Instead of sensationalizing blight, one new film will sensationalize hope. “Lemonade: Detroit” is about the disarming resilience of a city that is searching for an identity beyond a single industry, as told through the intensely personal stories of people who are actively reinventing the Motor City. There have been far too many films about what’s wrong in Detroit. Far too many journalistic opinions claiming to offer hope that in reality glorify ruin. “Lemonade: Detroit” will make hope, optimism, and positivity as intriguing to watch as a train wreck. Every character in “Lemonade: Detroit” is beating heavy odds placed on them by a world that expects failure. Documenting the struggle isn’t the point. Overcoming it is. These are the stories that must be told.
Last month Gary Toth spoke at the Complete Streets Forum in Toronto about the symbiotic relationship between the Complete Streets and Placemaking movements. Early on in the talk, posted above in full, Gary points out that a complete street makes travel “safe, comfortable, and convenient” for all modes–but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it overtly provides for each one in its own area. Complete streets can often include flexible or mixed-mode areas (Salt Lake City’s green lanes are a great example), but the focus should be on creating a street that is welcoming to everyone, no matter the mode of travel.
Watch an animation that shows how to turn a conventional community into an edible city. Learn how to transform unproductive spaces into agricultural landscapes that help fight obesity and reduce food deserts.
With sky-high unemployment, Richmond, California, is not a place where traditional business models alone can dent poverty. The city has turned to co-ops in hopes that people who might be unemployable in the traditional economy gain access to both jobs and control over their own labor.
Portugal is the latest country to create a development based entirely on the ideas of city 2.0. Will these new cities--purposefully designed to avoid the urban planning mistakes of the past--be the model for the future?
Not every great film is available for instant viewing on Netflix, but many very good ones are. Here are 11 new and new-ish documentaries now streaming that offer interesting, frustrating and downright sad stories about cities.
• A rich history of the life and legacy of the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louis.
• Documentary follows the two lead investigators behind studies showing that the flooding in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans were caused by human errors in infrastructure design.
• A film about octogenarian and New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who rides his bike around New York City taking pictures of clothes and the people – both ordinary and extraordinary – who wear them. A unique look at the changing fashions of one of the world's centers of culture.
• Focusing on a single parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the course of two years, this film explores the lives of the attendants working there. This documentary adds depth to what might otherwise be overlooked as an uninteresting element of the urban environment.
• A look at the lives of the Brazilian garbage pickers who collect recyclables and other valuable materials from the recently closed Jardim Gramacho landfill in Rio de Janeiro. Artist Vik Muniz collaborates with the garbage pickers to create massive portraits constructed out of refuse from the dump.
• The tale of the impressive collection of post-impressionist paintings owned by Dr. Albert Barnes, and how, despite explicit instructions in his will against it, the collection was eventually moved from its semi-private suburban location into a brand new museum (recently opened) in downtown Philadelphia.
• The story of a 14-acre urban farm in South Central Los Angeles, the low-income families who farmed it for 12 years, and the struggle they faced when real estate developers decide to redevelop the land.
• Including footage shot by the subjects of the film during the flooding after Hurricane Katrina, this documentary looks at one family's experiences in post-disaster New Orleans. Touching on the political and bureaucratic controversies at the time, the film portrays the complexity of dealing with the situation through the eyes of those most affected by it.
• In this unconventional and entertaining film, director Guy Maddin explores the culture of his hometown. It's partially a history of the city but more of an analysis of his own experience growing up and living in Winnipeg. Maddin even sublet his childhood home for a month, and with actors to portray his family, dramatized parts of his early life in the city.
• An amusing and sometimes depressing look at the suburbs – from the cul-de-sac to the big box shopping center to the French-named subdivision. Familiar critiques aside, this film also explores the reality of why so many people choose to live there.
• A look at the lives and environment of the homeless people who live in abandoned New York City railroad tunnels.