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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Nashville in the News!

The South’s funkiest town gets even cooler

Nashvillians like to joke that the crane is the city’s unofficial bird.
After all, nearly 30 of the huge, steel species soar in the sky right now.
Music City is in the midst of a building boom, with 22 hotels under construction and more than 125 restaurants slated to open by the year’s end, according to the tourism bureau.
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Nashville’s summery skyline.Alamy Stock Photo
At the same time, there’s a creative renaissance underway, as the city’s thriving music, fashion and food scenes gain national attention. Tennessee’s capital is so happening that both Frommer’s and Travel & Leisure included it on their lists of the best places to go in 2017 and Thrillist recently named Guitar Town America’s best weekend destination.
“Nashville has always been cool, but today people seem to be more proud of the city than ever before,” says Libby Callaway, founder of The Callaway, a branding and public relations company (and former fashion editor of The Post) based there. “We’re an alternative to the coasts.”
Over the past decade, the home of country music evolved into a hipster hub with a strong “maker” culture of craft and creativity. Visitors can explore funky neighborhoods like East Nashville, 12South, Germantown and the Gulch, lined with specialty coffee shops, brew pubs, craft cocktail bars and critically acclaimed farm-to-fork restaurants.
Or scour the quirky lifestyle and clothing boutiques for local labels such as Ceri Hoover (leather bags and shoes) and Imogene + Willie (heritage denim).
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Leathersmith Ceri Hoover crafts bags and shoes.Brett Warren Photography
Cowboy boots are always in style — Boot Country on major thoroughfare Broadway has a crazy buy-one-get-two-pairs-free deal — rocked the Coachella way.
Speaking of all-star concert extravaganzas, the world’s biggest country music celebration takes place downtown from June 8-11.
This year’s CMA Music Festival will feature more than 100 acts, including legends like Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley.
The best part: Seven of the 11 stages are free and a number of them are outdoors.
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Ketchup on all the action at Nashville’s very-costumed Tomato Art Festival in August.Tomato Art Fest Solar Ca
Later this summer, produce and creativity will make beautiful music together at the 14th Annual Tomato Art Festival the weekend of Aug. 11-12.
Of course, Nashville doesn’t need festivals to be fun as hell: Cold beer and live music are on tap seven days a week. Country, blues and rock acts perform nightly at the boozy, neon-lit Lower Broadway honky tonks — don’t miss Robert’s Western World with its $2.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon and no-cover policy — and nearby Printer’s Alley, the historic nightlife corridor. Meanwhile, The Station Inn in the trendy Gulch is the premier club for bluegrass and roots performers.
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Taylor SwiftAlo Ceballos/GC Images
Even if you’re not a country music fan, a visit to the Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry for 31 years, is obligatory. It’s worth paying extra for the guided tour, just to walk backstage where icons Johnny Cash met June Carter in 1956.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is another must-see, with Elvis’ gold Cadillac, Gram Parsons’ “high”-fashion pot leaf-embroidered “Nudie suit” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” cheerleader outfit on display. Hatch Show Print is the historic letterpress company in the same building that has cranked out iconic show posters since 1879.
Feeling hungry? Savor a meal at one of the restaurants opened by James Beard Award-winning chefs like Donald Link (Cochon Butcher), Sean Brock (Husk) and Maneet Chauhan (Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Tànsuo and The Mockingbird, opening any day).
As Callaway says, “Nashville has gone way beyond barbecue.”

