Sunday, May 18, 2008

Premiering TonightPremiered Last Night In Western MA: Contested Streets

(originally published on on Dec. 06 2007)

Thanks to all who came out last night to view the Western MA premier of the Cicala Filmworks produced film Contested Streets. Sponsored by Transportation Alternatives and hosted by Northamptonist, it was delightful to see the 40 or more interested parties who came out to view this film which documents and explores the visionary initiatives being undertaken in NYC, London, Paris, and Copenhagen to create more equitable communities, streets, and public space that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Though the film focused on the aforementioned four cities, it should be noted that these efforts are not unique or restricted to only these cities. These are not the efforts of just a few 'liberal elites' in a few cosmopolitan cities. On the contrary, there are similar efforts underway in communities across the globe; in middle America, in impoverished regions of Latin America, in your own hometown, that address these same issues. They are undertaken by citizens and community leaders who are passionate in their beliefs, who believe in the democratizing effects the equitable distribution and use of public space can have, and whom hold the conviction and courage to withstand the misguided and withering criticisms, particularly from automobile and business special interest groups, that can sometimes accompany any mention of creating more accessible and equitable public space for all. Below are some links to other initiatives being implemented in a myriad of communities which are similar to efforts highlighted in the film.

--The Illinois State Legislature adopts 'Complete Streets' into law
--Ciclovia in Bogota, Colombia. An event that happens every Sunday in which over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic.
--On the rise in American cities: the car-free zone
--The AARP reports on Kirkland, Washington's street reclamations, offers support.

Again, thanks to all those who attended last night, it was great to see so many people come out. It appears that we should do this again sometime soon.

A reminder that tonight at 6pm, in the MEF screening room at 60 Masonic St., Northamptonist will be screening the film Contested Streets. The screening is free and open to the public. You can view trailers for the film here.

The film explores the history of transportation in NYC and in other major cities throughout the world, what steps are now being taken to mitigate the negative effects manifested by building cities around the automobile, and the visionary reforms being implemented in cities across the globe to reclaim public space for use by all.

From the film's website,
The film explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to the present...Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction. London's congestion pricing scheme, Paris' BRT (bus rapid transit) and Copenhagen's bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are all examined in depth.