Our recent blog about our five favorite walkable, shopping streets to hit up for Small Business Saturday was so successful, we thought we’d follow it up with our top last-minute gift ideas for the urban planner or data geek in your life! Each awesome State of Placer has revealed their top three picks for the holiday season, guaranteed to arrive in time for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day (Los Reyes Magos), Festivus or whatever other holiday you're celebrating this season. Check them out below!
Sidenote: if you're interested in giving the "gift" of better places to people in your city, we'd love to help you! We help cities make the case for great places by quantifying what it is that people love about cities (like walkability) and why it makes economic sense to make them better - not to mention by helping you identify the kinds of projects that will fit your budget, increase quality of life, and boost economic competitiveness! Preview our platform, send us a note, or book a time to chat!
Games for Urbanists and their Kids!
Creator's Description: Cards Against Urbanity is what happens when you drink at urban planning conferences. It also made us rethink the tools we as professionals use for engagement - and in 2016 we plan to completely reshape how people connect with the cities, towns and neighborhoods where they live. Similar to Cards Against Humanity*, the game decks have question and answer cards. Players take turns judging a question round; he or she picks a card with a question about cities and neighborhoods. Players then try to appeal to the judge by throwing down answer cards from their hand.
Founder/CEO Mariela's Recommendation: Ok, so we've had a lofty goal to play this game virtually with our team for over a year and have yet to do so...BUT, I LOVE the original version, Cards Against Humanity, and have seen the hilarious, equally irreverent, planning-themed cards the brilliant creators have come up with , and I'm determined to play it - even if I have to convince (trick) my fiance and his Food & Beverage friends to play with me (even if I have to cook and make cocktails to get them to indulge my urbanerdness)! In my defense, the "multi-modal" martini card does bring our worlds together!
Cost: Free and up
Make your own here
More info here: https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/cards-urbanity
COO Michelle's Recommendation: For urban planner parents looking to share their love of planning and developing towns from a bird’s eye view, legos are a wonderful way to experience planning with kids of all ages! You can even select "cities" to narrow down the products you and the kids (or adult kids) in your family would enjoy! And, to experience amazing places around the world in small scale, Architecture LEGO is a brilliant way to build and learn about architecture from around the world. Finally, if you are a LEGO enthusiast and you've already got titles like AICP and LEED AP after your name, you might want to consider becoming a LEGO Certified Professional!
Creator's Description: We’re two moms (and best friends) who have a shared vision: inspiring children to learn about the world. That’s why, in 2009, we launched Little Passports. Growing up, we were both exposed to different cultures, whether it was moving between the US and England, or growing up in a Chinese-American household. Those personal experiences taught us how important it is for children to learn about geography and the world around us. Now that we have children, it's important to us to provide those opportunities to learn while inspiring the imagination. At Little Passports, our subscriptions create those opportunities, and certainly spark the imagination! Our products deliver discovery and adventure to children of all ages, and we’ve also built a wonderful community of parents, grandparents and educators that share our vision. All together, we have built a business that we are incredibly proud of.
Founder/CEO Mariela's Recommendation: I discovered this super cool gift idea a few years ago, a bit before my niece and goddaughter were quite ready for it. But I am SO getting this for both of them this year. They always want to explore Google Maps and Earth with me - and "see" China - much to my urban geek heart's delight! Now they'll be able to learn about many other great cities and hopefully catch my wanderlust (and love of cities) while they're at it!
Cost: From $11.95/mo (Order by today - 12/20 - to get it in time for Christmas!)
FRESH Urban READS for 2017
Publisher's Description: From the acclaimed landscape designer, historian, and author of American Eden, a lively, unique, and accessible cultural history of modern cities—from suburbs, downtown districts, and exurban sprawl, to shopping malls and “sustainable” developments—that allows us to view them through the planning, design, architects, and movements that inspired, created, and shaped them.
Customer Development & Research Manager, Semrin's recommendation: As a (self-proclaimed) history nerd, I relish the opportunity to learn about how things came to be the way they are. This is an interesting look into some key ideas that shaped the modern cities we know and love!
Publisher's Description: The Human City ponders the purpose of the city and investigates the factors that drive most urban development today. Armed with his own astute research, a deep-seated knowledge of urban history, and a sound grasp of economic, political, and social trends, Kotkin pokes holes in what he calls the “retro-urbanist” ideology and offers a thought-provoking case for dispersion centered on human values.
Customer Development & Research Manager Semrin's Recommendation: The sociologist in me geeks out when economics, politics, and social trends collide. I find it fascinating to understand the human side of urbanism and what drives urban development.