Where to stay and eat in Guitar Town

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Rent a bed at the Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown.Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown
Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown (from $199) recently underwent a $35 million renovation and boasts immaculate rooms, a revamped fitness center and the new Library Bar, serving more than 50 varieties of bourbon and regional dishes (order the house-made smoked mac and cheese). The property — one of five in the US to gain the chain’s “Grand” distinction – is a short stroll from Lower Broadway nightlife and the Ryman.
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A neon cocktail at Henrietta Red.Andrew Thomas Lee
Just around the corner is The Hermitage Hotel (from $255), Nashville’s Southern belle. The century-old landmark edifice is known for its plush lobby, luxurious rooms and old-school chophouse, the Capitol Grille.
The new boutique hotel, Thompson Nashville (from $305), is a sleek addition to The Gulch. James Beard Award-winning chef John Besh and Nathan Duensing helm Marsh House, a seafood restaurant.
Nashville native Julia Sullivan trained at New York’s Per Se and Blue Hill at Stone Barns before opening Henrietta Red, one of Germantown’s hottest tables. To die for: wood-roasted oysters with green curry.
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Tandy Wilson’s City House eatery.Andrea Behrends
Just down the block sits City House, serving James Beard Award-winning chef Tandy Wilson’s inventive Italian-Southern fare.
His belly ham pizza was rated top in Tennessee by the Food Network.
Celeb-spotting is par for the course at the bustling Rolf and Daughters in Germantown.
Chef Philip Krajeck is famed for his rustic pasta dishes, like squid-ink paccheri with octopus and breadcrumbs.
In the mood to pig out?
Head to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint‘s downtown hub. Pitmaster Pat Martin hickory-smokes mouthwatering West Tennessee whole hog, ribs and beef brisket.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Skylar Villareal - died on foot in Nashville, January 2017.

This blog is fully committed to pedestrian issues in Nashville.  It has a single focus and goal:  safer, better walking in Nashville.  Our current walking infrastructure, in too many areas of our city, are lacking at best.  Many areas literally have no place for a walker to be.  We have a high rate of pedestrians deaths compared to our population.  Multiple mayors and council people  have run on the idea that they were (finally) going to bring sidewalks to all of neighborhoods. 

In 2017, we continue to have many of the same issues we did during the creation of the 1st Sidewalk Plan (The Davidson County Strategic Sidewalk and Bikeway Plan, last updated in 2008).  This plan was created, in large part, from a law suit against the city by the ADA in 1999 for our lack of safe infrastructure for those on foot or wheelchair.  

Progress has been slow.  Our city is growing fast.  We still face most of the same issues and, so sadly, our citizens are still dying while walking.  

As many of you know, we created a Registry to collect the stories of those who have perished as a pedestrian in Nashville.  They are fascinating!  Through interviewing the family, you can gain a much richer picture of who these people were and what happened to them here in Nashville.   

Skylar passed away in January of 2017 after relocating for work purposes.  Her mother told me that she did not have a car and had sought out apartments that advertised "Walk to Everything'.  

She also had lived in Nashville for only 11 days when struck and killed.  Her work relocated her, moving the date from March to January, the darkest month of the year.  She was talking to her mother, on the phone, when she died.  

Read her story below:

Skylar Villareal
Tuesday, 5/9/2017
17:33 minutes

A - Andriana (Villarreal) Mroczka (Skylar is her niece, Adriana's brother is Skylar's dad, Skylar was his 1st born)
S - Stacy Dorris 

