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  1. Allison Romero

    In “Filling the Vacancy,” Gallagher talks about ways that vacant lots are transformed with even minimal effort. One of the things that I especially liked reading about was how sculptures and art can transform spaces. When I went to Chicago, I saw “the Bean” and I could see how much everyone loved it. There were people all over the park, kids playing and everyone just hanging out. That was the most engaged I think I have ever seen the public with an outdoor sculpture. Another outdoor sculpture that I have seen interest in was the “LOVE” sculpture in New York City. Although I personally have no strong interest in that particular piece of art, it seems to be well-liked. On the other hand, “The Arch” was strongly disliked. Therefore, when I was reading about how art transforms space, I think it really depends what the sculpture is. In the case of public, outdoor art, I personally think that positive, attractive pieces are best suited. Many artists likes to make social and political statements but it seems like in the case of art placed in a public sphere like a park, people would prefer something that is creative and even playful. It was also interesting to read about guerrilla art projects because our group had discussed guerrilla gardens, in which plants would pop up in unusual places. Although I understand how this can be problematic, in some ways I want to applaud the “guerrillas” who did these acts. It shows that citizens care enough about their surroundings that, rather than wait for someone else, they will take action.

    It was also interesting to me to read about how trees are seen as unimportant because they are considered “free.” Although I see how people take resources for granted, what is especially sad is that planners will take for granted one of the most fundamental plants in the world. Especially considering their benefits, it would seem like a no-brainer to try to include them wherever possible. They are also aesthetically pleasing and have a soothing effect that simply can’t be overlooked. Similarly, trying to separate the wildlife from the cities seems blatantly problematic. Obviously if another animal can survive in a certain environment, it is better for us. Despite all of these problems though, it was reassuring to read about how people and cities are trying to return to a lifestyle closer to nature.

  2. Hollander:
    What made Hollander’s point convincing in this article was him stating the facts that nearly 10 million homes have been vacated since 2008, and that this loss of ownership may be slowing down but it does not seem to be stopping. I never read any numbers on this problem, so it made the importance of addressing the problem immediately clear. I think it is important to start to revamp these properties sooner rather than later because, as Hollander points out, this problem has a somewhat domino effect. Unmaintained, vacant properties drive down the property value of a neighborhood, leading to less maintenance of the rest of the neighborhood, and then further abandonment by other owners. FHFA needs to this plan of reusing/destroying vacant homes while there is still any sense of community in these affected neighborhoods; they should use the money they have to execute this new plan instead of funneling more money into prevention, whish has not worked in nearly 7 years. Office spaces, artist studios, and cheap rental homes is a better solution than hoping someone reclaims an unkempt vacant lot. As he said, being smart now will help neighborhoods and cities be more resilient in similar future situations.

    Gallagher:
    I find the way Gallagher writes to be very inspirational. He breaks down the problem of vacant lots very simply, calling these lots ‘the most basic unit’ of urban recovery. Gallagher explains how future of a city hinges on what is done with these lots; it can go one way or the other, into revitalization or complete decay. That is the point that really stood out to me. A neighborhood should act upon these lots as soon as possible to prevent them from continuing in a downward spiral.

    I also really liked when Gallagher pointed out that this is the chance for a neighborhood to finally do something they’ve always wanted to, like the park that the community built in Philly. Vacant lots signify a problem, but they also a huge opportunity for positive change. They can be small, cheap solutions such as parks or urban forests, or larger investments such a geothermal wells, but it is important to just do something. He also gave an example of a sculpture park; this is one of my favorite ideas and I think site-specific art could be a good source of pride for a community. My favorite point he made was when he said that the possibilities for these lots are only limited by a community’s imagination.

    Herscher:
    I like the idea of incorporating education into urban farming like the academy in this chapter did. Like Herscher explains, what students learn while they work with the plants and animals plays into other areas of their lives (parenting, cooking, and overall health). I think this is an especially good use of vacant plots in areas that healthy, local food is not readily available. Such a project would help the people of the community as well as the land and property value themselves.

  3. Julianna: Gallagher, filling vacant lots:
    When my group and I went to see our site for our project, I was shocked to see such a large vacant lot sitting there next to the road. It was covered in weeds, concrete chunks and most of all trash. When someone see’s a vacant lot, they automatically see it as a junk yard to dump their junk, so there is trash everywhere so it doesn’t stay clean or kept up. Finding ways to clean up lots and making them into parks is wonderful because it brings communities together and gives a neighborhood a clean healthy outlook on life. Although it is expensive to clean up parks and grow plants in a new area, It still should be pursued with any means to complete the job. Making a green space is wonderful and should be utilized more in cities. It helps calm and relax people in a busy city setting. Putting art in a park is also great because it gives local artists a chance to show what they can do to better a space that is unusable or unnatural looking.

    Hollander: First Whales, now Brownsfield:
    To demolish an unused building because it is a health hazard to the public is jumping the gun a bit too fast. Not thinking about how the space can be used in a positive way can be a waste. Back where I live, there are old factories all over Worcester. What I have noticed is not demolition, but refurbishing factories into residential apartments. The old brick walls get refurbished and the broken window panes get completely replaced to efficient double pane windows. The space looks amazing when I drive by it and I only hope that the same idea can be brought to use in other old factories. It’s understandable if there are so many factories in one area that they can’t be all refurbished, but they all don’t need to be knocked down. Trying to find ideas to refurbish old mills and large factory spaces is hard because the amount of large rooms that they include, but with a little help, they can be used for the better. Without collecting hazardous trash and graffiti on the walls.

  4. Ryan Gallagher
    October 29, 2013

    Justin Hollander, “What To Do With Vacant Houses,” in  Slate Magazine.

    This article was a broad overview of what is happening with the overall housing problem that is sweeping arose the nation. The only thing that seemed quite shocking to me was the numbers
    “At last count, 9.9 million homes have been foreclosed upon since 2008, contributing to a total of more than 10 million vacant homes in the United States. Among those, more than 210,000 are owned by Uncle Sam, stemming from owner defaults on their mortgages.”
    This seemed a lot higher than I thought and makes the problem a lot larger that is really being addressed. I think that creative minds are underutilized in this country and that they have yet to seek out creative help much like the minds in this class. I don’t think there is one answer as far as taking care of the problem. The housing issue is so wide spread and the solution depends on where you are and the neighborhood and community that surrounds it.
    For example just in New bedford this issue is heightened and not one solution would work for each of the locations we chose, so how could it work the same for a problem on a national level. I think its short sighted to let resources rot within this country when we could better utilize the space that we have. Industry has left this country but I don’t think the spirt has left I think the people that live here are industrial and could make something happen with these spaces that do not always need to be dictated by capitol.

  5. | Filing The Vacancy |

    Cruising down the roads of New Bedford, I couldn’t help but to notice the vacant lots. Vacant lots are everywhere, I just haven’t opened my perceived judgement on them before discussing the subject. Creating a park with a ‘purpose’ in Philadelphia (urban farm) clearly was a road map to revitalization since the space today is utilized by the community. The integration of local food, sculptures, playgrounds, and stages for musical performances wraps up a purposeful area. Northern Liberties Park is an extremely effective way to rescue a vacant lot but for starters all vacant lots should be maintained in order to not devalue surrounding neighborhoods. The Philadelphia Green Program is an implementation every town should push. As read in the article, vacant lot improvements can increase surrounding home values up to 30%! The before and after pictures cast the measure of effectiveness the Green Program achieved. The cost will repay itself. The concepts of integrating art , community engagement, and other useful spaces for the people showcases the culture and tendencies of the community in a way. Even if the space is not used purposely, vacant lots should always be cared for.

  6. An article I just found posted on Oct. 25th. – Related to the above readings!

    A 140-Acre Forest Is About to Materialize in the Middle of Detroit

    Hantz Farms will pay more than $500,000 for the land, which consists of non-contiguous parcels in an area where occupied homes are increasingly surrounding by abandoned properties.
    The company has committed to clearing 50 derelict structures, cleaning up the garbage dumped across the neighborhood, planting 15,000 trees, and mowing regularly. Planting of the hardwoods will begin in earnest next fall, and the urban forest will be called Hantz Woodlands.

    http://m.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/10/140-acre-forest-about-materialize-middle-detroit/7371/

  7. Maura Silva

    John Gallagher, Filling the Vacancy:
    In this reading it discusses how you can use negligible effort and cheap funding to fix vacant lots and really anything that seems to be decaying. Something that caught my attention in the reading was about how art can transform something into beauty. Art can alter space to become more interactive in the community. It could be a garden, sculpture, and parks, anything that could make that area become more beneficial. The reading discusses how trees seem unimportant but I disagree, trees are a landmark, they can age longer than us humans, therefore being here longer than us. They create a natural beauty and soothing appearance for the community; more green spaces need to be installed. Even though cities usually take them out, I think this is unhealthy and definitely one of the problems to why cities become ruins. Gallagher makes a good point about how it can go one way or another, revitalization or decaying. That is why people need to take a stand before they let their home city turn into an abandoned ruin.

    Justin Hollander, What to do with Vacant Houses:
    He discusses how many houses are becoming more abandoned and doesn’t seem to be decreasing in numbers, but instead increasing. This creates a large problem in the community, makes people feel abandoned themselves not just the house in the neighborhood. I know it cost a lot of money to knock a house down, which I think it is stupid that things cost a lot of money in our economy, because if we could knock houses down we could rebuild a new house with those materials or a green space for the community. I know we should be trying to keep it standing, so obviously that would be the first thought of what we could do to keep it alive. We could make these homes real cheap for families, we could make them into apartments, we could make it into orphanages, maybe art studios, office spaces, and anything to reuse what is still standing for now before demolition. We just need people to stop littering and vandalizing so these ruins can stay in good shape, security should be an obligation.

