04 August 2015

Career advice for emerging planners

The AZ Chapter of the APA has crafted a remarkable guide of Career Advice for Emerging Planners. The guide includes results from a survey of professional planners and presents both qualitative and quantitative results.

Some of the results are presented as quotes, such as:
“Learn technical skills, don’t accumulate titles or pieces of paper in school.” - Oklahoma City, OK
While others are numbers: 86% of respondents said that the most important characteristic to consider was "internships and transferable skills/ experience to specific position."

Perhaps most interesting to me was the last page as a giant table of skills as evaluated by potential employers. The top two, by a distance, were written communication and public speaking. No surprise. But number three is Mapping (e.g., GIS) which is also no surprise, but a point worth emphasizing to students who still have a few classes left.

29 July 2015

Summer reading

Here is your summer reading assignment:

ECOLOGIES OF EMPIRE: On the New Uses of the Honeybee by UC Berkeley's Jake Kosek.
Abstract: This essay examines the rise of the honeybee as a tool and metaphor in the U.S. “war on terror.” At present, the largest source of funding for apiary research comes from the U.S. military as part of efforts to remake entomology in an age of empire. This funding seeks to make new generations of bees sensitive to specific chemical traces—everything from plastic explosives, to the tritium used in nuclear weapons development, to land mines. Moreover, in an explicit attempt to redesign modern battlefield techniques, the Pentagon has returned to the form and metaphor of the “swarm” to combat what it takes to be the unpredictability of the enemy in the war on terror. At the same time, honeybee colonies are collapsing. Rethinking material assemblages of bees and humans in the war on terror, this essay moves beyond the constrained logic and limited politics of many epidemiological investigations of colony collapse. Honeybees are situated within a more expansive understanding of the role of and consequences for the animal in modern empire building.
The map of landmines generated by the flight patterns of trained honeybees is a remarkable twist on GIS on the battlefield.

27 July 2015

CASA Urban Roller Coaster

Some people like to visit cities for summer vacation. others go to theme parks. The 3d geniuses at UCL CASA combined the 2 with their Oculus Rift Urban Roller Coaster ride. Very cool.

In May 2014 Virtual Architectures was invited by CASA to create a virtual reality exhibit for the Walking on Water exhibition that was partnered with Grand Designs Live at London’s ExCeL. The CASA Urban Roller Coaster was created using 3ds MAX, Unity and Oculus Rift.

Southeast Wisconsin Freeway Megaprojects

Politico (not the usual news source for this blog) has a lengthy story on the Southeast Wisconsin Freeway Megaprojects. Wisconsin is spending billions of dollars as part of a concerted effort to improve highways around Milwaukee. News outlets often treat highways as a universal good while planning outlets have a more mixed perspective. Politico has split the difference, which may seem odd to its readers:
“It’s an all-out war on urbanism,” says John Norquist, who spent 16 years fighting freeways as Milwaukee’s mayor and then a decade running the Congress for the New Urbanism. “Cities are seen as obstacles to getting cars and trucks to move faster. Transit is seen as the ultimate expression of Marxism. And you know, road builders give a lot of money to politicians.”

24 July 2015

25 Miles from the Statue of Liberty

Summertime trips in our area often mean crossing the unique Tappan Zee Bridge. A few years back, NPR's Planet Money posted a great story explaining that the bridge is built in a terrible place for building a bridge. Why was it built there? Because it is more than 25 miles away from the Statue of Liberty.

Well, when I heard that Rutgers Press had a new book out by Philip Plotch called "Politics Across the Hudson: The Tappan Zee Megaproject" it spurred me on to check out the 25 mile limit. Well, that pesky 25-mile line sure is in just the wrong spot. Check out the maps below to see for yourselves:

23 July 2015

Dramatically changed landscapes

The Globe and Mail reports on a lake in Canada that is about to "fall off a cliff." We tend to think of landscapes as being fairly stable. But this story has photos of an amazing process that forces us to think about a different scale of change occurring in this remote corner of the Northwest Territories. This hasn't been so widely circulated, but the photos after the collapse most likely will be viral for a few days.