Archive for March, 2012

March 30, 2012

African American Women and Men on the Streets – Antonia

I think it is imperative that we keep up to date with the news and see how so much of what we are talking about in class is still so prevalent today.

Walking While Black: Killing of Trayvon Martin Evokes Memories of Civil Rights Martyr Emmett Till

March 29, 2012

The White Tiger Slums – Hayley Garrigus

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This weeks reading from The Guardian about the stigma that slums still have branded on them today as a result of Victorian squalor residue reminded me about a book I read recently. It ties in perfectly with the honest attempt to gage what the reality of the slums really is (not the 25% of Indian people that their government estimates) and the problems on the streets.

Here’s a review from the New Yorker:

 “A brutal view of India’s class struggles is cunningly presented in Adiga’s debut about a racist, homicidal chauffer. Balram Halwai is from the Darkness, born where India’s downtrodden and unlucky are destined to rot. Balram manages to escape his village and move to Delhi after being hired as a driver for a rich landlord. Telling his story in retrospect, the novel is a piecemeal correspondence from Balram to the premier of China, who is expected to visit India and whom Balram believes could learn a lesson or two about India’s entrepreneurial underbelly. Adiga’s existential and crude prose animates the battle between India’s wealthy and poor as Balram suffers degrading treatment at the hands of his employers (or, more appropriately, masters). His personal fortunes and luck improve dramatically after he kills his boss and decamps for Bangalore. Balram is a clever and resourceful narrator with a witty and sarcastic edge that endears him to readers, even as he rails about corruption, allows himself to be defiled by his bosses, spews coarse invective and eventually profits from moral ambiguity and outright criminality. It’s the perfect antidote to lyrical India”

….

and much more. A definite recommendation as a supplemental read to other urban studies materials.

March 28, 2012

Singing in the Suburbs – Emma Robinson

Post-industrialized suburban developments provided affordable housing opportunities with a hidden price: homogeny. As cookie cutter hands shaped the socioeconomic class, race, gender roles, and architecture of these cites, it is without much surprise that we notice suburban victimization in the media. Music is perhaps one of it’s worst offenders.

Collected from various music blogs and media searches, the few songs below give a sense of the consistent protest of suburban life over time and borders (music videos featured if available – listening to the tracks that don’t have a video is worth it!). Themes to note in these three works include, but are certainly not limited to: boredom, escapism, dehumanization through lack of culture.

A more detailed look of the portrayal of suburbs in music (mainly english, pop and rock) can be found here.

The Members: The Sounds of The Suburbs (England, 1979)

Johnny stands there at his window looking at the night, / I said, hey what you listening to there’s nothing there (that’s right)/ This is the Sound, This is the Sound of the Suburbs 

Pet Shop Boys: Suburbia (England, 2003)

Break a window by the town hall/ Listen, the siren screams / There in the distance like a roll call / Of all the suburban dreams/…All I wanted was something else to do but hang around.

Arcade Fire: Suburbs (Canada, 2010)

You always seemed so sure/ That one day we’d be fighting / In a suburban war / Your part of town against mine / I saw you standing on the opposite shore / But by the time the first bombs fell / We were already bored

Ben Rector: Song for the Suburbs (America, 2011)

Pretty cars and pretty houses/ Pretty people on parade / Don’t let the suburbs kill my heart and soul.


March 27, 2012

Rio favela ‘pacified’

Rio Slum Is ‘Pacified’ in Advance of Games

The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/world/americas/authorities-take-control-of-rios-largest-slum.html?ref=world

March 27, 2012

Further info on sites we saw on the NYC trip from Linda – Marina

Governor Lovelace’s Tavern as it appeared around 1800 — these were the ruins we saw under the former Goldman Sachs building. The Tavern is on the left side of the large building in the center. The large building in the center was New Amsterdam Town Hall, where city business was conducted.

The Great Fire of 1835 that destroyed 700 buildings — Fraunces Tavern narrowly escaped, being just on the south line of the fire. By the way, I finally uncovered an (unconfirmed so far) construction date for Fraunces Tavern of 1719.

The James Watson Home, which we viewed as the current Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton on State Street near battery park. I could not find a depiction from the 1790s, but I am sending an 1860s view side by side with the current view.

