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Inspiring Urban Development in the Bradenton – Sarasota area with the help of Urban Lab

Written by Adilene Sandoval, New College of Florida Student

As a new arrival to the Sarasota – Bradenton area, I jump at any opportunity to learn more about the place and try new things. That is why when I learned Realize Bradenton and the New College of Florida Urban Lab were collaborating in a two-part series, I had to see what it was all about. The Urban Lab is a class started by Dr. Brain, a professor at New College along with a couple of students who decided to continue their work originally started as a research project back in January. Now with the help of Realize Bradenton, they are organizing events such as the Sunset Soirée, in an effort of receiving community feedback and guidelines on local urban development.

“The Sunset Soirée and the Friendly City Café are the first events we’ve organized, and while I’m excited to see the kinds of data and results we get from everyone’s participation, I’d say that these events are even more exciting in that we get to test the waters of what the Urban Lab can realistically plan in the future and make affiliations with wonderful groups like Realize Bradenton”, said Kelly Swain, a first – year New College student and one of the students working alongside Dr. Brain.

It was an evening of creativity with the event consisting of multiple fun exercises. Starting off simple, guests were asked to build their favorite childhood memory using the craft materials in front of them. It was then built into an ideal future city and finally a reflection of the three most important elements we want to see in the future. Using a foam box as a public transportation bus or a piece of fabric as a pier by the beach, we made our imagination come to life. Together we voiced our visions without realizing how impactful they can be.

The Urban Lab will now collect the results from the first event and present them in the second event of the collaborative series with Realize Bradenton, The Friendly City Café, on the evening of April 28 at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. They plan to share the results people who attended the first event shared – and they’re inviting everyone who participated as well as the public especially those interested in community development to attend.

What better way to have your voice heard and participate in your city’s urban development plans? You have the chance to be part of something transformational. As a new member of the area, I am excited to see how the city will grow and transform.

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