Archive for March 19th, 2012

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/

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March 19, 2012

Bard Farm – steve reiman

In lieu of all of the excitement regarding bard’s future farm program, I found a few other college’s who have also embarked on farming programs. Below are a few links describing how these programs began – what these programs require – and what these programs need in order to maintain sustainable growth.

Green Mountain College:

http://www.greenmtn.edu/farm_food.aspx

Hampshire College:

http://www.hampshire.edu/academics/5728.htm

Colorado College:

http://www2.coloradocollege.edu/ccfarm/ccfarm.htm

 

March 19, 2012

Naples, Italy and the Gender Divide – Marina

You may have heard the stereotype of Italian men being loud and forward. This is entirely true, and to be honest they are proud of it. I have spent a hefty amount of time in Naples, Italy (a large city in the South), and from experience I can say that although a gender divide is not evident from simply passing through the streets themselves, it is seen in how men and women are verbally  treated on the sidewalks.

Women are being constantly verbally harassed by men who think they have the right to do so, or merely think it is funny. In fact I would even say this type of harassment is part of the Neapolitan culture. The most interesting part of this phenomena is how women respond to the crude remarks thrown at them. Some take it in and smile back, others throw back a “F*%#k y ou”, and a few simply ignore it. No matter the reaction, the problem remains that the act of male verbal abuse, that can lead to physical touching, means that women are seen as an object for them to play with. What is even more outrageous is how some women do play along with them men and give them what they want. In my opinion, those who do this are perpetuating gender divides in cities and cultures. Men need to know that at time their words are repulsive and inappropriate, which can only happen if women stand up for themselves.

Now I am not saying that being told you are attractive is not a compliment, because it is. The problem occurs when the compliments are sexual and domineering. Let me give a personal account of this. I was with my friend Anna in Naples one morning walking to get a coffee. We were speaking english so it was apparent that we were foreigners. An added detail that is important is that both of us are blonde, and for some reason Italian men feed off of this. Two men leaning against their motorcycles said, “Ragazze bionde! Vieni qui e fare un giro con noi. Sei sexy con quel vestito”! Translated this mean, ” Blonde girls! Come here and take a ride with us. You are sexy in that dress”! Anna and I told them to shut up and they  laughed and went about their conversation. Their reaction to our reaction shows how they really viewed us-two easy American girls.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore Italy and Italians with all my heart, but this cultural practice should really be examined. If more women stood up for themselves then maybe men would understand what they are actually doing-perpetuating gender inequality.

March 19, 2012

Tivoli Bays Rape and Fear – Antonia

As many of you have seen, there are still posters in the woods warning people, but specifically women to be aware of the rapist. This rape occurred in 1997 I believe. I think one should always be aware and cautious, but have little fear. This poster just causes fear, mostly in women. This poster also causes a fear of the woods. This is a very interesting dynamic. There are two affects that this poster produces. 1. A fear of the woods 2. A fear for women of being raped.

The fault of rape always seems to fall onto the woman. A mainstream argument would be “well, if she hadn’t gone into the woods alone, then she wouldn’t have gotten raped.” This notion of rape being the fault of women, dominates much of today’s culture. There has to be a conscious shift to undo this assumption. Instead people should be learning why it is not good to rape. There has to be more education and awareness on this topic. I think an important action that Bard could do is taking down these 15 year old posters. I am sure that many women and even men have been discouraged from entering the woods, when coming upon these warming sign.

Below is the NYT article from that day.

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/16/nyregion/mother-and-daughter-are-raped-in-woods.html

This article 5 years later talks about the fear that people still hold.

