Saturday, June 30, 2018

New SafeGrowth book on Amazon

SafeGrowth book in soft cover and Kindle from Amazon
by Gregory Saville

We are thrilled to announce the publication of our new book, SafeGrowth: Building Neighborhoods of Safety and Livability! This book chronicles a decade of implementing and teaching SafeGrowth, along with methods like 2nd Generation CPTED, to turn troubled places back from the brink of crime.

This is part of the back cover:
"Do we really seek more CCTV cameras on public streets to protect us from the supposed enemy at the gates as we cower behind our doors? When did we agree to a public life with more razor wire, chain-link fences and cops zooming from one call to another, sirens blazing? There is a better way to create safer cities and, while some programs have existed for years, few offer a coherent way to plan cities in partnership with residents. 
SafeGrowth is a new model for building crime-resistant and vibrant neighborhoods in the 21st Century."
While a decade of SafeGrowth training programs (and this blog) represent building blocks, this book frames the latest and most complete version of the model. It is the first full statement of the SafeGrowth theory. I edited and authored the book with others who attended and facilitated three SafeGrowth Summits, starting with our inaugural Summit in Canmore, Alberta in 2015 coordinated by our own Anna Brassard.

A few of the participants from the Canmore, Alberta SafeGrowth Summit, 2015

Part 1 of the book describes recent years as a time of transformation and it places social unrest, crime, and urban development into a larger historical context, especially chapter 2, "Stirrings of a New Idea".

The book then recounts the findings from three SafeGrowth Summits, particularly the first one at Canmore, Alberta where thirty participants created new ideas for planning safer neighborhoods with chapters on “The Hub Concept”, “Urban Villages” “Block Level Development” and “Livability Academies”


Part 3 includes case studies from the cities of Red Deer, Alberta and New Orleans, Louisiana. Another case study includes a chapter by International CPTED Association board member, Elisabeth Miller called, “SafeGrowth in Saskatoon”.

The final chapters of the book, written by Mateja, Tarah and myself, describe four principles of SafeGrowth theory. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our hard work and see how SafeGrowth offers a 21st Century blueprint for anyone who loves safer cities.

You can order the book here.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Parks, yoga & activating public spaces

Activating public parks with yoga - Photo courtesy of Dallas Delahunt 

by Tarah Hodgkinson

Outdoor yoga has become an important ingredient of summer fun. In cities across Canada and elsewhere, local yoga studios and yoga teachers are setting up weekly yoga classes in parks and other public places.

Some yoga classes are incredibly expensive and at times exclusionary, but outdoor yoga is accessible and plays a crucial role in creating healthy neighborhoods. Above all, it activates public parks and, as research illustrates, well-used parks can enhance both public health and social cohesion.

Most, if not all, outdoor yoga classes are free or donation-based and they boast of accessibility and an “open to everyone” motto. This is evidenced by the number of classes attended by families with kids, the elderly and even pets.

Free Parliament Hill yoga in Ottawa attracting 1,200 yogis
Photo courtesy of Dallas Delahunt
In Ottawa, for example, local government employees and the community come out for weekly lunch hour yoga on Parliament Hill from May to September. Some of these free classes have boasted over 1,200 people. 


Perhaps you think that outdoor yoga is merely a fad for Millennials looking to sport their Lululemon purchases and get a tan. But consider the community’s reaction last year when Vancouver’s park board attempted to shut down free yoga classes in a park because the instructors didn’t have a permit.

The yoga classes were free, or pay what you can, making it difficult for the instructors to fund the permit. This pay structure was done purposely to make the yoga accessible to everyone, regardless of income.

The community came out in droves against the decision and, after a barrage of emails and letters to the city, the city agreed to wave all the fees for the permit.

Free, fun and open to all ages - Photo courtesy of Dallas Delahunt

For cities like Vancouver and Ottawa, public yoga has become a part of the local culture. It is a chance for people from across the age and ability spectrum to come together and connect, while also taking care of their health. It is a public engagement strategy for the 21st Century that community leaders and parks officials everywhere should encourage.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CPTED on a pendulum

Relaxing in Central Park made easy with benches, clean walkways
and something interesting to watch
By Mateja Mihinjac

Embedded within SafeGrowth practice resides a number of tactics, one of which is CPTED - crime prevention through environmental design. CPTED is often criticized for being simplistic and reductionist in its solutions and for promoting fortressing while displacing undesirable activity.

In January, Greg reprinted an article he wrote a few years ago about the exclusionary nature of CPTED when it disregards some at the expense of others.

These side effects may seem unsurprising considering that the word “prevention” implies attention to undesirable behaviors. However, years of experience teach us that not every crime problem will benefit from simply restricting behaviors; we also need to provide alternatives and support desirable conduct.

Not all dogs agree, but even in rain, dogwalking is pro-social
This does not infer a binary approach to CPTED but rather attention to details because, when it comes to intended and desirable outcomes, context matters! It is therefore prudent to outline some of the 1st Generation CPTED principles using a pendulum between restrictive and desirable behavioral outcomes.

Talented street artists can beautify unpleasant areas


A broader view of CPTED is nothing new; it can be observed in the early writing of CPTED by the original authors. For example, we know from Oscar Newman’s work on defensible space that territorial influence is most powerful when it combines “latent territoriality and sense of community” when residents care for shared spaces and each other.

Tactics to uncover latent territoriality include designing visual contact between residential areas and building semi-private areas where neighbors can congregate, factors that still emerge today in research.

Methods to enhance the social climate of an area include getting people to better know, and care for, each other with cultural and recreational activities.

Street markets provide a fun reason for going outside
Newman predicted this latent territoriality promotes ownership through supporting pro-social behaviors while concurrently deflecting unwanted use without the need for physical reinforcement.

Similarly, Jane Jacobs extended her discussion of “eyes upon the street” and argued that streets are safe when they provide opportunities for desirable activities by offering people a reason to occupy them, as we described in recent blogs on sidewalks and alternatives to bollards.

There is no shortage of other methods to create desirable locations, for example through tactical urbanism and placemaking that build pro-social activities and informal supervision.

Street busker activating a public plaza


Mainstream 1st Generation CPTED continues to undermine the need for investing in social capital as the underlying prerequisite for effective and sustainable crime prevention.

In SafeGrowth, we employ 2nd Generation CPTED to promote social cohesion, local pride and social interaction. The goal is to swing the pendulum towards pro-social conduct and away from an anti-social, target-hardening mantra. Ultimately, the key for quality of life in neighborhoods is finding the right balance between the two.