Please help us kill gas in Palo Alto! CIA 2009!


A student team from our Creating Infectious Action (CIA) class at the Stanford needs your help:  they are trying to create a movement to transform part of downtown Palo Alto in to a pedestrian zone.  Here's their idea:

Imagine this: University Ave–
from High to Cowper– transformed into a pedestrian-only urban park
complete with outdoor restaurants, street performances, community
events, trees and gardens, and bike-friendly infrastructure.

Initiative seeks to do more than just block University Ave. We aim to
tear up the road and create a unified and truly beautiful community
space. Cities all over the nation and Europe demonstrate the success of
Pedestrian Malls. They revitalize business, encourage alternative
transportation, and reinforce a sense of community. It's an all-win

I like how this team has used the design thinking process to end up with the creation of this movement as a goal.  Given a short but sweet design brief to go "Kill Gas", this team spent a lot of time hanging out with business owners, store workers, and citizens on the street in downtown Palo Alto.  They prototyped various solutions, and kept learning as they went.  They ended up with several very interesting design directions, and picked the pedestrian-only urban park as the way to go.  I think they were wise, for two reasons. 

First, this direction, executed well (which we'll see — the quarter isn't over yet!), has strong potential to knock it out of the park across what I consider to be the three key principles behind creating infectious action:

  1. create a remarkable offering:  a pedestrian-only zone in Palo Alto!
  2. weave sticky stories around the offering:  "tear up the road and create a unified and truly beautiful community space"
  3. identify communities receptive to points 1 & 2, then light some small fires, and then spend time pouring gas on those fires:  this is where you come in

Second, I think a pedestrian-only zone in Palo Alto would be a Good Thing.  I grew up in Boulder, where part of Pearl Street was transformed in to a pedestrian mall when I was a kid.  A few decades later, it's still the beating heart of the town, a fun place to be in touch with the community.

Here's where they need your help:  if they can gather 1,000 pledges of interest by May 27, a former mayor of Palo Alto will take their multi-stage implementation plan before the city government.  As I write this, they have 883 887 supporters and four days to go.  It would be awesome to see them blow through the 1,000 barrier in a big way. 

If you would like to support this team and their cause, you can do it in one of the following ways:

  1. Join the Facebook group Palo Alto Pedestrian Mall
  2. You can sign their online petition here
  3. Or send a text message to: 67463

Last but not least, please print out this flyer and stick it on your front lawn or in the back window of your car.

Thanks for helping this remarkable movement catch on fire!

If you use Twitter, please consider tweeting this blog post to help spread the word!  And if you blog, a post mentioning the movement would be much appreciated!  Mahalo.