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Comments on Weeks 7&8 Readings-2015

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CREATIVE RE-PURPOSING OF VACANT SPACES

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  1. One thing that was mentioned in the reading that I thought was really interesting and pro-active was the planting of urban forests. I really liked the idea of bringing mother nature back into a city to revive it. I think it is a great idea because a lot of people who live in the city, do not have the ability to go to enjoy the great outdoors and thus, lose touch with mother nature. By putting in an urban forest, you are reconnecting people with nature all the while revitalizing the neighborhood.The author brought up a story about how they were scared when they first saw an opossum. This makes me very sad because it connects with exactly what I was talking about previously – that people become disconnected with nature. If the author was able to access nature more, the would be no be scared of an opossum because they would be more desensitized to it. Also, the more people know about something, the more they will care about it, so conservation efforts will also increase from urban forests being put in. One big aspect about urban forests, is that they do not require as much upkeep – you just put them in and let nature take its course. This in turn, will save cities in terms of financing a project to this caliber.

  2. Gallagher’s chapter on filling the vacancy of cities with nature was very interesting. I thought the most powerful aspect was the idea of putting a price on trees. Gallagher spoke about how it was generally hard to convince urban planners of a nature-centered approach to reworking a vacant lot because they had been trained in growth. Urban planners are used to building upwards and out, not returning to the bucolic. If one could put a price on trees, their exact cost of maintenance and litany of benefits, urban planners might be more convinced. Gallagher spoke about the fact that in Europe, planners know exactly the types of trees to plant and what their benefits will be. If the American city could become more connected to its environment and the native plants, vacant lots could be reworked effectively. The article stated that trees are often an afterthought in urban planning and they are often probably chosen based on aesthetic goals instead of natural ones. To have a lot that will truly better the area, trees that are successful in that environment must be included. When thinking about our vacant lot on seventh street, I will now be careful to consider the inclusion of trees that would flourish there. This article reminded me of Stubblefield’s article about ruins. Too often the mingling of plants with the built is thought of as a degeneration. It is instead a growth, a growth that will allow us to have sustainable and happy futures.

  3. Herscher’s “Guide to Unreal Estate” indicated that he agreed with Gallagher that urban planners look to revitalize the city in the wrong ways. However, they disagree on why urban planners are typically wrong. Gallagher argued that they undervalue nature and look instead toward growth. Herscher thinks that the entire method of urban planning is wrong. Instead of playing within the system, Herscher stands for the intermediary period between population decline and gentrification. To him, reclaiming the city should be a process carried about by the natives for their personal needs. Urban planners are looking to bring in new people, returning the city to a contemporary version of what it was. This leads to gentrification and an erasure of the communities that grew in the post-industrial phase. The creativity to change the city does not have to come form outside, upper-class individuals but instead from the communities that already exist there. Gallagher spoke in his article about cities having immense sculptures to draw in viewers. This may make sense for a wealthy city like Chicago, but I agree with Herscher. Artists certainly exist in cities like Detroit and outside people should not be brought in to “better” the city. The city’s future should be one that is run by the community, for the community. Artists should ideally be residents of the area because they know the experiences of the city and what it needs. Nature should definitely still be incorporated in the area but the goal of the revitilization should never be exclusively to bring in new citizens. Instead, the goal should be to make the community more livable for those who are already there.

  4. John Gallagher, “Filling the Vacancy”

    When I was reading about the vacant is that Detroit has a lot of smaller houses. It mentions that the vacant lots can affect an entire street and even a neighborhood. They decided to create a park with lawns and a few branches. St. Louis has also suffered a lot of abandonment just like Detroit. The population peaked around 850,000 in the 1950s. St. Louis recently undertook one of the most innovative efforts to rescue a largely abandoned public space of any American city. There were other cities have attempted to the same sort of thing blending in with a more conventional park space. Gallagher had to come up with ways to revitalize the vacant and abandoned spaces a city like Detroit.

  5. Word of warning; this might be more of a rant/opinion.

    Gallagher’s article was once again interesting to read. However, I’m going to solely focus on the section where he talks about wildlife.
    I loved reading this section simply because I love the environment and more specifically the wildlife that inhabits it. If I weren’t studying to be an artist I definitely would’ve gone to be a zoologist or a biologist no doubt. And it drives me crazy when people complain about the environment and how its a “nuisance” when small animals like mice and insects get in. No one likes having their home invaded, but couldn’t the same be said for the wildlife? Didn’t we as humans demolish their homes and habitats in order to create our own? Anyways, it was nice to read about this and the golf course that integrates the wildlife as well. And that’s something we need to do more. The world is getting smaller. It’s plain and simple, but we need to SHARE it instead of deciding that humans are more valuable than any other wildlife, and create more cities and towns and suburbs and whatever. We stop thinking about the things around us and focus too much on what’s going to happen to us.
    We definitely need to consider the food chain and how drastic it can change if we keep destroying habitats with city development. Everything will be thrown out of balance and that’s a major problem. The fact that people were excited to see beavers for the first time in a river in YEARS tells how much their habitat has been destroyed. Same for the foxes and the pheasants.
    Back on topic, not many articles can make me as emotionally…angry in a way. Not that this article made me mad, but it really gets me thinking and I agree where Gallagher says we need to change.

  6. From reading “Filling the Vacancy” I quickly learned that vacant lots can make or break a neighborhood. Although I do not see the vacant lot on Seventh Street ‘breaking’ that neighborhood, by developing it further can only enhance the livelihood in that area.
    The revitalization of the vacant lot on Seventh Street will provide the community a chance to rejoice at their efforts and possibly spread to other vacant lots in the community. Ideally, this situation will turn into an example described in “Filling the Vacancy”, where a small town in Philadelphia constructed their own park out of two vacant lots and now claim it to be “the heart of revitalizing the community”.
    This revitalization came in sustainable ways, such as the rain garden behind the stage in their park. If the Seventh Street vacant lot can imagine sustainable initiatives, such as the previous one mentioned, it will help stabilize the lot; one of the most important factors in bringing a vacant lot back to life. It was not mentioned directly, but I think one of the most important stabilizing factors in a lot is building a fence around it, as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society does, to signify that the lot has a purpose rather than just an area of exposed grass.
    An additional factor that will improve the ‘community aspect’ to the lot would art, and the section ‘Art to the Rescue’ provides excellent examples of how we students can implement art to improve the Seventh Street vacant lot. Such an example mentioned was Chicago’s Millennium Park, where the infamous Bean is featured, as well as a giant criss-crossing arch that encompasses a large park that features a stage. These projects helped enclose certain areas of Millennium Park which encouraged a sense of gathering within the bustling city of Chicago. Having been there myself, it is definitely an area that separates you from the busy city-life and naturally feels more community driven.
    I think we can take examples like these to rebirth Seventh Street by adding a collection of features than beautify the lot, and encloses the area to bring forth a sense of separation from busy city life and an inclusion in community.

