29 November 2009

Obesity data

Richard Florida has taken a closer look at the state-by-state CDC data on obesity. State-by-state data isn't too helpful, but he still highlights some potential relationships.

27 November 2009

Friday Photos: Dog tags

These photos are from the Dog Tag Memorial in the garden at the Old North Church. It is a memorial for fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

25 November 2009

Giant dune

The Cape May Herald had this great photo of the storm damage at North Wildwood in their set of photos from T.S. Ida. I posted it because it reminded me of a few of today's proposals for engineered interventions in our design jury. Check out their other photos.

24 November 2009

Free webinar "Youth Participation and Migrant Voice"

From London, Manchester, New York: Webinar on Youth Participation and Migrant Voice December 1, 2009

When (by timezone): 10:00 (Toronto, New York, EST) Register Now for Free Webinar

How do migrant youth deal with living inside and between two cultures?

http://citiesofmigration.ca/integration-learning-exchange/calendar/lang/en/ Use this webpage link, if you would like to listen to this webinar. No cost to participate, but you must register.

Obesity Maps

These are from the CDC and look at the US, county-by-county comparing diabetes and obesity. Clearly there are some regional factors that have to be considered. You can also see how closely obesity and diabetes track one another: "Both methods highlight geographic patterns of high prevalence of diabetes or obesity in specific areas of the South, Appalachia, Mississippi Delta, and western tribal lands."

The key thing is our next step. Different groups are focusing their efforts in different places. But what seems to matter is that they focus:
"The growing obesity and diabetes burden in the United States has generated interest in population-targeted prevention measures, ranging from health-system support for preventive lifestyle interventions to increased legislation of the food environment, to enhanced social marketing to reduce risk factors for obesity and diabetes (7,8). Improved surveillance systems will be crucial to target interventions toward areas with populations at high risk and track the impact of those interventions at the local level."

This is just the sort of news that you need to have come out right before Thanksgiving. You suddenly might want to change from a regional dish to something healthier. Or you might just be thankful you live in a healthy state like Colorado.

23 November 2009

Paying for free services

It just slowly sneaks in. That's why maybe having government agencies build their systems on GoogleMaps or their competitors suddenly seems questionable.

Rutgers research on foreclosure

The front page for Rutgers, www.rutgers.edu, has been featuring an article from RU Focus looking at the foreclosure studies being conducted by Rutgers faculty Kathe Newman and Julia Sass Rubin. The studies look to have a real impact on the ground but have also required some real leg work and sifting through information. Good stuff.

20 November 2009

Friday Fotos: Will the real New Jersey please stand up?

When someone recently asked me for some typical New Jersey sprawl photos, my first thought was that there is nothing typical about NJ sprawl. We have 10 acre lot sprawl, 1/4 acre lot sprawl, commercial sprawl and even industrial sprawl. But then nothing else in NJ is particularly typical either. So, I asked myself, which photos do I have that really represent the typical New Jersey? The answer turned out to be that I was still missing some key pieces that I should be more conscience to capture. But here are a few and I've created a photo strip online to show you more. I'll probably expand it in the coming months as I discover better photos in my archives or take shots in the field, but here is a start.

Reflecting on Jean-Claude

This week's passing of Jean-Claude due to a brain aneurysm has brought forward some nice reflections on the importance of her collaborations with Christo. Her eis one that stands out.

The New York Daily News says that Mayor Bloomberg called Christo with his condolences and remembered The Gates this way:
"It gave New Yorkers a whole different view of the city, of themselves. It helped tourism, but more than anything else, it expanded our minds and gave all of us for a number of days a chance to think about how big the world is, and Jean-Claude and Christo have really always thought bigger than the rest of us," Bloomberg said.

Christo reports that their next projects are still on track. She always said that her favorite project was "the next one."

19 November 2009

Bristlecone pines and climate change

After David Robinson's visit to our studio the other day, some might still be curious about other ways to get glimpses at climate histories. Real Climate just posted a great discussion about using very old trees as a source of data.

18 November 2009

LiveBlog: Jim Consolloy

Today's notes may be abbreviated...