  8. Filling the Vacancy:
    This article was actually very useful for me because it reminded me a lot of what my groups proposal is going to be. My group has decided to place a park on a vacant lot that is surrounded my businesses and neighborhoods, just like in Philadelphia.
    In North Liberties, Philadelphia, the town for several years had abandoned lots and mills surrounding their neighborhoods. In the 1980s the US Environmental Protection Agency removed the abandoned mills. In the 1990s the residents in the neighborhoods decided to turn the vacant lots into a park. They wanted to have a park that would be useful to the residents instead of just having a park with benches and grass. They wanted the community to be involved to plant gardens in the park. Today, the park, also known as The Liberty Lands park, is the heart of the community and now has broadened to having several more garden, artists sculptures, and even a playground for the children. This park reminds me a lot of what we wanted to do with my groups proposal. We wanted something in our park that would get the community involved. We hope to have an entire section in the park dedicated to artists because we want the people become involved and aware of the arts. We do not want the arts to fall apart like how it is in schools. We hope by getting students in schools or the community involved it will make the community a better place.

  9. It seems to me the reading gets better and better every week. I really enjoyed the tactics for re-imagining vacant lots in John Gallager’s chapter “Filling the Vacancy”. Revitalizing the city with green space is something anyone can do with limited funds. This has been a common theme throughout the readings these past weeks but this chapter gave many examples of this in practice. My favorite example was the Philadelphia Green Program. The reason why this example resonated in me was from the effect it had on the neighborhood. Not only did it make the neighborhood look better because there wasn’t a littered lot any longer but it made residents want to improve their own plots. This increase in aesthetics ends up raising the overall property value of the area. It is no secret that green areas look good, almost all of us agree this is a fact; The most coveted apartments in New York City overlook the park. However, the idea that just a few trees can boosts the salable value by 20% was astounding to me. That impact should not be ignored fiscally or socially. There is a social value to planting the trees and shrubs and erecting a fence. The most dramatic difference came from the intent of the project. It was the idea in people’s heads that somebody cares enough about this environment to work on improving it. Not only does it give the community hope it gives the individual hope too.

    I also read about the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit. I think the school is a great idea for an area with a high rate of teen pregnancy. It is so crucial for mothers to bond with their children and going to a regular high school would prevent that type of bonding. But girls cannot just simply drop out of high school. They have mouths to feed now they NEED education! It is a noble establishment to accommodate these needs. I also thought it was great how holistic the curriculum of the academy was. Farming can really teach you a lot about life and the interaction with nature is beneficial in so many ways. The students of the academy not only watch their children and their crops grow but also themselves and their community and that is an excellent education!

  10. What to do with Vacant Houses – Hollander
    I thought this article was really interesting. Hollander ended his article with the idea and term of smart shrinkage policies. I think the idea of smart shrinkage is a really interesting one. He started the article by stating the issues; there are tons of empty houses in this country. Since 2008, about 9.9 million homes have been foreclosed, and that is part of the total 10 million homes which are empty. The author tells us that there are over 210,000 homes owned by the US government because the people who were living in them defaulted on their mortgage. Hollander then goes on to discuss some solutions. The Federal Home Finance Agency (FHFA) has a plan to rent out these empty houses, but as our author points out, there are some issues with that. If I had just heard that the FHFA was going to be renting out these houses, my thoughts would have originally been that it’s not such a bad idea, at least someone is going to be living there, but after hearing with Hollander has to say, I begin to like his own ideas better. The problem with renting out these houses is that they tend to already be in pretty bad shape from the time which they were empty. The houses for rent will drive the prices down, and then we end up in a sort of sad loop. When the prices are brought down, there is not enough money to fix up the houses; when the houses aren’t fixed up, the prices go down even further. As a solution to this whole situation, Hollander suggests that the homes are torn down to make space for nonresidential places. I think this is a really good idea. There is no use having all of these empty houses, why don’t we create a different type of community for the people who are still living in the nearby houses. These spaces could be anything from offices, stores, even to parks, gardens, or wildlife sanctuaries. This would also help to turn these areas into mixed use communities where people are able to walk to work or the store, or walk their children to go pick fresh cucumbers from the garden.

  11. Hollander

    I really enjoyed this reading because it was the first one to stress the importance of a community/the impact a community or NGO can have on making changes in a city like New Bedford. Hollander started out with a very good point, which was that the larger strategy of a city should be to attract new residents and create new jobs. This should be considered when deciding what to do with a building; will bulldozing it really be the best option or would reuse be more appropriate? Sometimes destroying the building will be most necessary, especially if the building is an immediate health threat, like one of the mills was for the residents of a retirement home in New Bedford.

    It was also noted that even though bulldozing may take care of the immediate problem of a building being an eyesore, which is the sole reason some abandoned buildings are destroyed, that doesn’t mean the contamination will disappear. Some sites will remain heavily contaminated for years or even decades. When researching my thesis, which deals with pollution in New Bedford, I read that cleaning the harbor can cost upwards of $600 per cubic yard. Cleaning up these sites will be lengthy and very expensive.

    The HI-TOAD sites that Hollander wrote about were all brought to change because of the communities, not because of local government officials deciding to address the problem on their own. This ‘community empowerment’ is what I think is needed for more of these sites to have the same positive change. When community support keeps pushing and growing, there seems to be much more following through. I also think that when change starts from the bottom-up and not the top-down, more long-lasting and beneficial changes are made. The community who must live amongst this sites have the clearest vision for the city, and often has better solutions that those higher up. It also seems to be even more effective when neighborhoods team up with local organization/NGOs; teaming up like this gives the community more pull, and it is harder for them to be ignored.

    My other favorite point that was made was when Hollander wrote that a ‘lack of a reuse plan’ is really a ‘failure to engage in the community.’ Like I mentioned before, the community often knows just exactly what they want to do with a site. A variety of community groups (art, educational, environmental) should make up a sort of reuse committee that helps create the overarching plan for the city’s future. This idea of the people planning and the city leaders facilitating is what I think will create the projects with the most longevity.

  12. Allison Romero

    I really liked reading “First Whales, Now Brownfields.” It was interesting to read about a city right here, especially now that we’ve read about so many other cities. I had never known about how many places had been affected by New Bedford citizens. I had always seen New Bedford as fairly left alone but it was encouraging to read about people who wanted to change it and said what they wanted. The best example was the Pierce Mills. Residents wanted it to be turned into a park and rather than ignoring it, action began. The city actually listened to the public and everyone benefited because it served as a healthy change for residents and fulfilled requirements for the Harbor Trustee Council funding. Although cases may vary, this is proof that it is entirely possible for citizens and their city officials to agree on how to use the land in their cities. This mutual decision was positive for everyone and can be in many other instances.

  13. The unreal estate guide to Detroit

    What I found interesting about this article was the ideas of looking at the changes a city like Detroit undergoes are always thought of in a negative light. I liked how the article described peoples understanding of this change as “change is understood as loss” and “difference is understood as decline”. I know myself I often look at things this way. But like this article said, this isn’t always the truth. By looking at these “problems” with an open mind we can see that these changes allow for new opportunities that might not have been possible before. Like in Detroit, these problems have allowed to make the city space smaller and create more green space. This city with a bad rap can now rebuild and become somewhere great that people want to live.

  14. – Noah Adams – In Paducah, Artists Create Something From Nothing
    – Andrew Herscher – The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit

    I started off reading Noah Adams’ article about Paducah, Kentucky and artist relocation program that the community have created. They started in 2000, and I find it unbelievable that they were selling foreclosures and vacant lots for a dollar. They turned an area with condemned buildings, grand Victorian homes chopped up into apartments, drug use, crack sales and prostitution into the Lowertown Arts District. This is a great achievement for any city or town to turn such run down area into a haven or hub for inspiration to community members and tourists. They invested so much but in return gain so much more. I really love this article and eventually I will end up visiting Paducah in the future.

  15. Hollander “First Whales, Now New Bedford”

    Hollander speaks about city of New Bedford and their communities problems. The community wants to take control over their neighborhoods and make a safer and better place to live. The HI-TOADS sites were a main reason for their government to get involved in New Bedford. They thought that the easier way to correct the problem was to get rid of buildings all together. Hollander also takes about how once these buildings are destroyed they do not reuse the materials. This makes me upset because this government wants to destroy destroy destroy but run out of money to create a park for their community to enjoy. One thing that I did not like is the amount of contamination that was in New Bedford. I feel like the U.S. talks about how bad the conditions are in other countries, but as the time goes on and we get older our conditions get worse. The pollution, crime, and the chemicals that we put into our bodies everyday has tripled dramatically. We want to just sweep it under our rug and act like it’s not happening to us because we live in America and its not suppose to be happening here. The only thing that was interesting to me was great only two of the five HI-TOAD sites were transformed. Which in my opinion I think that number should be higher.

  16. Maura Silva

    Hollander: First Whales, Now Brownfield’s: New Bedford, Mass.

    When you walk in down town New Bedford, you realize how these cobble stone roads must have had a million people’s feet walking through it. A once active city is now a historical one. It is sad that New Bedford is becoming a known ruin, when it should be kept alive. The Portuguese culture, the beautiful art, the little shops and restaurants is what makes it the city it is, even today. The graffiti and vandalism and abandoned buildings need to be fixed so people feel safer and realize it has hope. Sadly the people of New Bedford are sort of the ones to blame. Most of the time these buildings are just knocked down and destroyed; instead of reusing them to create a sense of beauty and being sustainable. We need to make a change and fix these problems, and think of ways to save money to prevent a ruin and help any cities that may face this tragedy.

  17. Ryan
    What I took away most from this reading about urban renewal is the effect a city’s mindset can have on a shrinking city when it comes to redevelopment and urban design. Ryan cited many cities, such as Columbia and Detroit, using their failures and successes as examples of the good and the bad that can come from what approach they take.
    One point Ryan made that really struck me is when he explained the differences between the paths that Columbia and Detroit took when it came to urban planning and design. Columbia wanted to address and correct the urban inequality by completed many smaller, more modest projects that were both visually attractive and practical. These actions –where they were created- proved that the new government did care about the well being of the lower class, while Detroit chose to rather initiate a few large-scale projects that, in the overall scheme of things, did not improve the well being of the city. What I took from this is that a few huge, expensive projects done on a larger scale are not always what are best, and are not as beneficial as a large number of small-scale local projects would be. This plan would be more comprehensive, while the other route runs the chance of saving only a few neighborhoods and letting ‘the rest go to waste.’ I really liked the phrase he referred to mindset as, which is ‘purposeful neglect.’
    Ryan also pointed out that the shrinking cities of Detroit and Philadelphia that followed the demolition-based route basically ended up in the same place they were in before the demo, but instead of being left with vacant homes and businesses, they are now left with vacant lots with no future plan for them. I believe demolition can be a practical plan for sites that post an immediate health threat, but whenever possible cities should create a complete redevelopment plan. This will prevent overzealous demo that leave the planners with more empty lots than they have vision for. Another factor most people don’t consider that was brought up was the existence of residents who live in the mostly vacated, demolished lots. Demo-based mindsets neglect these people and their future. It more or less predicts their fate for them.
    The last point Ryan made that really stuck out to me was that the existence of all of these empty lots, or soon to be empty lots, present the city with an opportunity to reprioritize, and use of this land for their new priorities and ideals. Being a shrinking city unfortunate, but is a great chance to restart with all of this new open land. Ryan briefly mentioned how some policies seemed to stifle any ‘experimentation or ambition.’ I feel this is the exact opposite of the approach a city in such a position should be taking; never will they be more free to experiment than when trying to rebuild themselves.