  7. In the chapter “Filling the Vacancy” by John Gallagher one can get a better understanding of what Urban planners have to consider when doing their planning. It was an interesting chapter, that gave their perspective, which I find rare to find. The planning he talked about in this chapter was filling a vacant lot, something which my group should relate to. The central focus was around growth, which can be said to be related to a more green approach. It is mentioned there some planners, often European, saw an importance in making sure these environmental ideas for the lot fit together perfectly. They tend to try and choose just the right plants and placement of them which would allow more efficiency and admiration of the space. It is also said that American planners tend to be out of touch with the environment, which I think is due to how much people tend to see nature as something less significant. When I think about how we should try to change this, which is the way of New Bedford from what I learned, I think something more environmental would work better. That way the lot can stand for change. It would start off small and as this one lot but if there are more across New Bedford it could make a movement, while making it look better with natural colors and creatures.

  8. This article on re-purposing vacant and abandoned lots really hit close to home for me, really. Down the street from the house my mother resides in, and my old childhood home, there is a vacant corner lot that has a ranch style home on it that was foreclosed about 10-15 years ago. Since then it has just been an eyesore with overgrown grass and things left in the yard from the previous owners. Seeing the pictures in the article of the lots that were cleaned up has given me hope that some day this house can be knocked down and the land can be revitalized. Just by adding some trees and a well kept landscape. Even some art would do wonders on this lot and it would indeed increase the value of all the homes in the area. Overall I believe that land re-purposing is a very important project that can be used from big cities to small suburbs.

  9. John Gallagher, “Filling the Vacancy” proposes the idea of filling the empty lots of cities with something as simple as nature. The conflict here is with urban planners. They have a hard time transforming a lot into a place of nature instead of building things. Gallagher says that nature should be chosen based on natural goals. Being passionate about the environment, this article was a great read for me. I think taking the vacant lot on Seventh Street and finding a way to incorporate nature will greatly benefit the neighborhood. I will make sure to think about this when continuing to plan out what will go in the vacant lot.

  10. In John Gallagher’s Filling the Vacancy has some great ideas such as adding more trees many of these vacancy areas because in many post industrial cities the air quality is extremely poor due high carbon levels from industries and automobiles in these cities so adding trees would improve the air quality. I also liked the idea of turning vacant lots into urban gardens, parks and places for neighbors to pleasantly gather. I like how these projects were inexpensive and effective. The urban gardens allow city people to eat pesticide and process free food that are much cheaper than buying them at large department stores and supermarkets at much higher prices. This also allows people who live in cities to be much healthier because in general people who live in large cities tend to not be as healthy due to the fact that they cannot afford or access healthy foods.

    My criticism of John Gallagher’s Filling the Vacancy is using these vacant spaces as additional parking lots. I do not like this idea because making and maintaining these parking lots can be incredibly costly. I also believe this encourages more people to drive automobiles rather than to use public transportation. Using more automobiles creates more carbon into the atmosphere which is not good to breathe in. Having more automobiles also created more traffic problems in our cities than we already have. I would much rather see this money being used to create parking lots out of vacant lots to be used in improving the country terrible public transportation system into ones that are competitive to other developed nations throughout the world. I also believe it would be better to use some of these vacant lots as welcoming bus stops so people will want to use the bus rather than use an automobile.

  11. “Filling the Vacancy” by John Gallagher is about finding ways to fill the vacant landscapes of Detroit through productive and environmentally clean strategies. Instead of just placing benches and planting some grass, his examines a more useful approach. Some examples of this are community gardens, farmers markets, and performance platforms. Liberty Lands Park is an example of this. I found it really great how in reality it did not cost a lot of money to turn these vacant landscapes into something really beneficial to the community. Local non-profits and the EPA chipped into help fund this park. Through some funding, these renovations of the land can help improve the property values in the surrounding areas, which ultimately helps out everyone in the community. I agreed with what the reading mentioned about Robin Boyle, Wayne State University Professor of urban planning, saying that sometimes it is hard to get planners to get on board with some of these ideas of urban renewal because they can sometime be viewed as “goofy”. I do believe that sometimes the best way to make a difference in a community is to think outside of the box and go places that most people are not willing to go.

  12. In the chapter “Filling the Vacancy” by John Gallagher you can get a better understanding of the planning processes that urban planners have to go through when they consider what to do with a vacant lot. The central focus in this chapter was based mainly on growth which can be looked at as taking a green approach with the vacant lots. It is mentioned in the chapter that European planners have a better approach to using and conserving the environment in these areas than most American urban planners. I think a very simple way of changing this would be to have the American urban planners not worrying about changing an area for profits and worry more on the better of the area and the community.

  13. John Gallaghers “Filling the Vacancy” shows just how one vacant lot only about one-tenth of an acre in size can be bad but brings up ideas on how to change that. The first example brought up is Liberty Lands park which was given to the community to make theirs and they made it not just another walking but a gathering area . They have community gardens, farmers markets, a stage, and even host movie nights. A nearby University of Pennsylvania professor looked in to how this revitalized park affected home values around the park and they rose by nearly 30% which is incredible. The most important thing I learned is to keep the vacant area neat and tidy mowed and trimmed with some planted trees and that helps prevent the decrease in home value. It was interesting to hear about St. Louis and there population decline since we mainly touch on Detroit. Robin Boyle from Wayne State University urges people to look into urban forestry movements in Europe for ideas since Europe has had success with vacant lots in the past.