March 27, 2012

New perspective on NYC – Antonia

I had such a great time! It was really exciting to be back in the city after taking this class and being much more aware of the politics, culture and history and the way spaces are used . It was really fascinating to be in spaces that I had been in hundreds of times before, but not noticed a specific building or known what had ben there before. The city this time really felt like a big museum and amusement park. Biking around the city is a great way to get a more holistic feel of it. You enter streets that normally you would miss on a train or taxi or if walking it would take much longer to get to different places, or you maybe stuck in a routine. Biking in the city gives me a sense of ownership in freedom, one because I decided where I want to go, and I do not have to be reliant on the train or pay money to get around. Many people in the city spend little time outside, I even experienced this when living there. People wake up, walk to the train and then walk out of the train and go to school or work and then after the day is done, they do the same. This system keeps people inside, believing that it is unnecessary or impractical to go outside. If more people were outside, and biking around, new communities would begin to form and people would see parts of the city that before they were blinded too. Many people say that the city is boring, but I believe that is because they are stuck in their routine. There are infinite things to do and explore in the city. So many people to meet, organizations to be part of and things to change. This trip inspired a new sense of appreciation for the city and an even greater appreciation of being at Bard. Before going to Bard, I had never really experienced spring like I did this year. I was aware that spring was coming, and I have been able to see flowers, trees, and processess that before I was oblivious to. Although the city is a wonderful place, it is important to also get out and see the world, even if it is just upstate. In this concrete jungle, people definitely do get in a funk. Constantly breathing in toxins and hearing noise is unhealthy. Something that this city is seriously lacking in, is green space. When biking around the city, I was so frustrated by the inconsiderate drivers, police and city planners, that still have not put more bike lanes. The city is not yet designed to by a biker friendly place, and the drivers, especially taxi drivers still lack a respect for them. There definitely exists a sense of authority in the people who drive cars, and the city makes this feeling come easy by the way the streets are designed. Experiencing the city in a more focused way allowed me to see and think about new things. I would recommend people who go into NYC to bike around and focus on observing the street vendors, or old buildings, or everything, but be active. Especially look up and not always at the concrete, there are so many beautiful architectural designs on top of buildings, that we usually miss!

March 26, 2012

Suburban Utopia? Dystopia? – zachary taube

If you haven’t already, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) is a must see.  This opening sequence emulates the same suburban “ideals” that we were discussing in class, but ultimately subverts the notion of a perfect suburban landscape.  Although the film is less about the disillusionment of the suburbs than it is about sadomasochism and voyeurism, it subverts the any positive notion of the “green city.”

Also, here is that Arcade Fire video I was talking about before (dir. Spike Jonze.) The content is much less interesting than the landscape, but it’s still worth a watch.  Kindof reminiscent of Harmony Korine’s Gummo.

March 26, 2012

Car-less Suburbs and Children in the Streets – Sorrel

One day in class we discussed the issue of having children in the streets. Years ago, it was a sign of a healthy street and a safe neighborhood. Since then, however, we agreed that children in the streets is a sign of negligent parents and, well, chaos. And even if it’s theoretically fine to have children unsupervised in a socially safe public space, what if they got hit by a car driving by?! Even in the Suburbs, children should be in backyards, not front yards, where the separation of yard and road allows cars to speed. A run away ball at the wrong moment could mean a serious accident or the death of a child.

Well, fear no more, a suburb in Freiburg (southern Germany) has found a solution. Called Vauban, the neighborhood used to be a military space in WWII but has since been totally re-built as a rather up-scale neighborhood– without cars. Due to Vauban’s long and narrow shape, every person has easy access to public transportation, and for weekend ski trips and Ikea runs, there are community cars to loan out. Parents feel secure knowing that their children are out and about in the neighborhood because of the lack of automobile traffic, and the children can enjoy the sort of freedom that most kids can only dream about from a car seat. Vauban has been called a children’s paradise because of this. I think that in addition to the obvious safety of having less fast-moving traffic, bicycle commuting is more personal and allows for easy interpersonal connections which further strengthen the community and make it more safe.

Another unique aspect of Vauban is its lack of zoning: in order to make resources more accessible to residents, schools, banks and grocery stores are interspersed amongst the houses. This aspect of urban life, along with children in the streets, is currently seen as chaos. However, reactions to Vauban are overwhelmingly positive and add support to Jane Jacob’s theories about safety and her disapproval of modern zoning and ideas of chaos and order. The article also discussed, however, what little success the ideals of Vauban have had in the United States. People here are extremely reluctantto give up their perceived “car freedom”, and in some places the 1950’s idea that owning a house and car equals the American Dream is still going strong.

I highly recommend that you read this article, but if you don’t have the time, do check out the slideshow, which has the information neatly summarized and beautiful pictures, to boot. Enjoy!

March 26, 2012

NYC Trip! – Marina

I wish you all could have been with us this weekend!

