Urban planning is a soft science, creating land use policy collaborative with the public. A charrette is a planning process to create a land use plan compressed into a weeklong series of workshops and public meetings instead of a year-long endeavor. That is what I, Lewis, have been up to this last week, and have not had time for much else. Planners working for a city do little planning and mostly focus on implementing and providing expertise for decision makers. This was a nice change of pace. The City Planning and Development Department along with the Redevelopment Authority and a team of consultants created a plan for a former industrial site north of downtown along the La Crosse and Black Rivers. While the charrette was only a week, it took over 30 years to assemble the 65 acres of property and clean it up, and months of preparation. It’s fun to imagine what a place could be, create a plan, and then (hopefully) see it come to life. The City’s Grand River – Great City website has more information on the development. Yellow and orange are residential uses, red is commercial, purple is civic, and blue is live/work lofts. The red dots or monuments, signs, or art.
Street intersections are places where people can cross paths and come together as potential hubs of activity. Unfortunately, most activity at intersections is between automobiles. Even more unfortunate is when the uses at the corners serve cars instead of people — becoming parking lots or billboard stands.
La Crosse is fortunate to have a pretty decent downtown. However, most intersections have at least one dead corner, whether due to parking or not being open past 5 PM or weekends. Wouldn’t it be great if those places came alive with musical performances?
I think so. Having buskers set up all over downtown would be a sight, if only for an hour or so. To get more public interest in invigorating these corners, performers can have a big poster or even written on the sidewalk with chalk. Phrases like “This [parking/vacant] lot could be …” or “Here could be…” or “It would be great if this place was open …” can prompt passersby to share their ideas.
While calling this Dead Corner Protest sounds more punk rock, I’d rather call it something positive like Live Lot Project or Feedback Corners. I’d also include a cleanup aspect to show that we care about these places. Interested performers can contact me.