con ·viv ·i ·al /kÉ’nËˆvivÄ“É’l/ adjective
(of an atmosphere or event) friendly, lively, and enjoyable
Wouldn’t we all love to have people describe our community streets as convivial? Honestly, that is a bit rhetorical, but a question worth pondering.
It is important to use descriptive words when setting a vision for your community. And this process is often easy because we are trying to describe the way we want our towns perceived by others. These others may be tourists, community residents, members of the workforce – literally views from anyone other than our own personal views from our biased vantage point as community leaders.
Once you have listed several of these descriptive words, the planning process may lead to a discussion about what it means to be “lively” or “vibrant” or “jubilant.” And although it may be difficult to define some of these words in the context of your community streets, rest assured, you would know lively, vibrant, or jubilant if you saw it.
I know this because two weeks ago, I had lunch in Morristown, NJ and I saw convivial streets. Shortly after 12 noon, the streets were swarming with all different types of people from school groups to business people. Some people were exercising, some dining, some just enjoying the sunny midday hour out of the office.
Of course, I snapped a picture. And if you study the photo, and you jot down some of the physical elements of this scene, you will begin to define the answer to the difficult question of what “lively” or “vibrant” or “jubilant” translate to, in the built environment.
Experiencing a space that exemplifies one of these words is invaluable. Building on Jane’s experience in New Hampshire, there is nothing wrong with using your travels (either for pleasure or business) to build your reference library to boost your revitalization efforts.
So next time you’re out and about and something catches your eye or captures your senses, snap a picture. Then return to it and begin to dissect it. What are the elements that contribute to the whole? What does convivial look like when played out on our streets?