S - This is Stacy
A - Hi Stacy, this is Adriana, How are you?  I hope this is a good time.
S - No, no, this is really perfect - my kids are down with my husband and everyone seems settled
A - Ok, good - yeah, I know how that is
S - Thank you so much for being willing to talk with me about this situation and your niece and all that happened.  I'm really sorry - I imagine that was really hard and shocking.
A - Thank you, It is, that's not how it's supposed to be, she's supposed to be burying us when we are older.  Not, us morning here unfortunately
S - and, she was so young
A - She is so young, starting her life over in a new city
S - Yeah, had she just moved to Nashville?
A - She did, she moved to Nashville, 11 days prior
S - Oh my goodness
A - From Chicago 
S - Terrible
A - You're in the Nashville area?
S - Yeah, I am in Nashville,  I live right in the middle of Nashville but I'm from Chicago so I used to live there, too.
A - Oh, you are?
S - Yeah
A - How did you hear about her if you don't mind me asking
S - So, I have been really involved in walking issues here in Nashville so I moved here, of gosh, I moved her in 2003 & coming from the Chicagoland area, you know, everywhere you could walk - everyone gets out on food - it's such a fun thing and then I move here and was like, 'how do people get around this city - there are no sidewalks - this is dangerous'.
A - It's a shame
S - I started getting involved around 4 years ago - a lot of volunteer work around this and what I started realizing is that people are aware that people are dying in Nashville but they don't really know about it - such a momentary thing - pops up on the news or 10 minutes and it's gone and we never hear anything more.  As I got deeper and deeper in it - this walkability thing here in Nashville, I thought these people need their stories told, this is ridiculous - these are people's lives and we are continuously rated a very dangerous city for people on foot but we tons of walkers - people still want to walk & it's healthy and it's good - all these things, so, anyway, another professor friend of mine and I decided to do this project - to try & bring these stories to basically our leaders - our politicians and say, you know, give them more info - look, these are people - like your niece who moved here 11 days ago - nobody knows that part.  So, I heard about her because I subscribe to these kind of list-serves that talk about those who have been hit and talk about walking issues and her name came up and she was actually the 1st one I saw where  thought, 'this person is really interesting - she's young, she's beautiful - she does not look like - you know, a lot of people will say, 'oh, it was probably a homeless person or something like that', &, I'm like, 'I don't think it is'.  I think these are regular people going about their business.
A - And, Stacy, how did you find me, that's the more curious thing
S - So, you started a GoFundMe account, I think, or at least your name is hooked to it so equally through different connections I was able to find a variety of addresses for her and just decided I was going to write a letter and see what happens.  I had sent you a message through the GoFundMe but I didn't hear back so...
A - You now, I took it down - almost immediately after I put it up because her mother and her brother and, I understand this, but they said they were not ready to deal with that, so, I took it down because she said she was still grieving and it was right away and it was more for to help with the burial.  I didn't know if she was going to be cremated or what, more for that, it was never for me, it's not about me.
S - Oh, sure.
A - It's for my brother, she's my brother's first born daughter.  I was kind of miffed that they didn't want it up so, I just took it down, people had donated already and I made sure everyone got their refund and I took it down and I apologize for not...
S - Oh, no, no, no, that sounds complicated.  And, if it gives you any comfort, I do this kind of similar projects with people who pass away from food allergies, because I am an allergy doctor, and people take those accounts down all the time, too.  They have this immediate reaction when they want it up and then they take them down, they get overwhelmed or whatever.
A - I understand
S - So, she had just moved here to Nashville?  From Chicago, you said
A - Yeah, there was a company she was working for and, forgive me, I don't know the name of it, but they announced lat last year that they were moving from Illinois, like a lot of companies do because it is so expensive, so they invited all the employees to go to Nashville and look at the plant down there because that is where they were moving to and they would help with relocation cost and what not and so, all of sudden, we thought it was going to be in March but it ended up being in January that she announced she was moving.  Her mom and brother came from Colorado Springs where they lie and helped her move and, you know, my brother is here, they helped her move, helped her pack to move down to Nashville and she'd only been there 11 days when this occurred.  She was working the night shift - she had 3 years of college but she didn't finish school.  She was studying to be a marine biologist in Maine, at the University of Maine.
S - That's cool
A - Yeah, so she had 3 years of college and then went back to Colorado Springs.  She started working in a factory.  There's a lot about Skylar - she's very complex.  She's not cut and dry.  There is a lot about her past and we just recently found out - the initial toxicology report stated that there was no alcohol or drugs but recently - we found out that there was alcohol on her part.
S - Ok
A - It's really disheartening - it was actually yesterday, we found this out out yesterday and she had some demons she was dealing with and that was one of them.  And, she was trying, she was really trying.  She was trying to overcome it but apparently, I don't know if it is true or not.  That's what the toxicology report saw
S - Ok
A - She was on the phone with her mom when it happened
S - Oh, sh was?  Oh my gosh.
