The Alley Project

by Bob Lunning | Mar 26, 2013
| 1 Comment

Summary:

Roughly 25% of urban land in Saint Paul is publicly owned and controlled. Our relationships to parks, streets, and public buildings are easily understood and the bright line between public and private space is seldom questioned. We shovel our front sidewalks and mow the public boulevards… It all works out. However, when it comes to the “other” public space—our alleys, we are at a loss. We struggle with our alleys: with the activities that take place, with their management and maintenance.

Alleys can be re-envisioned as green spaces and gathering places, as works of art and galleries, as neighborhood shortcuts and playgrounds, as water management systems and wildlife refuges, and more.

While most Saint Paul alleys are orphans, they are available for adoption. The ALLEY PROJECT starts the adoption process by asking,

“If the alley through your block were ‘given’ to you and your neighbors, what would you do differently with it?”

Based on the answers, the ALLEY PROJECT will select demonstration projects to transform alleys in a variety of ways. In the process, our alleys will become more beautiful and, more importantly, the relationship between neighbors and their community will be transformed as individuals develop unforeseen bonds with their most private public realms.

The ALLEY PROJECT will establish the first steps, ‘seed’ the demonstration projects, and spread the message on how Saint Paul can re-imagine public space and, through it, our relationship to the land and each other.

About You

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About You

First Name

Bob

Last Name

Lunning

City

County

Country

United States

Website (if you have one)

Names of others who helped contribute to my idea

Carrie Christensen & Joanna Kohler

How did you hear about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge?

Through the Saint Paul arts community.

About Your Organization (if applicable)

Organization Name (if applicable)

The Alley Project Team

Organization Website

Organization Phone

Organization Address

City

Organization Country

United States

Your idea

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Title of your idea

The Alley Project

Give us the highlights of your idea for making Saint Paul great (2,000 characters maximum or approx. 250 words)

Roughly 25% of urban land in Saint Paul is publicly owned and controlled. Our relationships to parks, streets, and public buildings are easily understood and the bright line between public and private space is seldom questioned. We shovel our front sidewalks and mow the public boulevards… It all works out. However, when it comes to the “other” public space—our alleys, we are at a loss. We struggle with our alleys: with the activities that take place, with their management and maintenance.
Alleys can be re-envisioned as green spaces and gathering places, as works of art and galleries, as neighborhood shortcuts and playgrounds, as water management systems and wildlife refuges, and more.
While most Saint Paul alleys are orphans, they are available for adoption. The ALLEY PROJECT starts the adoption process by asking,
“If the alley through your block were ‘given’ to you and your neighbors, what would you do differently with it?”
Based on the answers, the ALLEY PROJECT will select demonstration projects to transform alleys in a variety of ways. In the process, our alleys will become more beautiful and, more importantly, the relationship between neighbors and their community will be transformed as individuals develop unforeseen bonds with their most private public realms.
The ALLEY PROJECT will establish the first steps, ‘seed’ the demonstration projects, and spread the message on how Saint Paul can re-imagine public space and, through it, our relationship to the land and each other.

Website address (if applicable)

Innovation

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What makes your idea different or unexpected? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

As space becomes more precious, the ALLEY PROJECT surprises us with a new vision of neglected places.

“We want, especially, the greatest possible contrast with the restraining and
confining conditions which compel us to walk circumspectly, watchfully, jealously, which compel us to look closely upon others without sympathy.”
- Frederick Law Olmstead, 1870

Olmstead, designer of transcendent urban parks, understood public land could be restorative and sacred when it is held in common. The ALLEY PROJECT extends this sensibility to our most mundane public spaces and, by unanticipated interventions, calls upon us to see them with fresh eyes.

Impact

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This Entry is about (Issues)

How will your idea make a difference in Saint Paul? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The potential for public land to build community is not being fully realized. Because of ownership and control issues, the continuum of semi-public to semi-private space occurs completely on privately held land. If communities managed this land, the public realm may become more vital, productive, and valued.

The ALLEY PROJECT questions the status quo surrounding the use and management of public space. When implemented, our alleys will have personalities and be places to explore. Far from their current conditions, alleys will be expressions of community effort and pride.

Sustainability

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Why do you think people will recognize or remember your idea after it comes to life? How might it inspire others to do something similar in their community? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The Argentine designer, Emilio Ambasz, proposed a park in Germany in which each 12-year-old in the village received a plot of land to tend as they wished. There were to be no public paths. And so, to reach their own plot, the young people had to make agreements between themselves regarding where to walk and what to share.

Without literally following this example, the ALLEY PROJECT aspires to transform neglected places in similar authentic, profound ways and, in so doing, to make places that stay with us for a lifetime serving as models for other communities.

Harly Beech said: We are sometimes needing the information that could really be something we should be aware of. - Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon about this Competition Entry. - 2559 days ago read more >

Bob Lunning updated this Competition Entry. - 2859 days ago

Bob Lunning submitted this idea. - 2859 days ago