  18. Allison Romero

    In “Reinventing America’s Legacy Cities,” Mallach informs the reader that the U.S. cannot afford to give up on its shrinking cities. Successful competitors do not allow their older cities to fall apart and therefore America cannot either. With this in mind, Mallach discusses how cities need to be evaluated on so many different levels. Facts cannot give an accurate depiction of the city without qualitative data and characteristics. A point that Mallach mentions is appealing to people that might migrate to the city. I think this is especially important because it can draw attention and be important in recreating the city’s image. For example, as New Bedford drew in the art scene and as artists came to visit, they changed the atmosphere of the city. Also, by bringing in artists, it not only helps tourism but these artists have worked to improve the city as well. Mallach then suggests ways that cities can reinvent themselves. One point that I enjoyed was the idea of positively suggesting people to relocate to vacant spaces. By building up previously vacant areas, the city of Boston has drawn people to otherwise lonely parts of the area. The importance of drawing immigrants into cities is another key point I think. For example, from working on our group project about the Wamsutta Mills, I’ve learned about how the Wamsutta Mills drew in many immigrants as workers. However, this also revitalized the city in what was its second “golden era” so to speak. Having so many newcomers changed the city’s image into a positive multicultural hub.

  19. | Brent Ryan- Toward Social Urbanism |

    The start of this article was intriguing by introducing the revolution of social urbanism. Comparing Detroit, Phili, and Medellin is interesting regarding political administration and the results of such different visions. Over the 7 years of the revolution, Medellin’s urban implementations rejuvenated the city. Medellin’s population increased by 620% and Detroit’s decreased by 50% within the same period yet Medellin’s design and planning projects benefited poor neighborhoods far beyond living conditions in Detroit. The approach that Medellin took worked successfully even while working with a larger population. Sometimes a cities urban decline is due to environmental causes that is inevitable to experience but improvement plans and government forces can be controlled in order to impact the city in either a positive or negative way. Reading about Detroit in the ‘worse case scenario’ perspective shined a light on government and policy agendas. The few, large scale projects Detroit worked on indeed gave positive enhances to that area, but what about the other 90% of the city? Why couldn’t the city officials plan as opened mindfully as Medellin’s? The overall vision of the two cities clearly differed and there is a disadvantage to all in the long run when the people in power do not care for their community as a whole.

  20. Mallach: Reinventing Legacy Cities:
    Growing up in a small town, there wasn’t a lot of diversity in the area. Maybe a few Asians and African Americans, but that was it. The only time I was able to be in a more diverse area was when I was in a heavier populated area like Worcester or Fitchburg. This brings me to another topic about what areas are more diverse than others. A town that is formed with a lot of wealth and money will have people in a higher class live there and remain there. A town that began industrial where all sorts of people live, will have more diversity. Holden, a small town family and elderly area has a lot of middle class families. Fitchburg, kind of like Detroit with old factories everywhere has working class families there. But usually in big cities like Boston, you will find a melting pot of almost every nationality there.
    Rebuilding a city that needs a push back into a healthy and safe living environment is great but wont be a quick process. Having a vision to build up a city or revamp is the first goal to have. After having a vision, a lot of people’s participation will be needed to contribute to the cleaning and renovating. Financially, this is a big jump in people’s pockets but in order to gain something safe and clean, money is needed to e spent. Having regions collaborate also help to contributing because towns that are grungy have a low population. A large population is needed to help the rebuilding. Rebuilding takes a long time and money but is completely worth it in order to safe what we cherish.

  21. Alan Mallach ” Learning from Abroad”

    Mallach made it his point that the cause of the shrinking cities are by urban problems. Problems such as welfare dependency, population decline and out-migration, rising unemployment, and physical decay of the urban environment or housing vacancies. The insight of the Urban Decline in The Rise and Fall of Industrial Cities was interesting. From 1970’s to the early 2000’s, cities were losing between 35% to 76% of their industrial jobs. Mallach says that the cities that have old heavy industries “suffered the most”. Which is true because if people and their city is so dependent on mining, steel and shipbuilding, and they have a major industrial loss unemployment will sky rocket. In the 1970’s all the way to the 1990’s the unemployment rate increased dramatically. This industrial decline effected the low skilled workforce mostly. The company sees it as if you can not work at the pace that they want or your at the bottom of the barrel, of course you were up to loss your job. Out of all the cities Mallach has talked about In this chapter Bilbao has suffered the worse unemployment rate with over 20%.
    Another cause was population decline. The city of Belfast has had a population decline in the 1950’s but has still continued to decline in the 1900’s and later. What was news to me was that out of all the cities, the US has the worse population decline rate. Mallach has came to the conclusion about how the population rate has declined by more employment opportunities for younger folks and pollution, urban decay and social problems.

  22. Leveling Sidewalks:
    I found this article to be interesting but at the same time it was hard to understand. However what caught my attention was the Leveling Sidewalks. In the 1950s and 1960s American cities expanded and highways were put in. Through this the citizens lived closer together instead of spreading out in a city. In struggling cities the development does not help the citizens within it. Citizens have started to move out of the city and have move to the suburbs. Because of this the government focuses on constructing malls, sport stadiums, etc. to accommodate the suburban citizens. So although there are cities that are struggling, the governments puts the tax money or direct payments in order to provide for the suburban people so they can thrive.
    A way to help a city to accommodate, thrive and for growth there is the idea of putting in walkways and bicycle paths for the citizens. Also what is important is to support the developments for the citizens, short term and long term. With focusing on growth within a city, there has to be an understanding of benefits for jobs, transportation, housing, etc. A great example that the article uses is New York and the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act. This act focuses on taking the cities tax money and focuses more of this money on creating an environmental sustainable state. This act will protect environments with resources and will focus on reducing the amount of cars used. Although this doesn’t focus on the city specifically, it is a great start in focusing with an entire state.

  23. Maura Silva

    Brent Ryan “Towards a Social Urbanism”

    When it comes to redevelopment and urban design of a shrinking city, a cities mindset can be troubling. A city can try various ways to approach how to fix a ruin. There are failures and successes to these approaches. In the article it discussed Detroit and Columbia’s approaches and situation. Columbia wanted to fix the urban inequality by creating smaller projects that were more efficient, practical, and more visually attractive to the viewers eye. This helped the city because it was affordable. Detroit otherwise decided to create larger projects that did not help the well being of the city. The projects were just too expensive and not practical. This caused the city to focus these larger projects on certain areas of the city, so the rest was left neglected to become a wasteland. Ryan also discussed demolition. I personally feel that you should not destroy buildings to create these vacant lots, I feel we should try to reuse the property and material so these buildings can save money and be reused. The overall vision of what the city could be was different between these ruins. I know that it discussed how the environment can be the reason for a ruin, but the government and community can take charge to fix this problem. It’s unfortunate everything revolves around money in order to save the world. For a city to be renewed the whole community must cooperate and want a change, if not, the city is at a disadvantage and can cause the shrinking city to never be fixed.

    Alan Mallach “Reinventing America’s Legacy Cities”

    The United States cannot give up on shrinking cities. Shrinking cities needs our help, because if we do not fix it, no one will. And then people will see carelessness. We cannot let our cities fall apart, other countries don’t. Mallach discusses how an evaluation needs to be taken. Research and data about these shrinking cities will be helpful to find out how it was caused, what we can do to fix it, and even more how we can prevent it. Cities can reinvent themselves; they just need to work together as a community to come up with profitable ideas.

  24. I just realized that I never actually posted this, sorry!
    Learning from Abroad: Lessons from European Shrinking Cities – Alan Mallach
    The author of this excerpt, Alan Mallach, begins by discussing the causes of the shrinking cities. He points out that the decrease in industry is often linked to being the cause of the urban problems which come with post industrial cities such as unemployment and out-migration. When considering this situation in both Europe and out country in this way, they are not very different. The author seeks to determine if there is a common series of events of growth, decline, and recovery between all of these cities. This chapter contains a bunch of case studies of how other countries have dealt with their post industrial cities. Many of the cities discussed have been around much longer than any in this country; many of these cities were founded in the medieval times with very different functions. As time went on, these cities turned industrial due to thing such as proximity to resources.
    The author then goes on to discuss urban recovery. This is a discussion how cities attempt to get out of the rut they are or were stuck in. One of the first steps is changing the way that people are looking at the situation. The cities need to switch from an industrial mindset to a post industrial mindset. This means changing their view of the future. An example is Bremen; they were a port city, but transitioned to be a “city of science” instead, based more on technology. These cities must have a strategy for dealing with their situation. Two type of actions which may be taken are economic development and actions which aim to tackle the problems such as a declining population.
    Another section of this chapter is about the way these cities are governed. In Germany, some public city services were privatized. This is not the only case; it became more common for partnerships to form between the public and private sectors. I think that this is pretty interesting, but it gets into some subjects which I do not fully understand. Something which is done to help bring these cities back are things which would make the places stand out. This could mean new projects such as huge new museums and other landmarks which could bring value to the city.
    The author also discusses some differences between the ways that we deal with neighborhoods from those in European cities. Here, we put resources into neighborhoods which have been deemed as savable. These are generally low income areas, and the attempts do not do much in the way of changing or making a lasting effect on the area. In Europe, there are layers of government which deal with neighborhoods that need help. There are two different types of residential neighborhoods discussed, one of them is working class neighborhoods in inner cities and the other is mass-housing estates. To deal with these issues of neighborhoods in Bremen, they first identified the areas which were most deprived and gave them resources. The country of Germany then set up their own program called WIN which helped in other ways such as events and educations resources.

