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Comments on Weeks 7 & 8 Readings-2013




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  1. I really enjoyed the concept of ‘daylighting’ that this reading explored. The notion that nature to asphalt isn’t a one-way street and it can go in reverse is an idea that all communities should accept and execute when possible.

    After reading the many examples of communities who uncovered streams and wetlands and consequently revitalized their neighborhood, what I mostly wondered was: why does covering/concreting over a body of water ever seem like an effective solution in the first place? I understand that cities, such as Seoul and London, were trying to solve problems such as flooding and water-born illnesses, but I also feel that any forward thinking would shown that this was not the best solution; covering up a creek with concrete creates obvious problems, there is no where for water to go.

    All of these communities that undertook daylighting could have saved themselves the cost of such a project if they had just spent more time and money solving the problem correctly in the first place. The correct solution to flooding and disease may have been more costly than dumping concrete over it, but a little more money spent initially is worth the time, money, and regret they may face in the future. Not to mention it would save the time and money spent trying to fix the secondary problems caused by burying (flooding basements).

    However, all of the successes that come from daylighting are very inspirational. I think that this type of project is very important because, in cities such as Kalamazoo and St. Paul, it became a huge source of pride for the city. All of the benefits that these communities reaped (bonding over a project, tourism, rise in property value and quality of life) far outweigh the downsides, which are more less just time and money (money that will pay itself back over the years via real estate and tourism).

    As far as Detroit goes, though it may be unrealistic to undertake the utopian plans that some firms have designed, I think the city should take the opportunity it has as a shrinking city (time and space) to try to implement some back to nature projects.

  2. Allison Romero

    In “Healing Landscapes,” Gallagher discusses how land was changed and its long-term benefits. I, like Emily, could not understand why it would seem like a good solution to just dump concrete rather than come up with a better long-term solution. I feel like any civil engineer could have heard this proposal and easily explained why this would not be beneficial in the long run. The instances where a city came up with different ideas illustrated how their solutions saved money too. Over time, their projects paid for themselves and more. In addition, they came up with more aesthetically pleasing landscapes and boosted tourism in some cases. Hopefully these cities will lead by example and others will follow in their footsteps in the future.

  3. Healing the Landscape:
    I found this article to be very interesting because it didn’t just focus on the remaking of the rivers but also the reason behind why the river was filled up in the first place. One story that caught my attention was the Pristine stream. This told the story of a river in Seoul, South Korea where the Cheonggyecheon river ran through the center of the city for seven miles. This was a river than has existed since the middle ages and was used as a sewage system. When their were heavy rain storms the river would over flow and would back-flow into the communities surrounding the area. Because of this, the death rate was abnormally high along the area of the river. In the 1950s, construction started for filling up the river with concrete, which turned into an express way, and was finished by the 1970s. In 2002 Lee Myung-Bak ran for mayor wanting to restore the Cheonggyecheon river. He wanted to make the city of Seoul a greener place, and hopefully the capitol. Today the name of the river lives up to its name, Pristine Stream.
    What I liked so much about this story was that there was a good reason for filling up the river. If it was kept open, people would mostly likely still be getting sick and dying from the sewage. Although the river was filled for a road for the people, in the end Myung-Bak thought that the city deserved something to be proud of and had the river restored. He was able to turn this area of land into something where people wanted to be; shops were coming up and travel agencies are referencing the city as a place to visit. Also the people liked so much of what Lee Myung-Bak did that they made him president in 2007. I like that Myung-Bak fought for something that he believed in, and in the end it helped the city become a place that is proud to have restored the river.

    Reading this article got me mad, I did not like their solution to just cover up the stream. Yes, Cheonggyecheon was a problem with it’s floods and spread of diseases, but I believed that they had a better solution, and they just took the easier way out and just covered it up with concrete. Its almost like the projects that we are working on in New Bedford. Instead of getting rid of the houses or the lots and putting another McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts, we are trying to create a better solution for these areas and to bring the communities together, but if we just put a concrete building there and call it Dunkin Donuts it’s going to look like we don’t care about the community and well just put anything there to cover up the space. And that’s not a good solution, and probably a F on our project. So we come up with proposals to create a better solution for those areas, where I thought that the people of Seoul would want to come up with proposals to create something better than just a tourist attraction.

  5. Maura Silva
    John Gallagher
    Healing the Wounded Landscape

    The author discusses the down fall of Detroit and suggests ways to make this become a smaller but better city in the twenty first century. He proposes productive uses for vacant spaces that can make Detroit greener, cleaner, smaller, and more economically self sufficient.

    Gallagher visited community projects, took photographs, and conducted interviews to strategize ways to make Detroit a more sustainable and desirable place to live. His ideas consisted of urban agriculture, restoring vacant lots, fixing the roads and the network, and reestablishing the city’s natural landscape. Gallagher wanted to make sure the city was in safe hands after they fixed these ruins.

    Gallagher discusses innovative projects occurring already in the city and also proposes possible solutions to help the city that he saw ideas from Germany, South Korea, and more. He promotes progressive ideas for the community and offers guidance of other places dealing with the shrinking cities phenomenon. For example, the concrete idea seemed like it spent a lot of money but at least it improved the look of the city to attract not only the people living there but tourist.

  6. I enjoyed Gallagher’s take on shrinking cities. His perspective on the topic of smaller cities not necessarily being bad was refreshing and he seemed to have the utmost hope for cities that have lost more than half of their population. Gallagher goes on to explain the benefits of changing the other wise dormant land and the effects it would have on future generations. The comparison between Turin and Detroit gave light to the fact that there is definite hope for Detroit to become a more efficient, beautiful and happier city. Like Gallagher said, even if there were some planted flowers or cultivated land, it would seem as though someone at least cares about the deserted land. The Youngstown Plan seems very hopeful, if not even a role model for other cities to take after.

