Thursday, January 16, 2014

20+ Years of Urban Design in Maine 1

I've been working on solving Portland and Maine's urban design problems for over 20 years. My first urban design proposal was an article addressing how to build on Portland's existing at the time great urban fabric to create economic success during the 1992 recession. Since then I've outlined numerous urban design solutions for Maine and Portland in particular. Here is a link to the Pecha Kucha presentation I did last winter quickly summarizing my work in this area: 20 Years of Urban Design in Maine by Michael Belleau

The slide above represents the locations of the generations of my family. My great grandfather took big city tourists out hunting as a guide. My great grandparents raised my grandmother in Dover-Foxcroft, a small town, where they had a cow in their yard. My father went up to work during Med School summer and apparently got jaundice drinking the cows milk, a condition expertly diagnosed by his professor that fall.

My father grew up in Sanford, a small town from where he, at age 12, got dropped off on his own at the closest train station and went to Boston for the day. There, wandering the Commons, a group of kids playing baseball commandeered him to be umpire and then, when inevitably the calls did go someone's way, they yelled at him, sending him scurrying off. His dad, a manager at Stop and Shop, had a camp built on a lake nearby where where we kids went every summer.

I grew up first in the Boston/Cambridge/Lincoln PBS-ish world in Massachusetts before moving to Orono, a small town with a University. Many of my friends parents were professors and there was always an air of intellectualism about amidst the intense practicality of a rural environment. This combination of thinking while shoveling snow colored my future urban design outlook.

And now my kids are growing up in Portland on the "gold coast" as some of us Mainers like to snicker. They do, however, go to Bangor for winter vacations to hang out with my mother, their "Oma", and down to Shapleigh for summer vacations at camp and thus enjoy a similar geographical comprehension of the state.

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