  14. “Filling the Vacancy” covers, among other things, just how cheap it truly costs to renovate a vacant lot into something that benefits rather than detriments the neighborhood – and just how foreign the concept is to contractors. After a one-time investment of $4k, the yearly upkeep cost of $400 – or a decent paycheck for a part-time job – is, in the scope of city planning, entirely modest – just enough to trim the park and show that someone cares. It is beautiful in its simplicity, and one of many cheap, community-effective ways to improve a shrinking city.

    If I were to have a gripe about the article, it’s that it mentions only in passing that even these meager investments necessitate outprioritizing the basic needs of the starving communities – $400 into a park is $400 not spent on the day-to-day well-being of residents. It is mere beautification, and these communities need more than that. These parks should also harbor some sort of real utility if at all possible, even if only as an herb garden – because bringing together a community is indeed vital, but it’s for naught if the community is deprived of necessity for the sake of beautification.

    • In hindsight, the cost for a utilitarian park would be exponential compared to something as simple as a small garden, between costs for new materials and specialized permits. It’d be preferable to do something creative and cheap to unite the community than to hold onto this revenue and do nothing.

  15. (James Sevasin)
    In the Unreal Estate Guide is basically discusses properties and vacant areas that have lost almost all property value it once had as a result of shrinkage of population of post industrial cities. It discusses that this loss of property value can be turned into valuable places for the neighborhood and the city through creative development measures. I thought the transformation of the vacant lots into gardens was a good idea. There was many short term solutions this text provided to help these vacant lots and properties into temporary needs for the neighborhoods in Detroit. These temporary fixes eventually lead into long term results for improving the communities that once had vacant lots and properties. These vacant lots and properties are now being used for practical reasons to help the community and for making the community more ascetically pleasing to look at.

  16. “The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit” by Andrew Herscher mentions Detroit as a shrinking city early on which is a term we have been using for these types of cities. One of the coolest things about this article is the so called Detroit mower gang who go around and will mow and clean up parks that the city has neglected making them able to be used. Also the Wild seed project was interesting how they planted wildflowers in many of the vacant lots hoping they will become what they refer to them as urban prairies. What I learned from this that can help us with the project that maybe in some cases simple is better.

  17. This reading by John Gallagher, “Healing a Wounded Landscape” offers some insight into softer solutions to issues regarding wetlands and flooding. Gallagher starts off with the example of the Phalen Wetland Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. The project finding a solution to flooding problems in a local shopping center in St. Paul was taken on by the landscape architect Joan Nassauer who decided that instead of using the more conventional solutions of shrubbery and plants to improve the shopping she was going to tear it down and restore nature. The new Phalen Wetland Park was a huge success and immensely benefited the community. What I really enjoyed about this reading was that these cases were focused on natural solutions to urban problems. Instead of building more roadways and adding a couple stories to a building, why not make the ecology better and work with what nature is already providing. What this shows is that more sustainable solutions can lead to an area that benefits a community more than the predictable construction solutions. A lot of the cases in this reading involved daylighted streams. What once was a flooding problem could now benefit a community in a variety of ways. Some of these benefits include boosting property values by creating a valuable neighborhood amenities, providing natural outdoor classroom for children, improving air and water quality, and building community relations by restoring environmental damage done by previous generations. However, like any great endeavor daylighting streams and rivers involves expertise and money. Although the stakes are high in these situations, the benefits are higher and there is cultural moral obligation to restore the environment. What we can as a class learn from this reading is to take a step back and look outside of the box for solutions related to community building and the sustainable solutions.

  18. Gallagher’s “Filling the Vacancy” will be useful in the design of our vacant lot because it specifically singles out issues that arise with disinvestment in abandoned urban spaces, but also highlights the opportunities that exist within them. As Gallagher says, you can see the direction that a street is headed by looking closely at the lots. This reading is incredibly inspiring for the planning of our projects, and provides very relevant information. Some of the reading we do is about re-purposing of buildings, or of building up structures using materials recycled from the remnants of an abandoned house that had rested on the lot, and I can find lots of use in those readings as well. They give a good sense of the impact that restoration and repurposing of space on a community. However, “Filling the Vacancy” was useful because it gave ideas of what to do specifically with a vacant lot. For example, it provided support for an idea my group was considering. We were thinking of creating a multi-purpose park, and that is one of Gallagher’s examples. I see this reading being a very useful tool throughout the remainder of our planning process. I also like the idea of looking at cities with vacant lots from a more aerial view, seeing the thousands of spaces as an opportunity to create something that is interconnected. As Gallagher put it, “So many of the tens of thousands of vacant parcels in cities we find interspersed – one here, two or three there…” (pg 97). It made me realize that vacant lots are seen as intrinsically bad because of the disconnection, between homes or buildings, which leaves space for bad things to populate (crime, debris, weeds, etc). However, since there are so many lots and they are dispersed across the cities, why not turn that into a network of good things? This goes back to my idea of using the space to forward the movement of creating “pollinator highways”: a mapped out movement to plant butterfly and bee friendly greenery, to promote the survival of these pollinators (that we very much need) in urban settings.

  19. “Private property has made us so stupid and narrow-minded that an object is only ours when we have it, when it exists as capital for us…” I believe this quote speaks to the true nature of people. No body wants to take charge of shrinking cities and vacant lots because it is not their own personal property. It wont make them any money, therefore it should not be their responsibility. The more people that can come to grips with the re-purposing of cities and vacant lots, the better the environments around them will be. If more people were engaged and willing to help out for the sake of their city and have the pride in where they live, then this wouldn’t be an issue that we have to discuss.

