Parklet Sighting in Montreal

What’s lovelier than sitting outside on a warm summer day for lunch or enjoying a drink and your company at the end of the day? Many restaurants, particularly in our cold northern climate, do not have permanent outdoor seating. Why? Because sitting outside is only a good idea for a few months out of the year. For the rest of the year the sidewalks and patios are cold, covered in snow and inhospitable. But, come summertime we want to take advantage of that nice weather and soak it in as much as we can.

Remember learning about parklets? It’s a conversion of parking space (temporary or permanent) into public space. Some are free for the public, outfitted with benches and plantings and designed to be meeting spaces for community members. Restaurants are catching on and creating outdoor dining areas from parking spaces – a twist on the “park” of parklets. While these are clearly affiliated with restaurants (meaning, not free for the public because you need to make a purchase), it’s still a great use of space to bring the community to the street.

These restaurants parklets are from Montreal, Quebec. While they vary in design and style, all are enclosed and encompass part of the sidewalk and parking spaces.

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A casual parklet with pink picnic tables.

This view shows the parklet platform half on the sidewalk, half in the street.

This view shows the parklet platform half on the sidewalk, half in the street.

Enclosed in, metal fence. Across the street is the Old Port of Montreal.

Enclosed in, metal fence. Across the street is the Old Port of Montreal.

Almost completely in the parking space, this parklet dresses up the scene with flower boxes and planting.

Almost completely in the parking space, this parklet dresses up the scene with flower boxes and planting. And check out the view across the street. Beautiful buildings!

A closer view of the restaurant parklet. (Side note: In the life of a preservationist, I always feel like people think I'm taking photographs of them. Nope, sorry, just the environment!)

A closer view of the restaurant parklet. (Side note: In the life of a preservationist, I always feel like people think I’m taking photographs of them. Nope, sorry, just the environment!)

What do you think of restaurant parklets? Do you want to be eating next to traffic? It’s a great use of space if your town or city has narrow sidewalks, but maybe sipping your drink and enjoying your meal is more difficult if a car is idling in traffic next to you. Yay or nay? Seen any in your neighborhood? Would you prefer a parklet for a restaurant or free for public use?

Home in Vermont

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Everyone gave such great answers to the questions about home, that it is taking more time to prepare than anticipated. It’s a great subject, and I’ll be sharing soon. Thanks all!

Black Friday, Flannel Friday & Small Business Saturday

The term “Black Friday” did not originate in reference to the consumer madness following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Historically, “Black Friday” refers to September 24, 1869, the day when the gold market crashed at the hand of Ulysses S. Grant. To his credit, he was attempting to improve the economy, but it didn’t go as planned.

“Black Friday” as a shopping day originated in the 1960s, when Philadelphia reporters described the rush of people at the stores on the day after Thanksgiving. However, even before the 1960s, this day was important to the retail industry and Christmas shoppers. According to Time magazine (A Brief History of Black Friday):

As early as the 19th century, shoppers have viewed Thanksgiving as the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, an occasion marked by celebrations and sales. Department stores in particular locked onto this marketing notion, hosting parades to launch the start of the first wave of Christmas advertisements, chief among them, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, running in New York City since 1924. The holiday spree became so important to retailers that during the Great Depression, they appealed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 to move Thanksgiving up in order to stretch out the holiday shopping season. Roosevelt obliged, moving Thanksgiving one week earlier, but didn’t announce the change until October. As a result, Americans had two Thanksgivings that year — Roosevelt’s, derisively dubbed “Franksgiving,” and the original. Because the switchover was handled so poorly, few observed it, and the change resulted in little economic boost.

Do you shop on Black Friday? Shopping is tempting sometimes because it’s easy to get caught up in the advertising. However, it’s also chaos and according to this Atlantic article, only a few items are actually the best deal. Shoppers beware! But, really, if you choose to shop on Black Friday, that’s fine. Still, can we all agree that it’s just not fair for stores to open on Thanksgiving Day when they are kicking off Black Friday? We spend all day and weeks prior telling the internet for what we are thankful and then we head out to the stores immediately after we finish the turkey and pie? It seems a bit off-kilter.

As an alternative to Black Friday, some towns and cities like Montpelier, VT have Flannel Friday which encourages shoppers to wear flannel and shop at local businesses. If you wear flannel, you get a discount. In other places it’s called “Plaid Friday.” (Vermont likes to be different, of course!)

Saturday November 30, 2013 is Small Business Saturday, an initiative led by American Express to encourage people to shop at local businesses. Merchants, if you’re an American Express member, you’re set. Customers, if you enroll your card and then spend $10 using your American Express card, you can get $10 back from American Express. Check out the full details here and then sign up here!

Shop Small on Small Business Saturday!

Shop Small on Small Business Saturday!

Will you shop? What is your preferred day? What is your favorite local store? Share any good links below.

Twenty Questions (Give or Take) About Home

~ HOME ~

Taking a nod from the conference conversation starters, I’d like to ask you these, in hopes of getting us to talk about where we live, why we ;ive where we do, and how we make someplace our home, along with decisions along the way. As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on home, family, friends and the good things in life. Places and homes matter, and it’s important to understand our own preferences and it is interesting to hear those of others. Please comment below, or send an email to preservationinpink@gmail.com if you would like to share or have additional thoughts on the matter.

