Monday, June 20, 2016

The nightmare that won't end



Our work to help neighborhoods tackle crime was overshadowed this week when 49 people were killed by a murderer, madman or terrorist in an Orlando nightclub! Two weeks earlier that murderer sauntered into a local gun store and shopped an assault rifle and handgun from a gun dealer who would later claim “I don’t make the law”

Mass murder is not at all the same type of preventable crime as other crimes that we tackle. On one hand it accounts for a tiny minority of violent incidents each year. Yet taken on whole, the annual American mass murder toll is mind-numbing
  • 2016 - 49 killed in an Orlando nightclub
  • 2015-  9 killed at an Oregon college
  • 2015 - 14 killed by a terror couple in San Bernadino, 
  • 2013 - 12 killed in a Washington DC Navy Yard 
  • 2012-  26 killed, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook school 
  • 2012 - 12 killed in a Colorado movie theatre 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

By my own calculations, since 2014, the number killed in mass murders (more than 4 killed at a single event) totals 694 victims! That is less than 3% of total of homicide victims in those years. About 14,000 people are murdered in the U.S. each year. 

To be clear, most murders are not mass murders but rather domestic violence killings and gang and drug shootings. 

Most mass murders are not terror related
Still, mass murders are the most gut-wrenching. And most mass murders have nothing to do with terrorism. Over 90% of mass murders since 2014 resulted from domestic violence or criminal madmen. 

None of which solves the problem. 

It is difficult for me to ignore the same arguments of reason and evidence against off-the-shelf assault rifles that I offered four years ago after the Newtown, Connecticut school murders

MISSING THE MARK

Instead pundits blather on about terrorism, background checks, LGBT hate crimes and mental illness. They dismiss gun control, probably because with millions of firearms in private hands, gun control is a hopeless genie long out of the bottle. 

We are left to watch President Obama delivering his 15th mass murder speech. And in spite of it all, the American gun/murder formula continues to produce yet more atrocities year after year.  It’s like a nightmare that won’t end.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"What attracts people most is other people"


Just as I was writing about homelessness and walkable public spaces I received a Vimeo from SafeGrowth friend Sue Ramsay in New Zealand. It is a 4 minute video uncovering simple urban design and social programming features that make a public space fantastic.

It is all based on William H. Whyte’s 1980 book The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, and to a lesser extent his follow-up book, City: Rediscovering The Center.

Whyte was born 100 years ago and he became mentor to Jane Jacobs and inspiration for the New York place-making group Project for Public Spaces.

Screenshot from William Whyte: In His Own Words by Clarence Eckerson Jr., Streetfilms 
For CPTED practitioners, William H. Whyte is among the bright lights in the history of urban design. He invented the idea of urban carrying capacity - later called tipping points - used throughout 2nd Generation CPTED. Like any student of urban affairs and planning he loved cities. He envisioned  the return of the Agora to the modern city and, best of all, showed us how to get there.

His ideas for reclaiming civilized, walkable, and fun urban places are simple, obvious and oddly ignored in too many cities. Here are a few that show up in the video:
  • the wonderful invention that is the movable chair
  • musicians and street arts make a place fun
  • fountains cannot induce sitting unless there are decent places to sit
  • protect access to the sun
  • water should be accessible, touchable, and slapable
  • street personalities make a public place more amicable.
Thanks to Sue for reminding us about one of our pioneers.

Water in public spaces should be touchable and slapable - Screenshot from William Whyte: In His Own Words