  20. The introduction to “Unreal Estate” outlines, in brief, examples of the vast possibilities that come from a shrinking city, whose inhabitants and creatives are no longer motivated by capitalist parameters of value, but by community and freedom. In a sense, capitalism has abandoned Detroit, and rather than attempt in vain to increase the value of Detroit according to conventional means, Detroit has become, in a sense, a proto-socio-anarchy. Creatives are inspired not by money, but merely by the desire to improve their community and connect people through means sometimes antithetical to real estate value – giving them the freedom to create things as public or private, polished or raw as they will, without concepts as mass appeal or hourly wage gnawing at their minds. Instead, they work for more practical means outside of the dollar bill – including the very practical need of purely expressive art and community projects unfettered by capitalism. They have thrown out the economic rulebook, and are organically piecing together a new regime.

  21. “Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit”

    I like that it used the term of “shrinking city”, in the beginning of the article as it enforces familiarity with terminology we need in the development of our design. The article made me appreciate the area of New Bedford that we are working with, and in fact all of New Bedford, because it is not as “deep in decline” as Detroit. For example, I would never think of New Bedford as a city of “emptiness, catastrophe and ruin”. Perhaps because we have been focusing so much on New Bedford’s opportunities, that I do not see New Bedford as being in ruin like Herscher describes for Detroit. This is why I was excited to read Herscher praise the same sort of urban opportunity for growth in Detroit. An interesting new way to address the problems of shrinking cities, in his described the city experiencing change and unprecedented conditions as opposed to being an example of “loss” and “undesirable”. Those descriptions may be very helpful for our writings pertaining to this project. “A prompt to new understandings of the city’s spatial and cultural possibilities” was a beautiful phrase to read, and could be a nice thing to include as well in the final presentation of our plan for the vacant lot! Additionally, “It might compel the humbling realization that these disciplines might have more to learn from the shrinking city than the shrinking city has to learn from them.” Particularly resonated with me because I have found that the more we learn about the movement to save areas suffering from the aftermath of de-industrialization, the more I have to learn. The efforts to do so require interdisciplinary creativity and research, so this quote very nicely reflected what this project has taught me about what I do not know. Lastly, I thought it was cool that within the community they created a research collaborative to investigate “small-scale urban initiatives”, including their experiment of cooking using the steam from the municipal incinerator. It would be cool to see if there is anything in New Bedford like this!

  22. “Unreal Estate” came across as a very long blog post that was repeating the same thing over and over again while using large words to describe simple concepts. I thought this reading was poorly written, in that I felt like it was written for a general audience to understand the importance of ‘urban renewal’ in large cities, such as Detroit once was, however the author failed to keep the audience in mind when describing his ideas. For instance, the paragraph:
    “The proto-commons of unreal estate is also constantly threatened by the least-developed form of capitalism: the primitive accumulation of dispossession, or what is usually identified and experienced as crime. Violence, both legal and extra-legal, thus shadows the city of unreal estate; this city accommodates not only an alternative urbanism, untethered to the imperative of capitalist accumulation, but also the anachronistic urbanism of accumulation by force — which in Detroit has been emphasized to the point of exaggeration.”
    Many articles we have previously read have mentioned a similar thing, that the value of Detroit’s real estate has decreased dramatically due to a rise in crime. However, this paragraph says what I previously just mentioned in a word-thick statement.

    Once I was able to grasp an understanding of this article, I agree that “taking advantage of these opportunities requires us to consider the shrinking city not so much as a problem to solve but rather as a prompt to new understandings of the city’s spatial and cultural possibilities”. As we have seen in other articles, lectures, guest presentations, and videos, there are a surplus of ways to use the spatial and cultural possibilities the cities have to offer in rejuvenating the city. The concept of ‘unreal estate’ is an excellent term to describe the vacant or abandoned properties that have become available to modification due to their less-than desirable nature. However, the concept of ‘unreal estate’ seems to include properties that are immediately available to change and exclude those that are unavailable to the Unreal Estate Agency. Properties that are available for modification and those that are not are pieces to a larger picture, and the article does not describe how it would work with buildings and community spaces already working well in their spaces, but rather focuses on making new community spaces altogether.
    I do believe I did not fully grasp the whole concept of this article, but from what I did grasp, it was similar from our previous readings, and although the Unreal Estate Agency does have motivation to create change, it seems to be functioning in a linear fashion instead of webbing out into the entirety of Detroit.

    • Rebbecca. This is an apt criticism of the text and I admire you for that. I think the intention is to make us think about the problem in a new light. By considering the concept of (u)real estate, we are asked to think about issues of economy and how it works in relation to property. But I do agree with you that at the heart of their discussions… most authors are talking about same issues/concerns/solutions, etc.

  23. Unreal Estate illuminated the fact that shrinking cities may not be a bad thing after since the population that remains is able to use their imagination to think of novel ways to use all of the vacant lots and spaces around Detroit. The article had pointed out some unique ideas that I liked. I like the seed sowing idea most – it is when residents pick up a bag of wildflower seeds and just sprinkle them on the grass in the vacant lots. This is great because it not only brings the community together, it creates habitat for animals and also gives food and shelter to important pollinators such as bees.

    One thing I did not like about the article was that it used a vast amount of jargon and was very difficult to follow at some points. I found myself rereading a paragraph three times because I had to try and work through the jargon.

  24. (I could not open “Cradle to Cradle” on either my phone or computer so I read some summaries online. This will mainly be a reflection on “Silent Spring.”
    What I found most interesting about Rachel Carson’s excerpt was her suggestion to call pesticides biocides. This simple change of title made me reflect on how arbitrarily humans decide on what constitutes a pest and then how severely we react. We decide for relatively unimportant reasons that ants are problematic so we then invent increasingly toxic chemicals to massacre them. This is especially interesting in the context of Carson’s argument. She emphasizes the fact that humans have been around for a very short time but already we are the only creaturs to force our environment to change instead of adapting to it. In doing so, we are creating horrible consequences that will injure not only ourselves but the entire Earth. In truth, we are the pests here. It seems that “Cradle to Cradle” offers many solutions to reform how we treat the environment and work towards a sustainable future. To understand the value of their suggestions, however, you must first read “Silent Spring.” To truly desire a sustainable future, it must be impressed upon you how toxic human actions are and how inevitable the consequences. Many of our readings this semester have been speaking about bettering the environment in order to help humans. Of course this is a goal, but I think it is critical that humans see themselves as a pest. The world was not created for us so it is not a choice to live sustainably but a duty.

