What did BBP take away from Boise's Energize our Neighborhood Interactive?

This weekend, BBP Staff and Volunteers biked to the City’s Energize our Neighborhood and learned about how to Cultivate and Sustain our Communities Identity. Below is our takeaways; what resonated with us, and how it will affect BBP’s impact!

Christa’s Takeaway: Community centered work is the future!

The community of Boise welcomed me with open arms when I moved here a year and a half ago, so I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about this community at the city's Energize Our Neighborhood Interactive! These are just some of the organizations who inspired me in their community-centered work:

Starlings rise in murmurations when they fly in community, which is why Jannus' Economic Opportunity office connects young women from refugee families with female professional mentors in their Starling Project, so that all people in our community can fly together.

Learn more HERE!

Home ownership is being made accessible through loan programs and home buyer education classes run by Neighborworks Boise. Among programs highlighted above, Neighborworks builds affordable housing, leads Paint the Town, Rake up Boise and SO much more.

Learn more HERE!

People turn a space into a place, and Idaho Smart Growth provides citizens like you and me with the tools--such as public hearing readiness--to communicate with developers in planning our neighborhoods.

Learn more HERE!

Nina’s Takeaway: Creating Resilient Communities

From topics surrounding energy use, farming, housing and placemaking, the common thread that I heard throughout the day was resiliency.

Aimée Christensen of the Sun Valley Institute started our day with Creating Community to Build a Lasting Quality of Place. She discussed the importance of communities coming together to identify and address vulnerabilities they face, in Sun Valley’s case, wildfire and affordable housing. She emphasized the importance of establishing trust, expanding our networks and collaborating on the issues rural communities face, and to create a resilient future. I found this to resonate on a neighborhood and city wide level, creating micro grids of collaborative communities to better our city, state and ultimately, our world!

City employees, Leon Letson and Anamarie Guiles, discussed the city’s new Grow out Housing initiative and its two main strategies, establishing a housing land trust and expanding their current housing incentive program for those earning 80% or below the average median income. We discussed loosening restrictions against ADU’s and other nontraditional housing for those not looking for single family units. These are not and cannot be the only answers to address Boise’s affordable housing issues, but expanding our variety of housing is an important step to creating a resilient future that offers viable options for those renting, unable to work, personal preference and other reasons for purchasing typical suburban homes.

Deanna Smith and Sarah Taylor of Idaho Smart Growth, Cynthia Gibson of Idaho Walk Bike Alliance, Anne Hausrath of North End Neighborhood Association and I paneled a discussion on Placemaking in the Street, focusing on transforming a street to be more than a way to get from one place to another, but as a place itself to connect with your community. We discussed the streets as a playground, to make them safer so our children feel confident to be outside independently. Resiliency is reshaping and reactivating the way we use our streets to be an equal place for walkers, bikers, movers of all abilities, races and personalities.

Resiliency is especially important in the midst of population growth, sprawl and a lack of affordable housing. What are we without a safe place to call home in a community we can rely on? Addressing these issues are essential to our vision of Boise being the cycling capital of America, and we believe the bicycle is essential to achieving all of this.


Jimmy's Takeaway: The Most Accessible City in America!

scooters-sidewalks-block-indianapolis.jpg

If you look at this picture, you might first see the scooters blocking the sidewalk. Seems pretty inconvenient for pedestrians. Now imagine you're a person in a wheelchair or a person who is blind or visually impaired. Suddenly this is more than a minor inconvenience; it's a prohibitive barrier. Look a little closer, and you might observe that the scooters are only one of the barriers. The bicycle is blocking a third of the sidewalk as well.

Last Saturday's conference was full of impactful and educational moments, and the seminar that had the biggest effect on me was Making Boise Neighborhoods Accessible & Welcoming: A Roadmap. Within the first 5 minutes, it became clear that those working to make Boise more bicycle friendly must work collectively with those working to make Boise more accessible. Take that one step further: If Boise is ever to become The Bicycle Capital of America, this would go hand in hand with becoming The Most Accessible City in America. And we'd achieve both through Universal Design.

Simply stated, Universal Design is the design and creation of products, systems, and environments that are as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation. While Universal Design can create better architecture, websites, and just about everything else, there is an opportunity to take it to the streetscape, as well as a benefit for all things on wheels (bicycles, wheel chairs, walkers, and...cars). If bicycle advocacy and accessibility advocacy do not overlap, there is also potential for bicycle infrastructure to create prohibitive barriers for members of our disabled community.

Let's do better when it comes to street design by asking ourselves: "How will this design, this bicycle rack, this curb cut, this protected bike lane, this road construction barrier placement, affect someone with a disability?"

We can do better. And we can do great if we work together.