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 SarahWesely
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Petition to Reclaim the Street

Petition to Reclaim the Street
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Sometimes Houston can feel like featureless flat sprawl of concrete and metal.  It doesn’t help that most of us experience this flat featureless sprawl from the further insulating bubble of our car. It is easy to paint Houston as a sterile and isolating place but you would be ignoring that Houston has the diversity and cultural wealth deserving of the fourth largest city in the United States.  To cash in on these attributes, we need to remove the car window barrier and create some shared experiences. While the individualistic structure of an auto-centric city can make community events more difficult to develop, Houstonians are not without ingenuity.

Raj Mankad, writer for the Rice Design Alliance associated publication OffCite, created a petition to close a Houston street for pedestrians once a week. Mankad explained to FPH that the idea to create a Houston pop up street festival stems from his colleague’s article on other pop up street gatherings around the world. The idea is simple, but the possibilities are endless. Allow pedestrians to take over a street, and let the music, dancing, street vendors, poetry readings, artists, bicyclists, or whoever wants to use the public space, create a unique community experience.

There are reasons why the city would be against giving these permits, but the benefits outweigh the difficulties. One could argue that a public gathering would be more easily organized in a place already designated for public use, like a park. Yet making the streets into a temporary public space has the potential to be much more successful because it is more intrusive , unique and it allows for the integration of already beloved shops, bars and restaurants into a larger public atmosphere. All over Houston there are sections of road dotted with little shops and restaurants that would be pleasant to walk between, but the noise, inconvenience and danger of cars make walking unpleasant and impractical. This is an opportunity for pedestrians to reclaim the streets.

A description of this street space event is currently undefined in the petition. The purpose of the petition is to plant the idea in the public mind and let it grow from there. If the petition is successful, it could help persuade city council to turning our streets into Sunday promenades. Click here to sign the petition, and share the petition with your friends through email or social media.

2 Responses to Petition to Reclaim the Street

  1. oliver February 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Uhhhh… how about not. I used to walk everywhere, because I was poor, and didn’t have a car. But now that I’m working, and have a decent car (for the first time ever, mind you) I really don’t want to go back to walking. I love driving around in my car, with the windows down, and my tunes turned up. And I drive to places, to park, and take pictures.

    I don’t see why you people, want to take that away from me. I did my time slumming it. I walked to work and school, I walked to the store to buy my grandfather groceries, and I did so in hopes of one day I could get a car, so I wouldn’t have to do it ever again.

    I don’t get why you hipsters, think acting poor, is cool.

    Take it from someone who really was poor. IT SUCKED!!!!!!

  2. Kiril Kundurazieff February 14, 2013 at 7:54 am

    As a writer, poet, and storyteller, I decided to check out your website.

    As a Conservative I don’t usually find myself signing petitions on sites with ties to MoveOn, but this time I did…And I was sober when I did so.

    Growing up in SoCal I never owned a car. I walked, biked, and used Mass Transit to get around 5 interconnected counties.

    I had a bike blog for 7 yrs.

    When not stuck behind the wheel of a car you experience a whole lot more in your daily travels.

    Los Angeles has, for years, held a popular event that turns a long stretch of road over to cyclists and walkers, so there’s no excuse why it can’t be tried in Houston.

    I moved here in Sept. to start fresh not just with a hoped for new job (still looking), but as a writer and blogger, and now that I’ve got my bike fixed to my satisfaction will be out cycling more.

    Now that I’ve got maps, and a few interesting guidebooks, and am reasonablly acquiainted with a transit system so unlike the high standards, and inteconnectedness, I am used to, I will be getting out and about on foot more as well.

    There is a lot to see and explore, in this city, as I have discovered and wrote about a few times already. Those who, in a recent collection of Houston Chronicle stories, and essays, think that even the Downtown core, as is, is a major turn off to the residents of Houston, may need to get out of their cars and walk around a bit.

    While I’ve yet to explore the tunnels I believe that I can find a lot of interesting things to see, and do and write about Downtown, above, and below ground.

    Kiril The Mad Houstonian

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