Virtually every town and city in the U.S. is designed with cars in mind, but what if you could build a car-free community where everything you need is within walking or biking distance? Erin Boyd knows how to do it, and she’ll share her ideas and expertise about building healthier, happier communities in the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass.
The online masterclass, titled “Placemaking as a Tool for Community + Network Building,” is free and open to the public. It takes place from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. (ET), on Thursday, Nov. 5. Click here to register for the class.
Boyd will lead class participants in a discussion of how to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces to serve as the heart of a community. She will also explore the role of physical, cultural and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.
Faculty members and students from two universities will also participate in this Ignite Masterclass. They include Dr. Elena Kennedy of Sullivan Foundation partner school Elon University and her Introduction to Creativity and Doer/Maker Mindset class, as well as Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois and her Illinois Impact Incubator students.
Boyd heads up business operations for Culdesac, a Tempe, Arizona, company that builds car-free neighborhoods from scratch. Boyd also cofounded Ashoka U, a global network for social entrepreneurship in higher education. Prior to joining Culdescac, she was head of partnerships for ChangeX, a platform that supports impact projects to build healthier communities.
Culdesac’s first project, Culdesac Tempe, is scheduled to launch next year. It’s a car-free rental apartment community described as a “five-minute city.” Culdesac Tempe will house 1,000 people in competitively priced apartment buildings that are mostly one-bedroom units. Plans call for restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks and even co-working spaces, all within a five-minute walk for residents.
Culdesac Tempe isn’t technically the first car-free community in U.S. history—cities, towns and neighborhoods built prior to the invention of the automobile were obviously car-free. But since the days of Henry Ford, the car has essentially dictated urban design. And while the automobile helped transform the U.S. into an economic powerhouse and made it easier for Americans to travel far and wide across a large, sprawling country, it has some downsides—traffic snarls, air and noise pollution, and large chunks of real estate dedicated to parking. As Fast Company notes, 40 percent of the land area in Seattle is used for parking, while New York City’s on-street parking spots alone take up the equivalent of a dozen Central Parks.
In her Ignite Masterclass session, Boyd will talk about Culdesac’s innovative approach to car-free urban design. Instead of a landscape constructed for the movement and storage of hulking Chevy Suburbans and Ford F-150 pickup trucks, Culdesac aims to develop a community for the enjoyment of people. That means vibrant courtyards, wide, tree-lined walkways, active plazas and parks, as well as businesses that meet most of the residents’ everyday needs.
At the same time, the neighborhood will be accessible for emergency vehicles and delivery vehicles as well as designated pickup and drop-off locations for ride-shares. It will offer ample parking for visitors as well.
But the goal of Culdesac Tempe is to reinvent public spaces that are peaceful, quiet and laidback, minus all the traffic noise, pollution and hustle and bustle that make city life so stressful.