms, governments, businesses, and people who're skillfully planting new ideas alongside the old. Here, as the series draws to a close, planner Daniel Nairn untangles how smart growth can include city farming. The ’garden block’ concept embeds pockets of food growing within the urban fabric.Rendering: Daniel Nairn Urban agriculture is a movement in transition. And it's happening fast. Just a couple of years ago, we started hearing about Detroit's guerrilla gardeners, reclaiming patches of vacant land …

Read more: Cities, Food

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Greening — and feeding — the city with a ‘garden block’

It looks like one of the main take-aways from the Congress for the New Urbanism 18 conference is something being labeled "agrarian urbanism." Fast Company is calling it the "new new urbanism" and Treehugger has described the notion as the next phase in the evolution of this 30-year old movement. New Urbanism leader Andrés Duany, in particular, has been pushing pretty hard in this direction for the last couple of years. Briefly, the idea is that walkable neighborhoods could be intentionally structured so that food production is integrated into the physical form and the lifestyle of the inhabitants. In other …

Read more: Cities, Food, Living