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/projects/crimebeat/po061002s2.shtml

March 19, 2012

Sex and the Sidewalk – Hayley

Red Light District

Prostitution is arguably one of the oldest professions in the world, yet in most modern cultures it’s still looked down upon as a job for degenerates and drug fiends who look for any way to make an income – low class. Now well it may never shake its antiquity in the underbelly of the “trade” world, I believe it’s time for cities to move forward with legislation that not only legalizes it but also regulates/contains the activity that goes along when dealing in sexual currency. Since it’s the empty sidewalks that pose an issue of safety for commuters, – instead of the lively, bustling sidewalk that promotes life and community – to come across a ring of prostitutes with their pimp nearby at every street corner seems to congest the entire city. So why not regulate the trade and designate the business to an area similar to the Red Light District in Amsterdam. They’ve had tremendous success from tourism to less violent on major street ways because of the cloistered sex work areas. If there was to be a designated area in, say, New York City that focuses on maintaining the business of sex work, then I can foresee somewhat of clean-up in parts of the city that have been wrecked with prostitute and pimp related problems. And regardless about whether or not you agree or disagree about legalizing prostitution, something that should come to mind is that the USA is one of only three other “first world countries” that criminalize prostitution. If we were to contain their working environment to a specific location throughout various cities I can only predict that the mood to certain sidewalks would change and in the process it’ll hopefully change their opinions on the life of an average sex worker.
With the sex work tucked away in it’s own corner, the public sphere may open up to feel safer instead of submerged in a world of vice anytime they go out at night and mingle with the street walkers in commercial areas.

March 19, 2012

Benefits of public markets – Claire B

I found a few articles and studies about farmers markets and public markets in general and their social impact.

http://www.pps.org/pdf/Ford_Report.pdf

http://www.mendeley.com/research/local-organic-food-social-implications-sustainable-consumption/

http://chicago.academia.edu/RobertWengronowitz/Papers/340244/Connecting_With_Your_Food_The_Social_Impact_of_Community_Based_Agriculture

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March 19, 2012

Adobe for Women: Designing with Women in Mind- Lissy D.

Although this post doesn’t relate to women in the city, I came across a charity that builds houses especially with women in mind.

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The organization is called Adobe for Women and it is based in Oaxana, Mexico.  The organization designs adobe houses for wives of migrant workers.  According to the website, approximately 84% of migrant workers never return to their family homes in Mexico, leaving the women to deal with their acquisition and upkeep of their homes to themselves.  

Adobe for Women has designed houses fit for the needs of a spouse of a migrant worker.  The houses are traditional Adobe style, including vibrant colors and rich tiles.  The organization allows the occupants to pick the color scheme of their house, fostering a feeling of personalization and ownership and allowing occupants to indulge the often feminine desire to adorn their nest egg.  The houses are designed to require very little upkeep in order for the women to have time to attend to other things such as raising their children as a single parent, gardening or working.  The houses include space for a vegetable garden, a shaded patio and a compost bin.  They are complete with solar panels and composting toilets, both instruments to perpetuate a sustainable, affordable and low maintenance lifestyle for these women.

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This organization is considering the condition of a very specific type of women and designing the perfect space for them to live in.  Although these houses would be a great place for anyone to live, male or female, the fact that the organization targets this specific group of people makes me think on how the design might be different if targeted towards males?  What about this architecture makes work so well for females?  How can a building be feminine? 

March 19, 2012

Farmer’s Market vs Community Garden – Claire B

In Poughkeepsie yesterday a debate came up regarding whether or not a parking lot space should be rethought as a community garden or as a space for a farmer’s market. While both ideas revolve around fresh produce, gardens emphasize becoming involved in one’s food and markets encourage more interaction between producers and consumers. However, when considering the question of what to do with this particular plot one needs to also look beyond environmental arguments and consider the social ramifications.