  25. Andrew Herscher: “Fields of Our Dreams”

    For the past couple of weeks we learned so much about urbanization in cities specifically Detroit. What I’ve read so far with the article of the “The Unreal Estate to Detroit, is that Detroit is characterize by loss mainly of population, property values, jobs, and infrastructure, investment, security, and urbanity itself. Detroit is a shrinking city where the community and constructors are coming up with solutions to make it a better environment. In the article, it explains the significance of a shrinkage city where some problems can be change into a difference. In the U.S., architecture and urbanism almost is always have learned their lessons from cities where the capitalist economy is flourishing.

  26. Gallagher’s chapter on “Healing a Wounded Landscape” was very informative about the benefits of daylighting. What I found most interesting about the concept, however, was the fact that an entire landscape can be reworked. Much like Carson’s “Silver Spring,” humans often prioritize their own needs and think of their goals as inevitable. If a human decides a creature is a pest, it will be killed. If a human decides a stream should be a parkig lot, it will become one. Once these processes occur, they are seen as advances. To go backwards would be to reverse necessary change. Now that I think about it, it is silly to think of built environments as permanent. They have been added there, changing the organisms that adapted there. Naturally, the environment that was originally there would be longer-lasting. To return to this environment may seem like a big change, but it is actually natural. It certainly seems crazy, and in some ways a backwards motion, to return to the natural environment, but it only makes sense. When we made many of our cities, we were not concerned with environmental welfare and longterm success. Now that we know how to build in a sustainable way, we may have to tear down many structures in order to have a successful city. Obviously it would have been better if the cities had originally been built in this way, but they haven’t so they must change. Human constructions are not inevitable but the processes of nature are and we must work within them.

  27. Though this is not the first exposure I’ve had to Rachel Carson’s famous “Silent Springs”, her writing still captivates me. She writes about a very sensitive issue of her time which was, scientifically, fairly complex, but she explains it in a way that is both elegant and startlingly understandable by most. In her book, she attempts to convey a message that is difficult at best to put into words. The gravity of the impact man has had on the environment can only be understood in terms of the time it would take to reverse its effects. In the span of little more than a century, man has disturbed an intricate balance that has taken nature eon’s to create. No matter which way you look at it, this path of inventive destruction is not a sustainable one.

  28. Although “silent spring” by Rachel Carson was not directly supposed to be about sustainability as much as it was about the harm that man is doing to the environment that was created for them to flourish, it does have the secondary message. As I was reading the article i was thinking to myself, “if only these issues were known at the start.” If they were, then sustainability might have played a major role in the development of man, and we wouldn’t be mindlessly killing the other residents of this beautiful planet to in this instantaneous moment, benefit ourselves. If we knew the harm that we were causing then maybe, just maybe measures would have been taken to ensure the safety of all creatures that inhabit this planet, most of which do not have any idea of what man is doing to the future of there species. The importance of money in human culture has led to the devastation of the ecosystem and as Rachel Carson states, This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable.

  29. I have previously read “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson in my sustainability 101 class. Rachel mentions how we are are polluting air, earth, rivers, and seas with materials that should not be exposed or left behind as they are. As we talk about shrinking cities and abandoned lots we notice a theme that once upon a time it was all nature and beauty for all to enjoy. I am all for us building our way in, and making cities except for when we just let them get abandoned. The human race is awfully egocentric when it comes to the big picture. The earth has been around for a very long time with many species but in just the last 300 years alone especially with the rapidly increasing population and industrial revolution we have destroyed more of the ozone and environment that even the million years that came before that. To reference “Silent Spring” again the use of DDT has changed not only the way we do things but the things around us such as plants, vegetation, animals, and insects. In order for a sustainable project for our park we should be friendly to the environment around and accept wildlife that is native to northeast for plants and shrubs.

    • Great to hear that you are familiar with this important text. Unprecedented in her own time, Carson’s book initiated a revolutionary path, which was then followed by other scholars and activists who sought to protect natural resources and maintain a healthier relationship between humanity and natural resources. Subsequently, many designers, for example, began to image and imagine the possibility of a world, in which human beings were divorced from their natural settings. Others contemplated how humans could live together with nature in a more sustainable way.

  30. In Rachel Carson’s “Silent Springs”, I felt that she was more or less ranting about the injustices man has enacted upon Earth. Although I absolutely agree with what she has stated in her excerpt about man changing the workings of mother nature, I feel that she does not really give any kind of solution to the problems. This whole excerpt just has an extremely negative tone to it with no positive suggestions or progress noted. Very one-sided.

  31. “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson makes excellent points about how chemicals used in farming decades ago can still reside in the local soil, or how rain now may contain elements from factories that spew smog into the sky. However, a lot of her claims are unsupported, and she fails to mention that these issues are of a very large web of humans interacting with their environment and how the perceive their lifestyle. For instance, she mentions how radiation is due to man’s tampering with atoms, but doesn’t consider that the discovery of new elements has lead to huge medical advances; and on a more negative note, has constructed the majority of weapons our military uses. Do not get me wrong. I definitely believe that the Earth should exist without these repercussions, however she makes it seem like if we simply stop the methods we are currently using, we will be rid of the problem. Unfortunately that is not how it works. If I were not a biology major or were not interested in the subject, I may not know this information, which seems to be Carson’s case.
    In interest of that topic, it sends a message that it is super important to look into a wide range of situations that may all cause the same problem.

    Cradle to Cradle would not open on mycourses for me 😦

  32. Reading Silent Springs was a refreshing article. It’s wonderful to read about someone pointing out flaws humans have every now and then. Realizing how much we’ve -in ways- damaged the world through sprays, chemicals and pollution can really open ones eyes. While it is all just talk about problems, I do wish she were a bit more positive -maybe give some examples in ways that we HAVE tried to help combat these issues- or at least write in a slightly more positive tone? And if you’re going to talk about the world in general, maybe give statistics on which countries exert more pollution than others. Writing about the world as a whole puts one major countries blame on other countries that maybe do more to help combat pollution and try to be more in tune with nature (a.k.a not use pesticides/growth hormones/insecticides etc…) because in a way it isn’t fair to take equal blame for a larger share of the problem, when they’ve done something others haven’t. All in all though, it was an enjoyable read.