  25. Excerpts from Silent Spring- Rachel Carson:
    I really enjoyed this article because it focused on the growth of the world environmentally. Carson discusses the fact that the world has taken thousands of years to develop and grow and in a matter of several decades we humans are killing it. It is only because all the chemicals that we have created and used has caused this situation. Even within the food that we grow and eat are full of chemicals. All the chemicals have been sucked into the soil and has caused damage to the earth. The only way that earth could heal itself would not involve the assistance of human being at all. Carson also discussed how scientists have created these weapons that are killing the earth but there is nothing being done to fix this situation.
    This article I felt was very moving because the class has focused more on post industrial cities. We haven’t really focused on what the factories or scientists have done to the earth. In order to understand sustainability and creating a world that is Eco- green we need to understand why and how our world is falling apart. The best way to understand this is to understand how chemicals are effecting the earth and the possible outcomes of this situation and what could be done to help the earth.

  26. Julianna Thibeault

    Excerpts from a Silent Spring:
    “Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.” This is a pretty powerful quote because it sums up that man has done something wrong when it created killer chemicals and radiation. It’s eating away the life on earth that survives on this single planet.There isn’t anywhere else for us to go, so this is our only home. I wonder if this reflects the dangerous environment in the movie Wall-E when Earth was no longer a sustainable environment and everyone that existed, went to space. To destroy what we live on is not what we should be doing. We survived fine before the Atom Bomb and radiation and chemicals, so why did we need them in the first place? Convenience? I understand somehow creating the bombs that cause corrosion, but knowing afterwards and still keeping them around is beyond me.
    –The clip in WALL-E with earth not being sustainable is after 1:00. It’s very short but explains earth not being healthy to live in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJWc4PD317w

    Five Axioms of sustainability:
    “Characteristics of a durable society” I read that line and wondered what they were. The thought never occurred to me and it interested me. It was interesting to know about Steps A, B C and D about guidelines to a healthier living. Not to Extract from earths crust, increase substances in society, not over-harvest and t overuse what can’t be easily replaced when used by humans. It’s finny how nowadays, we are breaking every guideline and not following them religiously. If we all started to slowly break these steps into our daily habits, living would be easier and more focused. Never mind war on other nations, lets keep this world spinning that we all live on.

    Equality and the Common interest:
    It may be hard to close down the major farms that have established 50+ acres of crops for consumers and buyers. All these chemicals being put into the soil will eventually make its way to people eating the food and animals eating the grass. I understand pesticides needing to be used because its easy to look after acres of crops from bugs and worms, but why not downscale the size of crops? Does this society really need tons and tons of trucking food from one state to another when we could all grow small crops to sustain our town, city or even neighbors? Smaller gardens are easy to care for and can be healthy. Over eating food made from high-fructose corn syrup is harmful and is what is causing this continent obesity problems. If we stopped growing food by the millions, we can cut back on food being made for grocery stores at a high level. We can then cut down on consuming and over growing crops.

  27. On behalf of Emily Reinauer

    Five Axioms
    This reading made a lot of good points even though, as the author mentioned, most of them were well known or common sense. He began with a point that resonated a lot with me, saying that the word ‘sustainability’ is overused and used carelessly, making it more and more devoid of meaning as time goes on. Personally, I hear the word tossed around a lot, being applied to anything possible, and it has started to lose some punch.

    The first point states that if a society uses its critical, nonrenewable resources, it will eventually collapse, and the rate of collapse is equal to the rate we harvest these resources. This sort of collapse, via loss of resources, is more gradual than other causes such as war or famine. The fact that this sort of collapse is so gradual and yet is still happening, to me, seems like our society is more or less choosing this fate by not slowing consumption or choosing alternatives.

    Heinbern did mention the difficult part about alternative resources is that they are often inferior. We will first use up the easy to harvest ones and continually move on to less and less sufficient alternatives that are also even more difficult to get at. This is why slowing down while also moving towards alternative is key, rather than just moving substitute to substitute.

    The second axiom is that population growth, with our consumption rates, can simply not be sustained. I never really thought about the problem Heinberg explained, which is that growth keeps compounding into ‘unsupportable’ numbers. Population and consumption will continue to grow exponentially, and though we have been sustained until now, mathematically we cannot keep this is up. This fact alone should be enough motivation to encourage the switch to alternatives.

    The third axiom explains how to be sustainable, has to be equal or less than the resource’s rate of replenishment. A really good example of this problem is an issue that New Bedford is experiencing right now. New Bedford fishermen or now experience an extreme increase in regulations and quotas because the supply/diversity of fish is dwindling. They must now be under strict quotas until the fish population has time to restore itself. The same problem can happen to any natural resource. The fourth axiom is along the same idea, and explains that the idea route for sustainability is for our dependence on a resource to end before it is completely exhausting. I think this is obviously ideal; while there is a chance we may find new sources of a specific resource, or develop better technology, which gives us the ability to harvest more of it, this is not something we should bank on, and is not a reliable option to actual alternative sources.

    The last axiom I found to be fairly evident, and it states that substances introduced into the environment from humans should be harmless to the environment. This will help prevent ‘collapse-inducing impacts.’ New Bedford is a good example of this axiom as well. The release of PCBs from the textile industry is and will continue to negatively affect the community for years to come. It is definitely a factor that can lead to economic collapse because it is a main contributor to the demise of the fish population. This shows how 50 or so careless years of pollution can affect a city in unimaginable ways.

  28. Allison Romero

    The excerpts from Silent Spring offered poetic insight into the development of Earth’s environmental issues. People are not even aware of all of the damage they’ve done. Even within the past 5-10 years, I can see how people are becoming more involved in protecting the environment. The majority of Americans are getting involved; we are trying to right the wrongs of past generations of industrialization. Human have been bearing down on the natural world to the point where nature is trying to fight back. As bugs adjust to our pesticides, they adapt (as we have adapted) to create even more terrifying changes. Therefore, it becomes a cycle as we struggle against nature. However, the “Five Axioms of Sustainability” offer ways to change our course in history. By using less non-renewable resources (#4) and more renewable resources based on natural replenishment (#3), we could create a balance that was otherwise non-existent. This will eliminate the probably outcome that is listed as Tainter’s Axiom about the collapse of societies that overuse resources. This can be compared to anything–any person who lives above their means and overuses their personal funds/resources will eventually lose everything. I feel like, putting it into perspective like this will help people understand the gravity of the situation. Overall, I liked the Silent Springs excerpt because I think it got to the point in a very powerfully worded way. Although full of good rationale, it was emotionally charged and beautifully put together to cause distress in any person.

  29. | Excerpts from Silent Spring (1962) |

    Having a large interest in science, the second half of Carson’s excerpt related to my conceptual thoughts on this subject. Regarding all of the products, technology, and manufacturing we have created while producing all of these chemicals, “…. they are the synthetic creations of man’s
    inventive mind, brewed in his laboratories, and having no counterparts in nature.” Distinguishing the disconnection of chemicals (and energy) mankind has had with nature. This sentence “…500 new chemicals to which the bodies of men and animals are required somehow to adapt each year, chemicals totally outside the limits of biologic experience” frightens me since our bodies are constantly experiences harmful chemical reactions due to our culture.

    | Five Axioms of Sustainability |

    Very intriguing article! Words have such an impact on our perception of a matter so digging into the ‘realistic’ meaning of the word sustainability is crucial. I am not surprised that the concept of sustainability started with an indigenous civilization, for they are extremely conscious of their natural surroundings. I enjoyed reading the history of sustainability while learning new information and also seeing the familiar (“meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”). Reading the five Axioms of sustainability are matters that I have previously touched upon in sustainability classes. I like the way the author formatted the discussion and the theories behind it all.

    | Our Common Future |

    #72 states, “The common theme throughout this strategy for sustainable development is the need to integrate economic and ecological considerations in decision making.” This is one of the concepts that stuck out to me since I am a business major (Organizational Behavior Leadership). Indeed most of the business world runs on greed and creates most of these hazards in our environment but I do believe we can positively change our behaviors and way of thinking within business. To me, it will all start with motivating employee behaviors to act and initiate on new ideas in a more ‘sustainable way’. Leadership, business visions, and the bottom line (which should be the triple bottom line – people, planet, profit) can make a powerful impact by redirecting out memes to a more natural and universally spiritual way. We can still use our advancements of this century but we do not need to overuse them and negatively abuse them. Creating an economic flow by consciously caring for our resources and people can create a major impact if everyone is on board.

  30. ITT Library:
    What I liked about this article is that the community of Oaxaca wanted a library within their community but they wanted something that was sustainable and low in costs. Their library was built with straw, wood, manure, sand, lime, nopal cactus and clay. It was built so that it would last long, be safe and be used within the making of homes in the community, with also using resources that can be used year round. The instituto de Permacultura Tonantzin Tlallui instructed the residents how to build the library so they could know how to build their homes and also learned on how to be sustainable within their construction.
    I really liked this article because the people that were involved thought of what the people had around them with the little money they had. They also provided and education of how to build these architectures themselves. With building the library the community is able to have a better education along with having a sustainable community.