Jim Consolloy, Grounds Manager, Princeton University
Beatrix Farrand and Landscape Gardening at Princeton University

Jim Consolloy got his BS in Biology at Upsala College with an emphasis on environmental sciences and continued in Horticulture, mostly as it relates to woody plants. He worked on his masters in Horticulture at Rutgers in 1969 and 1970 before he was drafted. He worked for the State Forest Nursery, Howe Nurseries and Herman Panaceck Landscape Nurseries from 1964 to
1989 when he started as Manager of Grounds for Princeton University. He is also an ISA certified arborist and NJ Tree Expert. Having worked with many Landscape Architects over the years, he has come to appreciate the fact that they are all artists and extremely creative when it comes to painting the landscape with woody plants. What he learned from Beatrix Farrand was that she used many trades in order to design the complex landscape at Princeton University (Civil engineers, Masons, Carpenters, Iron workers and Plumbers). Her details involved the talents of all of these resources.

Originally the College of New Jersey, the Princeton campus was first being planted with specimen from Europe. Eventually the trustees moved deliberately towards American trees, particularly the Elms but also other like the White Ash.

Eventually PU grew past its 10 acre campus and needed more deign attention.

An 1895 plan (one of the first documented landscape plans of campus) shows all native plants, few of which survived. Farrand first arrived on the scene for her 1897 campus plan. By 1906 they built Lake Carnegie, the first lake built for crew.

Even though Farrand was part of the original ASLA founding group, she demanded that she be called a Landscape Gardener. Her guiding principles included: establishing nurseries for plants, working with the architect to show the buildings, creating pathways, use native plants, pick plants that flower during the academic year.

Lots of details today. While she understood the campus as a large site, Farrand designed even small details like individual copper downspouts and gutters. The campus has a 50-60' high yew.

Signature plants:
Prunus allée
3 kinds of cedars

Consolloy encourages reading many of her works. Even the plant book at Dumbarton Oaks is a great treatise on planting and design.

Celebrate GIS Day with maps from CRSSA

Dig into the galleries and project files at CRSSA for cartographic cornucopia of GIS Day goodies.

Making the Buffalo Commons official

not only does the Poppers' idea not seem to go away, but now there is a major newspaper endorsing the idea and seeking to make a Buffalo Commons national park.

Happy GIS Day!

Happy GIS Day 2009!

17 November 2009

The Volunteers behind Google Maps

The NY Times takes a closer look at the teeming volunteers that are updating the GoogleMaps data now that Google has left TeleAtlas behind. The article includes an interview with Über-expert Mike Goodchild who led the VGI meeting in Santa Barbara back in 2007, but they didn't slip in the term VGI. (h/t Puk)

2009 Top 10 Shapers of the American Landscape

Here is the list of Top 10 Shapers that I am presenting in EDA listed in alphabetic order. For comparison purposes I have linked each one to its entry in Wikipedia, but these are not definitive descriptions. And the Top 10 Shapers tag at the end will find you a few other interesting links...

Daniel Burnham

Andrew Jackson Downing

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Herbert Hoover

Thomas Jefferson

William J. Levitt

Robert Moses

John Muir

Frederick Law Olmsted

Gifford Pinchot

Home Rule video

The Star-Ledger has posted a video looking into the vote against consolidation of Sussex and Wantage up in Northernmost Jersey. In New Jersey we'll consistently vote for the candidate who promises lower property taxes, rail against the pol who fails to lower them, and fight to prevent one change that can really help.

16 November 2009

Home rule lives on

The recent election provided a little more evidence about the insidious, unshakable nature of home rule.


Was this storm the worst since 1992? Check out the cover of today's Star-Ledger! The reader photos from the Press of Atlantic City are pretty convincing too.

Meanwhile, public response to both the environment and climate change is cooling, if these polls can be trusted.

Still more New London

The NY Times included a picture of Suzette Kelo's house post-condemnation. (h/t PlaNetizen) If you aren't up on this, the Times summed up the SCOTUS decision in one paragraph:

In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court ruled that it was permissible to take private property and turn it over to developers as part of a plan to bolster the local economy. Conservative justices, including Clarence Thomas, dissented. Justice Thomas called New London’s plan “a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation.”

Property right activists will note this a free market repudiation of the court's decision. While the Supreme Court probably hasn't had the last word on this yet, I think the current state of New London may reveal more about the local decision making processes than about long-term constitutional issues.

15 November 2009

New London redux

New London became in/famous in planning circles after the Supreme Court ruled that they had legitimately used eminent domain to spur new development by private interests. Now, not only has the city failed to build on the properties in the Fort Trumball neighborhood that they condemned, but they are losing the primary source of revenue and support for that project. The Hartford Courant's Jeff Benedict describes the wake that Pfizer is leaving behind as they abandon their $300 million R&D headquarters.

View Larger Map

13 November 2009

Cool Class: Land Change Science

This looks like a great grad seminar...

