Gary Strang of GLS Landscape/Architecture presented a visionary concept for California Farmlink: using existing utility and transportation easements and right of ways to create highly visual farming corridors from rural areas into the city.

As the Occupy movement grows around the world, we’ve been fascinated by the clever urban solutions which are helping to organize and engage these hundreds of pop-up communities. From sustainable outdoor kitchens to a new visual language for governing, these concepts are proof that creatives are intrinsic to the community-building process. At GOOD Ideas for Cities, we’re watching this brand of “instant urbanism” closely as we work to enable great ideas for cities.

And those ideas keep coming! At the very end of September, our GOOD Design San Francisco event was held to a packed house as part of AIA SF’s month-long Architecture and the City Festival. About 200 people swarmed the well-appointed space, thanks to our gracious hosts at swissnex San Francisco, as three design teams presented their ideas for improving San Francisco problems. The team at FORA.tv produced a video of the entire program, which can be viewed in its entirety online.

Teaching Architecture and the City 2 from swissnex San Francisco on FORA.tv

The evening’s solutions ranged from the pragmatic to the fantastic. Jody Medich from Kicker Studio heeded Jay Nath’s call from the Department of Technology to communicate the value of open data to the city. Kicker came up with a way to use San Francisco’s transportation data in a more useful way, allowing people to both receive and contribute real-time updates on trains and buses. GLS Landscape/Architecture’s Gary Strang tackled the challenge proposed by Brett Melone of California Farmlink to connect urban food system enthusiasts with an aging rural farming community. His solution included several intriguing ways to build physical connections between rural farmers and urban eaters, including a beautiful idea to use existing utility easements as highly visual farming corridors. Finally, Hyphae Design’s Brent Bucknum rallied the crowd with a solution to Dan Hodapp’s challenge from the Port of San Francisco to transform Pier 27 into an asset for the city. Using the changes that are already planned for the 2013 America’s Cup, Bucknum proposed a hyper-sustainable pier that would not only clean local waters using natural technologies (like oysters!), it would create a peaceful respite for residents that helped connect them with the biological processes of the bay.

Our San Francisco event was also unique in that we devoted part of the program to following up on previous solutions which had been proposed at the last two years’ events. One of the biggest success stories came from Kuth Ranieri Architects, whose ideas to transform a flailing SFUSD middle school in Hunters Point into a sustainable community center were presented during the 2009 event. Byron Kuth took the podium to discuss how their proposal may have influenced a decision to condemn the school earlier this year. Their firm is now part of a grassroots campaign to turn the shuttered institution into a place that not only educates local children, but can serve the social needs of the neighborhood.

As this event proved, San Francisco is one of our most successful cities for the GOOD Design program and we’re interested in seeing how the program can grow from here. We’ve already been speaking with our friends at AIA SF, swissnex and the city’s Department of Technology about how we can get local creatives engaged year-round. You can see more photos from the event here.

Also this month, GOOD Ideas for Cities was excited to announce our community engagement partnership with AIGA, one of the country’s largest design organizations. At the Pivot conference in Phoenix, AIGA announced its Design for Good initiative, which hopes to support and connect the efforts of designers working for social change across the country. The values and goals of this program are exactly aligned with GOOD Ideas for Cities, and we’re looking forward to working with AIGA as we launch the next phase of the program. You can read more about the initiative and partnership over at GOOD.

If you want to know more about what we’re doing here at GOOD Ideas for Cities, we’d love to see you following us over at @IdeasforCities.

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