Creative Mornings PDX: Mark Lakeman

I am behind in my updates on Creative Mornings. I am always behind on blog posts, it seems. But I don't want to skip over this talk I went to a couple months ago by Mark Lakeman. It was the most inspiring Creative Mornings talk yet out of the ones I've been to. My favorite. 

 Mark Lakeman

Mark Lakeman

Mark Lakeman is the co-founder of The City Repair Project - an organization focused on reclaiming public space for the community. He talked about how modern cities are all laid out in a grid, with each person inhabiting their own little sectioned plot and not crossing over the lines. This is in stark comparison to ancient cities, where everything was laid out around the public square, a place where neighbors would congregate and interact. The grid has taken that away. 

I lived New York City for four years, the biggest grid in the US. I understand first hand how a grid like that separates people instead of bringing them together, even if its 8 million people crushed into that grid. For all the people that you're constantly squished between on the subway, sidewalks, and in tiny apartments, you probably actually talk to less than 5 percent of people you see in one day. Thats not a good feeling, and something I was trying to get away from when I left New York. 

When I first came to Portland, everyone seemed so friendly and welcoming. I became even more excited to be here after hearing Mark Lakeman talk about how this is a city focused on community. He is one of the leaders pushing away from grid-life. 

 An example of a painted intersection

An example of a painted intersection

In various neighborhoods all across the city, Mark brings people together. He has turned tons of intersections, where people normally only pass by each other, into destinations for paths to converge. He brings neighbors together to paint the street, to create a gathering place, to get to know who they are living around. He makes public spaces where there formerly weren't any. He fights against planning and zoning laws that stop neighbors from interacting.

And his biggest message - collectively, we can make life better for everyone. People should work together, not against each other. Portland is a progressive place, where humanity and community takes precedence over each individual's gain. It is a city made by and for its people, instead of faceless corporations. Thats exciting to be a part of, and I'm so happy to be here.

Makes me think a bit about utilitarianism, but hopefully this is better.

This talk is really worth watching, no matter what city you live in. Its a message that more people need to hear. If you've got an hour, definitely check it out - here.