Friday, April 06, 2012

Carol Bellows contact information

Carol Maurey Bellows, BLA, SBA, LEED received her degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon; holds professional certificates in healthcare design, LEED, and as a sustainable building advisor. She and her writing partner were finalists (and top North Americans) in the prestigious, international Berkeley Prize architectural writing competition. She can be contacted as follows:

carol @ (please remove spaces)
503 - 317 - 1339

Thank you!

Carol Bellows, Carol Maurey, Carol Maurey Bellows, OPB, landscape design, landscape designer, landscape architect, landscape architecture, OPB, Oregon Public Broadcasting

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Chicago Childhood Memories

I don't know what finally got into me, but I felt the need to write simply about my beginnings as a child in the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago. It was really what started me researching children in cities. Why, I asked, don't people think that cities are appropriate for children? Ten years after I started my research, I'm glad to see that young families are seeing the resources and opportunities of raising children in cities.

This are simply my experiences:

When I was young in Chicago, I took the CTA—the Chicago Transit Authority--- bus to kindergarden. It was a bit scary, but I had my experienced older brother who was in third grade at the time to help me navigate. In that city neighborhood, South Shore, I had a bunch of friends: there was Wayne and Pam upstairs. Wayne wanted to be a yoyo champion, and Pam wasn’t all there, but she was my best friend. Chrissy lived down the block. He had shiny blond hair and bunk beds, and I had a crush on him. We all would ride our tricycles over the sidewalk to the Jewish girls’ school parking lot where we would ride around and then come home. The concrete sidewalks weren’t in the best shape: I remember because I tripped over a crack and shattered my glasses.

The South Shore Nursery School was a couple blocks away. I went there, as well as my siblings. John, my older brother, was the smart one and the teacher said that I wasn’t as smart as he, but I would probably be happier. Billy went there too, and I remember walking down with my mom to pick him up regularly. In the mornings though, a driver with a station wagon came to pick us up at the apartment. I remember the him coming in and calling up the stairs for me the morning I had the mumps. I didn’t feel bad, so I very cheerily told him that I wouldn’t be at school for a couple days.

Lillian Walla was the pretty single lady who lived upstairs and was very nice to me. She gave me some chipped cups and saucers once, that I treasured. She was a singer like my mom and my mom’s best friend. Then she moved away to a very nice apartment closer to the lake. Then my mom found out she was having an affair with my dad. That was the end of that friendship. Lillian died of Alzheimer’s disease and dad gave me the bedroom furniture that he had given her.

I went to O’Keefe elementary school. My mom would pick me up early sometimes to go somewhere, but I don’t remember where. I just remember she was saving me from this physical education class where we marched in a circle to a drumbeat while wearing shorts that we had to change into. Really boring. I didn’t understand what we were accomplishing. I still don’t.

The National Food Store was across the IC (Illinois Central) tracks. We used to walk there for our groceries. One special day, I was with my mom and it started pouring rain. She decided we would run for it (only a couple blocks). By the time we got home, we were cold and drenched, so we took a hot shower together.

We used to take the IC downtown for my ballet and piano lessons which were at the Fine Arts building. The seats were still cane and flipped back and forth, and the windows still opened from the top. Air conditioning was something that only movie theaters had.

From our apartment building, a six-flat, we could see the corner which had a drug store under the blockier apartments above. Mr. Rini was the pharmacist there. It was rather brown and unadorned with ceiling fans keeping it cool. I ran into Mr. Rini in a pharmacy in Champaign, IL at eighteen years old, when I was there for school. He was surprised that I would remember him, but I don’t know that he remembered me.

The old lady in the single house next door was crabby and always yelling at us to be quiet. Quiet is not a word that little kids understand.

My dad began his business in the basement of that building, and until we moved out, he had a shop there, with bottles of nuts and bolts, nails and big machinery including a lathe, drill press and band saw.