Poughkeepsie suffers from gentrification. Jon and our guides have spoken of these ever elusive Victorian houses, Vassar, and this white upper class but it was hard for me to imagine such a thing taking place in Poughkeepsie when the most arresting thing I saw in the city on Saturday was a television in the middle of the Fallkills Creek. When I think of Poughkeepsie, I think of a divide. There are those that can afford to put up a chain link fence around a creek and there are those that would pay a landscaper hundreds of dollars to incorporate that same creek into their backyard. I think it’s important to consider this dichotomy when considering revitalization in Poughkeepsie. Yes, it is important to keep the community of the neighborhood involved but I feel like to incorporate the city’s larger community would make more of  a lasting and positive impact. With this in mind, I think a farmer’s market along the creek would be a great step towards integrating the immediate neighborhood with the larger community.

Not only does a farmer’s market provide those around the Mount Carmel area with easy access to fresh produce but also could potentially draw residents from other Poughkeepsie neighborhoods. Bringing other residents into this area could potentially usher in new consumers for the neighborhood’s businesses. I see the farmers market as a social and economic boon. While the community garden offers the individual increased sustainability and access to food I believe Poughkeepsie’s community at large might benefit more from a farmer’s market.

March 19, 2012

Transforming public space – Abby

I found this article called “Placemaking 101: Ten Steps to Transform a Public Space” that seems to fit really well with the Fall Kill Creek project. It breaks down the urban re-modeling operation into simple steps that I think are a great starting point. Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit organization based in New York that works to transform poorly used public spaces with the help of communities. This approach to urban design is puts the most important part at the center: people. Ethan Kent, Vice President, describes it as “the process by which a community created and shapes the public realm.” Many architects and urban planners are attached to their own designs and have trouble accepting that the community – not the professionals – often knows what is best for public spaces. The people of Poughkeepsie, both kids and adults, are most familiar with the area around them and could offer helpful insight. As we’ve discussed in class, cities are built around preconceived notions about what a city “should” be. What matters more is building a city (or in this case, working on a project) around the the desires and thoughts of the people who actually live there and interact with it every day.

Here are the steps proposed by PPS…

1. The Community is the expert:

That the community is the expert might be the defining principle of the PPS placemaking process. Tap your community early in the process to help create a sense of ownership of a project. All communities have people who can provide valuable insights into how the area functions and what is meaningful to people. Even if that that old sign doesn’t seem important be sure to ask: It may be the main meeting spot for people who use the park.

2. Create a place, not a design:

To make an under-performing space into a vital “place,” elements should be introduced that make people welcome and comfortable. Things like modular seating and new landscaping can dramatically change the way a space is used. The goal is to create a place that can serve as a setting for community activities. And don’t forget the people. People attract people.

3. You can’t do it alone:

Finding a diverse group of partners is critical to the success of your project. Local institutions, museums, schools, and small businesses all make great partners and will help ensure your project has broad community support. And having partners makes it easier to find more, so get them on board early.

4. Observe how spaces are currently used:

Look at how people are using (or not using) public spaces. What do they like about them? What don’t they like about them?  Why do couples sit near the trees instead of the fountain? How come the kids always play on the chairs and not the playground? Through these observations, it will become be clear what kinds of activities are missing and what might be incorporated, what makes them work or not work.

5. Have a vision:

The vision for a public space should come out of each individual community but it needs to consider what kinds of activities can happen in the space as well as how to make it comfortable. Perhaps most importantly, it should instill a sense of pride in those who will use the space the most: the people who live and work in the surrounding area.

6. Start with the Petunias:

Public spaces are complex and you cannot expect to do everything right initially. The best spaces are developed with short-term improvements that can be tested and refined over many years. Seating, outdoor cafes, public art, striping of crosswalks, and community gardens can all be added relatively quickly. And don’t forget the flowers!

7. Triangulate:

A big word for a very simple concept. “Triangulation is the process by which some external stimulus provides a linkage between people and prompts strangers to talk to other strangers as if they knew each other,” said Holly Whyte. In other words, create excuses for people to bump into each other. Place a bench, food stand, and stage together and watch the magic happen.

8. Form supports function:

The people who use the space know what the space needs. And although design is important, input from the community and partners will tell you what “form” you need to make the space successful.

