I used to live in Portland, OR--home to everything that is sustainable, community-oriented, and cutting edge in urban planning. We were out there a couple of years ago and decided to check out my old neighborhood in Southeast. We had heard about this cool neighborhood project, called "intersection repair" where residents, with permission from the city, turned their intersection into a public square (that vehicles can still easily travel through.) This particular project, known as the "Sunnyside Piazza" has a giant sunflower painted at the intersection of 33rd and Yamhill SE that slows traffic and invites people to look around. Residents have also built a solar-powered (natch) message kiosk and fountain.
So I was totally delighted to discover that the nation's only other "intersection repair" projects were in St. Paul's Hamline-Midway neighborhood!! Here it is known as "Paint the Pavement" and you can see the wonderful designs created by residents at the following intersections:
* Blair Avenue and Albert Street
* Van Buren Avenue @ Pascal and between Asbury and Simpson.
The whole purpose of these projects is to increase interaction among neighbors, create a strong sense of place and identity, make streets safer by slowing down traffic, and make the public realm more attractive. What a great way to make pavement pretty, tame traffic, and know neighbors!
St. Paul Image: "Peter"
Portland Image: from Streetfilms.org