The forgotten and discarded Chinese: Idaho’s version

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Throughout planning history it has not been uncommon to “forget” certain groups of people. In fact, throughout the United States’ history this has been recurring, both within the planning profession as well as outside it. Idaho was not left out in exercising this trend. Idaho’s planning history, although short in comparison to other American cities, has experienced its share of ebbs and flows, successes and failures. Embracing diversity and equity planning, especially in regard to the Chinese immigrants of the area, has not been among Idaho’s triumphs. Continue reading

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To build & be built

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The Tools Are in Your Hands (Elisheva Biernoff, 2013) http://alturl.com/mn9vk

I have written before about the central role Utopian writers have played in the development of the American West. This last weekend I had an opportunity to tour the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and view two exhibitions on that uniquely Jewish Utopian manifestation, the Israeli kibbutz. This experience got me thinking about how real-world Utopian efforts change their participants.

The utopian ideal has exerted a strong pull on humankind’s imagination for centuries and there have been countless attempts to create intentional communities that promote cooperation, harmony, and happiness… The kibbutz movement is a powerful recent example and one that offers a fascinating opportunity to explore how we think about ideal societies, both in the context of Judaism and on a universal level. Continue reading

Fore!

Does America really need over 16,000 golf courses? Or is Rodney Dangerfield’s character character Al Czervik from Caddy Shack (1980) right that “golf courses and cemeteries are the biggest wastes of prime real estate?” Supporting Dangerfield’s declaration are many environmentalists, real estate tycoons and members of general non-golfing public. Criticisms from these groups largely relate to the amount of land required (average 100-200 acres of land). However, land is not the only exploited resource, copious amounts of fertilizers, pesticides and water are also used to maintain pristine courses. One of the largest gripes with golf courses is that not enough of the general public even uses them, there are simply too few golfers and too many courses. Stereotypes of those out there playing often depict rich, white, fat old men. An easy demographic for the general public to attack and identify as the bad guy. Despite all of these complaints and issues, courses still take up more US land than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Continue reading

An oasis in the desert, or not

Rendering of Masdar City; Wikipedia (2013)

Rendering of Masdar City; Wikipedia (2013)

Masdar City, located in the United Arab Emirates, is being developed by Masdar a renewable energy company based in Abu Dabi, United Arab Emirates and is the newest in a series of cities being built around the world with the intent of creating highly environmentally friendly, technology intensive communities. Continue reading

Dystopias in cinema: our sci-fi future

Futuristic Rendering - Creative Commons, 11/10/2013

Futuristic Rendering – Creative Commons, 11/10/2013

In movies that depict the future, the urban image seems rarely positive. For whatever reason, our society loves a good dystopian future over potential utopian providence. Hollywood in return capitalizes on the sentiment, and churns out blockbusters that are visually stunning, even if they are enormously depressing. Maybe we just like to play with the ideas of massive planning failures so we can avoid actually making them in the future – or maybe we just love tragedy. Either way, isn’t it interesting that we spend our hard earned dollars at the theaters to see a version of our future selves fall flat on our faces?
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Home Field Advantage?

It’s game-day Sunday. Thousands of football fans flood roads, parking lots and sidewalks surrounding the stadium.  They pour into this side of town, pockets full of cash, ready to spend a little coin and enjoy their Sunday. Hundreds of stadium employees are hard at work, handling parking, security and service needs. It seems that the stadium is a bustling economic hub, an asset that a community would fight very hard to get. Unfortunately, many stadiums across America burden the communities they are built in. In the city of Atlanta, the negative externalizes (traffic, tailgating, noise) associated with game day are minimal in comparison to the economic and social issues its stadiums create. In Atlanta, plans for a new billion dollar stadium are underway, below I will discuss this project and its effort to revitalize the poverty-stricken communities neighboring it. Continue reading

Should Cities Support or Stymie Street Art?

A Banksy piece completed during the artist's "Better Out than In" "residency" in New York.

A Banksy piece completed during the artist’s “Better Out than In” “residency” in New York. Photo courtesy Banksy at http://www.banksyny.com

For hist latest project, the infamous British street artist known only as Banksy has set his sights on New York City.

Every day this month, the man responsible for hundreds of guerrilla graffiti portraits and stencils, some of which have fetched as much as $1 million at auction, has quietly put up a new piece of artwork across the five boroughs. Banksy’s so-called “artist’s residency on the streets of New York” has drawn the awe of local art fans, but the ire of local law enforcement.
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