When we moved to the suburbs, it took a long time to find friends. My mom had to drive everywhere, she spent many days totally alone, and she cried a lot. My dad worked in the city which was a different world. Often, he didn’t come home until late at night.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Political Digression

Test post.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Welcome, KOPT Listeners!

My husband just surprised me by going on-air on KOPT-Eugene with Mayor Kitty Piercy to discuss downtown planning, Growing Up in Cities and the Berkeley Prize, and mentioned this url, so I thought I should at least give new visitors a little roadmap.

Sebastien's and my Berkeley Prize Essay, A Day in the City: Envisioning a Different Downtown, can be found here. Hopefully the other articles on this blog are also worth reading. Please leave comments below, or send email to cbellows -- at --

Thanks for visiting, and for your interest.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Magnet Arts/ Jefferson Middle School to be transformed in 2007

Magnet Arts Elementary and Jefferson Middle School, as they currently exist, are due to be closed after the Spring term of 2007, and opened as the Jefferson Academy for the Arts and Technology the following Fall. Read Superintendent George Russell's Draft Plan for the new school, and post your thoughts here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Global Forums focus on Children in Cities

The World Urban Forum, World Youth Forum, and UNESCO's Growing up in Cities+10 will be held in Vancouver, BC this June, 2006. In the following essay to the Berkeley Prize Travel Fellowship committee, I proposed to take a delegation of Eugene's youth and interested adults and bring that energy and international point of view back with us to be presented to the city.

Eugene, Oregon is at a tipping point: downtown is being redeveloped, and planning decisions made in the next few months will determine whether the heart-of-the-city is a vibrant, economically viable place for children and their families, or a glitzy, expensive lifestyle center for singles and empty-nesters. Community input is volatile: public meetings and community forums are packed with outspoken citizens voicing various positions, and every day our newspaper carries at least one opinionated letter to the editor regarding the downtown redevelopment,
The key players don’t hold identical views. At a recent forum, a city representative commented that our downtown should reflect our diverse citizenry, yet from the opposite end of the speakers’ table, a developer complained that most damn liberals don’t understand the financial and marketing realities that drive development. I spoke up. With copies of my Berkeley Prize essay in hand, I quoted the compelling statistics I had already analyzed: families make up more than half our households, and families with children have and spend significantly more money than the childless. I could see the cash registers ticking away behind their eyes.
I am old enough to have witnessed the devastation that occurred during the 1960s when affluent families, abandoning the great American cities, took their money and fled to the suburbs in search of affordable housing, good schools, and open space. For many cities, this created sprawling suburbs while inner cores became increasingly blighted. Oregon pioneered land use laws that contained unmitigated growth, but now those laws are being systematically dismantled by “property rights” initiatives. This new reality means that unless the urban core can be made attractive to families, Eugene will see its families – with their money – attracted to characterless subdivisions increasingly farther from downtown.
Yet sprawl is not inevitable. As transportation becomes more expensive, and time becomes more valuable, too far away becomes just too far away, and families will leapfrog back into the central city. If the built environment does not accommodate families, it will be children’s lives that are contorted. Eugene must anticipate the future and take care that children are woven into the fabric of the city. Their fate will be determined by the weaver: as professionals, are we skilled enough to weave a complex and unique fabric? Can we construct a strong warp and allow our children to weave their own colors and textures into the weft? Or will we just set our looms to automatic and hope that our children can adapt?
Previous efforts to get families to visit and shop downtown have failed; a pedestrian mall was created by closing a main street; later, a playground was installed, hoping that mothers would drive into the city and patronize local restaurants and shops. It didn’t work: the “Professionals” had assumed they knew what would attract children and families instead of consulting the users themselves.
This time we can listen. In an impromptu charrette I conducted at a local middle school, students drew plans rich with trees and parks, rivers, bridges, and tunnels. They imagined living in the city, and drew their homes close to schools, friends’ homes, their parents’ workplaces, and familiar downtown businesses. Eugene is on the verge of becoming like so many other cities where, since planners can’t conceive that children live and belong in the adult downtown world, they make no effort to provide for them. Yet children are already enjoying diverse and interesting activities downtown, and are anxious for more access to them. In short, the success or failure of Eugene’s redevelopment may hinge on whether it embraces the needs of children and families. But I cannot get that word out by myself.

