studying the city (Annette Koh)

Sep 09

Paradise Transplanted: Migration and the Making of California Gardens

Gardens are immobile, literally rooted in the earth, but they are also shaped by migration and by the transnational movement of ideas, practices, plants, and seeds. In Paradise Transplanted, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo reveals how successive conquests and diverse migrations have made Southern California gardens, and in turn how gardens influence social inequality, work, leisure, status, and our experiences of nature and community. Drawing on historical archival research, ethnography, and over one hundred interviews with a wide range of people including suburban homeowners, paid Mexican immigrant gardeners, professionals at the most elite botanical garden in the West, and immigrant community gardeners in the poorest neighborhoods of inner-city Los Angeles, this book offers insights into the ways that diverse global migrations and garden landscapes shape our social world.

Paradise Transplanted: Migration and the Making of California Gardens

Gardens are immobile, literally rooted in the earth, but they are also shaped by migration and by the transnational movement of ideas, practices, plants, and seeds. In Paradise Transplanted, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo reveals how successive conquests and diverse migrations have made Southern California gardens, and in turn how gardens influence social inequality, work, leisure, status, and our experiences of nature and community. Drawing on historical archival research, ethnography, and over one hundred interviews with a wide range of people including suburban homeowners, paid Mexican immigrant gardeners, professionals at the most elite botanical garden in the West, and immigrant community gardeners in the poorest neighborhoods of inner-city Los Angeles, this book offers insights into the ways that diverse global migrations and garden landscapes shape our social world.

Sep 08

grassroots disaster recovery

As a contrast to NYC’s consultant-studded disaster recovery process, here’s a more hopeful tale of an Italian village in the latest issue of the journal Disasters

Francesca Fois & Giuseppe Forino. "The self-built ecovillage in L’Aquila, Italy: community resilience as a grassroots response to environmental shock" Disasters Volume 38Issue 4pages 719–739October 2014 

The paper applies the community resilience approach to the post-disaster case of Pescomaggiore, an Italian village affected by the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009. A group of residents refused to accept the housing recovery solutions proposed by the government, opting for autonomous recovery. They developed a housing project in the form of a self-built ecovillage, characterised by earthquake-proof buildings made of straw and wood. The project is a paradigmatic example of a community-based response to an external shock. It illustrates the concept of ‘community resilience’, which is widely explored in the scientific debate but still vaguely defined. Based on qualitative methodologies, the paper seeks to understand how the community resilience process can be enacted in alternative social practices such as ecovillages. The goal is to see under which conditions natural disasters can be considered windows of opportunity for sustainability.

[Two years after the earthquake. A self constructed ecological village, as a solution for new houses. www.pescomaggiore.org/]

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Program in New York City Was Mired by Its Design -

From the outset, Mr. Bloomberg’s ambition was to forge a new model for disaster recovery, one that would provide help but also make certain that the waste and corruption that occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 would not be repeated in New York. In response, however, his administration and their outside consultants created an application process so rigidly linear that it became nearly unworkable.

The issues in processing were not helped by the fact that the contractors in charge of the application intake centers staffed them with temporary workers, who received little or no training. They worked with no city managers present and little meaningful oversight from the contractors who hired them. Applications were supposed to be stored and processed within a specially designed computer program, but the program became better known for causing documents to disappear without a trace.

At the same time, the administration locked in money for initiatives it saw as central to Mr. Bloomberg’s legacy, such as long-term planning to minimize damage in future disasters, rather than putting that money toward urgent housing needs. Officials chose to focus first on lower-income applicants, creating even longer delays for moderate-income families.

The effort also was bogged down under repeated changes of leadership: Three executives have headed the program in the last year.

By the time Mr. Bloomberg left office at the end of last year, the program had paid $8.3 million to one of the nation’s most expensive business consulting firms. Another consulting firm was poised to collect several hundred thousand dollars to run contests seeking ideas that might help businesses in future storms. Nearly $300 million had been awarded to the mayor’s coveted long-term disaster planning effort. But the rebuilding of people’s homes was completely stalled, a situation that remained largely unchanged through the spring, several months into Mr. de Blasio’s tenure.

The city hired Boston Consulting Group, one of the country’s premier business advising firms, to help design the program. Many of the consultants were recently minted M.B.A.s, billing the city nearly $400 an hour, according to city records. The firm’s top consultant billed the city $860 an hour. A gaggle of well-dressed consultants tagged along everywhere with Brad Gair, a former federal disaster recovery official whom Mr. Bloomberg hired days after the storm and put in charge of the housing office.

I still think consulting firms are a bizarre social welfare program for Ivy League grads. Being a smart cookie doesn’t mean you actually know anything of use.

Sep 07

My hopes are that, in 10 years, the field of public interest design will:

- look more like the communities the field “serves” and less like conventional architectural practice in its demographic make-up (race, ethnicity, gender, and class);

- be more focused not just on the individual impact of our projects but also on addressing systemic issues of social equity through our work;

- be more progressive and responsible in our own business practices (understanding the inconsistencies of doing humanitarian work while your own employment practices are abusive);

- better at talking about and handing the issues of colonialism that inherently underlie this kind of work; and

- with any luck still be going strong and present a broad range of viable ways for designers to engage in impactful work.