Working with the Street Vendor Project was quite an experience. We worked in pairs and went out to the streets of midtown 5th ave to talk to street vendors. I spoke with one vendor, Ben, who had a lot to say about the SVP and Sean, the founder. He made it clear that his philosophy differed greatly from that of this organization. He said that the SVP is trying to get permits for anyone who would like to vend. As of now only 3,000 permits are allowed while around 10,000 vendors are out on the streets, making many of them illegitimate. Ben expressed concern with potentially have so many competitors. If thousands more people become licensed vendors, the competition will only continue to rise, making it more difficult for vendors to make money. Although Ben disagrees with the SVP’s mission, he said that at the same time he does not want to take someone away from a potential job because he has love for the vendor lifestyle.

Another goal of the SVP is to lower the 1,000 dollar fine for menial charges like having one’s license somewhere else other than one’s neck, or being too close to a store front. Ben’s view on this is that the vendors who get these fines are illegal vendors, or vendors who do not have proper permits and licenses, and that the 1,000 dollar fine acts as a scare tactic to get them off the street. He does not think it is fair that he, a fully legal vendor, should have to share the streets with illegal vendors.

While it is untrue that only illegal vendors get fines I see where he is coming from. Street vending is a difficult and tiring job, and his job along with thousands of others is in jeopardy if the SVP gets its way with these particular goals.

The walking tour with Linda was also incredible! I leaned so much about my hometown that I never knew. We walked down Stone St, one of the oldest streets in NYC that is preserved just as the city streets looked in the 1800s. Walking across the Highline and learning about the buildings and neighborhood below us was also a treat. For instance, some buildings are only 1 or 2 stories high because when meat packing companies moved in they did not need tall buildings and if they chopped it down a view stories, they got a monetary break. The buildings that are taller were factories. A fun fact about Chelsea Market it that it once was the home of Nabisco! It was here that their most popular cookie, the oreo, was created. Eventually the company moved to New Jersey where they remain to this day, and Chelsea Market was born. If you get a chance to go, I recommend stopping in to Amy’s Bread and picking up some of their fresh baked treats! 

March 26, 2012

Our trip to New-York, touring the city with Linda – Anna

Here are some pictures of our trip to the city last Saturday. We met with our incredible guide, Linda, at 1:30pm and then ran around the city and got an amazing bite of New-York through-out the centuries, it was fantastic. Here are a couple of the places we stopped at. Of course, they were many, many more. Areas included the business district, the meat-packing district with the high-line and the Chelsea market.

We also came  across a wall street protest against police violence and unjust behavior. I was really impressed and shocked by the number of policemen employed to take care of this tinny protest.

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March 26, 2012

NYC TRIP – Julia

the trip on Saturday was really amazing and it gave us all a personal connection to the reading we had in  class involving street vendors, connections to a city and even how certain people are viewed in connection to the street. The people from the street vending project were really awesome and really interactive and it was awesome to see Siobhan in action representing and listening to all the street vendors and the issues that they faced  . But i also had an issue with this organization -yes they are there to help the street vendors but they also charge a fee that some people can’t afford to pay  leaving them unable to become a member and get access to legal help ( 100 dollars a year)and another thing that we found out that their campaign  against lowering the thousand dollar fine(in which they they were handing out buttons protesting the 1,000 tickets ) this fine was only given to street vendors that had numerous other tickets which made the price sky rocket. I just thought that these concepts weren’t being ass address ,even when we asked them personally.

what do you guys think of these concepts?

 

March 26, 2012

Bard in Black & White – Abby

The Bard digital archives are definitely worth checking out. There are photos online all the way back to when it was founded (at the time it was called St. Stephen’s College). I recommend looking through the various categories because you can learn a lot just by looking at photos. “The Art and Architecture at Bard” is a section that happens to have descriptions of the buildings and landscapes posted. This photo made me think about our discussion on paths and how/why they change over time. As new buildings are constructed, people gradually (or not so gradually) change their walking patterns. The large area in front of Hegeman seems like a grassy quad during this period and now it is filled with trees, benches, walkways, and other buildings. Here is an aerial view of campus in 1942. The lower floor window is thought to be circled as an identification of the photographer’s dorm room. You can see the smokestack of the central heating plant in the basement of Orient Hall in action. There are squash courts under construction on the side of the old gym. (visit this– http://www.bard.edu/archives/digitalcoll.htm)ImageThis is another photo that just shows how differently we use certain space than in 1942 (obviously):

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March 26, 2012

TAXI TREATS !!-Julia

So here is an article about the proposal of installing vending machines in new york city taxi cabs.The vending machines  will include Advil , energy shots,gum ,mints and energy bars -all things that are apparently  a necessity when the busy New Yorker is running late.

what do you guys think about this idea?