  7. This was my favorite reading thus far. I have a deep interest in urban planning and sustainability. “Day lighting” is a great unification of the two disciplines. I think it is a great example of how urban planning can work not only for people but also the environment. The one problem with day lighting is that it can be too successful! There are so many benefits that are outlined in the reading, from increased property values and biodiversity to reduction in sewage and floodplains. My favorite line that I took away from the reading was “The movement from a natural environment to an asphalt-and-concrete cityscape doesn’t have to go only in one direction.” Day lighting really does seem to change the quality of life. creating a green space in a downtown area is perfect for those who live in the city, who don’t have easy access to wildlife otherwise. What better way to build a sense of community than to have common area in which to interact with your neighbors. I liked the idyllic project Adamah that was proposed if this was a perfect world we would all live in villages similar to the envisioned Adamah however in our world I am not sure if something so sensible is actually feasible. A walk to work society only works if everyone can walk to work in reasonable time but that can’t happen if the city gets too big. There are many limiting factors on projects similar to Adamah and innovation will have to overcome them if they are ever to take their place on the face of the earth.

  8. Field of our dreams

    I thought this was an amazing way to fill a void in the community. Something so simply done has made such an impact on the people this idea serves. I liked this small section because It made me realize that to help those in need or make some kind of difference doesn’t need to be some big elaborate scheme it can be something just as simple as this. Ideas like this are what bring communities together.

    Greening Detroit
    What I liked about this section is that it talks about making a negative situation into a positive. The city of Detroit was already suffering from a lack in agriculture but is now also suffering from a lack of inhabitants. I think that by planting these trees and rebuilding the green of the area does a wonderful job of addressing both issues.

  9. Monuments of a Loss Cause:
    What I really like about this article is the explanation of O’Toole’s work. O’Toole’s work is basically an abandoned mill in Pittsburgh and created a monument in its place. What I liked is how O’Toole learned from the contractors how to build the monument himself. Through this he was able to honor the “working intelligence of industrial craftsmen.” He was able to not only build a monument but created one artistically. He was able to put the visitors into the position of the steelworkers. Through this he was able to inform the public of the possible changes that could happen to the city, if such changes would happen. He reached out to the public to inform what used to be there and with what could also possibly come into the empty space.

  10. I enjoyed Herscher’s readings from the previous weeks, so I decided to read more excerpts from his book. I really liked the ideas about green spaces and urban farming that Herscher covered in these chapters.

    I think the mobile produce market in Field of Our Dreams is a great solution to struggling cities and neighborhoods like Detroit, who want to make steps in the right direction but lack the capital or infrastructure to make huge changes. This is a perfect maybe step towards larger renovations. Not only does a mobile produce truck serve communities who do not have access to such fresh foods (which are normally the communities who need it the most), but also it could be the catalyst for the neighborhood to become inspired to take it to the next level. Such an idea is also cheaper and quicker than renovating an entire vacant lot (though that should be the ultimate goal). I especially admired the fact they donated profits to city programs; donating is a good way to help other beneficial programs start up.

    The Greening Detroit writing reminded me of earlier readings that talked about how shrinking is a great opportunity for a city to slow down and reevaluate. Detroit shrinking at the same time it was affected by Dutch Elm Disease was a perfect opportunity for them to start rebuilding their green spaces. Even though they can’t turn every lot into a park, the simple landscaping they talked about is a step in the right direction, and at least it turns ‘liabilities into assets.’ Simple is fine, and the self-maintaining gardens they mentioned are even better because it will be minimal effort for a struggling city; a burden is not what they need.

  11. Julianna- Healing a wounded landscape Wednesday’s reading:
    Naming a town after a landmark such as lakes or rivers is a wonderful thing. It attracts a lot of people that love nature and want to see something natural and beautiful. This story grabbed my attention because of what I felt afterwards from reading. To have a town name mean “Pristine Stream” and not have a sparkling life source flowing through the town is bad for visitors and people who live there. To dump waste in something so pure is beyond me. I never grew up in a crowded town, so I don’t know their circumstances but even so, do dump waste in a nature source is actually making me slightly angry. I love nature and everything about it. It gives life and health to anything around it, plants, animals and people. I do understand trying to fix their mistake that was causing people to die from the unhealthy environment, but why not make a green space and clean up the river before they made a free way and build over it, only to rip it all out and use a lot of money? Hazardous Chemical leaks happen and they still can get cleaned up. What has me wondering was how did the neighboring town down stream manage an inflow of gross water? Were they dumping as well? I just couldn’t dirty up a source like that, even to throw trash on the ground is something I’d never do.

    Friday’s reading Anne Whiston Constructing nature Yosemite: Knowing and reading up on how Yosemite went from wildlife to a guided national park for any visitor is fascinating and refreshing to read. In my mind it’s like a work of art; nature is art in itself but for the public to mold it and create pathways and places to stay at night is wonderful. I know they wouldn’t knock down trees or ruin fields and mountainsides just to add in human accommodations. They build them around nature and did as little destruction possible. To even think about adding a toll road and a stagecoach along the side will ruin it’s natural beauty. The gorgeous landscapes shouldn’t be a way for some rich man to get richer with money, it should enrich people with inspiration and love for nature. Finding a way to help keep the air clean from car emissions is tricky. Trading in your gas powered car for an electric car for the trip into Yosemite or any park should be a great and clean idea. Adding in power stations to charge up your car while you go for a hike should be doable. It’s just making the stations and wiring the wires underground without destroying land seems hard. Although some people mainly hike through parks, the disabled and physically incapable can leisurely drive through an experience the park in their own pace.