A - Yeah, it was shocking to me.  She was a city girl and you know, when you are a city girl, how do you not know?  I mean, yeah, it's a rural town but how do you not know how to cross the street?  These things you know because your from the city.  You're streetwise.  Your smart and so, she was on the phone with her mom and her mom, all of a sudden, the phone went dead - literally, and my sister-in-law was like, 'Skylar, Skylar', but she didn't respond.  She tried calling her back and it would go to voicemail and she figured her battery probably died, she'd speak to her the next day.  Skylar was scheduled to work that night and when she got hit, she had her IL license on her, I guess they reported it on the news the following day or maybe that night - I don't know but a co-worker saw the news report and immediately called the police and said I think I know who this woman is because she was unidentified.  They said they could not positively identify her with her Illinois state license an so he put 2 and 2 together, she didn't show up to work the night before and the woman who was hit was from Illinois and so he figured it was probably her and he called and then they called my sister-in-law to let her know.
S - Oh my gosh
A - And the rest of us found out the next day
S - That's terrible.  They didn't fine the driver, I think
A - No, they didn't fine him.  He was not at fault because she wasn't in a cross walk - that's what they said.
S - That's a very common thing here in Nashville.  They'll let the driver off.  That equally doesn't seem right to me but...
A - I mean, I honestly feel it was an accident.  I don't think the driver set out to deliberately kill someone.  He's 71 years old, I told my brother, 'pray for him' because he is on his way out of this world and he just took someone's life inadvertently but he did, he's got to live with that - that can't be easy.
S - No
A - He stayed with her.  I've read other stories about how how she was killed and, maybe, a few days before she was killed, there was another person struck by a car, on Bell Road, the driver hit them and ran
S - That's pretty common here, too
A - Yeah, left them like road kill.  This man was decent enough to say there with her.  Apparently, another sister-in-law heard he got down and covered her with his clothing or something
S - That's touching
A - It is.  I wish I could talk to him, but I have no way, I haven't researched it
S - I think I have his name and there often, in the reports, give maybe not his exact address, but his street and so, sometimes you can track it through that so I could potentially help you with that if you want
A - That would be great - that would be phenomenal
S - Ok
A - I just want to know - reports are that she died instantly and another report said she died at the hospital.  Kind of gives me comfort knowing she died instantly.  Died at the hospital, that means she suffered, she was by herself
S - Yeah, that's so true
A - I mean without family you know
S - That is a terrible story.  I am so sorry.
A - Thank you, thank you for listening
S - It's my, my, my honor
A - Your so kind - thank you
S - This is exactly the kind of story you don't ever hear on the news.  You just hear that someone was struck, it was dark, you know, they weren't in the crosswalk and that's all you hear.  You don't hear any of this background stuff and it's so important
A - Right
S - Ultimately, the goal is to get Nashville to come up...
A - Build sidewalks
S - Just be a regular city - we are almost 1 million people now and it's crowded and I don't think our politicians know about these kind of stories.  To them, it's just one person and that's that.  I don't see it that way at all and the more I collect these stories, the more I think it is such interesting information and it's so vital.  I mean, you just made her into  real person for me instead of just a pair of statistics.
A - I appreciate that - I never thought of it that way.  As something important, I sometimes wonder about who are these people - when we had the memorial service for my niece - looking through a list of people who had died at the funeral home where they were hosting her memorial service at - she was cremated in Nashville - and, I ran across people my age, 45 years old or older and then I ran across an 18 year old girl who died a week prior in January to my niece and I'm like, 'why did she get killed' so I googled her, turns out She was a Moody Bible Institute college student, 18 years old, crossing Lake Shore Drive at night on a Sunday and she got struck and killed by a car.  Her parents were missionaries and there was away so the had to get flown in, being flown in to attend to her.  Oh my gosh, I wanted to know more about her but it's all I found.  Was was she doing?  Who was she with?  The driver stayed with her, they didn't fine him.
S - Very honorable 
A - I think so too
S - I mean, because you know they're scared, too.  I'm sure that's the scariest thing that ever happened to that man.
A - Stacy, I know you have little ones but if there is anything else you'd like to know...
S - This is an excellent start to her story and equally, Adriana, if you think of extra things you want me to add something or more about her because this is really about her - about Skylar and who she was
A - This means a lot to me
S - This means a lot to me, too.  I 100% appreciate it and I think it means a lot to the people of Nashville - for them to understand her and to understand that she just moved here, was new to town - pretty alone - I'm sure she didn't have a lot of friends here
A - She had 2 cats and there were home alone for 24-48 hours until someone came.  
S - Did someone take her cats now?
A - Her mom took them back to Colorado Springs.  So,  the police actually came 24 hours later to make sure there was no kids and animal control took them but they gave them back so...
S - That's important, she was so young
A - She was really excited.  I had spoken to her 2 days before and she loved it.  Couldn't wait to discover Nashville.  Was having fun being an adult but, I said, 'I'm so happy for you but be careful, take care of yourself and be careful'.  I said it then.
S - Keep in touch and I'll try to keep in touch, too.  You have my phone number and my email.
A - Thank you - I look forward to reading your stories - actually, I don't look forward to reading them, it's unfortunate
S - I hope there are less over time, for sure
A - Good luck.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Quick Fix for Nashville Pedestrian's Visibility Problem? See #5