  31. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
    The damage is done. We have created a world that is toxic to all humans and animals. They say that the human race is not aware of the amount of pollution they put into the air or their soil, but I disagree. Men just doesn’t care. They create pollution purposely to get ride of the “pests” and unwanted natural plants because they think it is a burden on them. When Albert Schweiter states “Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation”, I do agree with this statement but I also disagree. Like I said before Men create chemicals, that they know can be deadly or toxic to our bodies but they only see the cash outcome. On the other hand some men don’t have the knowledge of what is toxic and what is polluting our world. The Urban Farming project came to mind when reading this article. In order for a farmer to create an urban farm with no chemicals and toxins in their crops, they would have to do research on that land, and figure out how far the pollution of that land goes on to create a toxin free farm. Again about the quote, I disagreed with it because of the tragedy of Hiroshima and Fukushima, where we bombed and polluted those cities. The Nuclear Power Plant that was planned to be built taller than it was so that natural disaster wouldn’t destroy it and create a massive ocean and land pollution. WELL… Someone had a different idea and wanted to save money and did not go through the plans and created that devastation.
    This is a link to Youtube for the update of Fukushima

  32. Maura Silva

    |Excerpt Silent Spring: Rachel Carson|

    This article focused on the growth of the planet and how humans are actually destroying it slowly every day. The only way for the planet to heal itself is if we humans stopped hurting it. All the chemicals we produce, the buildings we construct, and the pollution we cause is affecting our loving mother Earth. To understand what we can do to help and take matters of sustainability ways, we must know what caused it and how to stop it. I heard if humans left the planet for one hundred years, the Earth would automatically heal. This is such a beautiful planet, and I feel we do not appreciate it as much. We feel we need to advance ourselves with technology and materialistic goods, but why? We have purity around us and nature is beautiful. We are fortunate to live here and it is not healthy for us to be here due to what we are creating. I feel this planet is just trying to adapt to what we are changing, but it’s also becoming harmful not just to the planet, but for ourselves and the animals that live on it. It’s a cycle, a struggle, a force we have now created on planet Earth to survive.

  33. “Five axioms…”
    I really enjoyed this article, thinking about how the earth regenerates what we take from it, and how sustainability started. foresters would plant a tree for each they cut down to help keep up supply. This thinking ahead trying to protect future generations was key in the decision making process with how to go about resources. to think in terms of farming, you don’t cull all your chickens in one day, you cannot waste resources without any plan to regenerate/sustain them. like how Maura said that is humans were gone the earth would heal the damage we have caused, If we don’t stop or cut back on our conquest of natural resources we will reach a point where we cannot undo our destruction.

  34. Five Axioms of Sustainability – Richard Heinberg
    This essay, by Richard Heinberg is very interesting; he went through existing literature and pulled out a set of 5 axioms which can be used to define sustainability. He starts off with a definition of sustainability, “that which can be maintained over time.” I actually prefer the definition which is given by the UN; meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.
    Heinberg then goes on to discuss how he came up with these axioms. He used his definitions of sustainability and came up with criteria for these axioms. The criteria he used to make these axioms are, the statement must be capable of being tested, the axioms must be minimal and not redundant, they must be sufficient and leave no loopholes, and lastly, they should be worded in a way normal people can understand. I think it is interesting to see how he came up with these axioms.
    The first axiom is “any society that continues to use critical resources will collapse” unless replacement resources are found, but there is also a finite number of replacement resources. I think that this is really interesting, especially when looking at our country and world. We are using our resources like there is no end to them, but there is. We are currently looking for alternatives, but there is not enough of a push to really find a replacement. This axiom came from Joseph Tainter; who warns of the consequences of absence and how it would result in a collapse, or “reduction in social complexity.”
    The second axiom is “population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.” This one comes from Albert A. Bartlett. If the population continues to grow, we have more people using more resources, which can be dangerous as we are already running low. Also, if the population growth is ignored, and we consider individuals’ using more and more resources, like has been happening, we can face the same fate.
    The third axiom is “to be sustainable, the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment.” This is really interesting; if we’re using renewable resources, it is meaningless unless we allow the earth to replenish the resource. If we consider tree harvest, if we are cutting trees faster than the forest grows them, then we are going to run into problems.
    The fourth axiom builds off of the third; “to be sustainable, the use of non-renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is declining…” and goes on to discuss the “rate of depletion” which is the amount being extracted and used during a specific time interval, as a percentage of the amount left. This is pretty common sense. We need to be using less of the non-renewable resources to wean ourselves off. I think it is interesting that they are able to put a value on this idea.
    The fifth axiom is “sustainability requires that the substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions.” This is extremely important. In our country’s past we have seen so many toxic chemicals dumped into our environment. We also see this happening now in other countries. It is important that we not damage or destroy our planet, or else future generations will not have a planet to live on.

  35. Van Der Ryn

    This reading introduced me to a lot of new ideas that focused on sustainable architecture, as in using renewable, living materials as resources; it is a concept I never really knew existed, even if it is in its early stages. Some passages that talked about the nitty gritty science aspects I didn’t follow as well, but I feel the overall idea was the most important part.

    Der Ryn really focused on how we can use the existing characteristics and patterns in nature to benefit architecture. He made a very simple, straightforward point that basically said it all to me; he stated that nature is holding up its end of the theoretical bargain in terms of sustainability, and it is we humans who are not doing our job. Nature follows a cycle of growth and decay, where decay/organic waste becomes food/fuel for growing things. There is no actual waste; whatever dies is used, and it continues this way continuously.

    Humans diverge from this ideal process or partnership with nature by following a linear course rather than a cycle. We harvest resources, normally nonrenewable and with heavy consequences to the environment, and use them in a way that produces waste that is also nonrenewable. Nothing can be done to salvage this waste, so it has to be disposed of. There is no cycle here, it is more a less a dead end road, which means the amount of waste is compounding.

    I like how Der Ryn points out that nature is not without toxins, but he explains how natural toxins are ‘produced at the point of application,’ meaning they are contained and specifically released. Again, it is us who abuse this release toxins and pollution (oil spills, waste dumping).

    The main point I took from these explanations is that being able to use waste is the key to getting back in balance in nature, and achieving that partnership/interconnection that will give us the sustainability we need. I had a hard time understanding how we could actually go about creating such a project, but he gave a few good examples. I think the Chinese pond with silver-filtering plants that purified the contaminated water was a perfect example of what could be accomplished. The waste – contaminated industrial water – is filtered naturally by plants, causing the water to be clean and even allowing the silver to be harvested (that also kept them from having to harvest silver mechanically, which is an environmentally damaging process). This is the ideal cyclic process we should aim for.

    The other point that was made that was very convincing was how expensive nonrenewable waste actually is. It has to be destroyed, such as being burned, and this process often releases pollutants into the air. New Bedford is dealing with this now. As they remove contaminated soil from the harbor, they burn it off-site, and continue the cycle of contamination. The bioremedial approach (living things…algae, fungi…that filter the water) would save money and the environment.

  36. Allison Romero

    Van Der Ryn’s “Design with Nature” brought up an interesting topic to me. One of the things that I noticed in particularly was about the “circle of life” so to speak. It immediately reminded me of The Lion King (starting at 0:40 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW7PlTaawfQ ). Like Disney’s Mufasa, Van Der Ryn discusses how any resources the natural world uses, it replaces in another way. However, humans are not sticking to this; they are taking more than they are giving. This goes against one of the Axioms we read about for Wednesday. People cannot take many resources without having some way of restoring because then they will obviously run out. Also, in Mel Chin’s case, the cost of restoring nature was not entirely out of pocket. He was able to come up with a solution that not only helped decontaminate the land but also paid for itself. This shows that, at least in many cases, returning resources back to nature is not going to break everyone financially. If humans can follow nature’s example, we will be able to come up with ways to benefit the natural world and ourselves at the same time in an exchange like the circle of life.

  37. I enjoyed how “Third Principle: Design with Nature” linked back into the video we watched in class on Wednesday, about how nature thrives off of the things that surround it. how all life has a symbiotic relationship. This article makes the argument that design with nature is not just an ecological process but also an ethical problem; where as the introduction of foreign parts or destruction of natural resources effects a multilevel system of life and nature. effective design in this case would leave the lowest possible disturbance to the immediate area. diminishing the ripple effect that additive design often comes with. this thought process can also be applied to a humanities effect, where culture is a level. to integrate design in foreign culture, the design must comply with already set standards/traditions. to put up a billboard that has Swedish design aspects and Scandinavian writing on it in the center of Tokyo would cause confusion, and perhaps anger from an aspect of disrespect for the culture. The article also gave a lot to talk about the integration of the life cycle in design. there are cycles in the world that most do not realize, geological cycles that cause the mineral and nutrients that plants use to gradually release themselves over time, and to reincorporate the decaying into the system. the weather cycles also play part in the life cycle (we can observe this today with global warming and the impact of rising temperatures on the biosphere). all of these cycles are interconnected and must be treated with respect.

  38. Andrew Herscher “The Car Wash Cafe”

    Like the other chapters in Andrew Herscher’s book, the Car Wash Cafe is about how a unused or unwanted place can be transformed into an all times favorite or more. Larry Meeks created a Car Wash into a place of buisness and a place of people’s enjoyment. Meeks idea of a storage for his cars to fix them up slowly turned into something else. His purpose of throwing in a cafe and an ice cream spot was not for a profit but to get the community together like the teenagers he hired or the costumers who want to relax with a cup of coffee while they wait for their car, or even throwing in an ice cream stand to keep the little ones happy. I think this was a purpose act of kindness to get the neighborhood together. Just like the ideas we have to create a space for the community of New Bedford to get together. The quote “the signs and advertisements that filled the site publicized not a current reality, but layers of the past” is a true quote about those places like the orpheum theater in new bedford and many types of diners that are like a time capsle. Since Halloween just passed I can think about the movie Hocus Pocus, the old Sanderson Sister house. When they are sentence to death the town turns their home into a museum and kept it just like how they left it. Once they came back to life, Whinney the youngest witch found her lucky rat tail just where she left it 300 years ago.

  39. Designing With Nature – Van Der Ryn, Sim and Stuart Cowan

    This excerpt starts off by discussing how cells live and relate to the neighboring cells. They work together and exchange nutrients and information. In nature, everything interacts with everything around it. It is a really interesting thing. By designing with nature, we are focusing on that interaction with nature whatever we design has. I think that an interesting point made by the author is “the designs that most deeply reflect this harmony are themselves an active part of it, not just mimicking nature.” This is interesting because it is saying that when designing something, we should not just copy what or how nature does it, but instead we should design something that can interact with nature. The author then goes on to discuss waste as food. Natural processes take waste, be it from an organism, or the actual dead organism, and reuse it. The author talks about the idea of industrial ecology, and making industries follow a cradle to cradle type system. Rather than just disposing of waste, industries should be using waste as an input somehow.

    Something I found really interesting in this chapter was when the author discussed the debate between Confucian and Taoist water engineers. Part of why I found this so interesting is because it is in my area of study. Taoist engineers “believed that water should meander over the landscape, following its inherent tendencies.” The Confucian engineers preferred having control over the water, which is hoe it is generally done now. The way it is currently done is that we make water do what we want it to rather than working with the paths and the ways that water naturally goes. I think that the ideas of the Taoists pertaining to water engineering are extremely interesting.

