I ran in to a new phrase this week, “tactical urbanism.”
I imagined night patrols of hipsters with pocket knifes attached to their suspenders, raiding GMO-free urban gardens with night vision goggles.
But I was wrong.
In reality, its a pretty cool idea. Individuals, organizations and sometimes governments use temporary materials to transform specific urban areas as a way to show how spaces could be improved positively for the long-term. A very informative website on tactical urbanism uses the following description:
“Cities around the world are using flexible and short-term projects to advance long-term goals related to street safety, public space, and more.”
I think of it this way: citizens us temporary and inexpensive materials to demonstrate to their city leaders and bureaucrats that an idea for some local change is viable, prior to going through long, drawn-out planning processes. I suppose you could use the term “pilot project”, but that implies that the project is lead by the government, whereas tactical urbanism is more citizen-driven.
This is not to say that the government is never involved. The literature speaks of a program in New York City called the NYC Plaza Program, in which the city takes little-used streets or alleys and turn them into people-friendly spaces.
I love this idea. If you’ve followed my rants, you know that I am concerned that the recent development of massive apartment block in downtown (what I call Roosevelt Canyon), have been stripping the humanity away from our main arts district.
I think that tactical urbanism has the potential to push back against these formulaic, corporate developments and bring some humanity back to where it belongs.
So, I think you’ll want to watch for this phrase to be used more in Phoenix in the coming couple years.