Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer--Resources, what's happening in the background

Well, it's the dog days of summer and I have been negligent about keeping this blog up-to-date. so this post will be a collection of random stuff:

In July both the Seward Neighborhood Group board and the Seward Civic and Commerce Association board approved the Franklin Planning Values that came out of the task forces. The Seward Redesign board is expected to approve the values at it's August meeting.

Another Resource:
Jay Walljasper (the speaker at our Saturday session) has a new article on a National Geographic site: "A historic opportunity to improve our cities".

More chances to comment:
The first phase was getting the values in place and generating ideas for improving the Avenue. We've assembled all of this into a booklet that will be distributed to businesses on the Avenue.

Expect the books to be at the businesses in about a week. The books will have the left pages blank for comments. Fell free to give us your thoughts.

Bystrom Project:
Many of you may know of the Bystrom project--this is the land between 22nd Street and 24th Street along the LRT. Part of the project includes simplifying the Minnehaha/Franklin/Cedar intersection. This will be the first chance we will have to apply our Franklin Planning Values to a project. Look for news on how to participate in planning this project in the near future.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More Ideas

Lots more ideas at the last round of task force meetings. Now we just have to decide what to do! Our plan is to do some low resource projects this summer (low cost projects that don't require a lot of planning and approvals). Do these spark any ideas or suggestions? Add a comment below (click on the blue "Comments" link).

A sample intersection (25th and Franklin) with paver bump-outs, a white cross walk across 25th, colorful images as crosswalks across Franklin, and a banner sign where 25th enters Seward (in the distance, across the park)

Some ideas for "greening" Franklin: More trees, planters with flowers, and working with businesses to turn hard surfaces into green spaces the benefit the community and the business.

Improving biking: Creative painting for a bike lane.

So, what do you think? Let us know by clicking on "comments" below.

Franklin Planning Values

What are the neighborhood's values? How do they apply to Franklin Avenue? Here is the latest draft of the values statement. It will be reviewed by the boards of SCCA, SNG and Redesign. It is one of many items on a full agenda at the Seward Neighborhood Group Development Committee agenda at 7 PM on Tuesday, July 8 at Matthews Center.

Seward is an urban village –

Franklin Avenue is our main street.

Early in 2008, Seward Redesign, Seward Neighborhood Group, and the Seward Civic and Commerce Association (SCCA) combined efforts to launch a community-driven planning process to create a master plan for Seward’s Franklin Avenue – from the LRT Station Area to the River.

More than 100 residents, businesses, property-owners and other stakeholders have participated in a variety of venues to contribute to this document. There were two organized walks along the Avenue to identify strengths and weaknesses, a broad community meeting to sort out areas to concentrate our efforts, and four task forces who have shaped this document.

These core values will be taken to each of the partner organizations for adoption by their boards. Our intention is that these core values will guide our work together over the coming years and provide a way for us to make decisions as a community.

The process to build this document also speaks to a value which we intend to guide our work – we will work in partnership, maintaining a transparent public process, which is rational and balances the interests and needs of various constituents. Planning is never complete but rather an ongoing process, which we will continually revisit and renew. In creating the core values below, we have seen the incredible value of synergy – what is created by many is better than the sum of its parts.

Your feedback on this document, the process used to create it, and your engagement in moving forward is valuable and welcome. Contact Seward Redesign (2619 Franklin), SNG or SCCA or go to


We envision Franklin Avenue as a destination that draws people into our unique neighborhood.

Franklin Avenue is our Main Street / Town Center and should express the character of Seward as a whole. Key elements of our identity include that we are multi-cultural, arts-aligned, green, urban, grass-roots, family-friendly, multi-generational, welcoming, student-friendly, safe, comfortable and accessible.

Good Design
We envision Franklin Avenue as a well designed place that reflects the urban character of the Seward neighborhood.

Buildings, signage, landscaping and other elements of the streetscape should be human scaled, urban, green, artful, easily maintained, safe, graffiti resistant and durable. Design will use CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) techniques to shape a safer environment, i.e. eyes on the street.

Time, energy and resources should be invested to design (not just produce) elements of our streetscape. We are willing to invest in design while keeping it affordable for everyone.

Multi-Modal Movement
We envision Franklin Avenue as an active, interesting and safe place for all pedestrians.

We want Franklin to be a destination that draws people from both inside and outside the neighborhood. Franklin should be easy to access by bus, LRT, bike or car. Once people arrive in Seward, it should be intuitive that non-motorized transportation is the preferred mode between destinations on the Avenue and in the neighborhood.

For people in the neighborhood, biking, walking and public transit are primary modes of transportation. We should make changes to the Avenue so that pedestrians, bikes, wheelchairs, strollers, skateboarders, etc. have a safe and pleasant experience so they can use all of the parks, restaurants, shops and other resources on Franklin.

The LRT area and the 3-4 blocks east of it are unique. Seward wants to develop a chain of attractions or complimentary commercial activity that draw people into our business district and extend the Franklin Avenue’s identity and the feel of our community from the River to the LRT station area.

Local Economy & Leadership

We envision Seward as a place where a strong local economy and grass-roots activism meet.

Decision Making
– our community is organized, well-informed and committed to leading decision making and implementation of changes in our neighborhood.

Shop locally
– Seward residents and business owners use our dollars to support local businesses. Supporting these businesses helps them support the community.

Work/employ locally
– Encourage employers to hire local talent; create opportunities for people who live in the neighborhood to find a local job; and create ways for people who work in the neighborhood to find a place to live in the neighborhood.

Synergy & Connectivity
– We recognize the interconnectedness we have with each other. – We will work to attract new core businesses that meet community and business needs, and match our values but also draw people from outside our neighborhood. We, in turn, should be good neighbors to our surrounding communities by supporting their destination businesses.

Stewardship and Safety

We envision Franklin Avenue as a well-cared for and well maintained place where people can gather throughout the day and into the evening during all seasons. We promote safe public gathering places and we will take an active role in making it safe – working on local initiatives and partnering with police and others.

Businesses and other destinations along the Avenue should be connected by neighborhood gathering places where neighbors can have eye-to-eye contact, where community conversations happen and where the seeds of community activism grow.

Seward is Green

We envision Franklin Avenue as a place that contributes to the environmental health of both our neighborhood and the world.

– Franklin needs more trees, plants and landscaping – in addition to contributing to the health of the environment, these things make Franklin a more comfortable and attractive place year round.

– Buildings should contribute to the environmental health of our neighborhood through reduced energy consumption, on-site storm and waste water management, reuse and recycling of materials and other green technologies.

- Seward does not want the City or County to tear up and replace our infrastructure but instead to explore ways to improve through the repair/reuse of existing infrastructure whenever possible.

When making decisions about amounts of parking, lighting or other factors that impact the environment, we should always strive to have “just enough.”