CCT student Camille Koue’s thesis idea gets selected for EMBARQ blog

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CCT student Camille Koue, recently published a blog about her thesis topic “The unrealized potential of Parklets” for (see link here). In the following interview we talk about her interest in “Parklets” and how the new urbanism movement along with her classes in CCT inspired her to write about what she truly believes in:

1) How did you hear about “Parklets” and what inspired you to write about them?

I’m from Oakland, CA and “Parklets” originated right across the bay in San Francisco.I started studying them for a project in my CCT Infrastructure Studies class with Professor Ribes. We had to chose an infrastructure to examine and I had recently read something about the consequences of parklet classification systems – or rather the lack there of. There had been behavior in certain parklets (and public plazas, which is a related infrastructure) in San Francisco which many city residents felt were inappropriate. However, regulating behavior was not easy because parklets fell into a legal black hole. Parklets were not classified by the city as parks, streets, or sidewalks. So the rules that applied to those infrastructures didn’t apply to parklets. There were, really, no city codes that applied to parklets. That classification confusion is what piqued my interest in studying the infrastructure.

2) Why do you think the “new urbanism” movement is important?

The New Urbanism movement is important because it is working to set up a framework for a type of city system that cities will be forced to move towards, whether they want to or not – that is a more people-centric, less car-centric system. Cities have grown exponentially over the last few decades and their growth continues and will not be able to accommodate more cars. They will be forced to make changes to their systems that disincentivize car use and incentivize walking and public transportation. This goes hand in hand with key New Urbanism tactics such as widening sidewalks and narrowing streets, adding more parks, motivating people to live their lives more communally and out on the street rather than in their houses or in their cars.

3) So how would you make the connection to your CCT classes?

My interest at CCT was seeing how things connected – examining the giant network of life. Focusing on parklets and the New Urbanism movement allows me to examine a small slice of this giant network. Through this examination I can see how classification impacts behavior, which impacts perception, which impacts the implementation of different types of infrastructure. I can see how a process is born and changes over time and how tensions between government and the public produce a checks and balances system. I have been able to see how city planning decisions made long ago affect our modern movement within a city and how our ideas today of “quality of life” have been molded by the wants and needs of those in power decades, even centuries ago.So it is the study of networks that I was interested in at CCT, and this is a way for me to examine a small slice of that in a system that fascinates me – the city system.