  12. Allison Romero

    “Greening of Detroit” was very inspiring. That organization proved how many uses you can find for even the smallest, least promising spaces. Greening of Detroit even planted gardens of wildflowers that would sustain themselves. This adds more aesthetic beauty to even a small section of unused land. Detroit’s citizens can enjoy a prettier landscape but there won’t be a need for constant care. Gardens can also be educational. Many people living in cities or even suburbs have little knowledge on how to grow fruit and vegetable plants. Learning about how to grow functional plants like these are not only relaxing and educational but perhaps it could even promote healthier eating.
    “Field of Our Dreams” definitely supports healthier eating by offering fresh produce close to lower class living spaces. These residents had previously not had easy access to produce. The “Field of Our Dreams” project would promote healthier lifestyles for those that might otherwise choose what is convenient but unhealthy. Also, because money goes to the YouthGarden, children will learn about how to grow their own food. Overall, there are only positive results of both projects and the amount of money required to start them up is unbelievably minimal. It makes me wonder why more cities aren’t doing this.

  13. The Greening Detroit
    This shrinking city is taking a negative situation and making it into a positive one. Sometimes people need to get “hit hard,” in order to understand what is happening around them. Similar to a psychological problem, they need to start from scratch, slow down, and reevaluate.
    The fact they are starting to rebuild their green spaces, broadens their opportunities so much more. A green space can bring a community together and green symbolizes life. The community will see progress and hope. Agricultural projects are the best way to enhance a community. This will add more aesthetic exquisiteness to even a slight area of vacant land. This city was already suffering from an absence in agriculture but planting these trees and gardens, to increase the green space will help this issue.
    This brings me back to my group project about a recyclable greenhouse. Having this community based project to increase awareness of a shrinking city and how green spaces benefit, it doesn’t just resemble beauty but it’s also very educational. People can learn how to plant and grow produce and flowers. They can plant trees around this greenhouse and take it a step further. Detroit is on the right path to success. They need to think of low budget solutions and ways to have the community work together.

  14. Ryan Gallagher
    Kirk Savage   “Commemorating Steel” in Beyond the Ruins.

    The reading is discussing the post-industrialized city of Pittsburgh and how the steel industry is tied to the land that Pittsburgh was created on. There was a thriving steel industry and mines that came out of Pittsburgh and now are left abandon or are being repurposed. The pride that was built out of these facilities still lingers within the city with sayings at began such as “tough as steel” that were very important to the lively hood of the working class people that inhabit the city. Now that the industry has moved on there is a problem with commemorating the work of the people who built the city and all of the work that surrounded this great city.
    The reading goes on dealing with the commemoration process by incorporating monuments that encompass the identity of the city. Sculptor such as Richard Serra works in steel, creating large structures that have a very minimalist look to them. This type of sculpture has spacial aspects to it and are very expensive to produce but give the overall respect of the material that was produced in the city.

    Anne Whiston Spirn, “Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted,” in William Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground.

    In this reading this quote is the only thing I found of interest “The question Olmsted posed in 1865 remains unresolved: how to admit all the visitors who wish to come without their destroying the very thing they value?” I think that this is an amazing question that needs to be dealt with all the time within society. I think that no matter where we as human beings have chosen to settle this is the question that comes up at some point in time. Preservation of space is not something that has been talked about as much as development and other was in which we create our living inhabitancy but I do believe that this train of thought is the way of the future.

    I couldn’t find either of the Hersher readings within the course folder. Al that were there were two previous readings.

  15. This week i read field of our dreams. I think that like Detroit our very own New Bedford could benefit from something like this. A lot of New Bedford is middle class or lower class. They have one super market and produce is available however with Westport being so near by (but far for those that have no cars) a town with a bunch or farms and orchards the fruit and vegetables that are fresh and local but New Bedford is severely lacking. Many towns now have farmers markets. Many farmers cannot sell what we as consumers think of as damaged goods. Something that may have a scratch or scar bc it grew to fast or a tree branch rubbed against it is still just fine to eat but it wont sell to a place like a super market. So i sugest that a moveable vegetable and fruit market ask for the extras or ones they cant normally get people to buy and sell them at a discounted price to the New Bedford people who dont have cars or transportantion to get to a place that sells fresh produce. This section of the book really makes me think of ways to spread healthier eating to those less fortunate.

  16. Field of Our Dream:
    I always had in my mind whats the purpose of re-designing New Bedford. They are living in the trash needs to be cleaned. Arent we creating another junk that they dont need. Creating doesnt seem solution for New Bedford.

  17. Julianna: Sacha Kagan’s “Art and Sustainability: Recycle, Upcycle, Re-use:
    I really liked this part because it talked about recycling objects and using them into every day use items. This pertains to my group project too, with using recycled materials. The Beyond Green is a great project to get items like plastic bottles, cardboard and paper to make things like compostable tea bags. I love to drink tea but to use the little bag to just hold the tea in and then toss it away is crazy. Its a small thing but it still fills the landfills. Making compostable tea bags can help even a little. I’m glad people are thinking about the little things and not just the big picture problem. Little things matter and after a while it will turn to be a major contribution.
    I also liked the furniture upcycling part where they take old furniture or waste materials and make furniture out of it for shelters in chicago. It has now turned into a dedicated organization. “Material Exchange” is now run by the students that help out after Wochenklausur started the project. To know that waste materials such as scrap wood that carpenters no longer need can be used to make a bed to get someone off the ground at night.