8 cool ideas for U.S. cities, courtesy of the Dutch

Urban interventions galore 

An illuminated crosswalk designed to help drivers see pedestrians better. 
Photo via Lighted Zebra Crossing
From Mondrian’s colorful, pared-down compositions to a bike- and weed-friendly culture, there’s a lot the Netherlands is known for. And recently, these cultural footings —as well as universal headaches like potholes and road safety—have inspired a number of innovative urban interventions around the country. We’ve gathered a handful below for inspiration—and pure amusement. 

1. A bike traffic system that helps cyclists get all green lights

A new bike traffic light system from Dutch company Springlab wants to make every urban cyclist’s dream come true. Flo uses sensors to detect riders’ speeds about 120 meters (or 400 feet) before a street traffic light and then displays symbols indicating whether they need to speed up (a hare), maintain the pace (a thumbs up), or slow down (a turtle) to make the next light. One Flo kiosk has been deployed in Utrecht, and there are plans to roll out a couple of more in the coming months. 

2. Emoji as architectural ornament

Close up of facade of brick building with face emojis cast in white concrete that run horizontally at the top of each story. Photos via Attika Architekten
Goodbye gargoyles, hello smileys? Over in the Dutch city of Amersfoort, a brick mixed-use building now sports 22 emojis cast in white concrete on its facade. Love it or hate it, this is one architectural trick that perfectly encapsulates the current era. 

3. “Self-healing” roads that fix their own potholes

pothole in roadShutterstock
Modern cities are plagued by potholes. One Dutch materials scientist, Erik Schlangen at Delft University, thinks he may be able to defeat them. His team is currently developing “self-healing” asphalt—that is, asphalt embedded with tiny steel fibers so that when you run an electrical current over it with a huge magnet, the fibers heat up and fill in any small cracks that may be forming. According to his research, this type of asphalt would cost 25 percent more than traditional asphalt but last twice as long. It’s already being tested on a dozen different public roads around the country. 

4. Building bridges out of cannibis hemp

Cannabis hemp bridgeEindhoven University of Technology
It’s not the prettiest bridge out there, but it’s probably the world’s first and only one made entirely from biocomposite materials, namely cannabis hemp. Designed and built by a team of researchers and students in Eindhoven, the structure is made of hemp and flax fibers embedded in resin and covering a bio-based polymer core. The team, which has put 28 sensors in the bridge, will monitor the structure over the next year, studying its bounce and structural integrity. 

5. Glowing crosswalks

Dutch company Lighted Zebra Crossing has a simple, effective way to help drivers see pedestrians better. Their glowing crosswalks replace the typical light-reflecting paint with illuminated light boxes. The system is directly connected to the city’s streetlight system or solar panels and can be embedded right in the asphalt or pavers.

6. Turning city hall into a giant piece of art

Dutch city hall turned into big Mondrian paintingThe Hague Municipal Council
For the centennial of the Dutch art movement Di Stijl this year, the Hague commissioned artists Madje Vollaers and Pascal Zwart of Rotterdam-based Studio VZ to create a massive piece of artwork inspired by De Stijl’s most famous artist, Piet Mondrian, right on the facade of city hall. The 1995-built Richard Meier creation sure looks more ready to party with some color. 

7. LED traffic lights for texting pedestrians

Edwin Bruining via HIG
Confronted with the reality of smartphone-obsessed pedestrians, the Dutch town of Bodegraven recently began a pilot project testing thin, colored LED light strips positioned at the end of sidewalks. Depending on their glow—red or green—the lights should be visible even to pedestrians with their heads down. 

8. An endless circular runway?! 

rendering of circular runwayVia Designboom
Now, this is an idea that may never take off, but just entertain it for a second. According to Dutch scientist Henk Hesselink, who is working with the Netherlands Aerospace Centre, an “endless runway” with a 360-degree landing strip means planes can approach and takeoff from any direction without fighting against crosswinds. It would take up about a third of land typically reserved for airports and create more distributed flight paths (and more tolerable plane noise for residents in the area.)