Today, in Place Parts, Episode 5, we follow up on Episode 3, about the importance of distinguishing the storybook from the real, something we also discussed with actor Richard Karn in Episode 4. What are the methods for doing so? The answer: LEARN and “context keys.”

In my new book, Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character: Principles and Best Practices, based on comparative experiences around the world, I propose a new tool that I call LEARN (Look, Engage, Assess, Review, and Negotiate) as a way of sustaining urban culture and character in transformative times.

In the video, I introduce LEARN on Newbury’s main shopping streets as a patient, interdisciplinary immersion that will help an interested citizen determine the primary attributes of a place, the raw materials that fuse history, the present, and the future. I also introduce the book’s “context keys” of familiarity, congruity, and integrity. These are both guideposts and filters to sustaining a city’s culture and character and underscore the importance of city residents who solve simple human problems firsthand.

I believe that we must do this core work to develop customized, local approaches to understand the contemporary look, feel, and meaning of a place, and to acknowledge relevant background and reference points for those who describe and sense an ongoing change.

Review the special “landing page” for Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character here.

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