Panel Discussion: Promenading Public Space. (August 22, 6-7:30pm)
The panel discussion explores how citizens, architects, and city officials can create rewarding pedestrian experiences. Encounters in public space contribute to a community’s social fabric. Activated pedestrian areas improve urban life.
Until more attention is given to public promenades (such as Millennium Park’s Laurie Gardens) and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods (such as New York’s West Village, championed by Jane Jacobs), there is much to be done. There have been great strides to improve biking infrastructure in cities, and while this is important, the pedestrian experience should be the basis for city planning.
Collectively, we need to focus on creating walkable urban environments that are safe, healthy, ecologically responsive, economically responsible, and socially active.
Jon Cotner. Spontaneous Society creator, walk artist and poet.
Terry Guen. Master Landscape Architect Millennium Park, Terry Guen Design Associates.
Suzanne Carlson. Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Pedestrian Program Manager of the Chicago Pedestrian Plan.
Justin Allen. SOA Culture, the program’s organizer and moderator
Walks: Spontaneous Society. (August 24-25, 12-1:30pm and 3-4:30pm each day)
Update: All walks are now full.
-New York artist and poet Jon Cotner will lead groups of five participants on Spontaneous Society walks through the Chicago Loop neighborhood. The 90-minute piece involves a series of one-line utterances that spontaneously unite participants with people encountered along the way. These lines are ordinary, and they’re addressed to women, men, and children doing ordinary activities, such as walking dogs (“That’s a good-looking dog”), pushing baby carriages (“That looks pretty cozy”), and eating ice-cream cones (“That’s a nice way to cool off”). Spontaneous Society attunes participants to fleeting urban realities while offering them tools to build fleeting social connections, intensifying the joy of daily life.
Jon Cotner revives the ancient, endangered practices of walking and talking. His interactive walks combine dialogue, movement, and observation for the sake of worldly encounter. Cotner’s projects have been presented by the American Society of Landscape Architects, Elastic City, Harvard University, the Poetry Society of America, Poets House, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he teaches at Pratt Institute.
Following the panel discussion, Jon Cotner will lead Spontaneous Society walks on August 24 and 25. Cotner will lead two walks per day, one starting at 12 pm and the other at 3 pm. Each walk accommodates five participants. Reserve space in advance: RSVP@soaculture.com.