Podcast #8 – Charles Avenue Friendly Streets with Lars Christiansen

One of the Friendly Streets Initiave block parties on Charles Avenue.

The next podcast is here! This episode is an interview with Lars Christiansen, one of the organizers of the Charles Avenue Friendly Streets Initiative. The Initiative was an attempt in St Paul to develop bottom-up strategies for designing streets that better serve the residents of the Frogtown and Hamline-Midway areas in St Paul, along Charles Avenue. They organized a series of block parties around the themes of traffic calming, public art, and public space. It’s  an innovative outreach strategy that connects with people not normally represented in traditional planning and neighborhood meetings.

Lars and I talked about the project for over an hour last Friday, in a conversation that touched on the importance of bicycle bouelvards, St Paul politics, and the challenges of citizen engagement for city planning. In addition to his duties organizing transportation movements in St Paul, Lars is an eleven-year st paul resident and an urban studies professor at Augsubrg college.

(Timely bonus: The Charles Avenue Project is up for a public hearing this Wednesday, at 5:30, down at St Paul City Hall. If you can’t attend but still support the project, please take a minute and email your support for the plan via email comment. Please include your name and address.)

Caveat: I’ve been particularly working on improving the audio quality of these recordings. So I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I finally figured out how to use the new mic. The bad news is that I figured out how to plug it in AFTER the podcast was taped. (It’s a technical thing involving the audio settings on my computer.) This podcast sounds  terrible. If you can’t stand the background traffic noise going down Thomas Avenue on a Friday at rush hour, you have two choices: either turn off the podcast and wait two episodes, which will be much better. Or, you can muddle through this podcast and get inspired about traffic calming in St Paul, which will do a lot to reduce automobile noise in the very long term. Apologies in advance!

Here’s the link to the mp3 file. You can subscribe to the whole podcast series on iTunes.