  18. Ryan Gallahger

    Within the reading there is a discussion between ecological preservation, sustainable initiatives and the perspective of art. The esthetics of sustainability are also up for debate based on the vast knowledge provided by ecologists and other sustainable initiatives. The debate is over environmental art int he contemporary world. What does a sustainable aesthetic look like? Weintraub talks about this as an “insightful comparison on ecological science and ecological art”. I believe that art should always have some contextualization within the world such as the definition of ecology its self “ the science of the relationships between organisms and their environment” research should be conducted and contextualized behind the visualization of sustainable works of art for a larger impact on the viewing audience. Weintraub makes a comparison within the reading about this relationship “ eco-art is interdisciplinary and acknowledges the multifarious capacities of the human mind…it is comparable to a symphony”.
    Where the two disciplines combine is at which they establish a response socially within a gallery setting or within a museum to get society to begin to change for its betterment.
    That is why this medium is so important to the society at large is that behind the invention of science needs to be the visual media the taste makers the lead a change in societal perception.

  19. Art and Sustainability:Diversity
    I became quite fascinated with this section of the article, because it’s something that most people do not think about when building in a new area. Weintraub goes into a discussion of humans and how we thrive on diversity in a functional ecosystem. However, most people do not think of the diversity between humans and animals. Although, at the moment, diversity is a stable way of life, Weintraub is concerned of the long term damages that could be done because of this. She goes into the discussion of humans transferring species from one location to another and how this effects the life forms of the species.
    She mentions the Brazilian artists, Eduardo Kac, whose piece focuses on of the creation of new life forms and the concept of evolution. Weintraub states: “‘He suggests by creating new life forms, humans might offset the extinctions caused by their mismanagement of ecosystems'” (pg. 9). This made me really come to consider how much us humans can effect the world. No matter where we are in the world, the land is inhabited by something else. When building a new town, or building, or anything, whatever species was living on that land, they are forced to move out because of us. Sometimes we will catch the creatures and move them, and sometimes we don’t do anything. I feel when we don’t do anything that’s when species become endangered. When really thinking about it, throughout the past several decades, more and more species have become endangered or extinct. Several of these are due to human acts.

  20. The part of the Art and Sustainability reading that I enjoyed the most was the description of Weintraub’s ecocentric topics. I didn’t realize that sustainability was not introduced into art until the nineties, making it relatively new. Personally I have never researched or actively looked out sustainable art, but I did like some of the points that were made about it, such as how it is a form of social responsibility. The point that stuck with me the most when they summed up sustainability with the term ‘slow down.’ That made ecocentricity make sense to me; if we lived by anthropocentricity and continued to focus only on the continuation of our species, our habitat and all of our human-environmental relationships will greatly suffer – which has already begun to happen. It is not sustainable to live with this mentality.
    This tied into my other favorite point, which explained why art is such a good vehicle for sustainability and gaining awareness. Art is not as upfront as demonstrations and protests; it is a subtle, quite way to infiltrate the public’s psyche and get the topic of sustainability to come up. Art is more personal that science, and therefore I feel it is a better and less intrusive form of communication. Going along with the artist-science comparison, I found it very true that while scientists have more fixed roles, artists do not (futurists, prophets, visionaries) which enhances this ability to communicate.
    Weintraub’s points that struck me the most were Newness, Power, and Nature. What I liked about the idea of newness was the realization and acceptance that all materials will be absorbed and reused. I found Fischer’s method of working, immediately recycling his unsold work into his new pieces, an effective commentary on this and liked how it ‘mimicked the ecosystem cycle’ but with art instead of organic matter. I also really liked his method of letting nature and plant life overtaking his sculpture; it shows the ‘never-ending newness of life’ and contrasts with everything we have worked to avoid with science and technology.
    Power made me realize how damaging the human desire to control every aspect of all species and the environment can be; it is a very destructive mentality that hinders progress in sustainability. The longer humans feel entitled to having complete control over nature, and do whatever it takes to be able to dictate the future, the longer it will take to make an impact sustainability-wise.
    Nature is somewhat similar to power, and I find it disturbing that humans can actually deny nature, act oblivious to the damage they are doing, and continue to act like nature is fine and would not be better of without them. I know that it is unrealistic for humans to completely stop interfering with nature because of all of the needs we created, but I think it is possible and would be greatly beneficial to sustainability if we tried to make our changes for natural and less artificial; it will only benefit us in the future.

  21. Allison Romero

    What stuck out to me in “Art and Sustainability” was Rob Fischer’s process. He reuses materials from his own sculptures. As an artist, I know how difficult it can sometimes be to part with your art. It would seem virtually impossible to me that he is willing to destroy his art to use its materials. However, this shows that he is truly living up to what he believes. He even adds that doing this creates a connection between all of his sculptures which is an interesting and positive way of looking at it. In this case, to him, one of the greatest pleasures of his art is the process and truly living up to what he believes art should be. I also was interested by the idea of “mercy.” Overall, particularly those who would consider themselves eco-friendly would not realize that sometimes being too kind does not always serve well. Because evolution is based around the idea of species adapting to their environments, it is not necessarily merciful to make nature dependent on humans. Without allowing some freedom, living organisms will not learn how to be independent or how to take care of themselves when they need to. I think that this is a good point that many people do not consider.

  22. | Art and Sustainability |
    As a sustainability minor, this article was intriguing to me since I am happy to hear about sustainability being infused into all areas of life- especially art. The expression and creativeness that gets produced from art can coincide with sustainability since both matters can be perceived as a fresh and transformational way of thinking and seeing. Kurt’s varied number list of criteria for the ‘aesthetics of sustainability’ are some examples I visually try to incorporate in my sustainability projects. I believe art is showcased within all projects, subjects, etc. and incorporating it within the sustainability realm just makes the matter more inspirational and appealing. The ‘globalism’ theme stuck out to me since personally it’s a reoccurring subject. Especially- the quote, “based of her observation that global peace and prosperity are enjoyed by few at the expense by many…” I very much enjoyed this article and continue to stay motivated on the path of sustainability since it does positively affects each and everyone of us, including artists.

