connect four

Lovely case of what can happen when a neighborhood makes a conscious decision to support local businesses. A few highlights from the piece:

  • Why it happened: Kendall Square hasn’t gone from cultural wasteland to hotspot because it managed to fill empty storefronts with any business. It is humming because neighborhood leaders paid attention to who was filling those empty storefronts.
  • How they made it work: Kendall Square landlords have been able to favor local businesses over boring chains because they’ve reset how they look at their own real-estate values. By charging less for ground-floor retail space, they’ve created destinations that help drive demand, and revenues, on the floors above.
  • Guess what: Nineteen independent restaurants have opened in Kendall Square over the past three years; not one has failed.

The last word: “Neighborhoods thrive by standing out, offering customers something different, and creating a strong sense of place.”


a coffee shop where community is literally built into the business model: membership is $25/month and includes a daily drink as well as special event invitations and discounts

Mid-century technologies — air conditioning, the private automobile, television — all conspired to drive us out of the city, out of public space, and into our own private worlds. Now we’re bringing our worlds back out into the city with us.
nyc census of places that matter

Is it just me or am I getting a little obsessed with the idea of place? I’m about two posts away from needing to rework this tumblr…

Place Matters publishes the Census of Places that Matter to promote the many places that have been discovered through the survey. We also conduct further research on many of the nominated places to enrich the information provided. We aim to provide New Yorkers with a unique repository of information on places that tell our history and anchor our traditions. When a place is threatened; when an artist, activist, architect or scholar needs information; when a student wants to research the roller rink where her parents and most of Brooklyn went to skate; when a developer wants to make an informed decision-the Census will be there for them.

Place Matters


I must admit, map-it-yourself doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily as do-it-yourself, but whatevs. It’s the premise of TenderMaps, a project that invites people working, living or visiting San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood to share their favorite places and paths within the area.

I wonder if these dudes would help me create one for NE Minneapolis!?!

via [PSFK] via [FlowingData]

upcoming moma exhibit explores communication between people & objects

MoMA curators are busy preparing for an exhibit opening next summer called Talk To Me, which they describe in the following way:

Talk to Me is an exhibition on the communication between people and objects that will open at The Museum of Modern Art on July 24th 2011. It will feature a wide range of objects from all over the world, from interfaces and products to diagrams, visualizations, perhaps even vehicles and furniture, by bona-fide designers, students, scientists, all designed in the past few years or currently under development.

The cool thing is, you don’t have to wait 429 days to see what this is all about. The hodge podge of projects they’re considering are listed on the website, as are links to readings that can help you geek out even further. I’ve already stumbled into some pretty wonky stuff… like blogjects (objects that blog, a wtf from 2005), a self-portrait machine, and an anthropological video that personifies objects on city streets (below). You’re welcome.

conflict kitchen uses food to soften perceptions of “enemy” countries [via saveur]

Food has long been known to be a social lubricant (err, wait, is that booze?) as well as a means to cultural understanding. Yet Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen is blowing out those benefits in a way that feels remarkably fresh. The goal? Encourage people to think about the non-political side of countries that America has hostile relationships with. They’re starting with Iran (countries will rotate every four months) and are serving the kubideh wrap you see below. This concept = delicious in many, many ways.

saveur coverage


I can just about guarantee you will relate to these posts. unless you have never interacted with another human.

going online to get off[line]

I highly doubt you need another cutesy phrase to put in your back pocket, but whatever. Trendwatching has coined the phrase “mass mingling” to describe how online platforms are facilitating physical interaction. Read through the examples and you’ll find that some are designed to help you meet up with your existing friends (e.g. Google Latitude), while others focus on introducing you to like-minded strangers  (e.g. StreetSpark). I’m a little creeped out by both.

[via trendwatching]