I propose to bring a delegation of middle and high school youth to GUIC+10 and the World Youth Forum. I am a fifty-year-old mom: not a youth. Empowering the youth of Eugene to expect more from their community and to act on their own behalf, as well as seizing this rare opportunity for them to understand and experience youth of different cultures, is a chance of a lifetime: Vancouver, BC is a drivable distance. I have already contacted teachers, principals, and ministers to convene a group of interested, activist youth.
Having grown up in a different time and place, I must look at the activities – especially the World Youth Forum – not only through my own eyes, but also through the eyes of my entourage, respecting their agendas, and collating and editing their documentation. We will post to a blog, expressing ourselves through writing, drawing, photography and storytelling. Commentary will be encouraged by networking in Eugene with officials, educators and families. Through this process, I hope to candidly capture all the energy and creativity of our young citizens and leaders, and establish their credibility as contributors to our city’s future.
At the same time, the Forums will serve my own professional, adult needs as well. My career goals extend beyond creating a shining downtown mecca for families in Eugene. I’ve worked with children and community development professionals in the slums of India, and witnessed how empowered women can change lives in their community. Mass urbanization is happening globally and I want to work in the international community. Can cities really sustain themselves independently? What collateral damage do politics and conflict effect on cities that can’t? How does the creation of public space enhance democracy? The questions are beginning to be answered, but the solutions are overwhelming.
That reality is what brought me to the study of landscape architecture and environmental design. Policy, priorities and ethics are made tangible through how we choose to design and what we choose to build. I want to design spaces to enable better living, be it through healing gardens or urban plazas. Yet, design is one place that I still can be considered youthful and naive. Although my expectations are high, my process is still as immature as any other fourth year student’s. In the Global Studio, I look forward to working with students from other cultures who have insights different from my own, as well as professional practitioners whose experience cannot be fully expressed in an academic setting.
Finally, independent of the forums, I want to see whether Vancouver’s downtown really works for kids. A New York Times article said that even with a newly-built school downtown, there are so many school-age children that they are bussed to outlying schools. I see high-rises in the photos and wonder if the street life really is conducive to children’s participation. Do children play independently in the parks? I want to watch children leave for school and parents go off to work. I want to see who is outside at what hours, where they go, where families shop, and what restaurants they frequent. Do only wealthy people live there? Or are different economic levels represented? Who benefits?
Why, at age 50, do I still think I can change the world? Because I know people who have; I have too. We all do if we keep going, and we need to because we are sensitive to the cries and prayers we feel from around the world. We just have to keep plugging away, and when conferences such as GUIC, WYF and WUF come up, we need to attend them for inspiration and support.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Children In the City: Carol Bellows and Sebastien Rake's Berkeley Prize Submission

Final Update: We've finally received word that we placed third overall in the Berkeley Prize competition. Sebastien is now off to do postgraduate work in Africa under a grant, and I'm heading to the U.N.'s World Urban Forum and Growing Up in Cities conferences in Vancouver, B.C. We'll keep you informed!

Update, May 1, 2006:
We received notice last night that after another round of cuts, we are among the eight finalists (out of over 200 entrants) in the Berkeley Prize competition, and the only Americans among those final eight! The list of finalists can be found at the link above and include individuals or teams from Kampala, Glasgow, Karachi, Melbourne, Singapore, and cities in China and Iran. Eugene, Oregon is finding itself in interesting company! The final winners will be announced later this month.