Land Change Science (16:450:511). Spring 2010. Geography.
Meetings: Thursday 10:20 am -1:20 pm- Lucy Stone Hall B-120, Livingston Campus
Instructor: Laura C. Schneider, B-228, Lucy Stone Hall, laschnei@rci.rutgers.edu
Land change science seeks to understand land dynamics and their various consequences through an examination of coupled human-environment systems. Changes in land-use (human use) and land-cover (biophysical condition) are persistent, and when aggregated at a global scale affect key aspects of the earth system functioning. Such changes also affect economies and human welfare and the vulnerability of places and people to climatic, economic and socio-political perturbations. This seminar examines the development of land change science and the theoretical and methodological challenges to linking biophysical, socio-economic, and remote sensing/GIS analysis.

The course readings draw on recent peer reviewed articles and edited books dealing exclusively with land change science as well as other fields of expertise, mainly ecology, remote sensing, geography and economics. The course begins with a critical examination of key concepts in land change science and the development of its current research plan. Then we examine the following themes : 1) current trajectories of land change (e.g. deforestation, urbanization, increase in agricultural land), taking examples from different regions of the world at different spatial scales; 2) consequences of land use/cover change, specifically those linked to ecosystem services (climate change and biodiversity); and 3) socio-economic drivers of land change. For the last topic, we will discuss an array of explanations ranging from broad generalizations (e.g.: IPAT) to explanations that look closer at complex sets of social relations (political and cultural ecology).

Discussion of methodological challenges facing land change science is central to this seminar. Methodological issues to be discussed will be divided in four topics: 1) The use of remote sensing analysis for monitoring change; 2) the linkage of socio-economic data to ecological data in a spatially explicit form; 3) characterization and discussion of the importance of spatially explicit models to understanding processes and patterns of land change; and 4) the use of landscape metrics (landscape ecology) to understand patterns of land change.

Sea Isle City is flooding too

Thank goodness for YouTube, huh?

Visioning Workshop for Bergen County Master Plan

Bergen County is embarking on a public response period to update their vision for the County. The RPA has a colorful handout to tell you more. The first Visioning workshop is on November 14th. And there is another as late as January 23rd. It would be a great chance to see planning and democracy in action.

State of Emergency in Cape May County!

Seriously, Cape May County declared a state of emergency yesterday due to coastal flooding and storms. Sea level rise isn't just going to suddenly happen. Each storm will just get slightly more costly than the last. Today lots of schools are closed and evacuation maps are posted online. They even closed the zoo. Avalon canceled their Borough council meeting.

This can't be good.

Why don't they do something? The Philadelphia Inquirer had one answer:

Although Wildwood's flooding was its deepest in years, Sgt. Jim Nanos was taking it in stride.

"It's a way of life when you live down here," he said. "When you get high winds and high water, you adjust your life accordingly."

Sure, it is just a storm. Just another one. Another expensive one:

Today the Cape May-Lewes ferry is closed. The Coast Guard had to suspend their search for the lost boat. But we'll still have class.

(The Star-Ledger Photo from Lavalette is a real keeper)

12 November 2009

West 8's Adriaan Geuze

West 8's Adriaan Geuze will be speaking at Princeton at 6pm on Monday November 16th. This is part of their fall speaker series called. Down the Garden Path.

Quote of the Day

As heard in JoAnn Carmin's talk yesterday

Designing a dream city is easy,
rebuilding a living one takes imagination.

- Jane Jacobs

Cool Class: Immigrant Policy, Infrastructure and Organizing in New Jersey

Graduate research seminar
Mondays from 12:30 to 3:10pm
790:559 Metropolitan Politics: Immigrant Policy, Infrastructure and Organizing in New Jersey

Professor Ulla Berg, Dept. of Anthropology and Hispanic Caribbean and Latino Studies
Professor Christine Brenner, Public Policy and Admin. (Camden)
Professor James DeFilippis, Bloustein School
Professor Janice Fine, School of Management and Labor Relations and Eagleton Institute
Professor Kathe Newman, Bloustein School
Professor Robyn Rodriguez, Dept. of Sociology
Professor Mara Sidney, Dept. of Politics (Newark)
Professor David Tulloch, Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis
Instructor: Dr. Anastasia Mann, Eagleton Institute

More than ever, community-based organizations across New Jersey play critical roles in the economic, social and political incorporation of immigrants. In this course, faculty from across the social sciences will lead students on an exploration of the role of community-based organizations in the lives of New Jersey’s 21st century immigrants.

