Still Life in Germany

Well I am in New York City for 4-6 weeks, so I am just getting in for the night, but I saw this on Huffington Post and thought it was pretty cool. I am especially liking in since Manhattan's Summer Streets event is coming up in August and I will be able to see it first hand.

I have written before about Bogota's Ciclovia, and I am always looking for ways to reclaim asphalt in favor of human interaction, but I have never seen anything on this scale. A town in Germany recently shut down an entire section of Autobahn—that's right, the famous German highways with no speed limit—in order to hold a gigantic party for upwards of 3 million people!

The event, called "Still Life", was being held to celebrate the naming of the Ruhr region as the European Cultural Capital for 2010. According to the Huffington Post, which has a fabulous slideshow of the Still Life festivities, 3 million people turned out, with one million of them making an appearance on their bicycles, to enjoy the 37 miles of closed highway. To top off the festivities, everyone sat down to break bread at a 60 kilometer (37 mile) table made up of over 20,000 individual tables.

It goes without saying that events like this are an exception from the norm. But what an exception! The more we can learn to look at our public spaces not as routes to get from A to B, but as spaces to celebrate and get to know one and other, the more chance we have of digging ourselves out of the hole we find ourselves in.