Publisher's Description: "The average restless American will move 11.7 times in a lifetime. For Melody Warnick, it was move #6, from Austin, Texas, to Blacksburg, Virginia, that threatened to unhinge her. In the lonely aftermath of unpacking, she wondered: Aren’t we supposed to put down roots at some point? How does the place we live become the place we want to stay? This time, she had an epiphany. Rather than hold her breath and hope this new town would be her family’s perfect fit, she would figure out how to fall in love with it—no matter what."
Marketing Manager Anna's Recommendation: So if according to the author, most Americans will move nearly a dozen times in a lifetime, I'm over halfway there! I've already moved six times to three different countries. For my inner urbanist, moving to a new place is very exciting, but it also breaks my heart to leave family or friends whenever I move. This book helps you love each move you make, and guides you toward finding inner peace in a new location!
Reviewer's Description: “This book will have a lasting influence on the future quality of public open spaces. By helping us better understand the larger public life of cities, Life between Buildings can only move us toward more lively and healthy public places. Buy this book, find a comfortable place to sit in a public park or plaza, begin reading, look around. You will be surprised at how you will start to see (and design) the world differently.”
Founder/CEO Mariela's Recommendation: If you want to know where I got my fascination with understanding the relationship between the built environment and our behavior, you have three sources to blame for my urban-data geekdom: 1) Miami's lack of place (you've heard me bemoan this a lot on the blog); 2) William Whyte's Social Life of Small Urban Spaces; and 3) this book!! Not only does this perfectly describe the happy medium us urban designers live in - more contextual (outside the building) than the architect and more micro (at the street level) than the planner - it's a superb look at why urban design matters and why its impact on our experiences must be studied, measured, and understood (and yes, through data!). A MUST read!
Cost: From $23.99
Bonus: See William Whyte's classic film free here
Customer Development & Research Manager, Semrin's Recommendation: Who says print is dead? In a world where some of our most pressing issues are condensed into 140 characters or less, let’s try to bring back and support publications exploring topics (in depth) that impact our daily lives. Get the politically aware urbanist in your life a subscription to one (ore more) of these top publications (who, yes, also happen to report on some very interesting stories related to urban development). Some of our favorites include: Monocle, New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Economist, National Geographic, and Smithsonian Magazine.
In addition, please make sure you are subscribed to your local newspaper and support journalism in your state! And while you're at it, if you're not already subscribed to our newsletter, you can do so here!
Cost: 99¢ and up! Great packages available.
Amazing Treats for Urban Geeks!
Marketing Manager Anna's Recommendation: This fabulous adult coloring book is designed for true urbanists. Check out the amazing architecture and planning of cities around the world: Rio, Istanbul, Paris. Imagine these locations in a new color of your choice and reduce your stress levels while coloring a new city or building! Don't forget to get a set of coloring pens and pencils to draw on the crisp white paper!
COO Michelle's Recommendation: For the planners who embrace sustainability, environmental protection and conservation, the Planet Earth documentaries are the perfect gift to experience our planet on the screen, where you watch your favorite movies and shows. It's a glimpse into often unseen places in nature presenting incredible biodiversity and beautiful natural environments. It's also a reminder of the fragility of our planet and why planners and environmentalists play an important role in society.
Cost: Together, $86.98
COO Michelle's Recommendation: Looking for a memorable experience to ring in the new year in a fabulous, diverse, walkable city? London is the place to be! Ring in 2017 on foot while watching spectacular world-class fireworks from historic vantage points around Central London. Although the official vantage points on the Thames River are already sold out, you can still find “worst kept secret” places to view the fireworks for free and walk around the city among celebratory crowds. Transport for London offers free travel on their network (Tube, London Overground, buses, the DLR, TfL Rail and Trams) from 11:45 pm to 4:30 am, which means you can enjoy festive libations without worrying about having to drive at the end of the night! Even if you can’t find a perfect place to view the fireworks, you can book dinner reservations at a great restaurant and walk the streets of London with happy crowds. British Airways has last minute deals and you can always search Kayak.com or other similar websites for package deals. Happy New Year!
Cost: From about $689+
Buy/Info at variety of websites below:
If none of these quite strike your (urban) fancy and/or if you would like to contribute to a worthwhile, now-needed-more-than-ever urban-focused NGO, please do check out our running list of awesome orgs here!
Hope you enjoyed our picks! We’d love to know your top choices as well. Please post in the comments!