18 Jan #TBT: Wintermission: St. Paul, MN
The curtain rises on a winter scene: Dark skies, snow falling (or rain, or hail, or wet snow), slushy sidewalks, slippery roads. People bundled up from head to toes; red noses and cheeks everywhere. People walking heads down, some probably experiencing SAD. When I pay attention to what I see out there on my way to work in these cold days, I always think that winter doesn’t have to make us grumpy and mad at mother nature.
Winter in cities can be exciting and fun. Colder months bring opportunities to enjoy your city in a different way, embracing exciting outdoor activities like tobogganing, skating, cross-country skiing, snowball fights and snow fort building.
These are the months when I also think about one of my favorite 8 80 Cities projects. With funding from the Knight Foundation, 8 80 Cities partnered with the City of Saint Paul, Friendly Streets Initiative, and the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation to conduct a series of outdoor engagements to understand how Saint Paul can become more comfortable, active, and fun for everyone during the winter. In the process, we tested out some simple winter placemaking ideas to demonstrate that there is, in fact, a latent demand for small-scale, urban “winterventions”.
We call the project Wintermission. The engagement results can be found in our Wintermission: St. Paul, MN report, including strategies and toolkits for city leaders and engaged citizens to increase the ease and appeal of walking, biking, and spending time outside throughout winter.
As we embrace winter and the winter cities concept at 8 80 Cities, we attended the Winter Cities Shake Up Conference 2017 in Edmonton to learn more about how winter influences us and how we can set different priorities and goals to make our cities more liveable and enjoyable during the coldest months of the year. You can read more in our blog post about the conference.