9. Money is not the issue:

It’s not that money is not an issue, it’s that money is not the issue. Of course projects need money, and not everything can be donated, but once you pool the resources of your community and partners you may be surprised at how little it takes to complete a project. Starting with something small like Park(ing) Day is an easy way to gain an early success that you can build on.

10. You are never finished:

By their very nature good public spaces respond to the shifting needs of the community and will require maintenance. Amenities wear out and the area surrounding the space can change so flexibility and open-mindedness is essential. Placemaking is more art than science so be prepared to adjust course as the project evolves. 

March 19, 2012

The Gender and Space Project- Hannah

The following link provides an overview of a case study conducted by an Indian research organization (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research) that examined certain elements of public spaces such as public transportation, lighting, and bathrooms, and how these aspects affected women’s  tendency or hesitation to use such spaces.  The identification of how details such as lack of a public restroom for women or the presence of high fencing around a maidan, a public park or town square, increase women’s reluctance to frequent particular spaces, as they are forced to feel uncomfortable or perceive a heightened risk for becoming victim of a dangerous situation, ultimately allows urban planners to begin contemplating ways to make public spaces more “gender equal”.
One thing I found interesting was the dismissal of the notion of increasing surveillance in certain public spaces as a method of making an area feel more “safe”.  I recalled the day this idea was brought up in class and was somewhat surprised but pleased to discover that it is a general principle of urban design.

http://indiagovernance.gov.in/bestpractices.php?id=859
(Scroll down for link to full case study)

March 19, 2012

Where Life Is Lived – Sam M.

I recently watched a very breath taking Ted talk by internet guru Ze Frank who had some pretty insightful ideas on where people live life. His answer to this ends up directly relating to cities, and possible reasons for many problems in cities such as New York City or even Poughkeepsie. Frank initiates his point with a picture of someone staring at their cellphone an asserts that that four inch screen the woman is staring at is where life is being lived on city streets. And sure enough, it is. You see giant seas of people standing at street corners in NYC now, none of whom are watching the road. But Frank very plainly proves that all these people are living in there technology because often you’ll see these people smile or show some sort of expression based on what they see on that tiny screen. Many see this as antisocial behavior, but maybe consciousness is just evolving.This is, however, a problem for the city.

My first concern about this new way of life, is safety. Of course it is an issue that people aren’t paying attention to their physical surroundings anymore. My concern is really also about the physical idea of the city because it seems to lose its value with life through technology. Not only are people in danger of walking into the street because their mind is somewhere else, but the reason the city is there in the first place seems to disappear. All these ideas of street theatrics and public interaction seem to disappear when the emotions and interactions people get in a city are now directly from their social devices. The city seems unnecessary in this way of life. People can do all commerce from a Blackberry now.

The next problem is that certain things get passed up that are intricate in the success of cities. One reason Poughkeepsie is failing is because the city itself does not engage its residents or visitors enough. It isn’t particularly aesthetically or culturally pleasing. But to be honest, it is pretty hard to compete with cellphones when the entire internet can be in the palm of your hand. Things like parks and common spaces can go unnoticed or misused. Take for example the many “public spaces” that the city of new york has built to promote a sense of community and interaction. They’re supposed to be nice alcoves where you can sit and have a chat. Their purpose is pretty obvious because these spaces consist of small bistro tables, each with two chairs. A perfect space for a nice chat. However, if you’ve ever passed one, they are filled with people on business calls, or texting, wasting time watching youtube videos on their ipads. These aren’t bad practices in and of themselves but they detract from the intended purpose of the space.

I don’t think that living life in technology is a problem. I do, however, think it proposes a threat to many of the ideas that we have established are good in the class. Perhaps we should keep technology and cities separate for now. On the other hand, Ze Frank has come up with incredibly innovative ways to integrate technology and the city in such a way that engages citizens in innovative and effective modes. Like this for example…

http://www.zefrank.com/sandwich/