Saturday, September 16, 2023

Canals of Saint Minneapolis revisited


Once upon a time here, in a Winter shortly before a trip with my dear wife to Venice, Italy, I made a little tour video of Venice. But the subject of this short film was the Venice hidden in Saint Minneapolis. 

I leave you this link here if you would like the full shaky-cam experience:

Of course the joke is, if you haven't watched it, and if you have, that while I am extolling the beauties of Venice, what we are really seeing is the fairly grim streetscapes of Saint Minneapolis in the ugliest time of year.

I think about Venice a lot. I have even articulated in this space my half-joking vision to solve the much touted problems of Venice (overrun with tourists, no longer a viable city with a local culture beyond pure tourism, sinking), by leaning in and turning it into a kind of Disneyland. And this attention I pay is because as a person profoundly interested in New Urbanism, or what the ideal city built for humans would look like, or perhaps most importantly, where my little family would ultimately like to live, Venice does offer something that no other notable city that I know of does. 

And it's not canals!

Well, it is canals a little bit. 

But what it really, really is, is a wholly car-free environment. 

Not a pedestrianized zone, not a "cars are guests" improvement, not a separate, quality, bike route system, not great transit, but simply and absolutely no cars. This alone to me puts Venice in every discussion I hear, or more rarely take part in, about how cities should be, even when, too often, it is not specifically spoken.

I'm not sure I can credit wonderful YouTube channels and Podcasts and books like Not Just Bikes, RM Transit, Strong Towns, and War on Cars with opening my eyes exactly. But they did help clarify what I already knew and felt. I don't like cars. I don't like living in a world where they are a necessity. And I don't think they should exist except in very unique and tailored, non private, special use scenarios. I find these videos and podcasts kind of shy away from the final extremities of such a view. Success takes the edge off of the strongest views, I suppose, maybe. But nevertheless that's what I want, and that's the world I am looking for, and it is also what I believe in; a world without cars.

I'm not sure I can do much about any of that. But it's all there. And I dream of something better. And when I walk around my neighborhood, longing, or planning our next move, I can almost taste the dream.

And so here are a few pictures today of my Saint Minneapolis. All this I've discussed above wasn't so specifically in my mind when I made these pictures. It is more what the pictures themselves made me think of. 

I improved the neighborhood as I could, but there are simpler ways than water. Nevertheless, as I said, Venice is always on my mind:

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