Aminah Ricks

Aminah Ricks

Founder & Creative Director
Cycling Creates Currency

Urban cycling supports sustainable cities and ensures the health of its city-zens.  Yet at times it comes up in controversial conversations as well, such as cycling vs car lanes, helmet regulations, you get the idea.

Our friends at Momentum Mag propose yet another benefit of urban cycling to consider that is purely about dollars and cents.  They suggest a positive correlation between the presence of city cyclists and upticks in the economies of local shops.

An example is an art gallery owner in Memphis, Pat Brown, who pinned her hopes on “community members who were determined to transform Broad Avenue from a fast-moving thoroughfare, where traffic whizzed past boarded-up storefronts at 50 mph (80 km/h), into a bustling arts district”.

The local nonprofit group Livable Memphis, together with the Broad Avenue Arts District, put in a temporary cycling lane that ran down the street in front of her gallery.  After the protected bike lane opened, a local art walk that typically drew only 1,000 people attracted 15,000.  How’s that for thriving, not just surviving in these tough economic times.

And this trend is worldwide. Momentum reports “Researchers in Muenster, Germany suggest that because bicyclists buy smaller quantities and thus shop more frequently, they’re exposed more often to temptation – more likely to get extra items that aren’t on the shopping list. So it’s not surprising that a survey of 1,200 consumers in Bern, Switzerland, found that businesses made more profit per square meter of bike parking ($9,900 per year) than car parking ($8,800).”

Cycling with its slower travel patterns through commercial areas, economically benefits local businesses.  Sometimes, two wheels are better than four!


Photo Credit: Momentum Mag

Using Our Feet for Transport – Walk Your City

Walk [Your City] wants to encourage all city residents to get to know their city via their feet, therefore making cities more accessible and affordable for everyone.

“Want to get more feet on the street? Here are the tools you’ll need to plan, create, and install an effective Walk [Your City] campaign, tailored to your goals and community context.” Here’s a page on how to get started

Photo Credit: Emerson-Alecrim in San Paolo, Brazil

Street Art Beautifies Construction Site

The city is ever changing. Established builds comes up against new construction in a continuing cycle of growth and improvement.

Sometimes this creates conflict. Other times it ignites inspiration.

In Pacific Park Brooklyn, a new neighborhood with many pending mix-use buildings underway, 10 Murals went up in 1 day (lead by artist Mike Perry). Setting up artistic eye candy to camouflage a huge construction eyesore.

Would you rather look at a cranes and dump trucks or art? We agree!

Photography Credit: Fabio Cuzzi

Building with Legos, Building the City

Above the din and noise of New York City
Monotone white Legos
Provide fodder and fun
Inspiring the art of building

All takes place
Beneath the scaffolding of construction workers
Their drills and machines
Raise the level of life
And living

Building community
Is not easy but possible
Using one Lego or brick at a time

photo 2

All Aboard the Mollie Bus!

You are in the mood to grocery shop. . . but not in the mood to figure out if you should drive, bike or take public transportation?

In San Francisco, there is an initiative that takes this question, out of the equation.

Mollie Stone’s chain of grocery stores has launched the Mollie Bus, a free service that takes you home from the grocery store, to your front door.

On their website, this is how they describe this alternative transport:

Here’s how it works:

  1. You catch it in front of the store.
  2. Your receipt is your bus ticket.  Just get on with your bag, and you’re on your way.
  3. It takes you to your doorstep.  Just tell the driver where you live.
  4. Please remember, it’s not a taxi.  It takes you home, but it won’t pick you up.

We think this is an idea worth replicating.


Photography Credit: Aminah Ricks

“Please Touch the Art”

The best way to experience a city is with all our senses.  It we are lucky, we continually have chances to see dynamic places or spaces within the urban landscape.  Too often we can only enjoy these aspects visually.

Jeppe Hein wants to change that in his open-air exhibit titled Please Touch the Art, presented as part of the Public Art Fund at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Program.

A review of this exhibit in Gothamist states:

“Likely to be the most heavily “touched” piece is “Appearing Rooms,” set on a platform right at the entrance to Pier 1 and, basically, acting as a water attraction, with impressively powerful jets building and collapsing walls to make four separate chambers over and over again. Time it right and you can enter the work without getting (too) wet. Time it wrong, as most of the dozens of kids were deliberately doing, and you’re sopping.”

Literally, you can see, touch, taste, smell and hear this exhibit.  Ready for summer everyone?!

Discover more here from the Public Art Fund.

Photography Credit: James Ewing

MORPHOCODE Shows Us NYC In A New Light

Urban Layers is a very cool tool, which helps us understand not only the density, but also the history of the creation of Manhattan’s urban fabric.  It is a flexible, multi-dimensional interactive map created by the architectural firm Morphocode.  It helps anyone with a bit of curiosity explore the dense and complex structure of New York City.

“The map lets you navigate through historical fragments of the borough that have been preserved and are currently embedded in its densely built environment. The rigid archipelago of building blocks has been mapped as a succession of structural episodes starting from 1765.” -Morphocode

Start exploring now.

Image credits: Morphocode
MORPHOCODE graph-overview




Crossing Borders: Oakland and San Francisco

SPUR, Ideas and Actions for a Better City

San Francisco 6:00 p.m. | Monday, May 4, 2015

Though physically separated by the San Francisco Bay, Oakland and San Francisco are inextricably linked through their economies, housing markets and the hundreds of thousands of people who cross the bay each day. Come hear both cities’ planning directors in a conversation on some of the topics that link (or divide) them.

+ Rachel Flynn / Oakland Department of Planning and Building
John Rahaim / San Francisco Planning Department

Can’t make it in person? Check out the Live@SPUR webcast of this event.

SPUR Urban Center

654 Mission Street

94105-4015 San Francisco, CA

Walking New York City – Urban Art at its Best

The French artist JR describes this Manhattan based project:

“Last month the New York Times Magazine reached out to me to think about a project together… I told them I have been working for a year on Immigration and I would love to continue what I started on Ellis Island in the city.  So, we started looking for people who arrived less than a year ago.  We chose 15 coming from all over the world. I photographed them walking in the city … all of them completely unknown… living in the shadows of the city and learning English slowly.  We pasted Elmar, 20 years old who came from Azerbaijan, on the floor of Flat Iron Plaza in New York City.  The image was 150 feet high.  People walked on him all day and no one really noticed him… Today he is on the cover of the NYtimes magazine… while everyone else is in the shadow.”

Read more at the NYTimes.


A Seedling Grows in Pittsburgh

A Seedling Grows in Pittsburgh

Reclaiming abandoned homes that leave behind empty lots, for the creation of fresh veggies and fruits is a growing trend in urban centers nationwide.  Further, this trend is comprised of hopeful urban farmers, who want to revitalize their communities.

This is the story of Mindy Schwartz.  She lives in Wilkinsburg, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh and she works hard to product amazing seedling plants and serve her community.

How did her story begin?  In 1994, she moved into a 3-unit apartment house and built raised gardens to grow produce.  She was so successful that she grew more than she could ever eat.  At first, she gave them away to friends, and then she began charging for them, finally she began selling to local restaurants.  “Next thing you know, I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seedlings,” she said.

Mindy turned her passion into a business, paving the way for the once abandoned to become fully alive.

Read more from our friends at the Post-Gazette.


Elevating City Life