Students will examine how diverse networks of immigrants have established and adapted a host of community-based organizations as a means to build lives and gain power. From soccer leagues and daycare centers to small business associations and worker centers, immigrants create and rely on CBOs to meet all kinds of needs. On the streets of Newark, on farms across Atlantic County, and in the many mid-sized cities in between, immigrants connect to the state, to native-born residents and to each other through the mechanism of CBOs.

Students will explore:
  • Who are today’s low-wage immigrants and why do they come?
  • How have larger scale changes such as globalization and the domestic devolution of the welfare state from the federal level impacted immigration patterns and immigrant experiences at the local level?
  • What are the empirical trends and theoretical frameworks through which we can understand patterns of immigration over time?
  • What critical employment and labor rights affecting immigrant workers?
  • What impact is the recession having in communities and on the infrastructure?

Students will conduct independent research with Rutgers Immigrant Infrastructure Map, a new multi-faculty research initiative out of the Eagleton Institute, testing original hypotheses about the (still largely unexplored) statewide immigrant infrastructure.

The map above shows 2000 US Census responses of non-native born residents as a percent of the population (Dark is high and light colored is low).

NOTE: Readers will want to note that my in-class presence will be moderated by a double class conflict. If you are looking to maximize contact time you should talk to me directly.

11 November 2009

3 Landscapes: Kate John-Alder

From our newest alumni of the year:
Vaux le Vicomte (Although Seaux is great)
Oakland Museum
Cabin on a lake in Maine (typ.)

LiveBlog: Kate John-Alder on Kevin Roche

Kate John-Alder, Landscape Architect
2009 Rutgers Outstanding Landscape Architecture Alumni of the Year
The Garden and The Greenhouse: The Landscapes of Kevin Roche

Born in Ireland, but practiced and taught in the US.
Came out of a modernist tradition with Saarinen. Saarinen's sudden death lead to the formation of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.

Decent credentials: 1982 Pritzker Prize in 1982, 1993 AIA Gold Medal. (It proves that the AIA is a bit slow)

Great Roche buildings include the Ford Foundation Building (finished in 1968), developed with Dan Kiley. Kiley deliberately overplanted the atrium allowing some plants to die, helping identify those plants fittest for the environment. The building was like Hepburn and the interior was like Bardot. (Mapped)

A decade later he completed the design for John Deere's Headquarters. (Mapped) Roche saw his atrium here as a tribute to the anonymous corporate worker. He isn't tearing down old models or replacing them with new.

His theories worked to integrate theories and ideas about natural and spiritual processes. His presentation on this worked to integrate nature and architecture. His efforts to connect with firmness, commodity and delight work within this and can be seen in the IBM Pavilion. Returning to the simple pleasures of nature, like lounging in the shade of a tree, he was able to embrace timeless values and experiences while utilizing new forms and materials.

As the Oakland Museum (mapped) showed, his ideas about green roofs and blurring the indoors/outdoors lines were way ahead of his time. The rooftop is an open environmental capsule. Although the space has changed over time, it sparks imagination and lends to happiness. This worked because he wasn't seeking picturesque facsimiles of nature, but sough a dialogue betwen man and nature. Not that you would know it from this link.

Great reference: Robert Smithson's Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape

This style of design requires that you take a stance. He took his stance on nature and human action. It goes back to the tree which he saw as an archetype. It was a specific one. In Columbus, IN he related to the landscape of the Miller Garden but forced you to turn your back on the alley of trees in order to experience his special space of enclosed trees.

As a personal note, I have to say that his thinking seems much more consistent with the serious intellectual modernism that I learned from a student of Mies. Contrary to what you've heard, it isn't about harshness or dehumanizing qualities. It was both new and old - but truly modern.

When will NOLA go under again?

This past summer the Christian Science Monitor had an Environment feature on sea level rise in New Orleans and other areas along the lower Mississippi. Louisiana has long struggled in its ongiong battle with the Gulf of Mexico, but this could get really ugly. The researchers they interview project that by 2100 Louisiana could lose more than 5,000 square miles (note: 1 sq mi = 640 acres). Of course, since it is already below sea level, their projections don't look good for New Orleans either.

10 November 2009

Lecture: The Garden and The Greenhouse: The Landscapes of Kevin Roche

Fall 2009 Lecture Series
Department of Landscape Architecture
Wednesday, November 11 @ 3:55 in 110 Cook Douglass Lecture Hall
Kate John-Alder, Landscape Architect
The Garden and The Greenhouse: The Landscapes of Kevin Roche


Landscape, defined as the portion of the land that the eye can comprehend in a glance, is an integral component of Kevin Roche's architecture. Throughout his career, but particularly in projects completed between 1960 and 1975, Roche systematically combined site-specific observations with conceptual investigations of program, sequence, scale, and material to create buildings that are simultaneously landscape and architecture. Roche integrated these studies with an interest in the way built form shapes social behavior. In other words, he manipulated the interaction of landscape and architecture to provide what is generally considered to be a good view in order to promote civilized and socially inclusive activity.