  40. Maura Silva

    Van Der Ryn: Design with Nature

    To build anything, sustainability should be the first concept. This reading focused a lot on sustainable architecture and using renewable materials to create a structure. When creating something we need to think of ways it will be useful not just to us but beneficial to the environment. The Earth and mother nature has its own cycle that continues to reuse anything that decays. We need to do the same, so we can protect this planet. Just like nature, a city grows and decays if not taken care of. But nature instead takes what decays to create something beneficial. For example food that grows like orange peels can be decomposed into the soil, which helps it. Humans create waste and pollution, toxins that affect the planet. Van Der Ryn mentions how nature has its own toxins but is able to control them. Being able to reuse the waste we create, will help balance out what nature already does for us. Nature thrives off what surrounds it; we need to make these things positive. It’s the circle of life, a cycle that the Earth keeps fighting to survive because of us Aliens who keep creating more problems. Earth thrives on survival, Humans thrive on power.

  41. Gallagher

    This reading touched upon a few of aspects of urban farming that some of the other readings didn’t address as in detail, especially factors that are keeping urban farming from becoming as popular and as profitable as it could be. I also liked that Gallagher provided a fairly good summary of the history of urban farming; I did not realize this idea existed, let alone was executed, for as long as it had.

    I found it interesting that urban farming and its bursts of popularity all began with similar circumstances. In the1890s and 1930s, urban farming become common both as a means of creating extra food, as well as providing a distraction to the disheartened and unmotivated community. During both wars, such farms were then used again as a means of food, allowing more provisions to be sent to troops, and again as a distraction from the fear and worry wartime can cause.

    This reading really emphasized the point of urban farming having this dual purpose, of practicality as well as something that brings the community together. One of the examples, the garden in Philadelphia, served numerous purposes, both physically and psychologically. Not only does it provide food as well as a place to gather for art and music, but it also is used to teach children of their heritage, and instill a sense of pride. I think sometimes the intangible benefits are what the community really needs, and urban farms can be the beginning of an even larger movement or comeback. One thing I think urban farms offer that other projects can’t as well is the ability to make people feel self-sufficient, which can be huge when a community is feeling hopeless. Gallagher highlights this point by comparing urban farms to standard farms. Urban farms are not out to produce ‘maximum yield/maximum profit.’ That is not the main goal for these cities, which is why some officials don’t understand them and often don’t support them.

    The potential to grow into something bigger is what attracts me to urban farming, the possibility of tackling issues such as obesity, education, even housing prices. Gallagher points out, however, city leaders think of this idea as a joke and would rather have more permanent or, in their eyes, better solutions. I think they miss the bigger picture, because urban farms can be as small or as profitable as one wants, depending on how much energy is put into it. Other country’s urban farms are outperforming us by 2000x, growing 80% of their produce. These farms don’t have to be impractical, temporary solutions to empty lots, but they will be if money and energy isn’t invested in them. That is why it is important for cities to reevaluate their zoning laws so these projects do not suffer, and can reach their full potential.

    This link isn’t related to the reading at all, but it is a good example of how some urban renewal projects can basically seal the fate of a community.
    http://homer.gsu.edu/blogs/library/2013/11/14/how-a-densely-populated-neighborhood-became-turner-field-a-map-essay/

  42. Allison Romero

    First I want to say that the Las Parcelas in Norris Square project was one of my favorite projects we hae looked at in this class. It served so many purposes and I loved the priority of cultural education in this project. Also, another of my favorite aspects about the Las Parcelas project was that the food grown was placed in local food banks. This project therefore tackles more than one problem–it is environmentally friendly and helps those in need in the area. I also really enjoyed reading about how community gardening has come in and out of history for at least a hundred years. I had known about World War II’s Victory Gardens but I had failed to make the connection until now. Knowing that communities gardens become more popular as a result of external forces, it makes me wonder what could spark the interest nowadays. Perhaps rising obesity and growing awareness of the artificial ingredients in food could be important factors that spark general interest. Overall, I personally think that many people are becoming more interested in spending time outdoor and eating organic food. Knowing this, it may be possible for communities gardens to gain popularity very soon once again.

  43. Ryan Gallagher
    Potential Problems in Urban Agriculture

    Within this reading I thought it was interesting how they framed their argument for the urban garden environments as soon as there became vacancies within the area due to loss of industrialization. The Spring Garden Urban Farm in Philadelphia is apart of this location. Iris Brown the woman who started this whole project is very interesting to see that she took what was available and made this project happen in any way she could. Some points that were made during the reading about “urban city planners often tree community gardens as quaint temporary solutions to vacancy”, was an interesting statement. I think that within that sentence sums up how people feel in general to this line of work and those who do not work within or around this field. I think that this idea is a new one, maybe not new but the concept of having the farm right inside the city. I think within the utilization of transportation and space allowing the proximity between the farmstead and the farm itself means more capitol gain because your cutting out the middle man. Local merchants could sell their produce to a larger demographic based on the high levels of population. For me this problem really looks like an opportunity. I think it all depends on your perspective but I know that property means dollar signs but does there really need to be a store front selling designer jeans at every corner at some point I think there will be a shift in consumerism for high quality goods instead of going the cheapest way possible based on your income and that includes food too. The only way to know what your paying for is to be able to see it and seeing in many cases is believing. I think within todays society everything just seems to be so overly complicated and this is something that works and has had enough development over time to prove it.

  44. Julianna: It’s hard to distinguish the many cultures of a person from another country, but what’s harder is knowing where their roots began. Teaching children about their own heritage is the most important thing and can help them learn where their family came from. Learning what foods grew and were used in cooking, clothes and religion came from is the start of where a heritage begins. It’s hard to learn and revive history in a city, but to go about it on land that is scarce in a city is what is needed. Cities can break apart cultures and can be forgotten a little. 
 Getting a plot of land may be hard in New York, but to want to destroy almost every plot used for urban farming is going overboard. It’s unfair for the hard working farmers and growers to have their healthy life style ripped down just for more houses. Gardens can be replaced easily with more plants and grass for a park, but placing a multi thousand or milltion dollar worth building that will possibly sit and rot because of the economy is worthless.

  45. John Gallagher “Potential and Problems in Urban Agriculture”

    “Without Tradition You Have Nothing” is one of the signs for one of the gardens that Iris Brown from Puerto Rico, tends to. Brown wanted to create gardens that would replicate many cultures to teach the new generation about their tradition. The Las Parcelas, in the Norris Square,Philadelphia, which is the garden that Brown takes care of, she wanted the younger generation to learn more about their cultures and be proud of who they are. This idea of replicating certain cultures and traditions to teach others not only about their own but as well as others. Looking at the website for the Norris Square gardens, they have “6 urban, culturally-themed gardens”, and they have youth and urban farming programs. Just like Iris Brown, another gardener, Will Allen has started his own community garden in MIlwaukee. He also wanted to teach the younger generation, but he wanted to teach them how to grow organic produce and sell it. The Growing Power, Inc, was for people to grow healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food. He stated that ” I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system”. The link to this website . Allen also is similar to Brown in the way of combining tradition and culture to the process of urban farming. These examples that Gallagher picked were some good ones in my opinion because the idea of involving other cultures and making it into a teaching experience for the young.

  46. Maura Silva

    John Gallagher: Potential and Problems in Urban Agriculture:

    This reading discusses the positive factors of urban farming in developing cities. Urban farming creates community, profitability, its particle, and healthier. For example, the garden in Philadelphia, it brought a community together not just for the food but for the heritage and festivals they created. This reminded me of the spiritual garden where we are placing our recyclable greenhouse. Khen has block parties for over 800 people come to her garden, and with a recyclable greenhouse being installed this will benefit the community even more. These festivals can arrange everyone a role so everyone feels self efficient and part of a community which can prevent hopelessness and a city to become a ruin.

  47. Potential Problems in Urban Agriculture

    Gallagher starts this chapter talking about Iris Brown, who is a woman born in Puerto Rico and moved to the USA. This woman is the gardener of Norris Square which is described as “better than any other community garden in America.” The area she lives and gardens in was once a mill city, but those closed down and she was left with a post-industrial city. The community reached out to Philadelphia Green who helped them to start rebuilding the city. In the beginning, there were 16 family garden plots, but that number increased to about 40. The food which is produced in this garden is only a piece of what that space provides for the city, it is a place for people to come together.

    Gallagher then goes on to discuss the history of farming in cities. Generally, people see urban farming as a joke; many city planners and people of the sort do not take the idea seriously as a possible partial solution to the problems. People have been using vacant lots and back yards for growing food for a long time. The use of community gardens have gone in and out of popularity as time has passed.

    Then, Gallagher starts talking about Cuba. They were without food, and instead of just suffering, the population began growing their own food. The people of Cuba began using simple farming techniques to feed themselves. Currently, there are over 200 small urban farms which produce about 300,000 tons of food each year. This is able to provide fruits and vegetables for the entire city. This proves to us that if a city works for it, and uses these urban farms, they can be more self sufficient.

    A gentleman names Will Allen started a program which taught inner city children how to grow and sell organic products. This is a really good idea. Many inner city youth face a tough life with temptations all around them. Teaching them how to grow and sell these products gives them a life that they may not have been able to create themselves. Not only that, but it allows these children access to healthy foods they may not have otherwise been exposed to or able to obtain.

  48. I feel like I say this often, but this article was my favorite. This piece pertained in almost its entirety to the project my group is working on. This time Gallagher’s article was completely about urban farming and it was very eye opening. For instance, I thought that urban farming was a new idea; that this movement that has started was something that was happening for the first time. But Gallagher informed me of the long, well longer than I thought history of urban farming. I turns out gardens have popped up in cities many times before and for many reasons. Many times it was a wartime necessity other times it was a philosophical change that appreciated nature more than other times, but they all had links the community at large. It wasn’t just about growing food it was always about growing people too. This article presented me with so many new facts. I was fascinated with the story of Havana, Cuba. A community that rallied together to produce food when their supply from the soviets ran out. And more so when I learned that urban farming accounted for 15% of the world’s total food supply! This fact was really eye opening, especially to someone who thought urban farming was completely grass roots. I had no idea that a city like Singapore could produce any agriculture products let alone actually produce a sizeable chunk of the cities food supply.