I'd also like to note that the Washington Post has an excellent article today about what landscape architects do. Sebastien, an architecture student, and I, a landscape architecture student, study very different approaches to the same fundamental question of how humans fit into their environment. We both do much more than design buildings and gardens, and we brought complementary but distinct skills to the challenge of crafting a vision for Eugene's downtown core. --Carol
Carol Bellows, a landscape architecture student at the University of Oregon, and Sebastien Rake, an architecture student at the U of O, are participants in the international 2006 Berkeley Prize competition. After an initial essay and round of cuts, the semifinalists were asked to submit a final proposal on the topic, "Growing Up in Cities." Following is Bellows and Rake's submittal:

A Day in the City: Envisioning a Different Downtown

One Spring morning, you walk out your front door and notice that your next-door neighbor, who’s walking her Afghan, has a trendy new haircut that makes her look uncannily like her dog. Resisting the urge to pat your neighbor’s head, you scratch her dog’s ears and tell him he’s a good boy. She asks how your big report is going; rolling your eyes, you reply, “Luckily, I got an extension.” After a minute of chitchat, you continue to the corner coffeehouse.

The barista knows you well, and asks, “Your usual?” Juggling your change, a steaming cup of chai, an apple strudel and your messenger bag, you drop two quarters into the tip jar and sit at a small table. Picking up an abandoned newspaper, you skip the uninteresting headlines and flip to “Peanuts,” then to your horoscope: it’s going to be a five-star day. Terrific! Your cell phone beeps, and as you glance down to read a friend’s text message, you notice the time: yikes! You stuff the last of the strudel into your mouth, drain your chai, and rush out. As you walk briskly down the street, you notice a cute sweater in a store window but decide to wait until you’re on your way home to check it out. As you rush past a small bookstore, you notice a man – the father of a good friend – arranging books in the display window, and wave hello.

Arriving at school, you stuff your coat and bag into your locker and make it to your seat with seconds to spare. You are a twelve year old middle school student, and you live in downtown Eugene.

You love living like this. When you lived in the suburbs, you were stuck at home if your mom wasn’t available to drive. You usually arrived home before your parents did, so you locked the door and screened incoming calls on the answering machine. That wasn’t so bad; with most parents away at work, your suburban street was empty most of the time anyway.

Here in the city, however, there are always friendly people around. With interesting, safe. public places nearby, you’re able to explore your surroundings -- your city -- on your own terms, see it through your own eyes. There are lots of child-oriented things to do near your home -- parks, the Willamette River, the Shedd where you take clarinet lessons, the Magnet Arts elementary school you used to attend -- and you are increasingly comfortable in grown-up places too. People worry that children are growing up too fast, but they forget that growing up is the business of childhood, and you are learning to be an adult: how to get around, relate to others, manage your time and money.

You’ve come to feel safe downtown, because your life is interwoven with the lives of the people around you, and familiar people are in the streets even in the evening and on weekends. Eugene’s downtown has evolved into a place that embraces and protects, rather than excludes and endangers, the children who inevitably live there. For a 12-year-old you possess surprisingly sophisticated and competent life skills, and you carry a sense of self-confidence wherever you go. You love living in the heart of your city.

You were surprised to find out how much your parents love it, too. You didn’t realize it before, but your parents used to be urbanites themselves, before you and your brother were born and they fled to the supposedly “family-friendly” suburbs. When your family re-embraced city living, they were pleasantly surprised to realize that many of the things they thought they had sacrificed by becoming parents actually had nothing to do with being parents at all – it was suburban living that was the problem. The suburbs just weren’t as family-friendly as your parents expected, but since your family moved downtown, just blocks from where your parents work, the hassles of “family life” -- long commutes on crowded surface streets, the logistical nightmares that arose whenever they needed to meet with a teacher during their workday or a child became sick, the expense of maintaining two cars and a large house, the inability to move fluidly between work and home and back again as needs arose -- all those frustrations were now things of the past.

