From time to time we have the opportunity to feature interviews or writings from some of our peer public life champions. You can find those features below.

July 13, 2017

Street Food Markets & Inclusion

By Ida Christensen

At their best, open-air street markets foster lively neighborhood settings in which people can mix and celebrate community life.

July 6, 2017

A Reflection on POPS

By Stella Marren

If you’re exploring Midtown Manhattan, you might notice the presence of small, mostly empty paved plazas at the base of skyscrapers. These are Privately Owned Public Spaces, or POPS. For decades, the efficacy of POPS has been a much-debated topic amongst urbanists.

June 26, 2017

What We Can (and Can’t) Learn from Copenhagen

By Martin C. Pedersen

The following text by Martin C. Pedersen was originally published by Common Edge, and has been reposted with the author’s permission. I spent four glorious days in Copenhagen recently and left with an acute case of urban envy. (I kept thinking: It’s like..an American Portland—except better.) Why can’t we do cities like this in the […]

May 10, 2017

Public Life Champions: Alex Peay

By Martin C. Pedersen

Public Life Champions is a new interview series by Gehl Institute, where we highlight leaders who are working towards a more just, inclusive public life in cities. Our first interviewee, Alex Peay, is the founder of Rising Sons and One’s Up Corps.

May 2, 2017

Open Engagement ’17

By Martin C. Pedersen

In April 2017, we attended Open Engagement: an annual, three-day conference on socially engaged art, led by artists, activists, scholars, community leaders, and others.

March 30, 2017

Lighting, Safety, and Public Life

By Martin C. Pedersen

Lighting works best when it is dignified, sensitive to local dynamics, and makes people feel welcome to spend time in public.

March 15, 2017

In Defense of Public Protest

By Martin C. Pedersen

Gehl Institute strongly condemns such efforts to limit free speech in the public realm, and calls on other organizations that do work in public space to do the same.

February 22, 2017

Contesting False Consensus: Ableism and the Public Sphere

By Martin C. Pedersen

Too often, issues facing disabled people in the public realm are obscured under a “false consensus.” But hierarchies are always built into our environment, whether we choose to recognize them or not.

December 20, 2016

Violence and Public Space: a complicated story

By Martin C. Pedersen

It isn’t easy to prove, but in many U.S. neighborhoods there are too few public spaces where people are encouraged to congregate. It’s also hard to prove that this lack of places often leads to anti-social behavior where it is least wanted. Further, this does not even broach the larger systemic inequities that underpin patterns of violence. This “lack” of public space is a void, and as such, lack of public space is difficult to measure and currently cannot be compared to injury data, or other tangible, measurable metrics.

December 14, 2016

We want to say “YES!” Really!

By Monica Holmes & Scott Curry

Do you ever wonder what it’s like for city staff when there’s an abundance of enthusiasm for new ideas from neighborhood advocates? Here is a candid take from champions among the City of Charlotte staff.