Forum promotes pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

Imagine, if you will, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids.

In many cases, it’s a stretch, right? Our notable lack of sidewalks has been even more notable lately with all the snow, which forces pedestrians farther out into busy streets than usual.

It’s sad to see a woman in a wheelchair struggling down an icy Oakland Road in the traffic lane, and a young mother pushing a stroller against traffic along 29th Street NE because there is no other way to get to the drug store and back home.

Those are just a couple of reasons it was good to see this notice in my email the other day about the S.E.E.D. Conference’s Winter Sustainable Neighborhoods Forum:


When: From 10 am to 5 pm Saturday January 23, 2010 (Lunch served on site)

THERE IS NO PARTICPATION FEE FOR THE FORUM; a DONATION OF $8 per person is requested to cover the cost of preparation and service of Lunch.

Where: Community Conference Hall, Horizons Building 5th Street at 9th Ave. S.E. (one block south of 8th Ave, Mercy Hospital Area)  Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Who: Everyone interested in creating pedestrian friendly neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids as a key strategy for improving the quality of life in our City.

The rest of that email is pasted below FYI.

Read on…

Background Information, Sustainable Ecological Economic Development (S.E.E.D.) is a Cedar Rapids based not for profit educational organization.  For the past 3 years, the Annual S.E.E.D. Conference has taken place during the last weekend of October as the main S.E.E.D activity. S.E.E.D. also hosts other educational initiatives periodically such as the S.E.E.D. Mid-term in the Quad Cities and other community forums on local food systems, sustainable community, energy conservation and green building/retro-fit.

Details about this Event; The Saturday January 23 event in Cedar Rapids will be a stimulating experience to interact with 20 Graduate Architects and several Professors from the College of Design , Department of Architecture of Iowa State University .  The College of Design at ISU is ranked among the Top 20 Architecture Programs in the USA . This is an exceptional resource for our City and State.

This Sustainability Symposium on Saturday January 23 will be led by 3 ISU Collge of Design Professors; Clare Cardinal-Pett, Nadia Anderson and Peter Goche.

Three Dimensional building models and two dimensional architectural images will fill the perimeter of the Horizons facility all day Saturday from 10 am until 5 pm.  In the center of these design images and models, the individual building designers will verbally present their criteria and the context of their design and interact with all participants that attend the event. We will engage in lively discussion to consider how their architectural building designs integrate with the overall objective of building a pedestrian friendly/sustainable neighborhood in the Oakhill/New Bohemia District just South of Downtown Cedar Rapids.  We encourage participants to spend the entire day in this stimulating educational experience, but visitors are also welcome to drop in for shorter periods of time to see the design images in an “open house” setting.

For several years, Oakhill-Jackson Neighborhood Assn. President Michael Richards has engaged with his neighbors in work to realize this core area of the City as a Sustainable Urban Village. Results to date have included the Rebuild/Retrofit of several existing structures, building community gardens and working with the City of Cedar Rapids to build a new pedestrian friendly streetscape along the Third Street – New Bo District. The City Government approved the Streetscape Project in 2007, and then placed it on delay. The work to establish a Year Round Market in New Bo will also be a major step forward with these objectives to build a sustainable urban neighborhood.

As the Founder of S.E.E.D, Richards has engaged in a two year working alliance with the ISU Dept. of Architecture and Design to foster this process as a catalyst for creative thinking and neighborhood action in the Oakhill/New Bo District.  Richards will serve as host and facilitator for the Saturday January 23 event in Cedar Rapids .   During the First Year, ISU Dept. of Architecture collaborated with S.E.E.D. for one semester to develop post-flood affordable housing designs.  These designs were then presented in Cedar Rapids at the 2008 Annual S.E.E.D. Conference.

During the second year of this neighborhood-based initiative, a team of ISU professors and Architectural Grad Students traveled to the Oakhill/New Bohemia area and engaged in walking tours, building and site surveys and research into the local culture and neighborhood fabric of this unique and historic area of Cedar Rapids . The objective for this second year of effort has been to go beyond single building designs and consider the process of designing a sustainable neighborhood as a more total project within a neighborhood/community context. Such leading edge elements as urban agriculture, neighborhood bio-fuel co-ops and affordable green buildings are integral parts of the whole.  Initial results were presented at the 2009 Annual S.E.E.D. Conference.

As a closing symposium for the FALL 2009 Semester at full one day symposium on this design work took place on campus at Iowa State University.  Now ISU is “taking this show on the road”, and bringing the models, images and interactive discussion on site to share their creative work directly with the people of Cedar Rapids .

The day will end with an optional screening of the film Third Ward TX, an inspriing documentary about a grassroots approach to neighborhood revitalization.

For more information, contact Michael Richards 319-213-2051/

1 Response to “Forum promotes pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods”

  1. 1 Urban Thinking » Blog Archive » (Cedar Rapids) Imagine a Vital Neighborhood Trackback on January 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm
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