 

March 26, 2012

Street Vendor Project twitter feed

http://twitter.com/#!/VendorPower/status/183602647830507520/photo/1
“Thanks to students from #Bard for volunteering with us this morning! #vendorpower! http://pic.twitter.com/ZcSNcC9y”

March 26, 2012

The Fallkill Creek in Pictures: Lissy D.

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Photos from the Fallkill Creek Trip

March 25, 2012

Dyson Foundation & Fallkill Creek

The most recent edition of the Northern Dutchess County News includes an article about the elevator that will be installed in Poughkeepsie, connecting the Walkway Over the Hudson to a waterfront park that the Dyson Foundation has proposed to build. The article focuses on the foundation’s purchase of the land and their  intentions to spend $1 million to “preserve and improve the historic waterfront property that is considered to be significant to the future development of the city’s northern waterfront”. During our trip to Poughkeepsie, Matthew and Ryan mentioned that included in Dyson’s purchase were the historic Hoffman House and Reynolds House, and that they hoped the organization would allow Clearwater to use the buildings for office space.  Other than that, I don’t recall any mention of the relationship between Dyson and Clearwater, and whether there was much communication regarding each organization’s plans for this creek-side space. The Dyson plans don’t seem as if they would interfere with the goals of the Creek project, so I wonder if the two organizations are willing to work together in some ways. However, some issues may arise regarding the action Clearwater is permitted to take, as the project is being funded by the Poughkeepsie government, whereas Dyson is a private organization. Hypothetically, how would this federal versus private funding prevent Dyson and Clearwater from, or help them work together?

March 25, 2012

Why a Bard Farm? -Jean

As we get closer to achieving our goal of getting a Bard farm, I think a question we need to ask ourselves is: Why? Why is a Bard farm the best way of reaching our objectives? Asking ourselves why is going to help us gain more support, both from the Bard community as well as the communities around us. The project has a lot of ambitious objectives, and I understand that we needed to be ambitious to get support. The recent success of the Farm fest demonstrates that people want to get involved. We have support, but now it important to show supporters solid groundwork beyond ideals. Narrowing down the objectives of the Bard Farm project will give the project more direction, and a mission statement might even add to the clarity of the project. The project has potential, but it is a big leap from raising money to the actual creation of a farm, and the Bard Farm project is only barely over the first hump. In a nutshell, I think it is important for us to ask ourselves what the main goal of this project is, and build off of that. 

March 25, 2012

Women and Public Transportation – Sorrel

In keeping with the theme of urban planning for women and relating to the readings we did for Gender and Space, I found two articles online about how women are far more likely to use public transportation than men.  The first article has a chart showing the likeliness of people of different demographics to use public transportation. In every case, women are more likely than men. The second article goes a bit more in depth about why that might be– women have to perform multiple stops on their ways to and from work, to drop children off or pick them up, or to shop for household necessities.

Despite apparent higher use from women, however, I also found an article called “Is Public Transportation Scary for Women?” with an interview with woman named Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Urban Planning Professor at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. She discussed the reasons why many women are afraid to travel with public transportation– not necessarily, as one might expect, for fear or harassment on a bus or train, but rather the space and time outside of the enclosed transportation space is frightening. Not the bus ride, but the wait standing in a dark, sparsely populated street is scary, for example. Parking a car and then walking across a poorly lit parking long to get to the train platform is also an undesirable experience, she reported. She also reported than while women had certainly no objections to security cameras at bus stops (etc), they “felt that if anything happened to them the camera would only help after the event, not during.”

Perhaps an interesting point to note is that along with my intended google search results, a lot of article and video how-to’s popped up for men how to pick up a woman on public transportation. While I don’t think these harmless loser-techniques would count as dangerous harassment, I think it’s important to note exactly what these articles note: women are often alone on public transportation, they are best and most easily approached while waiting for a bus or train, etc. This ties in with what Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris said in the interview about designing waiting areas to be better lit and not so void. Another part of the solution to women’s harassment in public transport could be the institution of women-only trains in Japan.

March 20, 2012

Article GENDER AND SPACE ON AMERICA’S RAILROADS 1830-1899 – gowri

Article GENDER AND SPACE ON AMERICA’S RAILROADS 1830-1899 

I found this article that talks of gender and space influence on american railroads during the 1830s ! i found this really interesting how these factors play out even with the way railroads and trains and designed. Page 27, especially talks of how women were viewed in terms of trains and travel during that time.].

March 19, 2012

Nubian Directions / Fallkill Creek – Steve Reiman

Below is some information regarding summer work opportunities:

http://www.nubiandirections.org/fallkillcreek.html

http://hudsonvalley.ynn.com/content/top_stories/574860/200-young-adults-to-repair-fallkill-creek/