    The essay also had many examples of different types of urban farming set ups. The article covered large mass-production ideas for urban farming while also paying attention if not giving more attention to the small family urban garden. The part that I was truly the most interested in was the talk of bioremediation. When we went to Spiritual Warrior last, we discovered that the soil there was contaminated with lead. I think it would be great if we would be able to remedy the earth there at Spiritual Warrior while also providing a community building space for all to enjoy. Lastly, the article touched on another important piece for me: the need of labor. Having a farm is not easy work. I don’t know anyone who would say that it is. On obstacle we will have to overcome to make this a reality will be to find dedicated volunteers who can lend a hand and pitch in to grow their community.

  49. Waste to Architecture

    What I liked about a lot of these projects was the way the architects and designers approached the aspect of sustainability, by making it the forefront of the project.
    Some of the examples, like the schools in India or the glass center, made using recycled, local materials the most important goal of their projects. I think a lot of good comes out of this method that designers miss out on when they think about the overall look of a building first.

    Not only does using such materials save money of shipping expensive materials hundreds or thousands of miles, but it only requires no extra machinery, which saves the release of more pollutants that can come from manufacturing.
    What I enjoyed about this approach as well, in the glass center and the home addition example, was how since they were dedicated to using only recycled/local materials, sometimes they had to change their plans on a whim depending on what they could find. Being dedicated to sustainability this much is admirable and excited; I think a lot of exciting designing opportunities can present themselves when creative solutions have to happen. It also is away to ensure this new structure has as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible, using the waste is food idea from the previous reading.

    Many of these examples also used mainly organic materials, such as abode bricks, mud, and straw. The Indian and school club example also had the community taking charge of collecting/making all of the materials, which is a very good way to instill a sense of pride in what is being built, and to create jobs is the project is big enough.

    I also liked the process the glass center designer explained, how he looked at the problems the city had, looked at what materials that were abundant there, and then decided what to build. The Indian designers also tried to use as many materials from the actual site as possible. These processes keep unnecessary things from being built, and expensive, unsustainable materials from being shipped in from all over.

  50. | From Waste To Architecture |

    All of the examples in the folder showcased the broad range of sustainable initiatives and how sustainability can relate to all aspects of life and living. The ITT Library is an inspirational design that our group should use as a reference- not only is the use of materials efficient but the overall mission of the library- to spread and teach local sustainability awareness is a major aspect in this design. For a second, I thought the Pittsburgh Glass Center looked like our library. Especially after I read the sentence, “The project involved the renovation and extension of a brick and concrete building to house Pittsburgh Class Center…” The School Club project is a vital project that should be implemented more often. Changing the memes of our culture starts with spreading knowledge to the younger generation. Adopting this way of thinking at a young age will hopefully change the way we do things.

  51. Julianna: Pittsburg Glass center
    Reading about an old factory that is used for so many purposes instead of being torn down is inspiring. A center that houses galleries, art guests of all kinds and a place to create art is interesting to read about. Glass can be easily broken, but with the right care, it can be used to make something wonderful. While in the refurbishing stage, a lot of the materials not being used in the building of the new center weren’t just tossed in a dumpster. To know that they went to places for recycled use is great. Even the broken up concrete went to a construction company.

    Making a Studio:
    Using old shipping containers is a good way to find a space to use for work. although it isn’t architecturally pleasing, it still serves a purpose and help out by recycling things without putting them into the dump. although I would prefer a wood or glass medium, metal still has it’s purposes. It’s strong and doesn’t need a lot of care, although it doesn’t keep out the cold since it absorbs it. It also will be a sauna in the hot summer unless an air conditioning unit is installed. Reading the article more, I really liked that declarations of love and hearts can be carved into the pieces that were used from school bleachers. To read a piece of someone’s feelings is pretty touching.

  52. Allison Romero

    The installation “Some Things Will Not Grow” was a very aesthetically pleasing project. I enjoyed the combination of gardening with recycling. I also really appreciated that it was built to make a social statement on our over-use of non-biodegradable materials. However my thoughts went to the gardens in Versaille. Although the intricate gardens are beautiful, I would assume they would need to be maintained often to keep the designs so perfect and neat. This means that this installation would need a great deal of care or the project wouldn’t last very long.

    The “School Club” was a little bit less interesting to me. I think that it had a good purpose and it had a fun exterior. I think what I liked the most was the emphasis put on education. However, I did not enjoy this project as much as some of the others.

    The “Glass Center” in Pittsburgh reminded me of the Coalition for Buzzard’s Bay’s building in New Bedford. Using natural sunlight and ventilation was a priority in their building’s construction as well. I think this project is highly successful because it appears to not only be aesthetically pleasing but also very functional. It conserves energy and was built by reusing old materials. It also is used for studios and various artist workshops. As an artist, I can really appreciate this aspect as well.

  53. Maura Silva

    From Waste to Architecture

    What I liked about this article, is taking recyclable items to create something new. Just like the title says, from waste to architecture, it speaks for itself. In this reading, it discusses the glass center created using recyclable and local materials. This saved money from shipping, used less manufacturing of machines, which then prevented pollution and debt. Using organic materials such as mud, straw, glass, bricks, and wood can be very sufficient. They also focused on natural lighting, which is better for the environment and for the cost of creating a structure. Just like the glass center, the recyclable greenhouse is also used from organic and reused materials to place this useful structure into a community. Something interesting I found was creating buildings made out of bottles, similar to our project. This link consists of a house made with bottles. It’s beautiful and creative to me, and of course sustainable: http://dornob.com/recycled-glass-house-6-million-bottles-of-beer-in-the-walls/#axzz2lD5Nfzgq

  54. – Re-material – From Waste to Architecture:
    Initiatives, Making a House, School Club, Glass Center, Somethings Will Not Grow

    I enjoyed reading these excerpts a lot; I will definitely need to get a copy of this book sometime in the near future. I started off reading “Initiatives,” and it was very interesting. The examples chosen for this were eccentric and idealistic. I really liked the example of the “Pallet House.” This is something that can be easily obtained and created. I was thinking about the possibility of using this in the greenhouse project that my group-mates and I are working on, “The Spiritual Warrior.” I also like the idea of the “School Club” in the UK, having youth, especially from local elementary schools is beneficial for the community and growth. Having children learn about sustainability at that time is crucial. They are changing their outlook and mindset, teaching them how to tackle some sustainability issues in their community and area.

  55. (The first link on Masdar Cities is not working)

    | Dongtan Eco-City, Shanghai, Roger Wood, Arup, May 2007 |

    The Control Plan initiates on important objectives people should consider when changing an environment. Sustainable Design Guidelines, Implementation Strategy, Environmental Impact Assessments and the other six tools, aim to effectively achieve a sustainable movement. Visually outlining the Sustainable Approach was beneficial- I love the picture of the three pillars of sustainability along with natural resources. All of the other planning procedures were designed to be visually appealing and structurally organized. That being said, outlining plans and goals into appraisals like this creates the audience to better understand the motive behind these potential implementations and the benefits that come along with them. Our group teams should definitely incorporate plans that effectively get the point across like the ones shown in this link.

  56. Allison Romero

    I really enjoyed reading about the Dongtan project. Actually, after reading so much conceptual work in the beginning, seeing these projects and reading the proposals is so rewarding and enjoyable. The Town with 3 Villages seemed like something that I would enjoy living in. This would predominantly be because I loved the basic roadways and the accessibility to everything. Nearly anything in the town was a short walking distance away. As a student, I enjoy walking around campus and having that be my main mode of transportation. It is healthier and I personally find it much less stressful; roads have problems and traffic and other speed-deterring factors. Walking around, I know how much time it will take to get from one place to another and nothing will prevent it from taking that amount of time. Walking also decreases Carbon Dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Therefore, the close proximity of everything is beneficial in multiple ways. Similarly, the solar panels are beneficial with energy and the agriculture. Also, even just looking at the visuals made me want to visit Dongtan. It looked beautifully constructed and reminded me of a less complex Venice. Overall this project was awesome and I would definitely visit, if not live in a place like this.

  57. Masdar City

    What I enjoyed about this reading is that it provided competing views concerning the idea of eco-cities. It was interesting to hear both the positives and negatives of the design instead of a biased report shaming or praising the idea.

    I thought I would be all for the idea of an eco-city after reading the first couple paragraphs of this reading, but by the end I was leaning more towards the opposing view. Some of the energy conserving ideas that I did like were the idea of having raised buildings in order to use the higher, cooler air in order to use less air conditioning, as well as the idea of having a rotation of electric cars constantly running so that no one actually had to own a car. I also liked that each resident would be aware of their water usage; I feel that, personally, I have no idea how much water I use and that I would use less if I were provided with that information regularly. The idea of having the city being equipped with several solar panels was also appealing. Having the city fund solar panels is one of the only ways that can become profitable, as solar panels are very expensive and usually, when individuals try to use them for alternative power, they rarely break even.

    I was more convinced by most of the opposing ideas. All of these ideas would basically eliminate all pollution/emissions, however 22 billion dollars is not a doable number for most, if any city. Abu Dhabi is rich from oil, and has massive amounts of little-unpopulated land to create this city on. What struck me the most was how many though this type of city that relies on technology rather than social change for sustainability. They found this to be social exclusivity. I think this focuses too much on technological advancements rather than trying to encourage social change. It is somewhat a lazy way out, giving up on existing cities and trying to just build new, perfect ones, where only the upper class can afford to live; it is ‘socially regressive.’ It is like they are just trying to fix everything with technology, and it almost seems a little utopian to me.

    Some of the experts said that you poverty coincides with environmental collapse and say you cannot have sustainability without money, but I agreed more with those who claimed economic growth can lead to environmental issues as well. I think of cities like Detroit where the industry boomed, everyone threw money into expanding, companies carelessly polluting for decades, and eventually the industry disappeared because of executives going elsewhere/overseas out of greed, leaving the city in poverty. While this isn’t the case for all cities with these issues, it is for a good amount, and I think it is necessary to try to fix these cities’ sustainability issues through social and cultural change, rather than making them fend for themselves and turning our efforts and funds to building completely new, high-tech, exclusive cities.