  23. Maura Silva
    Art and Sustainability

    Art is a way to speak or make a realization through creating something with your hands. People used art for propaganda, beauty, and even to promote something. Art started to introduce sustainability in the 1900s. Which I had no idea; I figured it was in the 2000’s.
    In the reading, Weintraub’s discussed topics such as: Newness, Power, and Nature. He discusses ecological art vs. ecological science. He discussed how newness is reusing materials and how you are able to create something with these wasted materials. Creating art with recyclable materials is a way to show sustainability. Nature is a way to incorporate organic materials and natural born materials into art to show sustainability also. Nature shows growth, evolution, and even a green cycle. Humans destroy nature to keep up with industrialization and the need for materialistic goods. If we could grow one thousand trees every time they created a new building, maybe it would help. We need to give back to nature for what we take out. Power is a desirable thing. Everyone wants to be at the top and knowing technology and building industrialization is the way to go to make profits, sustainability and nature is getting destroyed. We look into the future for technology when we should be thinking about what we need to survive and breathe. Sometimes I wish I lived in the caveman times when people depended on nature for survival. I think they were better off in a way then.
    Rob Fischer’s process for art and sustainability was insightful. He reuses materials from his own sculptures to create new ones. Destroying my own artwork to create a new one, would be painful an aggravating from my own artist stand point but he makes his point about sustainability and reusing materials. His positive aspect is that this connects all his art pieces together, kind of like a cycle. I thought that was powerful.
    Overall humans affect the world. Weintraub states, “‘He suggests by creating new life forms, humans might offset the extinctions caused by their mismanagement of ecosystems’” We need to make a change, and sustainable is the way to start.

  24. Art And Sustainability

    I thought this reading was helpful as it broke down the themes of sustainable art in to digressions or topics. Separating each, describing and giving examples helped clarify what all falls under the umbrella of sustainable art.
    In the section I found it interesting how they brought up scale. How some artists are more interested in working the larger conflicts in sustainability, others are looking and working with smaller proven solutions. I think both are necessary for us to move further as a whole. At times it was difficult to grab the exact point they were trying to make. But reading the conclusion helped.

  25. Art and Sustainability
    I found this excerpt of the article interesting to me because of how the different writers would explore and explain their thought process on ideas as well as their art. for example, when Weintraub gave the word “newness” a unique definition. she defines the word as “the replacement of serviceable items and ideas”. what i thought was unique about it is that she explains the definition in a way that would not belittle any old pieces of art or any “old” ideas that could be improved upon.
    Another thing that stood out to me and i think it was actually a really neat idea was Robert Fischer and how he reuses his own art work into new art pieces. Fisher said “the density of all material substance is ultimately to be absorbed and re-used”. I enjoyed this quote of his because it is very true. not many things get erased from this earth anymore. with the exception of things that get burnt as a disposal method, most materials these days get recycled and are soon to be used for something else, that could be completely different from what it was originally designed for.
    What i also thought was cool was the topic on nature. i found it very strange and bizarre that the word “nature” is avoided by professional ecologists due to the fact that they are scared off by the historical and cultural heritage of the word. i found that interesting. what i also found interesting to think about was her two problematic biases towards nature.

  26. I enjoyed this reading. Sustainability is something the Textile Department has a whole class on. We read about how to make textiles sustainable, what makes them sustainable, and we learn that sometimes a product cant be all 100% sustainable because most of its life is in the hands of the consumer and we cannot control how they take care of our product. This reading reminded me a lot about the books we had to read for that class and videos we had to watch about the exploits our industry has. Art or a product gives us as the creator a chance to educate those around us. When we say something is sustainable we must say how it is sustainable due to the words broad range of possibilities. Rob Fischer’s take his old art and make new art from it is sustainable in the fact he reuses 90% of his materials to create a new one. However if you go all the way back to dissect his materials like asking if they are organic, was it made in the least harmful way to the environment or even has it’s lifespan up until the point of becoming art damaging to the environment? so in the end his work in sustainable in one way but not in another. Sustainable art could just be about anything but I believe you have to say why.

  27. Art and Sustainability
    Since I am not an artist, sustainability and art is not something that I generally think about. I usually think about sustainability in a very different way when I consider it in engineering. This excerpt was extremely interesting and eye-opening for me. The author discusses 10 different themes, of which I found newness to be most interesting. The author discusses a quote by Weintraub which is about the idea that the term new refers to “the replacement of serviceable items and ideas.” The author then goes on to discuss how ecological artists tend to focus on subjects which are often changing such as fashion. This is really interesting to me. There is also a part about an artist names Rob Fisher who uses parts of his unsold art to create something new. This is a very interesting topic to me. Personally, I would much prefer to reuse my materials rather than letting it go to waste. As an engineer, I would be so willing to take previously made pieces and find ways to incorporate them into my work. This is part of what makes it interesting. Just because something isn’t newly created, does not mean it is not new to me, it does not mean that I can’t put new life to the object.

  28. Art is a way of communicating. It may be one of the most powerful ways of communicating that we have in our arsenal. Communication happens through symbols and art is the use of symbols to express an idea of a feeling. It is no wonder why art has its place in the sustainability movement, we have a lot of feelings about the earth and environment that is best expressed through art ( ) . As long as there has been a discussion to improve the environment there has been art to make that point. Not to mention that the environment, as in landscapes, has been featured in art predominantly since it’s existence.

    The social aspect is one of the three pillars of sustainability. The social aspect of sustainability, to me has always been about preserving culture while developing and paying attention to psychology in design. To me these two things are found in art too. Art takes a medium and creates a symbol to communicate an idea. This communication through art is meaningful because of culture; because of shared views and beliefs. Last class we were shown “art”, it was a crucifix in a jar of piss. Immediately we all feel repulsed because we all have corresponding views on crucifixes in piss. This is culture and art is it’s tool, just as culture is a tool of art.

