Posts tagged ‘Claire Bunschoten’

March 8, 2012

Food Delivery Workers

NYT Article: Food Delivery Workers

After our discussion in class today about Fresh Direct and street vendors, I was reminded of this article about delivery people. It’s a compelling piece and gets at a few of the issues we talked about today.

March 7, 2012

Planning and its Impact on the Individual: Middletown Studies — Claire B

In the early twentieth century, sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd studied Muncie, Indiana which they called Middletown. The name “Middletown” refers not only to the city’s geographic location but how it was representative of the average American small city. While the purpose of this study was to understand cultural norms and social change, the researchers made some interesting observations about where one lives in the city effects social status. They wrote in their book Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture they wrote,”The mere fact of being born upon one or the other side of the watershed roughly formed by these two groups is the most significant single cultural factor tending to influence what one does all day long throughout one’s life; whom one marries; when one gets up in the morning; whether one belongs to the Holy Roller or Presbyterian church; or drives a Ford or a Buick…” While this obviously has to do with social class, the idea that location and a “watershed” can be indicative of such standings is interesting to me.

While this study focuses on sociology, I’d like to think about the overly planned city. A city meticulously designed and constructed and then a human element is introduced. Would human interaction create such class stratification and divisions as seen in the Middletown studies? How would humans actually interact with their “perfect environment?”

March 5, 2012

Re: Lissy – Claire B

To be fair, this started as a comment but grew a lot…

I understand the ecological argument that you’re making in your post but there are some paths around campus that are so well worn that, to me, it makes the most sense to pave them or put gravel down. For example, students walk from Robbins (or the shuttle stop at Robbins) to Manor by walking the path along the side of Robbins. When that path ends, students hit the dirt and trek the rest of the pathless way to Manor. This student-constructed walkway is so muddy and treacherous that people walk around it and tramplie new paths, tearing up more grass, and making more mud. I think by paving this path would encourage students to keep to the pavement and would overall reduce the ecological damage.

I think it’s also worth considering the layout of Bard’s paved paths and open spaces. The South Quad (the green around the Toasters, Tewks, and the Campus Center) is a giant mud pit for a few reasons: Bard’s lack of common athletic space, the path system, and various campus events.

The rugby field behind was compromised by the construction of New Kline and thus the men and women’s rugby teams took to practicing on the Quad. Bard’s frisbee team also tends to use the quad for practices when Blithewood is too soggy. As Blithewood is sort of Bard’s sacred space this compromise seems fair at the time. Both athletic teams use cleats and tend to use the quad as a practice space rain or shine. Cleats and damp earth tend to create mud. 

Bard’s paths around the quad outline the green and define it’s rectangular shape and are generally effective except for those who cut across the quad to get from the New Toasters to Tewks and such. Take Washington University in St Louis’ quad for example. 


Please ignore the seating plan and focus on the gray path outlines. I’m not saying this criss-crossing paths design would be an effective solution for Bard (especially since open field space is unusually hard to come by) but I think it’s important to consider what other universities are doing to combat the issue of student walkways. Would more ecological damage be done in paving paths or in letting students create mud puddles in common spaces?

The tent party at Spring Fling is also conducive to mud. As a freshman last year I ruined my “SMOG boots” (yes, I had boots that were solely for SMOG because they were just that grimey) in the mud on the quad. By the time Spring Fling rolls around, the quad is already quite swampy but when you add more drunk college students to the mix, the situation deteriorates further and the mud pit grows and expands and consumes footwear.

I know I’m discussing only a few places on campus but I feel like these are places  where pathways might be reconsidered not only for the benefit of students and all those associated with the college but for the general aesthetic and health of the campus itself. Yes, human walkways can be destructive but we have to do a cost-benefit analysis here and think about whether these paths we’ve already constructed are worth making permanent.


February 13, 2012

Imagined Maps — Claire Bunschoten

In class we discussed the importance of perspective and maps when it comes to navigating the environments that surround us. But what about the imagined map? While this could be the mental route you take to school or work–riddled more with notes of landmarks and familiar faces rather than latitude and longitude–for me it is more interesting to consider one’s understanding of how Hogwarts is laid out or the relationship between Pooh’s house and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood. Both of these are examples of mapped, fictional spaces. But how carefully does one’s imagination follow the  guidelines set out by such maps? And which is more valuable: the constructed fictional map or one the reader creates?

I have read so many novels that include a handy little map tucked between the table of contents and dedication page. Personally, I tend to skip these maps and only come to peer back if I become tremendously confused with the geography of a world as was the case with George R.R. Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire.


In this case, geography plays an essential role to Martin’s series as the novels focus on the shifting politics of regions and cities. This map also lends itself to the reader’s understanding of the scope of the world. While I’ve never been a huge Lord of the Rings fan I imagine that geography plays a similar role in relation to the narrative. Such maps are not, necessarily, for planning trips or understanding how a culture functions but lends itself to perspective and scope much like modern world maps.

I also found this blog post to be particularly interesting.