Author Archive

Dedicated lane for the streetcar.

Navigating Cities – The Best of my Travels

Over the last few years, my travels for conferences, workshops, projects, and personal have taken me cities in the US and aboard.  Because I’m such a transportation nerd, it’s always fun to see how easy it is to navigate from my point of arrival (train station or airport) to my destination and around the city with only the knowledge of the address of where I’m staying. Below are some of my reflections navigating different cities.

Most Efficient Airport – Munich, Germany: In October 2018, I had an opportunity to travel to Salzburg, Austria for a seminar on building healthy and equitable communities. I flew in through Munich, then took a train to Salzburg. Munich airport is the most efficient airport I’ve ever travel to or through. Even going through customs was faster than using Global Entry when I returned to the US. I had no problems navigating from my gate, through customs, and to the train. Most importantly, there were no lines despite the high volume of people. Even the security lines moved so quick, I barely had time to get my shoes off.

IMG_4393Easiest Train Station to Navigate – Amsterdam Centraal, Netherlands: Amsterdam is known by people in the transportation industry for its biking culture and infrastructure as well as its public transportation. Biking is the one thing I didn’t do during my vacation, but I did ride the streetcars. All that aside I give Amsterdam credit for the easiest train station to navigate. Even without knowing the language, moving through the train station was intuitive for me. The using of icons, such as “i” for information removed the language barrier.

Easiest place to navigate from the airport to downtown – Minneapolis, Minnesota: Last year, I did a day trip Minneapolis for the Institute of Transportation Engineers conference.  I flew into Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and took the train to downtown to get to the conference hotel. Not only was it easy to navigate from my arrival gate to the train, but it was also close. There are a few other airports where it is easy to get to the train, but the train is a long distance from the airport, such as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Getting a ticket was intuitive and it was a smooth ride into downtown Minneapolis.

Favorite City for Getting Lost – Tie between Antigua, Guatemala and Cali, Colombia: Antigua and Cali are my favorite for two completely different reasons. Antigua was great for getting lost, because it was easy to reset to get back on track. It’s a walkable City with a large volcano to the south, a volcano that erupts every twenty minutes or so to the west, and a large hillside with a cross on top to the north. Cali was great because of all the street art. We call it murals in the US, they call everything graffiti.  I spent several hours getting lost while exploring the graffiti.

I haven’t taken count of the number of cities I’ve been to around the world. These are the ones that stand out in my mind for a transportation-related reason. What are some of the best cities you’ve been to that are easy to navigate?

Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.



Ways to Enjoy Public Places in D.C. this Summer

It’s that time of year, Summertime! The warm weather, the endless activities, the delicious barbecues, the longer days, and the chances to spend more time outdoors than indoors. One of my favorite parts of the summer is activating public spaces. All summer long you will have opportunities to access public spaces in cities near you. Whether having a picnic, attending an outdoor movie, or going to a neighborhood festival, there are many activities for you, your family, and your friends to enjoy. Check out a few ideas below of ways to enjoy public spaces in Washington, D.C this summer.

  • Attend an outdoor movie screening. There are many options to choose from all summer long: Georgetown Sunset Cinema, NoMa Summer Screen, Union Market Drive-In, Downtown DC Summer Flicks, and more. Grab a blanket, a chair, and your favorite snacks and head over to a screening.  Outdoor movies in Washington, DC, Outdoor Movie Guide 2019
  • Have a picnic. Pack a picnic basket for a nice lunch for yourself or with your favorite people and head over to one of these places for a beautiful afternoon: Georgetown Waterfront Park, Hains Point, United States National Arboretum, National Mall, Tidal Basin, West Potomac Park, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, or Meridian Hill Park
  • Visit a public plaza or a pocket park. Look to see what events are happening at different plazas this summer: Columbia Heights Civic Plaza, the Park at CityCenterDC, and Canal Park. Also check out these plazas in Maryland: Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring and Rockville Town Square in Rockville.
  • Visit a farmer’s market. There are farmers markets all over D.C. throughout the week. Check out Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market, Eastern Market, Capital Harvest on the Plaza, Capitol Riverfront, and more. Washington, DC Farmers Markets, DC Area Farmers Markets.
  • Attend festivals and free concert series. You can find a variety of free festivals and concerts: DC Jazz Festival, Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concert Series, Journey Festival, H Street Festival, Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, and Summer Concerts at Woodrow Wilson Plaza.

I hope you can enjoy some of the options I listed above on what’s happening in D.C. this summer or find out what’s happening in a neighborhood near you!


Columbia Height Public SpaceColumbia Heights Civic Plaza

Jazmin Kimble is an Urban Planner and Urban Designer  from Long Island, NY. She has a passion for empowering and planning adequate, equitable communities through the lens of Geodesign, Urban Design, Community Development, Architectural Design, Sustainability, Environmental Solutions, and Community Engagement. Jazmin believes the culture and the history of a community is what makes it unique. This approach allows her to design with communities from a holistic viewpoint.


Work and Personal Life Balance

The past few weeks I have been struggling with work and personal balance and realize that although I am affected by this, others close to me struggle with it as well. Common factors that some of us share is not taking time out for ourselves, not finding ways to relax, and taking on additional responsibilities within the household.

The main reason I struggle to find balance is that I am guilty for not prioritizing my time wisely. I realized that I needed to find ways to balance my work and personal life so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. In an article I read online, one of the useful tips was creating a schedule. I have never attempted to have my routine on a schedule, but I think that it is worth giving it a try.

Here are some other helpful tips on a better work-life balance.

  • Build downtime into your schedule. It is important to take time out of your schedule to make time for your friends and family and be able to re-energize.
  • Drop activities that sap your time or energy. Don’t spend time on places, things, or people that do not add value. Sometimes it is easy to get sidetracked and then next thing you know time was wasted.
  • Rethink your errands. Find opportunities to limit yourself from doing unnecessary tasks.
  • Get moving. Don’t sit around and wait for things to be done.
  • Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way. Look into a little summer getaway or something as simple as alone time.

These are some great tips to try if you are someone like myself who struggles with finding balance with everyday responsibilities. I know that there have been plenty of moments where I have wasted time on unnecessary things. I am excited to implement these tips into my everyday life and hopefully they can help someone else achieve balance.

Donica McNeill-Taylor, an Administrative Assistant who enjoys supporting a team of inspiring urban planners. I also enjoy socializing and living life to the fullest with friends and love ones.



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