In such a synthesis, the walls framing the landscape function as a structural and a narrative device - a monumental picture frame that imaginatively links the interior with the exterior and constructed space with nature. The result is an oeuvre of built work in which an Arcadian
ideal grounds a series of architectural explorations within a localized and particularized reality. And like the reflective surfaces that adorn many of his buildings, what one perceives in glancing moments is a living kaleidoscopic vision - a kinesthetic experience that mirrors the complexity
of the physical and cultural landscape. This lecture will explore the imaginative ways Roche manipulates the walls of his buildings to frame this synthesis.

Kathleen John-Alder is a licensed landscape architect whose practice is based in the state of New Jersey. During the course of her career, she received numerous design and planning awards, and reached the level of Associate Partner at Olin Partnership. In that position, she designed and directed the competition submission for Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California and prepared a stream corridor restoration plan, in conjunction with the Army Corp of Engineers, for the Mill River in Stamford, Connecticut. In 2006 she left Olin Partnership and returned to school and academia. In 2008, she received a Masters of Environmental Design from the Yale School of Architecture. Since completing her degree at Yale, she has continued to study, write, and teach. She also established a theoretical practice that focuses on the integration of landscape architecture and architecture through projects that address the physical and social ecology of the urban environment. Currently, Kathleen is a Landscape Architecture Critic and Lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture and Rutgers University.

Cool Class: Blogging and Podcasting for the Environment

The goal of the environmental communication clinic is to give students problem-solving skills and hands-on experience to help them in the job market.

Working in groups, students in the Spring 2010 class will develop audio and video podcasts to promote environmentally responsible behavior on campus. To do so, students will first determine their communication goals (Increase recycling at RU football games? Reduce bottled water use in the student centers? Reduce carbon footprint of the dorms? Or? Next, they will identify appropriate target audiences (dorm residents, SEBS faculty, football fans, etc.)

After drafting a storyboard outline, they will conduct interviews as the basis of episodes of an audio podcast, a visually enhanced audio podcast, and a video podcast. Although students will have the opportunity work on projects during class, they will also need to spend time outside of class developing ideas, conducting interviews, and editing.

Enrollment is limited and permission of professor is required. SEBS students of any major are welcome. Juniors are preferred so their senior year they can serve as resources for faculty, agricultural extension agents, and other students.
For permission contact Professor Caron Chess chess_c@aesop.rutgers.edu.
Make sure you check out last year's blog and videos too.

Open House for the new MLA Program

Open House for New Landscape Architecture Program

New for Fall 2010, Rutgers is offering a Master's in Landscape Architecture (MLA) program. If you or any of your students are interested in making a difference in the environment through graduate study, visit the MLA Open House on Saturday, November 14 from 10 a.m. to noon in Blake Hall, George H. Cook Campus. Email Pam Stewart or call 732-932-9317 to attend. Individuals with undergraduate degrees in all fields are welcome. For details about this new degree program, visit the website.

09 November 2009

Isolated environments

Sine our studio is looking at a tourist environment that might become increasingly isolated, it might be useful to look at other parallels in the tourism world:

Some of this is clearly just your basic ecotourism stuff, but on some of these you can see how design really makes a difference.

Celebrate the Fall of the Berlin Wall with Google Earth

If you are running the later versions of Google Earth (5+) you can celebrate today's 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall with historic imagery of Berlin dating back to 1945.

08 November 2009

We are not alone

"Your problem is that you treat water like a drowning person, we treat water like a long distance swimmer". That is from the comment section of a post about the RPA's recent charrette looking at some water/land interfaces in Greenpoint. It seems like we aren'tthe opnly ones struggling to look at different ways to address this complex bundle of problems.

07 November 2009

Parking exhibit

I haven't been to many museums that I didn't like, but I really enjoy every visit to the National Building Museum in DC. They have a new exhibit on parking structures called House of Cars that might not sound great at first, but if it is at the NBM then I'd go first and then evaluate it.