  33. From my understanding of the reading the two articles are completely different and have their own different purposes. The only things that could be similar is that they bring up blame. Even with this being a common topic between them Silver Springs seems to blame humans for all the pollution and toxins. It pretty much says we humans are just egotistical and the bad guys. Meanwhile Cradle to Cradle says that it isn’t necessarily the fault of just humans. On top of that it actually gives us things to do about the situation. It actually goes over how we can make a change.

  34. In the short except from Rachel Carson’s “Silent Springs”, she comments on man’s destructive way of living, and how man harms other natural aspects of life to make our own experience seem more comfortable. One of the most interesting aspects of this excerpt from Carson is the fact that man has only inhabited Earth for a minuscule period of time. Our own focus on making our own experience as comfortable (or unnatural) as possible has quickly turned the world into an inhabitable trash bin. Not only are humans looking to hide from nature as much as they can in their day-to-day lives, but humans (especially Americans) look to hide from anything that makes them uncomfortable. For example, in Detroit, when the auto industry left the city and took away nearly all of the work, people got as far away from Detroit as they could. They considered the city a used-up wasteland. Instead of focusing on sustaining Detroit by keeping jobs and a sense of community in the city, people looked for new areas to inhabit, thus turning Detroit into a deteriorating shell of a city. If people could realize the weight of our actions on future generations, they would make more sustainable decisions. We are in a period of time where technology has advanced far enough so that we know the impact pesticides, waste, and consumption have on our world. Human’s self- centered and short-term point of view is what eventually leads us to destroy our landscape.

  35. The excerpt from “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carlson examined the human control of nature. What was alarming was that she mentions that this arrogant belief that nature exists to benefit humans stems back to the Neanderthals. I do not fully believe this to be true, due to the fact there has been evidence to support that early humans had more respect for nature. However, I do believe that humans used nature out of necessity. On the other hand, it is definitely true that modern humans believe nature to disposable and merely existing for their own benefit.

  36. These two articles bring light to the subject that humans are mostly to blame for the earth being trashed and polluted. These articles provide us with things to do that can improve our living conditions. Sprays and chemicals that are used in everyday life are harming the earth in so many ways. I think Carson’s weakness with her article was that she kept saying humans were solely to blame for this pollution problem. She uses the word humans, which groups everyone on this earth together. She doesn’t factor in any other issues that could cause pollution.
    I had trouble opening Cradle to Cradle online but I read some summaries about it.

  37. William McDonough: Cradle to Cradle

    As I was reading article cradle to cradle it’s a model that has human industry on nature’s process viewing materials as nutrients circulation in healthy, safe metabolisms. The industry suggests that it protects and enrich ecosystems and nature’s biological metabolism while also maintaining a safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and technical nutrients. It is a holistic economic, industrial, and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste free.

  38. Human beings are capable of doing evil deeps yet we also have the power to right our wrongs. Silent Springs talks about how nature is for the convenience of humanity. Yet we are destroying that which is most precious to us with little regard for the aftereffects. The UN is a good place for nations to come together but it is up to the leaders of these nations to actually put speculation into action and develop policies to defend the environment and protect our children’s futures.

  39. In Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” Rachel talks about how we are polluting the air, rivers, and seas with materials that should not be left behind or exposed. I find that the building of cities of cities is great because it helps us as a society grow but when we just let the crumble due to poverty it because an extreme waste and also becomes hurtful to the environment. We as humans due a very poor job at looking at our future because the Earth has been here for billions of years and our species has been around for a few thousand and we have destroyed more of the ozone layer than all other species combined. In order for a sustainable project for our park we should be friendly to the environment around and accept wildlife that is native to northeast for plants and shrubs.

  40. Silent Spring was, in mostly unconventional ways, very directly tied to our course and our aims for the park. For the past two centuries, mankind has unknowingly wreaked damage upon the earth, damage that, yes, can be recovered from – albeit, not in human years but in geographical eons. Biology is being wrought with hyperadvanced tools, and the discovery of ecological side-effects is far outpaced by the discovery of new and more powerful chemicals. Our park should do its share in being at least somewhat ecologically and biologically responsible – for that is the conventional way of our phase of mankind in redemption.

  41. In Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, she discussed how we are destroying the planet by polluting the air, rivers, and seas with manmade materials. She explains that this pollution is almost irreversible and a change needs to be made to save the environment. For example, chemicals sprayed on croplands, forests, and gardens lie long in the soil, entering into living organisms, passing from to another in a chain of poisoning. She followed this example explaining how it took hundreds of millions of years to develop life on earth and now we are basically destroying the planet.

  42. (James Sevasin)
    I read John Gallagher’s “healing a wounded landscape. I believe that daylighting a stream is a good idea but not always feasible in some cities. It worked very well in St. Paul, and Seoul South Korea. The lesson to be learned here is that it is not a good idea to use creeks, wetlands and streams as areas to run sewage because they stink up the environment and cause lots of flooding issues on streets, business and homes especially on basements. It is also a very bad idea to cover up these streams in order to get rid of the smell of sewage that was running through these streams. This just flows the water in basements. It is best if urban planners could be able to daylight these streams because they created beautiful urban parks in which spikes property values in the area and creates some revenue in places near the daylighted stream. The problems with daylighting streams is that is very involved, it needs the whole community to get involved, it needs all types of experts to get it built which can get very expensive for cash scrapped cities. It is tough to educate the people on the benefit of daylighted streams because many people do not believe it will solve the flooding issues and make that part of the city more ascetically pleasing.