  1. Where do you live?
    • City? Country? Suburbia? New urbanism? Neighborhood? Development? Village? Rural? Urban?
    • North, south, east, west? Coast? Plains? Mountains?
  2. How do you define live?
    • Play? Work? Sleep? Socialize? Eat? Exercise? Rest?
  3. In what type of residence do you live?
    • Single family house? Apartment building? House divided into apartments? Duplex? Rowhouse?
  4. What is the age of your house?
    • Is it historic? Is it just “old”? Is it new?
  5. Do you rent or own currently?
  6. Do you prefer to rent or own?
  7. What is the first thing you want to change about a residence?
    • Paint? Ceilings? Rugs? Appliances?
  8. What is your ideal place to live?
    • Do you expect “ideal” to change?
  9. Do you live where you thought you would live?

 

Why Buying Local is Worth Every Cent

Have you done any local shopping lately? It’s easier in the summertime when you can places and don’t mind taking extra time to stroll on the streets, or to head downtown rather than to the strip malls on the outskirts. Do you agree? What do you find to be the easiest thing to purchase locally?

Check out this new “Buy Local” infographic. (Who doesn’t love infographics?!)

Click to Enlarge Image

CustomMade Buying Local Infographic

Why Buying Local is Worth Every Cent Infographic by CustomMade

Previous post on Buy Local posters. Will you make an effort to increase your local business spending this summer? Just $10 per month to a local business, as opposed to a big chain? You can do it!

Preservation ABCs: Q is for Quality of Life

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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Q is for Quality of Life

A historic, walkable downtown like this one of Barre, VT might fit your quality of life.

A historic, walkable downtown like this one of Barre, VT might fit your quality of life.

Historic preservation aims to preserve the quality of life which a community values and to help foster and improve quality of life where possible. It is important to understand that quality of life means different things to everyone. Some people prefer bustling cities with reliable public transit and walkable neighborhoods. Others prefer rural country living with a small center of town. Community events might be important. Or local restaurants. Or nearby playgrounds and schools. Some prefer the beach or the mountains or the plains. The bottom line is that everyone defines their quality of life differently.

How does historic preservation connect to quality of life? Simply put, historic preservation seeks to improve the local economy, maintain and rehabilitate the existing building stock, increase awareness of a community’s heritage, engage citizens, preserve the significant past for the future and identify what and why a community is important to itself and to others. By involving people with each other and the built environment around them, their sense of place will improve and people will develop pride in their place. When people are proud of where they live and can identify what is important to them, they are happier, and as a result quality of life improves. It’s a simple chain reaction that historic preservation helps to begin. Historic preservation does not force ideas onto communities or tell people what they should prefer; it hopes the community will speak up and citizens will say “This is important to us! This is who we are and what our community is!” From that point, historic preservation will find methods to improve and protect the quality of life.

So you see, anything can feed into quality of life. And quality of life feeds into historic preservation. My favorite chain reaction is this: people define where they live –> people improve their communities and protect their communities –> people have a sense of place –> people have pride in where they live –> people have a good quality of life –> everyone is happier … therefore … historic preservation is helping to make the world a better place and helping to save the world (as we flamingos might say).

Preservation ABCs: M is for Main Street

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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M is for Main Street

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Marion, VA

Main Street is a common idea, phrase, and referenced place in historic preservation because it incorporates so much of what historic preservation believes. Main Street (whether or not yours is named Main Street) historically included prominent building blocks, local businesses, a mix of retail and residential, a variety of services for the community, gathering places, human scale buildings, transportation nexuses, and a sense of place. Over the centuries and decades, main street as a hub for all of this faded; populations moved to the suburbs and strip malls and large indoor shopping malls and big box retailers took the place of main street.

And now, people are realizing once again the economic and community value of a main street. The National Trust Main Street Center focuses on revitalizing main streets to viable, sustainable communities. Main Streets can reinvent themselves. Some become more artsy or food oriented. Others retain basic services like pharmacies and stationery stores. Each community will have different needs and interests. The key is finding what works for each one, and having willing, passionate people involved.

Does your town have a main street? Or did you grow up in suburban developments (like me)? Has your main street changed over the years? How?

Local Business: Grunhaus

Preservationists love local businesses, and Preservation in Pink is happy to play a part in supporting them since local businesses improve our communities and quality of life. So if you’re cruising the streets of Montpelier, Vermont, swing by the Grunhaus (Nordic Street Eats). A lovely couple run this cart (looks like a castle, yes?) and the food is delicious. If you’re new there, they are happy to explain the choices and they’ll chat with you while they prepare your food. It takes only a few minutes. Bring cash, not plastic. The cart is normally parked near the intersection of State & Elm Streets. And yes, they are there all winter!

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Enjoy!

(Note: Preservation in Pink is voluntarily reviewing this business and is not compensated for this review. The point is to spread good news about good local businesses.) 

Sending Love from Vermont

Sending lots of love, strength and hope to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. To relatives, friends and strangers on Long Island, in New York City and everywhere else, may you soon have power, hot water, a plan of action for your house if necessary and the warmth of community surrounding you. Vermont feels your pain in an all too familiar way, since Sandy comes only 14 months after Irene.

Vermont Strong, New York Strong — may we all be united and strong.

Preservation Photos #155

20121030-113557.jpgToday’s NYTimes: October 30, 2012. Wishing safety to all from the storm, a quick recovery, hope, and strength to those in need.