Monday, November 7, 2011

The Galatea Effect - a latitude to act

I came across this statue of Galatea in a downtown public fountain this week. Occasionally "decorated" by locals having fun, reality can reflect myth. After all, Galatea is the ancient Greek myth of the statue brought to life by her creator. Neighborhoods and streetscapes too can come to life when residents have, or seize, the latitude to act.

Neighborhoods decline when the people who live there lose their connection and no longer feel part of their community - The Great Neighborhood Book

Streetscapes appear in a prior blog titled Beauty, eh? From the beginning of CPTED we've known the importance of streets and sidewalks. Professor C. Ray Jeffery, author of the first CPTED book stated the obvious: "People must have some reason for using the sidewalks; otherwise they stay indoors."

Jeffery mapped out CPTED 40 years ago in two simple equations:

"Crime can be controlled through urban design, wherein safety and security are designed into streets, buildings, and parks."

"Cities can also be designed so as to increase human contact of an intimate nature. Loneliness and alienation need not characterize our urban life."

The first idea of design is 1st Generation CPTED. The second idea of contact (culture and cohesion) is called 2nd Generation CPTED, reintroduced in 1997.

This week I searched my town for streetscapes that fit both ideas and found great examples of design and culture. In a few cases residents modified public spaces on their own.

Apparently when given (or when seizing) the latitude to act, residents can create lots of beautiful and fun reasons to use the public street. Galatea can come to life.

4 Replies so far - Add your comment

  1. I like the blog for pointing to the use of CPTED in our private space through simple deisgns and can conrol crime. I have a question can we say this kind of notion involve geographic analysis. If not what are the theory behind this place and crime or environment and crime.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    Yes, the geography of crime can contribute, especially crime mapping. The "environmental criminology" crowd has been at it for decades.

    Sadly, nowadays I fear they are mired in the same muck that soiled early CPTED - obsession with official crime data and environmental determinism. They ask where crime happens and ignore why. Ask any crime mapper to show you displacement patterns and maps of cold spots. Ask any Comstat meeting for data on fear of crime.

    Their silence will deafen you.

    In community safety it comes down to this: if used in a holistic manner and shared with the community, geography and crime mapping can become clouds of distraction or beacons of clarity. Most of what I see today is the former, not the latter.

  3. I love the photo of the two house with symbolic fencing and sitting area overlooking the public walks. Question: I live in a town with many outdoor eating areas and one restaurant had their outdoor benches stolen. They might think that their 'informal surveillance' didn't work. What is the answer to them?

  4. Great question.

    The answer is no amount of crime prevention can guarantee crime will never occur. No amount of preventive medicine, nutritious food, and exercise can guarantee lifelong health. But in both cases, prevention (and natural surveillance) is far better than none at all.

    It just makes life more interesting, fun and, in spite of the odd distraction, safer.


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