06 November 2009

Cool Class: Concepts of Preservation and Design of Postindustrial Landscapes

Concepts of Preservation and Design of Postindustrial Landscapes
(16:550:554, 3 credits)
Spring Semester 2010, Wednesdays 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Taught by Dr. Wolfram Hoefer

The course Concepts of Preservation and Design of Postindustrial Landscapes gives an introduction into cultural understandings of nature, landscape and industry through time with reference to the impact of globalization on the use and interpretation of post-industrial sites.
This course will address an interdisciplinary dialogue between design and preservation studies.
Landscape architecture looks at post-industrial (e.g. brownfield) sites to assess their adaptive reuse, also to reintegrate these devastated sites into the public realm as social, economic, and aesthetic questions. A preservation perspective focuses instead on a methodology that reassesses the historic significance of these sites as well as alterations to their historic property. Fostering that dialogue, the course examines American cultural history and the tradition of American landscape architecture with a focus on how the relationship between industry and landscape has evolved.

This will include aspects of architecture, such as the architectural history of industrial buildings, their internal organization and their urban context. The course will introduce post-industrial projects in New Jersey and abroad as examples for discussing different approaches of preservation and design: How does a chosen approach of historic preservation in some of these examples relate to the developed usages and designs? In that context it is important to recognize the artistic aspects that underlie the relationship between design intent and design. Design is not just the application of scientific findings to a specific site – that would be engineering – rather it is the creative act that draws from cultural experiences and talent. That is why this course will apply methods of architecture theory and art history; the interpretation of gestalt in the context of the cultural tradition of the field.

The lecture part of the course will examine American cultural history and the tradition of American landscape architecture with a focus on how the relationship between industry and landscape has evolved. The class material will touch aspects of environmental history, and the student papers will analyze recent best practice examples. The scope of the class will go beyond that. When geographers or human ecologists conduct environmental history they look, for example, at what point in history the environmental problem was acknowledged, and which strategies or solutions were applied. In the case of historic preservation of a specific industrial structure the scholar looks into the period of significance and develops a definition of the importance of the structure in its technical and architectural historic context.
All these layers of research and understanding are important for landscape architecture and how these contribute to the meaning of the physical space. For a landscape architect whose work also incorporates environmental standards space is more than the outcome of an ecologically appropriate technical solution, it is the product of the creative act of design.

Course Format:
Lectures, discussions, and student presentations. Attendance and active participation in weekly student discussions is expected; in addition, each student will write and present a major research oriented paper. That Paper shall explore one existing example of historic preservation and adaptive re-use of a postindustrial site.

Lecture: Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Lessons from the Global South

Co-Sponsored by the Department of Human Ecology and the Climate and Environmental Change Initiative
Social Choices and Climate Change: Lectures and Discussions
Part of the Rutgers University Global Initiative: Ecologies in the Balance Series, 2009-2010

"Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Lessons from the Global South"
JoAnn Carmin, Associate Professor
Environmental Policy and Planning, Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Minimizing the impacts that climate change will have on cities and their inhabitants requires that urban municipalities make concerted efforts to protect natural systems, the built environment, and human populations.

Although the need for urban adaptation is pressing, relatively few cities have developed climate adaptation plans. In this pilot research, I examine what motivated Durban, South Africa and Quito, Ecuador to initiate climate adaptation planning. While many scholars argue that external pressures, diffusion, and capacity are critical drivers of sub-national policy change, the cases suggest that these early adapters are motivated by local goals and priorities. The findings of this research enhance our theoretical understanding of urban change while offering policy-relevant lessons about climate adaptation and adaptation planning.
Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Time: 12:30 PM to 2:30 pm
Location: Blake Hall, Room 131, Cook Campus

04 November 2009

Pretty special

LateBlog: Drs. Frank and Deborah Popper

Due to some technical issues, I was unable to liveblog today's talk. But here is a summary of how it went.

Part I: Dr. Deborah Popper on Great Plains History and the Buffalo Commons

Dr. Popper described the history of the settlement and development of the Great Plains as an agricultural landscape. She talked about about short-grass and mid-grass prairies, Easterners and immigrants. There were always economic cycles of booms and busts that shaped the landscapes. Mix in some dustbowl. With mechanized farming, increased production and an influx of capital the great plains were seen as key to helping feed the world.

Then came the decline and with it came environmental degradation and loss of jobs. In the 1980s debts were called in. Suddenly the thinning population underwent lifestyle changes - itinerant ministers, no afterschool.

This, said Dr. Popper, was a region characterized by variability. Indeed!

