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Old 03-09-2009, 08:55 AM
 
1,703 posts, read 6,076,095 times
Reputation: 940

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridicter View Post
I think you're partially mischaracterizing those who critique.

I don't want a more pedestrian friendly, environmentally sustainable, culturally vibrant, educationally-developed Little Rock because it's the hip thing to do. I want it because there is some objective measure of progress, of what defines a community, of how that community relates to its environment, of how it defines a people, of how it inspires people, of how it cultivates local talent, of how it attracts non-local talent. It's not all relative, and it can't be simplified as hipsters simply wanting to "keep up with Joneses." A vibrant city--educationally, culturally, etc--is a city with ideas. There is truth in merit.

I hardly think more neon signs or concrete qualifies for a great city--that's a straw man.

In other settings with different people, I'll take the route of promoting the state. In a setting such as this, I'll tend to play a medium role, as there are too many with bloated senses of self and the "if-you-don't-like-then-leave" attitude. (I'm not speaking specifically of RogMar or Strum, just my general perception of this forum.)
That's good because I don't have a 'if-you-don't-like-then-leave' attitude.

I do, however, challenge those of you who don't like this-or-that about LR to come up with some constructive ideas on how to make it better, show up at Planning Commission and City Board meetings to speak, contact the Mayor's office, the Planning Dept., etc. Are you guys doing that?

You make a place better by taking action with specific ideas.

Pedestrian friendly? Sounds great. (My goodness, I'm an urban planner, so it better sound good to me, right?) Where would you start? Specific places?

Environmentally sustainable? I hope you realize that LR is light years ahead of many larger cities on environmental issues. I can think of several LEED certified buildings right off the top of my head. I can think of the wonderful work my friends at the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, ADEQ, and other organizations have done on Fourche Creek and other local waterbodies. What should the next project be?

Culturally vibrant? LR has come a long way in this department. The Mosaic Templars center is a one-of-a-kind. I hope you have visited there and support the project. The Clinton Library, Arkansas Arts Center, and Central High Visitors Center are all top-notch, imo. What else would you like to see? I've submitted a few ideas to the RiverFest people in years past and have some ideas for the Dept. of Arkansas Heritage as well.

Educationally-developed? We have UALR, UAMS, Bowen School of Law, Philander Smith, and Pulaski Tech -- all exceptional in one way or another. We have a higher-than-the-national-average percentage of the population with college degrees. We can definitely do better, though. How can we become more educationally-developed?

Again, I hope you share--or have shared--your ideas with the people who actually have the $$$ and the power to make positive changes.
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Old 03-09-2009, 01:44 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC (in my mind)
7,946 posts, read 16,621,442 times
Reputation: 4662
Quote:
Originally Posted by strumpeace View Post
That's good because I don't have a 'if-you-don't-like-then-leave' attitude.

I do, however, challenge those of you who don't like this-or-that about LR to come up with some constructive ideas on how to make it better, show up at Planning Commission and City Board meetings to speak, contact the Mayor's office, the Planning Dept., etc. Are you guys doing that?

You make a place better by taking action with specific ideas.
This is a good idea. Ill start with some things right here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strumpeace View Post
Pedestrian friendly? Sounds great. (My goodness, I'm an urban planner, so it better sound good to me, right?) Where would you start? Specific places?
Start by putting some sidewalks along roads, especially in the downtown area. The Riverdale area is notoriously pedestrian unfriendly and cars drive so fast through there it makes walking very dangerous. In addition, I would like to see some new urbanism or mixed use developments come online.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strumpeace View Post
Culturally vibrant? LR has come a long way in this department. The Mosaic Templars center is a one-of-a-kind. I hope you have visited there and support the project. The Clinton Library, Arkansas Arts Center, and Central High Visitors Center are all top-notch, imo. What else would you like to see? I've submitted a few ideas to the RiverFest people in years past and have some ideas for the Dept. of Arkansas Heritage as well.
Little Rock has come a long ways in this area but still has a long ways to go. None of the cultural amenities in this area are really significant enough to attract people from outside the Little Rock area except for maybe the Clinton library. In addition, many of our attractions that we do have could be much improved. The zoo is the first thing that comes to mind. There is no reason Little Rock couldn't or shouldn't have a zoo on the caliber of the OKC or Memphis zoos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strumpeace View Post
Educationally-developed? We have UALR, UAMS, Bowen School of Law, Philander Smith, and Pulaski Tech -- all exceptional in one way or another. We have a higher-than-the-national-average percentage of the population with college degrees. We can definitely do better, though. How can we become more educationally-developed?
UAMS is the only educational institution in the LR area I would really consider exceptional. UALR would be much better if it could split from the UA system and go its own direction. While it has a lot of things going for it, its still mostly a commuter school and it could be so much more.