” — Christine Gaspar at the Center for Urban Pedagogy was asked to weigh in with 17 other practitioners on How will Public Interest Design Look in 2024? I’m consistently impressed by the thoughtfulness of CUP’s approach and work.

Mau Piailug, master navigator and teacher. Click through to Vimeo to watch the full-length documentary Papa Mau: The Wayfinder which documents the lasting legacy of Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug, who revived the art of traditional voyaging and reawakened cultural pride throughout Polynesia.
powwowblog:

New mural by @kameahadar and @808urban in Honolulu, Hawaii for @hokuleawwv. Photo by @contrastmag. @olukai.

Mau Piailug, master navigator and teacher. Click through to Vimeo to watch the full-length documentary Papa Mau: The Wayfinder which documents the lasting legacy of Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug, who revived the art of traditional voyaging and reawakened cultural pride throughout Polynesia.

powwowblog:

New mural by @kameahadar and @808urban in Honolulu, Hawaii for @hokuleawwv. Photo by @contrastmag. @olukai.

Sep 06

“It doesn’t have to be built to be architecture. A play can exist without being performed. A piece of music can exist without an orchestra playing it. The creative act is the most important thing.” —

Steven Holl, Interview with Architect Magazine, May 2012 (via rchtctrstdntblg)

Whenever I think about urban plans never built and cities that only live in the mind, I really want to write a paper about urban form in science fiction. Anyone want to try writing this with me? Perhaps later than sooner, but within the year?

(Source: nickkahler, via rchtctrstdntblg)

Sep 05

fabriciomora:

Peter Cook (1970)

fabriciomora:

Peter Cook (1970)

Sep 04

“The effect of riding in automobiles upon the perception of pedestrians, bicyclists, and of other motorists teaches us that spaces can banish people to an alien universe even when those others are physically close by. People who are usually good natured and gregarious are likely, as motorists, to resent, berate, and sometimes even attack, pedestrians, joggers, and other motorists who occupy part of the road. The key condition that facilitates this result seems to be that people are enclosed by different spatial boundaries, are moving at different speeds, and have no mode of communication and little mutual understanding about how to stay out of each other’s way in unforeseen circumstances. Psychological isolation occurs in spite of total visibility.” — Murray Edelman. “Space and the social order.” Journal of Architectural Education 32.2 (1978), page 6.

Sep 03

[video]

“In other words, research is not an innocent or distant academic exercise but an activity that has something at stake and that occurs in a set of political and social conditions.” — Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (via callowhill)

Sep 02

Hola new followers! Thanks for being my neighbor on Tumblr. It’s hard to have a block party over the internet, but I can bring the grill and charcoal.
anniekoh:

Here’s how the saying goes: Always a borrower and a lender be. Lending and borrowin’ makes good neighbors. Go to your neighbor when you need sugar. The next time they need bread they will come to you. Borrow onions. Lend popcorn. Borrow a leaf rake. Lend a baby buggy. Borrow some shoes. Everybody needs to owe. Everybody needs to be owed to.
- From Riverbank Neighbors ”How to Disappear”, illustrated by Bobby Sutton. (via Grist)

Hola new followers! Thanks for being my neighbor on Tumblr. It’s hard to have a block party over the internet, but I can bring the grill and charcoal.

anniekoh:

Here’s how the saying goes: Always a borrower and a lender be. Lending and borrowin’ makes good neighbors. Go to your neighbor when you need sugar. The next time they need bread they will come to you. Borrow onions. Lend popcorn. Borrow a leaf rake. Lend a baby buggy. Borrow some shoes. Everybody needs to owe. Everybody needs to be owed to.

- From Riverbank Neighbors ”How to Disappear”, illustrated by Bobby Sutton. (via Grist)

Sep 01

There’s the poverty of cheap luggage bursted open at immigration
The poverty of the turned head, the averted eyes
The poverty of bored sex of tormented sex
The poverty of the bounced check the poverty of the dumpster dive
The poverty of the pawned horn the poverty of the smashed reading glasses
The poverty pushing the sheeted gurney the poverty cleaning up the puke
The poverty of the pavement artist the poverty passed-out on pavement
Princes of finance you who have not lain there
There are poverties and there are poverties

There is the poverty of hand-to-mouth and door-to-door
And the poverty of stories patched-up to sell there
There’s the poverty of the child thumbing the Interstate
And the poverty of the bride enlisting for war
There’s the poverty of prescriptions who can afford
And the poverty of how would you ever end it
There is the poverty of stones fisted in pocket
And the poverty of the village bulldozed to rubble
Princes of weaponry who have not ever tasted war
There are poverties and there are poverties
There’s the poverty of wages wired for the funeral you
Can’t get to the poverty of the salary cut
There’s the poverty of human labor offered silently on the curb
The poverty of the no-contact prison visit
There’s the poverty of yard sale scrapings spread
And rejected the poverty of eviction, wedding bed out on street
Prince let me tell you who will never learn through words
There are poverties and there are poverties

” — An excerpt from Adrienne Rich’s Ballad of the Poverties