SPUR recently opened an office in San Jose and set its sights on bringing smart urban development to Silicon Valley. They chose a smart, well traveled, well liked, locally-bred and forward-thinking executive to lead the effort. So far they have been meeting with local people to gather information and have been holding educational events. I have high hopes that SPUR will have a constructive impact on San Jose.
I love what SPUR does for San Francisco and how they've helped structure the city over the decades. We need more people to get involved in volunteering for these types of organizations that are working for us to preserve, maintain and improve green spaces. They are great for pedestrians, cyclists and motor traffic alike!
There's no doubt that Yelp has encouraged a bit more geo-awareness among our citizenry. But an encyclopedic knowledge of restaurants is only the first step; if you really want to become one with the city and all its joys and horrors past present and future, if you want to find the Joycean archetypes in our Hills Crowned with Edwardians and Alleys Laden with Pedestrians, if you want to cry "Save the cable cars, save the world"...well, look no further than SPUR (whose brand-new digs, incidentally, you'll find next door to Yelp. Yes, 2nd & Mission is truly the Ground Zero of our 21st Century renaissance).
Admission to the ground floor exhibit is free ($5 suggested donation), but sadly they're only open 11-8 Tuesday and 11-5 Wednesday to Friday. C'mon guys, how are we going to enlighten the masses without weekend hours? The current exhibit, "Agents of Change", is nothing short of the history of San Francisco from a civic planning angle, complete with some breathtaking visuals. And if that sounds the least bit interesting to you, I urge you to come down here ASAP and bask in its geeky glory; you will not be disappointed. On top of that, they regularly hold talks upstairs (also only $5) on such topics as "The Post-Carbon City: Planning For Abundance in an Era of Dwindling Resources" and "Rising Tides: A Challenge For City Planners"...ah, my head spins just thinking about the bounty of ideas to be found in this building.
In the end, is it any wonder that the 6 reviewers of SPUR include the 2 Yelpers who actually became my real-world friends? And yet I feel there must be more of us eco-urbanist freaks out there. Maybe it's you and you just don't know it. Who knows? A visit here could be the very thing to spur you (pun intended) from your aimless angst into the fulfilling life of an engaged citizen. (And by the way, if you're looking for ways to apply said engagement, give me a call; we could use you on Transition San Francisco. But that's a review for another day...)