One additional thing that NEEDS to be addressed is the sprawl, and that wont be addressed until people are no longer afraid to live in the city proper. As I've said before, people in this area commute much farther than they need to because they are afraid to live in Pulaski county for one reason or another.

I also don't see why Little Rock can't support better retail. Little Rock's retail market isn't much more diverse than Fort Smith's. Its really sad for a city its size. It has become better because it wasn't long ago that it was basically if Wal-Mart didn't have it, you had to drive to Memphis. Still there are much smaller places with much lower average income that have much better retail than Little Rock.
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Mountain Home, Arkansas
437 posts, read 886,699 times
Reputation: 132
yes i live in MH but i have been at Little Rock. People are very nice. you always find pedestrians at parks... not in the city....mostly because they have jobs...
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Old 03-09-2009, 07:59 PM
 
157 posts, read 496,265 times
Reputation: 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by strumpeace View Post
That's good because I don't have a 'if-you-don't-like-then-leave' attitude.

I do, however, challenge those of you who don't like this-or-that about LR to come up with some constructive ideas on how to make it better, show up at Planning Commission and City Board meetings to speak, contact the Mayor's office, the Planning Dept., etc. Are you guys doing that?
I'm from Hot Springs, not Little Rock, and I go to school in St Louis, so it's hard to do the things you listed.

But virtually, I have sent emails and done quite a bit as far as that goes. See Clean Air Arkansas, which I designed for a few groups and am currently upgrading. New version coming out in 2-4 weeks. It's completely unrelated to my major--just a passion of mine.

Quote:
You make a place better by taking action with specific ideas.

Pedestrian friendly? Sounds great. (My goodness, I'm an urban planner, so it better sound good to me, right?) Where would you start? Specific places?

Environmentally sustainable? I hope you realize that LR is light years ahead of many larger cities on environmental issues. I can think of several LEED certified buildings right off the top of my head. I can think of the wonderful work my friends at the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, ADEQ, and other organizations have done on Fourche Creek and other local waterbodies. What should the next project be?
Great. I know of these projects.

Portland, OR, is a good model to look to for environmental sustainability. Although we should be proud of where we stand among our peers, I think we should always compare ourselves to the best.

I think we should have more bike lanes, and I think we should even look into the possibility of closing lesser-traveled roads in downtown Little Rock solely to bike traffic, as has been done in Portland. On roads with bike lanes, we should consider physically separating bike lanes from the actualy road. Surveys have shown that these bike lanes get heavy use since it physically separate bikers from roads (w/ a concrete curb between the two).

I think we should put in place some incentivization mechanism that requires or impels some basic level of LEED certification for all new buildings (although I recognize it would be pretty difficult to pull off here compared to OR)--maybe Bronze for all new buildings.

I think there should be city wide campaigns for environmental sustainability and recycling. We need a culture of sustainability.

Quote:
Culturally vibrant? LR has come a long way in this department. The Mosaic Templars center is a one-of-a-kind. I hope you have visited there and support the project. The Clinton Library, Arkansas Arts Center, and Central High Visitors Center are all top-notch, imo. What else would you like to see? I've submitted a few ideas to the RiverFest people in years past and have some ideas for the Dept. of Arkansas Heritage as well.
I certainly know of the Mosaic Templars and its history. The Arkansas Rep, Weekend Theatre, Arkansas Symphony, etc are things to be proud of as well.

I think the Clinton Library is pretty key. It's the first LR institution with real gravitas to pull in speakers and a wide diversity of events.

I have a few ideas in this regard, but the one I'll emphasize is the development of a "nonprofit corridor." This was an idea that came up years ago, but it was never pursued with any vigilance (at least not that I know of). I think it's a really unique character that Little Rock could inherit and differentiate itself from other cities. It has a good basis: Heifer, Winrock, Lions services, etc etc. I think basic incentivization measures--economic, zoning, etc--should be put in place to CULTIVATE this uniquely Little Rockian archetype.

And I believe by cultivating a nonprofit corridor, other cultural aspects of Little Rock will develop. Nonprofits, in my experience, tend to attract that idealistic who hope to harmonize the world as it is with the way it should be. IMO, they tend to be more independent, free thinker types who push for progress. More concretely, I think Little Rock would be more connected to the world with more nonprofits and I think much of that DIY culture you find in Austin would extend to LR's music scene, restaurants, cultural centers.

Quote:
Educationally-developed? We have UALR, UAMS, Bowen School of Law, Philander Smith, and Pulaski Tech -- all exceptional in one way or another. We have a higher-than-the-national-average percentage of the population with college degrees. We can definitely do better, though. How can we become more educationally-developed?
I'm definitely impressed with UALR and Philander Smith. I love the banner across Philander Smith, "Think Justice," and I think Dr. Kimbrough is taking that U. to new heights, esp with the speaker series.