In response the Poppers proposed the Buffalo Commons. Their 1987 Planning paper proposing the Buffalo Commons was one of the top 25 papers in 25 years. It was meant as a metaphor but it resonated so well that it stuck. Even the name was more provocative than they may have intended.
Buffalo = animal they had gotten rid of
Commons = Sounds like communism
Tribal groups responded positively. They have higher rates of diabetes and recognized that a shift towards buffalo meat could help.

Still, many communities wondered if they could get back to growing their economies. WHat kind of hazardous waste facility could we attract? How many casinos can we build? Dr. Popper suggested instead that they "Look to the land."

Part 2: Frank Popper on the next Depopulation Crises

Dr. Popper donned his infamous buffalo hat for his portion.

After letting his wife tell one story of regional decline and redempetion, he suggested that we look elsewhere for others - Northern NE, Northern MidWest, Lower Mississippi Delta.

(DT - Double Play! LateBlogging comes with some benefits.)

He asks whether the declining part of big cities like Detroit and Cleveland are really all that different than the Great Plains. Now that drivers on Detroit's Interstate highways are treated to the sight of pheasants, it is becoming eerily similar. And both the plains and the cities are left with aging communities less able to migrate.

3 cities have emerged as trying to be more creative or aggressive in finding new futures for their communities: Youngstown, OH, Braddock, PA and Flint, MI. Youngstown is getting creative about its future and looking into ways to rework ownership patterns. Flint is seeking to buy up vacant land. Braddock's mayor is on the cover of this month's Atlantic Monthly. From Buffalo to St Louis, more and more post-industrial cities are now where the Great Plains was back in the 1980s when the Poppers first proposed the Buffalo Commons.

For so long Western Civilization had embraced the notion that growth was a sign of health. These examples confront us and challenge us to reconsider the notion.

(DT - Another run!)

What will the urban equivalent of the Buffalo Commons look like? What will be the next sites of rapid depopulation? Suburbs? Coastal zones?

James Corner at Princeton

At 6pm on 11/11 James Corner will be speaking down at Princeton. Once again, we benefit from their budget. Enjoy.

Cool Class: Landscape Studies 101

11:550:101 Landscape Studies

This broad-ranging course is an introduction to the role of the landscape as a representation of how society views the natural world. The term landscape refers to many examples, including parks, industrial parks, sculpture parks, cities, suburbs, exurbs, farms, rural areas and the humanized wilderness. Through reading, lectures, and field trips, the student will learn how the landscape reflects our changing political, social, artistic, ecological and environmental values. The discussion and experiential observation of various landscapes, and their affects on people and society, is intended to develop a framework to think critically, constructively, and creatively about the physical environment and to develop a vocabulary to explore, analyze and discuss landscape issues.

The course format is one 3-hour meeting a week, to allow for some field trips during class time.

Course requirements include weekly readings plus a one-page critical essay about the readings, posted to a class website, followed by critical questioning and discussion. Each student will be required to participate in five or six field trips. Grades will be based on class and discussion
participation, weekly writing assignments, and one test.

03 November 2009

That means 10am Eastern

If you've never tried on online seminar before, here is an interesting chance to participate in the global learning community:

The Global GIS Academy and WUN,
Jointly with QMRG of RGS/IBG (UK) and Education Section UCGIS (USA)

The first seminar in the Autumn/Fall e-seminars series: Dynamic Modeling in a GIS Environment
This year’s joint e-seminar series will return to the topic of dynamic modelling in a GIS environment.

Wednesday 4th November at 1500 GMT

Mark Birkin (Leeds):
GENeSIS: Generative simulation for the spatial and social sciences.

ABSTRACT: The seminar is concerned with the development of synthetic models of demographic evolution in cities and with the use of such model frameworks in urban and regional planning. I will argue that individual-based representations combining insights from both microsimulation and agent-based modelling are most appropriate for this purpose. An approach which combines population generation with dynamic simulation and 'what if?' activity modelling will be described and illustrated, with applications ranging from transportation and housing provision to health care. I will draw attention to two important requirements for further model enhancement: the in- corporation of better mechanisms for dealing with the evolution of urban infrastructure; and im- proved means for validation of both model assumptions and outcomes.

The seminars are open to all. For details of how to join the e-seminar using the MarratechTM video conferencing environment, and further seminars in the same series, see:


Please note that if your install the client it is still necessary to go to the WUN ‘room’ by typing:

Dave Unwin (d.unwin@wun.ac.ukd.unwin@wun.ac.uk>) (WUN Global GISc Academy Coordinator)
Steve Carver (s.j.carver@leeds.ac.uks.j.carver@leeds.ac.uk>)

Leaving New Jersey

That's not a nice thing to say at all.

