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Lounging & Lollygaging in Wodonga

David Engwicht is a livable streets philosopher and author. Creator of the Walking School Bus, Mental Speed Bumps and many other innovative ways of taming traffic and increasing pedestrian safety, he has taken on "the challenge of a lifetime" to revitalize the downtown district of Wodonga, a small city in Australia often referred to as "Struggle Town" in comparison to its sister city Albury just across the Murray River.

Watch the video to see great placemaking in action. Engwicht has initiated the successful Lounging on High Friday night series. The diverse programming features giant versions of board games and an eclectic range of seating options, the goal being to encourage residents to take back their streets and re-imagine what is possible. To create a more human pace, on these Friday nights Wodonga closes one street and removes two lanes of car travel on another to encourage relaxation and fun.

David Engwicht (left): "If we can do this here...any city can take back their public space."

<br> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>David Engwicht:</i> [00:00] We have lounging on High every Friday night in the summer months. This is about changing the way people relate to High Street. Previously they saw High Street as just a place to come and shop and we want them to stay here, we want to create a great experience, and this is about changing the relationship between people and High Street itself. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman">[music]</font> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>David Engwicht:</i> [00:31] On a Friday night here in Wodonga everything closes at five. The town basically dies and so to see the town staying alive after five o’clock on a Friday night, it’s absolutely fantastic. The kind of things that we do are pretty relaxed laid-back things to go with lounging, so we largely use jazz or blues bands, we have lots of children’s activities like face painting, we have giant games like giant chess, giant jinga, giant connect four.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [00:59] At the end of a long week at work it’s a fantastic way to relax, and also you just find so many people that you know that don’t see from time to time.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [01:08] It’s great. Just all the food and the music and so it’s just, yeah, people just come together and have some fun.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [01:14] It lets the kids get down here and have a bit of fun without having to worry about other things, and having to worry about traffic and I think it’s a good idea. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Andrea Ryder:</i> [01:21] Place-making is a really phenomenal thing that brings people together into the city. It’s so much more than just an event. We’re trying to get people to experience High Street and do things they wouldn’t normally do here.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [01:32] This is absolutely fabulous. The number of kids we get here just enjoying themselves with their mums and dads, it’s just one of those things where it’s a whole family atmosphere and people get along and just have a great time. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>David Engwicht:</i> [01:44] I wasn’t interested in doing it in some city where it was easy. So really if we can do this here, any city can do it. Any city can take back their public space. It is about the very, very simple things. Tonight you’ll see a few lounge chairs out in the street. You know those few lounge chairs have gained international attention. It’s just those small things, those quirky little things that you can do that really start to put a town on the map. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:09] The couch is very pleasant. I should have made the move earlier in the season. I reckon I could even fall asleep one night. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Speaker:</i> [02:19] Absolutely wonderful, really great. I really love it what Wodonga did for the town. I’ve been here probably six times or seven times maybe. </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>Rodney Wangman:</i> [02:28] We need to make people reclaim their city area, to reclaim their High Street, and so these sorts of activities, lounging on High, is just one thing that actually allows people to come back to the city, come back and be part of a community, to meet neighbours, to enjoy the activities that we have, to in fact, connect again.</font></p> <p> <br></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"></font></p> <p><font size="3" face="Times New Roman"><i>David Engwicht:</i> [02:45] When we look at the way that we lost our streets to traffic, it always started with something small. I argued that the speed of traffic on residential streets is governed by the extent to which the residents have psychologically retreated from that street. Now that probably started in a very, very small way, one parent saying to their child, don’t play in the middle of the road, play on the sidewalk instead. Then, don’t play on the sidewalk, play in the front yard. No, don’t play in the front yard, I’ll take you to the park. That psychological retreat was an open invitation for the traffic to take over the streets. What my job is to do is to get people to psychologically take those spaces back again, whether that’s their residential street or whether it’s the main street of their town. </font></p> http://transcriptdivas.ca/transcription-canada/
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