Even the downtown businesses seem to like having you live downtown, because they’ve come to realize how profitable the families in their neighborhood can be. The shopkeepers in your neighborhood used to market mainly to singles and childless couples, and would blanch when children entered their stores, but they’re learning that children and families, formerly relegated to suburban malls, actually have the real economic power in Eugene. According to, the average income of Eugene families is $74,291; over 40% of Eugene’s families earn between $50,000 and $99,999, and nearly 20% of them earn over $100,000. That’s a terrific market compared to non-family households, 55% of which earn less than $25,000 and which have an average income of only $31,593. And while retail economists used to focus on childless people’s relatively high discretionary income, they apparently forgot about families’ obligatory spending: kids outgrow their clothes and toys, which makes their parents reliable, repeat customers. In fact, children -- whom shopkeepers used to see as nuisances -- are now some of their best customers. According to Dan Casanova of the UWEX Center for Community and Economic Development, American “tweens” (children between 8 and 14) personally controlled $38 billion in spending in 2004, while their parents spent another $126 billion on them. In a city the size of Eugene, that means “tweens” like you contribute roughly $82 million every year to the economy -- money that used to flow through suburban shopping malls dominated by out-of-state chain stores but now, thanks to Eugene’s increasingly family-friendly downtown, is starting to flow to local merchants, like your neighborhood’s coffeeshop, independent bookstore and clothing boutique. Yes: the merchants in downtown Eugene are becoming very fond of kids like you, and families like yours! For your family, for the merchants and businesses and other residents in your neighborhood, for your parents’ employers and your schools, having families living in a family-friendly downtown is a very good thing.

Pipe Dream or Real Possibility?

This story may seem like merely a pleasant, unrealistic fairy tale. It’s not. It’s true, and it’s attainable.

The market -- families who are willing to at least consider living in a family-friendly downtown -- not only exists, but is larger than the market of childless people. There are 9,000 more family units in Eugene than there are singles and childless couples, even notwithstanding a large University student population, and families by definition have more people per household. That’s a significantly larger customer base for developers to market to.

Families are more interested in urban living than one might expect. Anecdotally, the authors of this proposal are a 22-year-old architecture student who grew up in Eugene, and a 51-year-old landscape architecture student who is raising two children here. From both perspectives – that of an unmarried adult who remembers what being a child here is like, and that of a married parent watching her own children grow up here – the concept of living in downtown Eugene is not only plausible, but attractive.

Real children are interested in urban living. Ten-year-old Amelia talks about the prospect of living in downtown Eugene:

“there would be so many interesting people to meet, places to go and things to see. My dream is to live near the library and the columns [a retired quarry used for rock climbing] and Pearl Street [an ice cream parlor].”

Interesting people and places; cultural resources; recreation and restaurants. Amelia and her parents want to live downtown for the exact same reasons. And Amelia’s not alone. As part of researching this proposal, one of the authors conducted a charrette in a Eugene middle school architecture class. Eighty percent of those budding architects and planners, ages 12-15, said with surprising passion that they want to live within walking or biking distance of school, friends’ home, stores -- and their parents’ workplaces. Nearly all of them wish that they could visit their parents at work, even briefly, during the day. When asked to design ideal communities, they consistently placed their parents’ workplaces near their home or school.

These children are open to the possibility that cities may be better for children’s social development than suburbs are. Suburban children can be surprisingly isolated; one of the authors has observed four children, each shooting solitary free throws at his own driveway basketball hoop, all within sight of each other -- none apparently even considering the possibility of walking down the block to play with the others. At basketball courts on urban playgrounds, on the other hand, children play together, and learn social skills in the process.

Children need an embracing and inclusive neighborhood which encourages connections with other people. Academics call it “collective efficacy.” Businesspeople call it “networking.” On the street, it’s called “watching each other’s back.” All those terms reflect a deep societal understanding that humans are social animals who need to interact with each other to be healthy. The denser populations of cities provide opportunities for children to experience that kind of interaction in a way that suburbs not only don’t, but discourage. Child psychologists theorize that kids need to be exposed to the situations they will face and roles they will play once they’re adults, instead of insulated from them. Our job, as planners and designers, should be to show children their role society by building places where they can interact with other people, talk, play, explore, experiment, and observe. Cities, not suburbs, provide such experiences.

