Archive for March 26th, 2012

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.

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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