  43. I thought Gallagher’s “Healing a Wounded Landscape” was a brilliant read. I never knew of daylighting – the process by which old river beds and streams are restored to their natural state – nor would I have guessed it could have a huge impact on the town or city it resided in. As the chapter states, the purpose of many daylighting projects was to solve the issue of flooding basements but it turned into something more important for the community. The community becomes involved in these projects, and unlike building with concrete, it is a safer and simpler (by means of understanding how nature thrives) task than constructing a building which exclusively requires a specialized team. More than that, it increases the value of the surrounding area which reduces crime and increases economic interest.
    If daylighting wasn’t so expensive, it could prove to be a huge game-changer for areas that suffer with flooding, but also in economically poor locations. The chapter mentions how Detroit is “returning to nature” which makes the idea of daylighting old streams, and imagining Detroit complementing the environment, a realistic goal. Even so, it doesn’t need to be a city but rather a small town that can benefit from a minor change of the landscape to improve the livelihood of citizens and possibly create a “domino-effect” for the surrounding area.
    Overall, this chapter did an excellent job of explaining how daylighting is a successful process, and gives the reader an idea of a realistic tool to use when attempting to improve an area that reflects flooding issues, and others.

  44. I really like that Nassauer looked to completely take down a building in despair, not due to the location being hopeless for anything good to go there…there was some good to come of that but the building was not to be. By looking at the land and interpreting how nature ran through the area, the designer proposed returning the space to its previous function as wetlands. My favorite quotation was “The movement from a natural environment to an asphalt-and-concrete cityscape doesn’t have to go only in one direction/” Next. I thought it was very cool that Seoul, KR elected a man for presenting the solution to an ecological problem in an urban setting and then he was elected as president of the entire nation. It tells me that people really do want to see and support sustainable infrastructure in their nation. Before reading this article, I hadn’t considered the issue of running groundwater to be a threat to buildings in the area and it now makes me curious to look at the sloping of the land at our vacant lot!

  45. I thought Gallagher’s “Healing a Wounded Landscape” was very interesting. I really liked the Nassauer’s project on the shopping center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The shopping center was built on a wetland causing flooding basements. This is the reason they didn’t have very good success because no one wanted their businesses in this location. . I thought it was interesting that instead of deciding to try and rebuild on wetland she ripped out the shopping center and re-create a wetland park. Her bold idea ended up becoming a great success. Another interesting project was the Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul, South Korea. People used to use this stream as a sewer causing this location to be the highest death rate in the city. I thought it was amazing how they completely recreated the stream making the Cheonggyecheon the center of civic pride in Seoul. It had a great effect on the economy with new shops opening, and travel agencies booking tourist visits.

  46. I think that this article was interesting to read. One reason being that at first I was expecting Nassauer to actually go through with the plan of putting a shopping center on wetlands. It was an obvious thought that it was a bad idea from the moment I read it, and after reading that it was once something of a commutative spot for the people. I am glad she went with the decision of removing the center because it is also an example of planning where we are not trying to “improve” an area for itself, but allow nature to flourish on it’s own.

  47. I’m really into reading these articles about the environment. It’s refreshing to see these stories of bringing nature back to its original form. People are realizing that sometimes it’s better to leave nature the way it is, and plan around it (especially when it comes to things like rivers, ponds and wetlands) instead of just filling them in and building on them.

  48. I will focusing on the thought process of how when no one touches a piece of land that is decaying or rundown it will affect surrounding houses/buildings. A lot of people including myself tend to ignore and abandoned lot of space. Even if you have an idea for a piece of land you don’t go through and fullfill your plan. I agree to how one rundown piece of land can affect surrounding building because no one wants to live around there. Once people start moving away from the “ugly” the whole town because in ruins and abandoned. I think that everyone including myself should start taking a stand and remodeling and bringing to life bad towns and cities even if it is just buy cleaning it up and planting flowers. Many places are decreasing I’m populations because no one wants to live in bad neighborhoods. I can relate to this because I have lived in the same house for 23 years and when I was little my neighborhood was full of life, bright and safe now it’s rundown drug dealers in almost every building and shoot out a few houses away. I fear being outside by myself even during the day. If people bring life and care back into the community it can become safe again especially to the little children who live there. All that each community needs is care and reshaping to start a better future.

  49. After reading “Healing a Wounded Landscape,” I believe that there is a necessity for there to be natural ecosystems and nature breaks throughout modern society. Most people these days that live in highly populated cities don’t have much of an idea about nature because the only nature they encounter are man made parks. Flowing rivers and wetlands can add value to properties by offering a water front view. Not only is the addition (or anti-subtraction in some cases) of water ways and natural ecosystems good economically for property owners in surrounding areas but it enables us to truly connect with the planet that created us and provided us with a home and all the necessary tools to thrive. If we continue to neglect the planet and its natural occurrences such a flowing water and wetlands, it will come back to haunt us. The more nature that we can embrace in our lives, the more fulfilling they will be.

  50. Gallagher’s article “Healing a Wounded Landscape” brings to light some great concepts of sustainable design. From the first section of the article about the shopping center in St. Paul, it should have been immediately obvious that paving over a drained lake in a low-level wetland area would have been an engineering nightmare. There are so many inherent problems associated with wetland infrastructure that would raise red flags on the shopping center project. It seems as if it was a forced decision aligned with the rising of urban culture in a growing city that ended up being “penny smart and dollar foolish” as they say. People often neglect the idea of even the most remote of natural solutions to urban problems when often they are not only the most sustainable, but the most effective — case and point, the Phalen Wetland Park Project. Too often we see “nature” as an inhibitor to “progress” when really the problem lies in the skewed perception of progress.

  51. I read Andrew Herscher’s “field of Our Dreams”. I really like the concept of a mobile grocery store that specializes in produce. Having a mobile grocery store is really a great thing because it can reach more neighborhoods in post industrial cities such as Detroit because many of these communities do not have access to grocery stores which sell fresh produce so as a result these people are at a great disadvantage nutrition wise and this program helps to solve that issue.
    Having said all of that, I have a few questions for the author that were not answered. I was wondering how much the produce cost compared to other not as healthy foods people get in the area because many of these neighborhoods are very poor and cannot afford fresh produce. I want to know if the produce is grow locally, in a different part of the country or grown in a different country. I also want to know how fresh the produce really is because everyone has a different definition of fresh whether they are the seller or the buyer of the produce. The last major question I have for the author is, is the produce organic or filled with dangerous pesticides that can cause potential problems to humans.

