About 18 months ago, Placematters, the nonprofit I started and developed over the course of 14 years, merged with Radian. Both Tim Reinen and I were excited about the opportunity to combine Placematters’ planning and engagement work with Radian’s architecture and community development work. I’m proud to say that we’ve realized that vision through research, projects, and collaboration with cities and like-minded organizations.
These past two years, I have particularly enjoyed working on Radian projects involving kids with pop-up playgrounds, and facilitating pop-up streetscapes, including the “Tiny Wonderful” mobile set-up. With the Tiny Wonderful trailer completed and equipped with a range of pop-up design materials, Radian has the capacity to help communities around the state think about ways to redesign their streets, re-activate commercial areas, and create more engaging and interesting playgrounds and public spaces.
An exciting outcome of our after-school program – Imagine the Possibilities – has been the number of kids from underserved neighborhoods who have expressed interest in becoming an architect, land use planner, or professional designer when they grow up. Today less than 5% of licensed architects are minorities. In cities like Denver, where minorities make up nearly 75% of the public school population, that number is even less. It will be a decade before we get to see if our 5th graders turn this interest into professional degrees, but it is important to get kids excited early about design and how it relates to quality of life in their communities.
Finally, I would like give a shout out to my colleague Dee Dee DeVuyst for her work with the City of Denver and the incentive mechanism that is being created to encourage developers to include community-beneficial uses in new commercial development. Radian has been instrumental in building partnerships with business improvement districts and community organizations to improve the chances that developers will actually utilize this mechanism, with related benefits for Denver communities. Radian has hired a planner to help with this initiative, as well as other planning projects, and we’ll be introducing him in the coming weeks.
For a variety of personal and professional reasons, I’m ready to explore new opportunities and adventures and will be leaving Radian in mid-December. While I’m excited about this new chapter, I also remain excited about Radian’s future, and look forward to supporting their work wherever possible.