It is International Women’s Day so we are inspired to discuss what a feminist neighbourhood would look like. Historically, urban development decisions have been made by men, often in ways that we are not aware of (see here).
At Neighbourlytics we like to think outside the box. This post is a small selection of ideas that relate what a hypothetical neighbourhoods would look like - one that is inclusive, and reflects my intersectional feminist values (if you are wondering what is intersectionality? - here is a great video). These ideas are proposed in a utopian sense. Some are aimed as fun mind-expanding proposals. They are here to begin, or continue, the dialogue around better neighbourhoods for all people.
My neighbourhood would have …
- 24 hour public, clean and accessible toilets - both in commercial as well as residential areas. These toilets would be unisex, and contain grab bars, free menstrual products + condoms, needle disposals and baby changing stations.
- Parks, medians and sidewalks (when possible) with fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
- Free childcare with early drop-off and late pick-up.
- Walk-with-me drones - which you can ask to walk with you when you are not feeling safe. These drones can provide direction, lighting, and warning of things in your surrounding which might frighten you. They can contact emergency services if they believe you are in danger and provide light calming music if you so desire. These drones can do this in many different languages and can project text on the ground if you need the information written down.
- Sidewalks designed with ramps and tactile indicators. These sidewalks are wide, even wider if they are partially yielded to a restaurant. They light up dimly to help you navigate or to engage you in a game.
- Places of Indigenous cultural importance recognised and respected, where development would not be allowed.
- Water fountains, places to sit and shaded areas.
- Intelligent crossing lights that adjust timing based on the number and age of pedestrians around.
- Restaurants and shops with a wide range of different pricing all together in the same area, eliminating the hotspots of expensive shops that only the 0.1% can afford.
- Art from a diverse range of artists - all over!
- Educational installations which teach you about the place, the history, or simply provide a small and interactive challenge.
- Public spaces which contain areas for meditation or prayer.
- A central message board (with an online platform) where neighbours can interact. This board is practical - has information about what is happening, what’s around, and where to seek help if you need it; but, it is also for engagement it has space for people to connect. For example, when someone wants to open their house for dinner, make introductions to new neighbours, help others, or seek help from others, …
- Free public transport which is accessible and safe. There are robots taking public transport who enforce the code of conduct and who can, when in danger, encapsulate you in a safety bubble until someone arrives.
- Workout classes - like zumba, aerobics, dance, taekwondo, etc, free in the parks or plazas in the morning and at night time.
- Flora and fauna holograms on demand -- these appear when you ask for more information or when you are hurting the environment. These holograms allow us to learn about the flora and fauna but also teach us how to coexist.
- Pants-on-demand vending machines - useful for when you are wearing a skirt/dress but want to play/sit at the park, for people who have had an accident, for people who just want a clean pair of pants.
- Neighbourhood meal - once a month a large potluck for anyone to partake in.
This year’s IWD theme is #BalanceForBetter - so I leave you this thought experiment: what is something that the neighbourhood above could have to make it more inclusive? I ask that you think beyond what you believe > can> be done and that you push your mind to consider what you would want done — you never know, someone out there might read it and think "I know how we could make that happen!" .
Here are some women you should know!
Here are some of the articles that have informed or inspired this post.
On growing vegetables in the city: how this could/is happen in a city, and some of the issues around why we don't already do this.
On childcare: The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb - amongst a whole lot of other interesting ideas- it explores how access to childcare affects women who work more than men who work and how childcare is still an issue for working women.
On allowing and respecting idigenous voices in urban development: a discusion on the book "Planning for Coexistence? Recognizing Indigenous Rights Through Land-use Planning in Canada and Australia".
On free workout classes: in Mexico people just dance on the streets (link is in spanish).
On neighbourhood meals: the Welcome Dinner Project does this to help people who just got to Australia.