  52. Joe Day: “The IUrbanisms of Los Angeles,”

    Joe day talks about urban architecture in the area of Los Angeles. He leads Deegan-Day Design and serves on the design and history/theory faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. When he designs and writes Joe examines the intersections of contemporary Art. He rediscovers urbanism and architecture in a whole different way.

  53. I will be focusing on the idea on how when there is a land that no one touches and trash builds up it effects surrouding houses/building. A lot of people including myself see abandoned lots and spaces and just tend to ignore them. Many people may think of this briliant idea on how to reshape it but choose to not present it to now one because they are not comfortable enough to approach the situation. I agree with the idea how one dirty lot can cause a bad neighborhood. The reason why I say that is because many people don’t want to live near bad places so as people start leaving houses become abandoned and the more houses that are empty it tends to draw in bad people and create a bad neighborhood. By making small changes even if it’s just be cleaning it up and planting some flowers makes a huge difference. I can relate to this because I have lived in the same house for 23 years and I have see this happen in my own neighborhood. Feeling safe, happy and surrounded by brightness and life to now being afraid to walk outside by myself during the day because of all the drugs and shootings happening just a few houses down from me. Its scary not only for me but for the young children who can’t play outside without supervision. All of this happened because of one abandoned appartment house.

  54. Instead of demolishing buildings in First Whales Now Brownfields I feel like the city of New Bedford could repurpose and reuse them to help the tourism business and bring more life back to the city. Without WHALES saving historical buildings it is hard to say if New Bedford would even have a tourism industry today. Therefore the city should provide incentives for businesses and people with interests to redesign the buildings.

  55. Van Der Ryn: “Third Principle: Design with Nature

    What I got out of the article is how evolution and design are compatible. In the article, it explains how nature is design as a strategy to reduce harmful impacts by attending to the preconditions of health. Also, this quote stood out to me: “Our eyes do not divide us from the world, but write us with it,” he sums up this quote by letting his designers know that we have to match our materials in a similar way we have to respect the patterns for its continuity vitality. He uses harmony to describe his designs instead of the designs mimicking nature, instead it can participate in a health-giving way.

  56. “Healing a Wounded Landscape” Gallagher
    Gallagher talks about this project in St. Paul Minnesota about a shopping center. This shopping center was built on a wetland. Wetlands are similar to swamps and can be a part of the environment for either fishing or hunting or even for agriculture. As a business major I could tell that putting a shopping center on wetland was a terrible idea from the start of my read. I am taught in my classes that businesses want to be around other businesses and not all buy themselves. Businesses that are all alone in an area see substantially less consumers than businesses that are built near other stores. I loved that she recognized this instead of trying to build again on the wetland. Ripping it out and letting nature take its course was definitely the smartest choice.

  57. “Healing a Wounded Landscape” overs the importance of a postindustrial city (or, really any city) to form a dialogue with its surrounding environment, for reasons more directly practical than initially realized. Daylighting rivers, though expensive, prevents the hazards and inconveniences of flooding. This fundamental safety issue, once resolves, increases real estate potential, increases tourism, preserves a stable ecosystem, and makes the air cleaner. It’s not a matter of returning to nature, so much as it is a matter of effectively working with nature to improve the safety and beauty of cities.

  58. After reading many chapters in Cradle to Cradle by McDonough and Braungart and excerpts from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, I feel that I have learned so much more about how dangerous our lifestyle truly is. I have taken sustainability classes that we have had thorough discussions about the amount of unnecessary harmful chemicals we seem to include in every manufactured, factory produced products. Most of the time the public doesn’t even know how harmful many things in our homes can be which is the scariest part to me. I can only hope that if people were given copies of Cradle to Cradle and Silent Spring to read then maybe there would be an epiphany and changes could be made. I agree with the concept of downcycling in Cradle to Cradle because if you think about it, you can only recycle a certain material for so long before it loses its chemical makeup and breaks down to nothing and then thrown into a landfill still not biodegradable. I really liked this quote from Cradle to Cradle, “Good intentions aside, your rug is made of things that were never designed with this further use in mind, and wrestling them into this form has required as much energy-and generated as much waste-as producing a new carpel. And all that eff011 has only succeeded in postponing the usual fate of products by a life cycle or two. The rug is still on its way to a land- fill; it’s just stopping off in your house en route.” I’ve never thought about recycling in that way but it makes total sense after reading that section and I’ve made a sad realization that the world is much worse off then we had expected and the things that are supposed to be making difference, aren’t really doing anything besides postponing the obvious.

  59. I have to admit, I was expecting something completely different going into reading Healing a Wounded Landscape by Gallagher. I was thinking it was going to be something along the lines of articles we have already read, but was thoroughly surprised after the first page. The idea of completely changing the landscape instead of fixing criminal activity in a decaying strip mall, and ripping the whole mall down and putting in a natural wetland park, like what it was before the mall, such a radical idea. I absolutely love the fact that Nassauer create such a bold solution to this problem, actually made it happen, and have it be successful in rejuvenating the community is really amazing to me. It shows that nature does overrule technology sometimes in a way where if you destroy a natural environment and put something in its place that that environment doesn’t just go away, it’s still there we just put something to sit on top, and it will nudge its way back until it overtakes whatever was put in its place.

  60. The reading by Gallagher was extremely interesting and could actually make a lot of sense to do – if you have the necessary funds to do so. I feel that ripping up an already existing landscape and putting in a completely new structure is more of an instantaneous fix versus a fix that will take a lot longer such as transforming the whole community around it. Ripping up a structure or portion of land and completely redoing will just be isolating the change to that area. If the area in question is a slum or a really “ghetto” place, then that community and its mindset is still prevalent. Ripping up a whole landscape, and depending on what you put in its place, could actually do more harm than good and be wasting a lot more materials than not. If the purpose of the ripping of a landscape is to put in a natural attraction such as a wetland or a state park or something along those lines, then I am completely for it. If it is to put in a newer mall or a newer attraction, then I say don’t even bother because 1, you are wasting a lot of materials and 2, the surrounding area’s stigma and atmosphere will still be the same so essentially you are trying to heal an infection with a bandage.

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