    The mention of “aesthetics in sustainability” brought this understanding to a new level. Kurt’s view of the aesthetics “to sensitize people to a new time, culture and forms of spatial planning that are respectful to the environment” was particularly intriguing. This, to me, is the reason for many of our newer forms, the yet-to-be-named aesthetic that has been predominant in green building. I knew it existed but I didn’t understand this dimension until this reading. But it is so true. The new forms of green building really do express their sensitivity to their environment. In contrast, modern architecture became about universality, it could be found anywhere, it was for every person. Our new style is about its unique environment. A perfect example is the high-line in new york. Its style is it’s environment; it is urban nature.

  29. Re-used material for example like metal not necessarily clean like new can give certain quality that’s hard to achieve from brand new metal. To be sustainable doesn’t mean sacrifice for their work. Some artist purposely shred their old painting, some artist collect things from industrial site to make things.

  30. Scary Places:
    This chapter hooked me by opening up with the fact that 80% of what is built in America has been built during the last 50 years; if this doesn’t highlight our country’s problem with regulating growth, I do not know what does. I like how Kunstler associated the broken down, ruined mansion in his cookie-cutter town as possessing ‘charm and mystery’ and as ‘sacred’ while the rest of his town was ‘in a coma.’ I think this perfectly described the problem with urban sprawl. Such developments, as Kunstler remembers, are devoid of a center, and devoid of life.

    American Space:
    This chapter gives a good explanation of where some of our country’s problems and poor mindsets started. The mindset we have now started right when the Mayflower arrived, when the pilgrims saw the new vast nature as something to be ‘vanquished’ and ‘redeemed.’ Right a way it was not a mutual relationship with nature and resources. At one point they were setting limits – when a town reached a set limit, no more lots were given – but they abandoned that pretty quickly as more and more settlers arrived. Kunstler pointed out how the South, where ‘manners and morals collapsed’ exercised a new level of haste by moving plot to plot along the river every 5 or 6 years when they exhausted the land their plantation was on. I think this chapter ended with the best point, that this country began with the idea of ‘land as a public trust’ and we who are living need to preserve it and care for it for those who come after us and not exploit it. Had we stayed with that mindset, we would be in much better shape.

    How to Mess Up a Town:
    This was one of my favorite readings thus far; Kunstler described everything in a very relatable and sometimes sarcastic way, which got the point across very well. This chapter described the importance of creating and handling buildings so they respect the town and its residents. He first brings up aspects of a successful town: a central main street, defined edge, and appreciation of old architecture. He then proceeds to cite examples of everything his town has done wrong. I think one of his best points was how, when new buildings are being designed, or the town is trying to decide what business to let in, it should be those that will not ‘disrupt the existing pattern’ of the town (malls/fast food joints/bland architecture). What is constructed should coincide with the town’s existing character. He proposes a way to make sure this happens: those in charge in the town ought to come up with a ‘coherent vision’ before they start changing and establishing laws. This would have prevented what went wrong in his town: huge signs, unused dead space, and excessive parking lots. Cars should not be favored over people, and landscaping should not be seen as unnecessary maintenance or a burden.

    Loss of Community:
    This chapter was important in understanding what exactly happens to the spirit of an industrial town they their main source of income/employment. When these towns are at their peak, people value their businesses, and therefore value the houses they build and the town they spend their money in. When these industries fail, care is no longer taken. The wealthy workers stop spending money locally, so support for smaller local merchants end. What made a big impact was when Kunstler said that when such a thing happens to a town, ‘communities’ ceased even though ‘people and buildings remained.’

  31. Julianna: Kunstler American Space: To connect the biblical reference of Adam and Eve in Eden and the travels of the Puritans from England to the new world in 1620 puts a whole new perspective on the trip. The Puritans separated from England because they wanted to leave from King Charles I and his libertine regime just like the jews that left Egypt with Moses from Exodus to the Promise Land of Canaan. The Puritans wanted to start new life and left the tyrant’s rule as if in the bible that they read of the promise land of “Milk and Honey” but it ended up harsh like a “Monster Land” because of the winter they were faced with in December and January. This is similar to in the movie “Avatar” where there was a whole new found world and people wanted to go to this place, but it ended up to be extremely dangerous and toxic to humans. Simple living couldn’t be done and it ended up being a land with a “fathomless forest.” The Puritans worked hard to make their own way of living in the new world. They were given land by the appointed Governor and they went about making self sustaining towns.

    How to mess up a Town: When you have a lovely town populated by a number of people that thrive in a community with small businesses and suburbs, what could be better? When you add in rail roads, more people will want to come to the town. People will travel especially when you put in Casinos. (Honestly the worst thing that a town could do to gain more money and people) Adding in locally owned restaurants and art exhibits and natural clean landscapes, people will want to venture into your town and be happy. They won’t be there for reasons such as gambling and money. When WWII started, everything that the town was, either thinned out or was put to work for the government and military. The parks and museums weren’t maintained and the restaurants weren’t making much money because people couldn’t afford to eat out. This put a lot of small towns “out of business” because things weren’t able to get back to how they use to.

  32. Allison Romero

    In “How to Mess Up a Town,” Kunstler was very negative about Saratoga Springs and how the city is constructed. Although I agree with many of the things the author talks about, I think that this segment would have been better with more information and less opinionated words. Most of the time when I read this chapter, I wondered what was factually true or even researched and what was a personal gripe filled with assumptions. For example, Kunstler claims that, “Town planners often have selfish professional interests quite at odds with the public good.” Although I would agree that there is probably a great deal of truth to his words, there is no evidence for any claims such as this one. His lack of credibility, at least as far as this chapter goes, made me less sympathetic but rather more bored with reading a lot of complaints that almost anyone could write about the town they live in. Again, I agree with many of his opinions but I would have rather read about some concrete information and investigations into the reasons why Saratoga WAS constructed this way.