People perceive urban areas as dangerous or unhealthy for children, but there is nothing inherently unhealthy for children about the urban environment. Urban environments that house few families and few children, unsupported by physical and social structures, can be bad places to grow up. But family-friendly, child-safe urban places do exist. The difference lies in the ways the physical environment and social structures are constructed, not in some inescapable characteristic of cities themselves.

Getting There From Here: Creating A Family-Friendly Downtown

Making downtown Eugene attractive to families with children means more than coming up with good ideas; it means seeing those ideas to fruition, altering downtown’s current physical and social structures in ways that welcome and support children and families, and encouraging “pioneer” families to move downtown in sufficient numbers to create a self-sustaining family culture. To those ends, our proposal has three prongs: (1) establishing a built environment that serves the basic needs of urban families, including family-sized residences and relocating the Eugene Magnet Arts elementary school; (2) sponsoring charrette that serve both design and marketing purposes; (3) soliciting additional input from area youth and their fellow-travelers, the elderly and disabled; and (4) establishing community organizations.

1. The Family-Friendly Built Environment: If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. But if you don’t build it, then certainly they won’t. In a radio interview in February 2006 on KOPT radio, one of Eugene’s principal downtown developers described his target market as singles and childless couples. That view forecloses any possibility of creating a family-friendly downtown. Families require larger apartments and rowhouses, and they need a different type of city plan (e.g., alternating streets of family rowhouses and businesses rather than small apartments located directly above “destination retail” shops). We propose family-friendly residences and zoning in downtown Eugene.

Second, families need schools to serve children’s educational needs and to create a community that helps keep children safe. Neighborhood elementary schools give such a center to the common concerns of parents, and provide a social and support network for parents who are moving to a new area. In short, schools are essential to the creation of cohesive communities.

Some Eugene parents currently are criticizing the practice of co-location (placing “traditional” elementary schools and “magnet” schools in the same building). The City could entice families downtown by relocating the Magnet Arts elementary school to there. Parents who have chosen to place their children in an arts-oriented school are especially likely to appreciate many of the values of urban living, and parents who currently drive their children to a non-neighborhood magnet school should be attracted by a lifestyle that promises to eliminate both the parent’s and the child’s commute.

2. Charrette: We would sponsor a series of separate charrette for children and their parents, both to generate creative new ideas for transforming downtown and to help market the feasibility and benefits of urban family living to the precise group of people we want to consider actually taking the plunge and moving there. As participants, we would target demographic groups with demonstrated interest in the downtown area who could become downtown residents, including parents who already work downtown (and their children), families who already live downtown or in nearby areas; and parents who currently drive their children to alternative schools such as Magnet Arts. Since evenings are a difficult time for many families to break away from household responsibilities, our charrette series would occur at various times and places, including (for parents) near businesses during lunch hours and other convenient times, and (for kids) in schools serving potential re-urbanites.

3. Youth, Elderly and Disabled Input: Children get around differently than adults, and have different experiences, needs, and insights. Since they experience places primarily on foot, not from automobiles, they are unparalleled knowers of the terrain, and often are able to identify inconsistencies in systems for which adults easily compensate. In surveys and colloquia, we would ask: Where can you bike safely? Why or why not? What places do you like? Which ones are scary? What are the obstacles to you going to the library, the columns, the ice cream parlor?

In this phase, we would solicit input and facilitate collaboration among children, the elderly, and the disabled, since those groups face similar difficulties with independent mobility, have similar needs, and possess political and social capital that, joined together, is much greater than those of children and families alone and could represent a juggernaut, able to effect significant change.

4. Establishing Ongoing Community Organizations: Finally, we would seek to sustain the charrette’ temporary energy by creating, and enabling charrette participants and then downtown residents to join, nonprofit advocacy organizations to lobby for implementation of charrette ideas and advocate for the interests of families in the development process, and which ultimately will become actual political entities, such as neighborhood associations and downtown park districts, that will play an ongoing political role in a family-friendly downtown.


Children and families know what they need and appreciate about city living; by asking them to share their wisdom and empowering those families, creating a family-friendly downtown is a feasible, and powerful, goal that will empower children, parents, and the community at large.