Journals from the Street: The Street is Yours

May 2, 2018

Journals from the Street: The Street is Yours

We are now 7 weeks into our 10 week pilot of the NSS in Philadelphia and Boise. Over 50 volunteers have now completed the NSS Street Soul Searching Curriculum and implemented their own experiment ideas on their streets to test ways to make the street a more inviting place for everyone. During the next few weeks everyone will be working on phase three: The Street is Ours! project, collectively working as a team to implement a final project that will showcase what the NSS can look like in each City. Stay tuned.

Upcoming Events

Boise, ID  

Boise's Public Lands Tour
The Boise Public Lands Tour is a celebration of streets as places for people in Boise. Open to the public!
Saturday, May 12th - location and times to be announced - stay tuned!

Boise Final Shareback
A showcase and celebration of the work that our National Street Service Volunteers completed in Boise.
Tuesday, 19th of June - 5:00 to 8:00pm - location to be announced - stay tuned!

Philadelphia, PA  

Tri-Block Party
Please join us in simultaneous street celebration at one of our three street parties taking place in Philadelphia. Open to the public!
Sunday, May 20th, 2:00 to 6:00pm
South Philly - 22nd + Carpenter (near bus route 7)
West Philly - 47th + Hazel Ave (located along the 34 trolley line)
North Philly - 11th + Huntington Street (near North Philadelphia Station - BSL)

Philadelphia Final Shareback
A showcase and celebration of the work that our National Street Service Volunteers completed in Philadelphia.
Thursday, 21st of June - 5:00 to 8:00pm - Center / Architecture + Design 1218 Arch Street Philadelphia PA 19107. 


Journal From the Street: 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Reflections by: 
Alexa Bosse, Philly City Lead

 

The simple act of entering the street for the sole intention of engaging with the street for soul searching activities allowed new layers of information and beauty to reveal themselves. Some of the stories I heard included people noticing a mural that they had walked past but never noticed before; sparkly tile mosaics embedded in a patch of sidewalk; a change of sidewalk texture that made it more difficult to push a cart across; and an array of discovered green patches and local treasures. To share their experiences with others, people began to post signs that said, “Eyes up, phones down”, “Take a deep breath”, and “This is a great place to meet a neighbor” – all in an attempt to share with their neighbors their newly discovered sense of place and ownership of the streets.

Of course, there were observations of less desirable things as well. People noted trash, illegal parking on sidewalks, lack of places to sit, lack of shade and greenery, and streets that were loud, windy and unpleasant to walk down on an early-spring day in Philadelphia. People grappled with ideas for ways to improve some of these less comfortable streets, focusing on ways to highlight positive aspects despite the shortcomings of the surroundings.

Overall the passion that the volunteers brought to the soul searching was inspiring. One told me that she had met more neighbors in the last week then she had in the 2 years she had been living there. Another told me that he would never walk past a bike rack or street tree or sign post and think about it in the same way again. It shows me that even with these small moves and observations we can start to change the way that people appreciate and interact with the spaces that they use every day. Our truly public spaces – the streets.

 Kellie and Hannah’s Chalk Corner. They gave every person on the block a piece of chalk and asked them to draw what they loved and/or wanted to see added to the street.

Kellie and Hannah’s Chalk Corner. They gave every person on the block a piece of chalk and asked them to draw what they loved and/or wanted to see added to the street.


Journal From the Street: 
Boise, Idaho

Reflections by: 
Casey McLellan, Boise City Lead

The Kick-off Summit was our first opportunity to get everyone together and celebrate what was learned so far throughout the program. The night was full of great conversation, questions, and excitement. The goal for the event was to brainstorm projects unique to each volunteer’s experience. For some, ideas came quickly, for others, a more methodical process. Fortunately, the benefit of working in a large group is positive words and encouragement are readily available. With the Soul-Searching phase of the program behind us, volunteers now had the opportunity to go out and share their own values of the street with others. Question was, what exactly would this look like?

The small experiment and project phase was a new concept for everyone. How often do we do random projects in our street? For most, never. Is it even allowed? This idea of tactical urbanism was an intimidating one. As the ideas slowly trickled in and things started to take shape, you could feel the nervous excitement building. The next step – put the idea into action!

It is amazing to see the creativity and ideas the volunteers bring to the table. Each project was entirely different. Some examples were a non-traditional way-finding project encouraging people to highlight a communal map with hidden gems and pathways throughout their streets; an interactive sidewalk with fun, games, and art to engage kids and families while walking through their neighborhood; and a feedback board placed near the downtown transit center inviting people to rate their overall experience during their morning commute. The experiential learning process of this phase was an important one. Even with these great ideas, many expressed an initial hesitation when carrying out the actual implementation of their projects. The question of permission was a recurring theme. People expressed a similar wave of emotions with each of their projects. There was an initial hesitation to start and uncertainty of what others would think. All of this started to dissipate as they embraced the process. Some projects were left out throughout the day while others were more person-to-person focused. People were encouraged by the positive feedback and the impact their projects generally had, with many expressing a desire to do more. By going out into their streets and doing these projects, people felt a sense of ownership and voice. This is something we plan to carry into the next phase of our program – a large project in the community sharing all that we’ve learned. We are excited to get back to the brainstorming process and find a way to communicate our shared values of the street with others.

 Kenny’s sign is an homage to National Forest signs, which also proclaim public land as one of “many uses”

Kenny’s sign is an homage to National Forest signs, which also proclaim public land as one of “many uses”


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Up Next: Serving San Antonio and Pontiac

We are now accepting volunteer applications for our two newest cities - Pontiac MI, and San Antonio TX! Join us in our quest to build human centred streets - visit our website to learn more and apply for our volunteer training:
www.nationalstreetservice.org/join