  33. | How To Mess Up A Town |
    It’s always interesting to see the evolution of a small town. Growing up in Dennis on the Cape is a prime example- The older I get the more I hear about the town hall discussions on whether or not they should build a Lowe’s (or other chain businesses). Building a Lowe’s would indeed create more employment in the town, but what about the local, private warehouses and yards around the area? Their businesses would plummet with the reputable competitor in town.
    “Saratoga, like virtually every other town in America, has become one big automobile storage depot that incidentally contains other things.” The author has some really valid points regarding the lot sizes, construction, and laws. Let’s imagine a town without the automobile industries influence (and obviously convenience). I’m not really picturing what it was like before the industry- dirt roads, horses, etc. I’m thinking something more along our present realm- something innovative. Imagine if we removed most of the lots, cars, zoning areas, etc and replaced town transportation with an inspiring sustainable practice currently going on in Columbia,

    The link is from research I have been doing regarding sustainable best practices all over the world (the research is being put together for a summit in Poland).

  34. American Space:
    I liked this article because it was different from everything that we’ve read for the class. Instead of focusing on the architecture or a post industrial town left abandoned the article focused on religion from when we first landed in Massachusetts. Kunstler focuses on the reasons that the travelers went to America and their growth after they landed. Using the example of the Puritans from when they landed in Massachusetts, these people’s main reason to come to America was to practice their religion. Usually in history class, professor discuss how the Puritans landed and their alliance with the Native Americans when they became ill. This article mentions the Puritan’s growth of a town and how they constructed each of their homes. Depending on how much a person had, their job, and how large their family was, the homes were constructed to fit what the person or family needed. What shocked me the most in the article is that the Puritans put up a law that stated that a person’s home could not be more than half a mile from the church. Later the law was voided but, when this happened, the towns people started to branch out and start making new villages, with their own church. I liked this article because the class has been focusing on post industrial cities. It interesting to have a different view of land and architecture. I liked how the article explained how America developed to how we are today.

  35. Scary Places

    The author starts off with a discussion of the movie Who Framed Roget Rabbit? Which I found very interesting. The discussion was about the fact that the that the main villain in the movie creates a scheme in which he would get rid of the streetcar system and produce a car reliant society much like the one we live in now. I have never seen the movie, but I think it is a very interesting idea. The author then goes on to discuss the similarities of this to the world we live in now; that our society is full of busy-bodies who are constantly building and getting rid of the old in favor of the new. The idea that we are so busy with this that we don’t have the time to think about what we’re building and throwing away is really interesting to me. As an engineer, my future will be designing and creating. I plan on taking the time to really think about what I am doing rather than just doing it. I’ve noticed that many of my class mates are not this way; they just want the pay, whereas I would like to see this world become something even more beautiful. The author then goes on to talk about how 80% of everything built in this country has been done within the 50 years, and their opinion of it is not very high.
    The author then goes on to talk about his life experience. He used to go to a boys camp where they went into town called Lebanon in New Hampshire one night a week. He described the town beautifully; it is a normal New England town. When he compares this town to Northwood, which is a hugely different place. In Northwood, all of the teens were stuck with nowhere to go. When the author went to college, he lived in a town called Brockport. One of his comments on the town was really interesting; “it was scaled to people, not cars.” I think this is an extremely important change in the world we live in which is so focused on cars. He mentions mixed-use communities which are something I am personally interested in.

    Kunstler’s brought up some interesting facts in his chapter. I was unaware that 80% of everything that was built in America was built in the last 50 years, no wonder why my grandmother thinks our town looks completely different. This chapter brought me back to my childhood. Kunstler starts his chapter off by talking about the old cartoon, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Which was by far one of my favorite kid movie. He references that the villain Judge Doom is planning on making the street car company obsolete and make a freeway going right threw Toon Town, and destroying the cartoons homes. We deal with these problems everyday and every where, we feel like we have no choice. People are either enthusiastic about the society development or the are left with no homes and their neighborhoods are being torn down. But we do thins because everyone is always looking for the biggest and newest thing to get to a futuristic life or a better one. Kunstler was saying, that when he was a child he lived in a beautiful town, Northwood in Long Island. His family was absolutely happy about there new house, but since everyone is looking for the latest thing, new split-level houses were built and they were sold “like hotcakes”. This as well made me think about my own childhood. Living in a small town there was nothing really around, the community thought it would be best to start building condos and shopping malls, which they thought that was best. But where is my old town? It was better the way it was, now it has turned into another city like the rest of them. I think that we as a community do not get a saying in anything for our towns and neighborhoods, the people with power decide what’s best for us, which in reality it might not always be the best.

  37. Scary Places
    Kunstler starts this chapter off by comparing the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabit” to their predicament. I thought this was a good idea, especially in the beginning of the chapter. I thought it was a good idea because it allows the audience to relate to a certain event or events of happening ( in the movie at hand). I have not seen the movie in several years and do not remember much but after reading the short excerpt from the story provided by Kunstler, i soon realized what they were talking about and it immediately made me recognize the matter at hand. Another part of the chapter i enjoyed was when he reminisces about his childhood, being sent away to a boys camp in a town called Lebanon New Hampshire. He explains this particular place as his “first Glimpse of what real American towns were like.” He expresses amazement when he discovered Lebanon, i thought this was a fun thought because if you are only exposed to a certain style of living and are not exposed to different areas, you may never know how many different and great types of living conditions their really are.