Still, I feel that UALR may be weighed down by its obligations to provide degrees to a large population that it can't truly cultivate its best students. I think it should be standalone U. and not be in the shadow of UA.

In general, I think LR simply needs a top tier university. There are obviously people in my age range on this forum who would be smart enough to attend a university like this. When students are placed with similarly bright students, and are taught by the brightest professors, it creates a high-achieving culture. This transfers to the community that hosts it. LR has a lot of smart students, sure, but if their talents are honed and refined together then it can be put to better use. My 2 cents.

Quote:
Again, I hope you share--or have shared--your ideas with the people who actually have the $$$ and the power to make positive changes.
Believe me, I've thought about this and done stuff outside of my virtual identity. I don't tend to post thoughts like this on an online forum, but you goaded me.

There's also the good possibility (as it also seems with bchris and Liveles) that I simply may never return to the state depending on circumstances, like job opportunities and where my friends move.

Anyways, I'm on spring break right now with some friends, so I'll cut my post here.
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:39 AM
 
1,703 posts, read 6,076,095 times
Reputation: 940
Excellent posts, bchris and rdicter.

I want to address one thing that both of your posts touched on: UALR.

UALR is not a great school. It is what it is: a metropolitan-type commuter school with a wide range of programs aimed at anybody and everybody.

I would not go to UALR to study biology or sociology. (My connection with UALR has always been on the graduate level, so I cannot speak to its undergraduate programs.)

However, one great aspect of UALR is its willingness to be innovative and offer unique, niche programs. No other university in Arkansas does this as well as UALR. Very few schools offer degrees in Rehabilitation of the Blind. Or Public History. Or Professional and Technical Writing. Or Taxation. UALR has a great law school; it had the highest placement rate in the nation (higher than Harvard) for several years running. UALR has joint programs with UAMS and the Clinton School. You don't find opportunities like that everywhere.

UALR could definitely stand improvement -- but it does have strengths.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Mountain Home, Arkansas
437 posts, read 886,699 times
Reputation: 132
AR is a fabulous state
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Old 03-12-2009, 04:20 PM
 
7,045 posts, read 15,870,936 times
Reputation: 3521
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fasder View Post
I would be interested in a review on Little Rock and it's metro area during the Summer rather than Winter. Arkansas isn't known for being a Winter haven other than the hunting/fishing/outdoors arena. Quite frankly, I do not believe the OP would have even considered that as part of the thread.
Wrong. I considered it. The highs ranged from the mid 50s to mid 60s with subshine the days I was there...hardly cold. There should have been more people out, even walking their dogs. The urban culture is slim to none, the restaurants (and especially) bars are unimpressive, and the shopping is sorely lacking for a city its size. On the plus side, the people are friendly, it is extremely cheap, and it does have some beautiful, well preserved historic areas, even if it is a little "sleepy." I didn't miss the beauty of Arkansas. Much like Kentucky, I think it is the state's biggest selling point.
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Old 03-12-2009, 04:42 PM
 
Location: The Rock!
2,370 posts, read 7,495,097 times
Reputation: 839
Quote:
Originally Posted by stx12499 View Post
Wrong. I considered it. The highs ranged from the mid 50s to mid 60s with subshine the days I was there...hardly cold. There should have been more people out, even walking their dogs. The urban culture is slim to none, the restaurants (and especially) bars are unimpressive, and the shopping is sorely lacking for a city its size. On the plus side, the people are friendly, it is extremely cheap, and it does have some beautiful, well preserved historic areas, even if it is a little "sleepy." I didn't miss the beauty of Arkansas. Much like Kentucky, I think it is the state's biggest selling point.
Well, I was out and about in the Rivermarket this last December shooting some photos for some new paintings. Temps were in the mid to low 40's, time was about 2-3PM, Saturday afternoon. It wasn't exactly bustling by big city standards but I was surprised that there quite a number of people out and about. I was even more surprised when I went down to the new childrens park by the Junction Bridge to find about 40 kids playing with their parents chatting and enjoying the sunshine despite cold temps.

I think you're mischaracterizing a city based upon a very short duration there. Now I will grant you that what you would consider urban culture is lacking because the notorious history of the downtown area prevented much reason for people to establish homes in that area until just recently. Really, you need to understand more about locales before you write up some of this stuff. But I expected no better. It was obvious you were fishing for something like this with your initial post.
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:11 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
8,998 posts, read 14,255,969 times
Reputation: 3544
For those of you who mentioned a lack of retail, have any of you visited the many local boutiques that are in the Hillcrest area?
Why support big box chains when you can shop at a local business that contributes more to the local and state economy?
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Old 03-16-2009, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Quapaw Quarter, Little Rock
837 posts, read 2,155,024 times
Reputation: 375
thank you. very good point. there are some fabulous local shops in Little Rock.

and really, in three days, what are you going to get but the most superficial impression of a city?
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