Deborah and Frank Popper "Extending the Idea of Buffalo Commons"

F a l l 2 0 0 9 L e c t u r e S e r i e s
Department of Landscape Architecture

Wednesday, November 4, 3:55 in Cook Douglass Lecture Hall

Speakers: Deborah and Frank Popper

"Extending the Idea of Buffalo Commons"

For a generation Deborah and Frank Popper have explored the idea of the Buffalo Commons as a sustainable future for the rural Great Plains, and their concept is succeeding on the ground. Now they expand the approach to other regions and to cities. The Poppers are now at work on a series of articles and a book extending the Buffalo Commons concept and related approaches to other depopulating rural regions (for instance, Appalachia, the Lower Mississippi Delta and northern New England), large and mid-sized shrinking cities (Detroit, St. Louis, Birmingham [Alabama] and Camden [New Jersey]) and comparable places abroad (central Spain, eastern France and the former East Germany).

Frank’s article, "The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust" (Planning, December 1987), written with his wife, Deborah Popper, a geographer at the City University of New York, put forward the controversial Buffalo Commons idea that touched off a national debate on the future of the depopulating rural parts of the Great Plains region. The Poppers' Plains work was the subject of Anne Matthews' book Where the Buffalo Roam (1992), one of four finalists for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, and appeared in a second edition in 2002. The Poppers’ work inspired Richard Wheeler’s The Buffalo Commons (1998), a novel where the concept wins out in the end. They and their work appeared in documentary films such as Dreams Turn to Dust (1994), The Fate of the Plains (1995), The Buffalo Commons: The Return of the Buffalo (2008) and several forthcoming ones.

Interesting links


Biography / Academic Interests :
Deborah E. Popper is a Professor of Political Science, Economics and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. She received her Masters and her PhD from Rutgers. Her work has focused on how regions adjust to environmental pressures and population loss. With her husband, Frank Popper of Rutgers University, she developed the concept of the Buffalo Commons, a metaphor that has served as a guide for a future based on ecological restoration. They are currently working on developing comparable alternatives for other American regions

Frank J. Popper teaches in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, where he also participates in the American Studies, Geography, Human Ecology and Political Science Departments. He teaches regularly as a visiting professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Princeton University. He is author of The President's Commissions (1970) and The Politics of Land-Use Reform (1981), coauthor of Urban Nongrowth: City Planning for People (1976) and coeditor of Land Reform, American Style (1984). Professor Popper has served previously on the governing boards of the American Land Forum, the American Land Publishing Project, the American Planning Association, the Citizens Council on Land Use Research and Education, Ecocity Builders, and Urban Ecology. He now serves on the boards of the National Center for Frontier Communities (formerly the Frontier Education Center) and the Great Plains Restoration Council, helped found both and chairs the board of the latter. He has served on the editorial boards of American Land Forum, Journal of the American Planning Association, and Journal of Rural Communities and now serves on the editorial board of Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Geography, Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy: The Research Journal for the Great Plains, and APA [American Planning Association] Watchdog. He is a fellow of the American Geographical Society and a member of Shaping Tomorrow's Urban Futures Group.

Frank Popper is a graduate of Haverford College and has a master's degree in public administration and a doctorate in political science, both from Harvard University. He will spend all of the academic year 2008-2009 at Princeton University's Princeton Environmental Institute, where he will teach in the Environmental Studies Program as a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

02 November 2009

Future interfaces

Remember that these are already becoming more common. Are you imagining something new? What do you think we need to improve regional design?

Largest Mayan pyramid

A lost Mayan city that is so important that People Magazine is covering it? That must be big. But, it is in Guatamala.

If you've never seen a Mayan ruin, you might as well start of with those that you could see on our Winter Session course, Cultural and Ecological Landscapes of the Yucatan.

A very large green roof

The Target Center in Minneapolis has a new green roof designed (in part) by the landscape architects at the Kestrel Design Group. Retrofitting is hard. But, as EcoStructre reports, retrofitting a roof into the 5th largest green roof in the country is extra challenging.

01 November 2009

Tools of the future

Harvard's Business Review online has a short post by John Sviolka looking at Augmented Reality technologies and how they could soon be changing a variety of practices. GPS already has hints, but he looks at how it can go farther. And BMW made a provocative short video simulating how mechanics might use the tecnology to improve car repairs in the future. He also asks:
What do you think? Are we at the beginning of a revolution or is augmented reality an idea that will always be in the near future, but never here?
This may or may not help you imagine how environmental planning and design could change in the near future. But it merits a peek.