  58. Masdar City:
    I did and didn’t like this article at the same time because of the reasons of costs. I do think it is a great idea of having a city that is completely sustainable, but I feel at the same time that at the moment we need to focus on the cities that are not and fix them up. Nothing will get better if the situations in cities are not fixed. I feel that once we have fixed our cities to bee sustainable, we can then focus on creating a completely new city. I do believe that building a city that is completely sustainable is a huge step into creating a better world, I just feel at the same time that this should not be our main focus when there is still so many problems with other cities all around the world.
    My other concern is the cost of living in Masdar. I feel that the people that can afford to live in the city is the 1%. Everything is completely made out of the newest sustainable materials. Also just by looking at the photos, it does not look like someone that is middle-class could even afford. I feel that this city was created for people that have money and not for people who are starting from nothing can live in. Most people usually start out there careers living in the cities, trying to build themselves and then move into the suburban life. However, where the location of this city is in I feel that the people would have to start out living in the suburbs and then build themselves up to the city.

  59. Maura Silva

    Masdar City-Promotional Literature, the Government of Abu Dhabi:

    This reading talked about the positives and negative aspects of an eco-city. An eco-city is a city built off the principles of living within the resources of the environment. The goal of an eco-city is to eliminate carbon waste, to produce energy through renewable sources. They want to incorporate the environment into the city. However eco-cities sometimes stimulate economic growth which can reduce poverty and cause the city to have a higher population which then leads to improving health and higher efficacy.
    So for this reading it decided to discuss Masdar city which was a project in Abu Dhabi. The city was built to rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources. The city initially aimed to be a sustainable zero carbon car free city. People worried that this city would eventually be for the high class citizens due to the gated community.
    The fact the city had electronic cars so no one needed their own car was pretty unique, made me feel I lived in the future reading about it. Second. People were aware of their water usage. If people see how much they are using, they would probably use less and be more sustainable. The city being supported by solar energy panels was also pleasing. It is sustainable and profitable. All these ideas would eliminate pollutions and emissions. For the negative view, the cost of these sustainable changes can affect a city. Abu Dhabi might be wealthy based on the oils of their land, but this city relays too much on technology before nature which is the whole aspect of becoming sustainable. We need to create social change without having to invest and create a machine or project to tell us how to become sustainable. Trying to fix everything with technology just seems hypocritical. Overall I think this a great thing, but it could be changed without technology.

    Dongtan Eco-City, Shanghai, Roger Wood:
    This city’s plan was to be created with zero greenhouse emission transit and be completed with self-sufficient in water and energy. They wanted an eco-friendly environment. Waste is considered to be a resource; therefor the city’s waste will be recycled. The city created a control plan that initiates sustainable objectives people should consider when changing an environment: Sustainable design guidelines, implementation strategy, environmental impact assessments, and other tools to aim for a efficient sustainable movement.
    The city proposed a green transport movement along its coastline. The only vehicles allowed in the city will be powered by electricity or hydrogen. I feel this is similar to the Masdar city where everything was relying on technology to become more sufficient and sustainable. But I do see a positive view on having this green transport movement. This can cause less accidents and traffic, it is more time efficient, and of course healthier for ourselves and the environment.

  60. My first exposure to the idea of Eco-Cities happened serendipitously about a year ago and it radically changed how I thought about the cities and communities of the future. It is called the flat tower and it got second place in the 2011 eVolo skyscraper competition. http://www.evolo.us/competition/flat-tower/ . The flat tower has the functionality of any other skyscraper and much much more. It is high density living that has a small footprint on the environment. The structure looms many stories over the land beneath it only meeting up with the earth around it’s circumference. This frees up the land beneath it for use by humans as a park or urban farm or anything else. Sunlight is able to reach the land beneath the tower because of the numerous gaps in the structure’s cytoskeleton-like frame. The building would house recreation areas, business and shopping districts along with residential abodes. All of these features are connected by an automatic transportation system. It is essentially a city in one building.

    In many respects the Flat Tower is very similar to Masdar City. They are both planned sustainable urban environments. I would say the main difference between the two projects is how they act in their environment. The flat tower is meant to be in a city setting and interact with surrounding neighborhoods whereas Masdar City is meant to be isolated and self contained. It is clear that Masdar City can be classified as an eco-city however the Flat Tower straddles the line between eco-city and a compact city.

    I do believe that eco-cities are the way of the future. I am not sure (just like everyone else) how the future world will be affected by the changing environment and the increasing demands of humans. However I do believe that ambitious projects like the two aforementioned and also the Dongtan project in China will be part of the solution to our problems. Eco-cities and the whole field of sustainable urban-ism aim to increase our chances of survival and help relieve our over use of the mother earth. These large, efficient structures theoretically reduce each persons’ (who occupies them) environmental footprint by altering many activities of modern human life. However a new, efficient building can only do so much. Much of the work that will transform our global society from wasteful to sustainable must start at the individual level. We must use both bottom up and top down approaches to transform our built environment and our lifestyles to reach the goal of a sustainable and prosperous future.

  61. From Waste to Architecture

    These projects in the “From Waste to Architecture” folder, were many ideas and concepts of how our everyday object and materials can be used as a sustainable design or way of living. The materials that we think are trash or unusable trash becomes these architects creations for either art or some kind of shelter. These materials of earth, wood, straw, pallets and cardboard were to create their design. These objects are made from the usual things that are either thrown away or not looked at as a resourceful material. People have been using this kind of design as old as the Egyptians, where they built massive structures like the pyramids out of things as simple as the earth and other vegetable matter. The “Pallet Project” in the Initiatives section, was similar to the project that our guest speaker Jennifer McGrory, who was talking about the living conditions in Africa and South America. The pallet project was about the architects using the wooden pallets to create a shelter for refugees right after the war. The wooden pallets also had a double purpose, where it would send food or medicine for the people in the war and other families. I remembered how Jennifer McGrory talked about how food and medicine would be sent in these huge crates and be turned into mini-hospitals. Hearing about this great idea of using these pallets and crates to create shelters and hospitals to help others and to correct social problems, gives our group another idea of not only using recyclable materials but recyclables with a double meaning.

  62. Dongtan Eco-City

    This article I didn’t not enjoy as much as the other readings. Sure all the these articles are about how to make and environment or neighborhood a better sustainable place, but this one rubbed me the wrong way. One thing I did not like is that you are taking about one of the biggest traditional country in the world, trying to change their ay and lifestyle so it would “seem” beneficial to us. I do not agree with others like the “US” trying to force our contemporary ways onto others. I think it is a power thing. I understand that we would like to help others in a way that we think is better for them. BUT… what about their thoughts on it? How will it effect the community? Will it make their lives better or just tear them down? What is really sustainable? The cocept of the Eco-City in Dongtan will create a great design for a sustainable city, but in my opinion I would like to see actual facts from the people who live in those towns and maybe some interviews where they would make a believe out of me that this is what “THEY” need and not what “WE” want.

  63. From Waste to architecture

    Building a studio:

    I find this type of architecture very inspiring. Every time I have seen designs created around sustainability and incorporating shipping containers I just want one more and more. I like the unconventional aspects to the shelter. The Hybrid architectural elements incorporating multi-material based design from plywood, tin, and other not so conventionally desirable interior materials. This was created using cheap materials, which is another aspect that I like. I also like how everything is really close together within the space but still has the ability to not feel cramped. The design of it is dynamic with the two shipping containers being joined by the side. I could just see myself buying a couple shipping containers and making one of these shelters. I think this would be awesome and I don’t intend to rule it out for the future.

    School Club:

    This project was really inspiring because it is incorporating several elements to the project. Not only having an educational aspect to the project but also incorporating sustainability and design together to create a multi purpose space. I love the materials they used to create the project as well as where the materials have originated from. I think that all of these are a huge aspect to good design. I also think that this project could be implemented in places that space is a real issue. As well as places where money is an issue these multiple purpose spaces could be created and then used to teach children who wouldn’t necessarily be able to be educated as well. Overall I think that more projects like these should be created and used to bridge the gap for larger economical issues.

    Masdar City: A Model of urban environmental sustainability:

    While reading this article there were several thoughts that ran through my head. I think that the development of an “eco-city” is not only forward looking but could be potentially the way of the future. It is tough to say that this idea once it is manifested will work as its original intended plan. I think there are a few aspects of the project that are not talked about or fully realized at all. The fact that people will inhabit the space will ultimately determine the functionality just because you build a staircase to your destination doesn’t mean that people will use it. Le Corbusier built beautiful buildings where space was to be better utilized but he didn’t take into account for human life. I think that overall habitual aspects of human life need to be taken into account as does crime and other not so pretty aspects of human life.

    Also, in order to build the “eco-city” resources and technological advancements need to take place, which in my opinion is not sustainable at all. After the projects construction how ling will it take until the sustainable aspect of the space counteracts its construction? There should be a better integration of materials that we have readily available now and the construction of the project than to use more materials that need fabrication.

    Although I will say it is refreshing to see a project that is opposite of the usual where the design of the project is not held back by the budget to allow for more inventive solutions to problems.

  64. The reading i read about eco-city living and construction points out a very valid point. Technology doesnt have to mean that its not eco friendly. We must yes look to the past but also the future for how we can be eco friendly… Technology isnt walways the bad guy that it’s been portrayed as.
    I’d love to live in one of these cities!

  65. John Gallagher: Potential & Problems In Urban Agriculture

    Being a Civil Engineering major, I thought this was a very informative read. The part that I enjoyed the most was the “Soil Quality” portion. I have always wondered why people do not grow gardens or even many plants in the cities that have the available land to do so and this reading has educated me as to why that is. The main concern in growing crops in cities is weather the soil is safe enough to grow the crops for human food. The soil may not be safe due to activities such as excessive compaction, and there can even be very toxic chemicals embedded in the soil. One way citizens are approaching these issues is simply by having the soil tested to see if it is safe to grow crops for feeding humans. These non profit groups that have the soil tested then let the farmers who will be doing the growing know if the soil is safe or if they should move else where. If the soil is tested and is confirmed to be contaminated, they have a few strategies to work around the fact to still be able to grow. One for example is to simply import new, clean soil. Some farmers even go to the extent to grow/ start a farm by using hydroponics, not using any soil.

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