  38. I really enjoyed the reading “The Loss of Community” from Kunstler’s book Geography of Nowhere. I found that it mirrored New Bedford from the research that I have done. I figure most post industrial cities go through similar circumstances. When a city goes industrial it booms and then it busts and though the industries may be different the consequences remain the same. History is seen in our landscape and these gateway cities, as they are sometimes called, all have similar landscapes. As we have learned in the class and from the readings, the post industrial cities characterize the downfall of the two centuries of prosperity America experienced. The most egregious mark on the landscape happened after (partly during) the mid-century modern era. That mark is the mark of consumerism and corporate greed. In the first page of the article the author told of “a marker in the parking lot of the supermarket [that] commemorates the surrender of the British commander ‘Gentleman Johnny'” I just think the juxtaposition of the two places tells of the unsympathetic ways of consumerism that just paves over anything so a profit can be made. This article was very clear in outlining the battle between big economy and local economy. And it is true that the way corporatism has operated is in conflict with local economies. He illustrates this point when he states “The shopping mall at Saratoga, built in 1972, put the last clothing stores in Schuylerville out of business”. This is an unsustainable practice as we have learned. Kunstler looks to a future of small town living again saying it will occurs “out of necessity we will reinvent truly local economies using local assets and resources”. He states that a community is an organism of interdependence, that dependence is the local economy. I agree with this to an extent but I do believe that because of the nature of business and the decreased costs associated with monopoly that in some industries local fragmented industries will not be better. But the move real communities, I support that as a real goal we ought to be working to achieve.

  39. Scary Places
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article by James Kunstler and agreed with him very much. The way our communities around the world are and have been building huge sky scrappers everywhere is very ugly. Cities in my opinion are ugly and depressing, and children who have to grow up in them are missing out on the beauties of the world. For myself growing up in very rural areas it was hard for me to believe that when James and his family moved to the suburbs how happy he was with his quarter acre lot with no trees. In my opinion the world needs to see the beauty in mother nature and stop building these cities bigger and bigger. We’re turning this world into a “scary place” and taking for granted how beautiful it is without our technology.

  40. – James Kunstler’s “The Geography of Nowhere” (Chapter 1, 2, 8, and 10)

    James Kunstler explores the impacts and effects of suburban sprawl, civil planning, and development during the mid to late 1900s. James Kunstler was born in 1948 and is great to read about his perspective during his lifetime. Chapter Ten, The Loss of Community, was very interesting. Kunstler states, “I believe that we are entering an era when small towns will be valued again, and that out of necessity we will reinvent truly local economies using local assets and resources” (page 186). In this chapter he is mostly talking about a small town named Schuylerville in New York. This old town is alongside the Hudson River in the Saratoga County. He expressed his unhappiness and antipathy to a scheme that was brought up to improve the economy is this town and talks about the future of this small town. He is a big advocator for the town to use one of their biggest assets, the Hudson River, to draw sustainable energy—water power.

  41. The reading for this week was enjoyable. I loved his analogies and how he used a movie to point out hard to face facts. I think this building up of our land has its strong but also week points as he points out. I notice that in my home town there really isnt anywhere for kids to hang out and so they do get into drugs and wander the streets. The author makes a valad point that the days of playing outside or having to ride your bike to get places are sadly gone. Driving through my town you no longer see kids playing on lawns or in the driveways on bikes. We must ask ourselves if this is really where we want to head as a society.


    Scary Places
    James Kunstler discusses how cities hide the beauty of the Earth. I grew up in a small suburban town where we have lots of trees, little historical shops, and hiking trails nearby. To be raised in a city would be terrible as a child; I feel it wouldn’t be the same to ride my bike down the street like it was for me in my neighborhood. We need to stop creating these cities all built because of the advancement of industrialization and crave of technology. These skyscrapers are hiding the beauty around us. I know these buildings are amazing to look at because it shows success to our country; but it is also depressing from a bird’s eye view. I have been to New York many times, and it is beautiful to see the green spaces they are trying to keep and the tall buildings around me because I feel famous, I could never be bored with all this technology and things to do around me. But if you go to a relaxing beach or farm area, you know the place people pay money to go visit so they can relax, that is what true beauty is. He discusses how things have changed over a short period of time; I even see this in my town where they are inserting new plazas and more fast food restaurants. It is crazy to see how things change so fast, wonder why our children these days are acting like they are older than they are. It is because of what’s around them. He discusses 80 percent of what America has done in the last 50 years, it’s insane and impressive. We as a country crave power and success. But we need to stay sustainable and realize the Earths true natural beauty. When he discusses the town he moved in, I thought of my suburban town and how it is developing still today because of human needs. Let’s keep our small town the same, let’s keep our paradise.

    American Spaces
    Kunstler focuses on the growth of America and the religion aspects instead of the architecture. I like how it discusses how it was and how it is today. How our human needs and interest have changed from religion and family to technology and power. When the natives arrived to America they saw vast land with opportunity to develop food and a community. Everything was used and not abandoned. The mindset was different from us. They worked as a team and we work individually always thinking someone will fix the problem. They fixed the problem, we wait as bystanders. There is no need for our land to be a wasteland or abandoned. It frustrates me a lot because back then money wasn’t an issue to create beauty, today it is.

  43. Healing landscape is an excellent example of how listening and co-existing with nature can improve a city’s life. Developing nations often want to expand as much as possible and tend to have tunnel vision when creating new buildings or projects. As a result many long term negative effects are created in the process. In South Korea and Minnesota’s case a natural phenomenon like the river and wetlands became a long term problem for man made buildings. Flooding, odors, and pollution where rampant and would not stop around certain areas of the city until the man made structures where destroyed and natural order reestablished itself. Once changed it improved city life and increase the value of homes and businesses surround the nature zones. To help cities like Detroit it would be advantageous to look at older maps and see if any buildings are obstructing the natures flow.

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