29 September 2013

All the Trees of the Forest


Dr. Alon Tal

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 4:00 pm, Alampi Room
Marine and Coastal Sciences Building, Cook Campus

Dr. Tal is a professor in the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology at Israel's Ben Gurion University, and is currently a visiting professor in the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University.  He has a law degree from Hebrew University and a doctorate from the Harvard School of Public Health.  He is the author of several books, including Pollution in a Promised Land: An Environmental History of Israel, (U. Cal. Press, Berkeley), and most recently All the Trees of the Forest: Israel's Woodlands From the Bible to the Present (Yale U. Press, Agrarian Studies Series).  From 2010 to 2013, Dr. Tal served as co-chairman of Israel's green party, the Green Movement.  He has been chairman of Life and Environment, an umbrella group for 80 environmental organizations in Israel, and was the founding director of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, a leading public interest law group.  Dr. Tal founded the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a graduate studies center in which Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian students join environmental scientists from around the world in an advanced interdisciplinary research program concerning ecology, pollution, and water management. 

Dr. Tal's lecture is sponsored by the Executive Dean of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the Rutgers Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution.

27 September 2013

The ground is swalloing up this landscape

The NY Times reports on a sinkhole that is opening up in Southern Louisiana and sucking down the landscape with it. You can watch some of it as it happens:
This isn't the first time that part of Louisiana was sucked into the Earth. Visitors to Jefferson Island can see where a salt dome was dissolved and created a massive whirlpool. The History Channel explains:


This is a great weekend for a trip down to Tuckerton. It might be the biggest weekend of the year for this little town.

James van Sweden

James van Sweden, the renowned landscape architect who used luscious plant materials to create  colorful and dynamic landscapes with his partner Wolfgang Oehme, passed away last Friday. The NY Times has a full obituary.

24 September 2013

People Matter

Environmental “Behavior Change”: Information, Values, or Windows of Opportunity?

Janet Lorenzen
Department of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Date: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Time: 12:30-2:00 pm       
Location: Blake 131, Cook Campus

Please click on the following link to see the flyer:

Different perspectives on behavior change include the assertions that information shapes decision-making (rational choice theory), values influence behavior (drive theory), and habits guide social action (practice theory). This talk draws on data from 45 in-depth interviews and participant observation with three groups: (1) voluntary simplifiers, (2) religious environmentalists, and (3) green home owners. Each of these groups is attempting to go green and transition to a less carbon intensive lifestyle. The main finding supports practice theory, suggesting that changes in life (ie., having children or moving to a new city) which disrupt habits create windows of opportunity for people to re-think problems, change their practices, and set new paths for future action.

Janet is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Rutgers University. She is primarily interested in strategic action and processes of social change. She studies the micro- and meso-level mechanisms which enable macro-level change. Her dissertation research focuses on the ways in which people reduce their consumption and go green. Her research is funded by a dissertation research grant from the Rutgers Initiative for Climate and Society and a dissertation writing fellowship from the American Association of University Women. Her work has been published in Human Ecology Review, Sociological Forum, and Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change.

To see additional events, please visit our  website: http://www.humanecology.rutgers.edu/events.asp

23 September 2013

Common Lecture: Gowanus Canal Conservancy

RULA Common Lecture – September 25, 2013
Cook/Douglass Lecture Hall, Room 110, Cook Campus

Hans Hesselein graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University in 2004. He has spent time working internationally in Germany as well as at several domestic landscape architecture firms, including his most recent position as an Associate at Dirtworks, PC in Manhattan. Hans joined the Gowanus Canal Conservancy as the Director of Special Projects in December, 2010 and was asked to serve as Executive Director in 2013. Throughout his time at the Conservancy, Hans has been responsible for developing and managing green infrastructure projects, watershed planning initiatives and volunteer stewardship programming. Hans comes to the Conservancy with a strong background in horticulture, construction, community engagement and landscape architecture.

Presentation Summary: Listed as a federal Superfund site in 2010, the Gowanus Canal is one of America's most polluted bodies of water and one of Brooklyn's hottest neighborhoods. Subjected to almost 200 years of industrial pollution and sewage overflows, it is also the subject of local folklore and affection. Join us for a presentation that will illuminate the complex natural history and cultural forces that shaped the Gowanus Canal, a discussion of what contamination exists, where it came from and what is being done to address it. The presentation will also explore the Gowanus Canal Conservancy's open space planning initiatives and volunteer program, which organizes direct-action stewardship events that are focused on cleaning and greening the watershed.

Gowanus Canal Conservancy Overview: 
The Gowanus Canal Conservancy is a community-based non-profit organization that was formed in 2006 to serve as the environmental steward for the Gowanus Canal Watershed. Our vision is an open, clean and alive Gowanus Canal Watershed, which involves the following focus areas:

Making it open: Creating green space and park land along the Canal’s shores. Getting it clean: Ensuring the water, soil and air of the watershed are healthy. Bringing it alive: Fostering ecological, business and cultural activity in the watershed.

Among our most significant current activities include the Conservancy’s Clean & Green Volunteer Program (1,400 volunteers and 5,700 hours served over past 12 months), Green Infrastructure design and construction projects (about $1.6 million), open space planning initiatives (award-winning Sponge Park masterplan) and our compost program which provides rich compost to help restore soil health in public green spaces, parks and tree pits (100 tons processed in 2012).

20 September 2013

Friday Photos: America's Parklands

Aztec Ruins NM; Haleakala NP; Haleakala NP; Sunset Crater NM; THomas Stone House NHS; Christiansted National Historic NHS; Appomattox Court House NHP

19 September 2013

Guerrilla Wayfinding

One of ASLA's top student Communications Awards this year went to an NC State student for his ingenious project, Guerrilla Wayfinding. Be sure to check it out and way to go, Matt Tomasulo!

18 September 2013

Carta de Foresta

Someone has posted the complete Charter of the Forest by King Henry III. It starts out like this:

In the first place, all the forests which king Henry our grandfather made forest shall be viewed by good and law-worthy men, and if he made forest any wood that was not his demesne to the injury of him whose wood it was, it shall be disafforested. And if he made his own wood forest, it shall remain forest, saving common of pasture and other things in that forest to those who were accustomed to have them previously.
Hard to imagine that it only took another 700 years to get to Winne the Pooh. The document was sister document to the more famous Magna Carta.

16 September 2013

Results of a Regional Analysis of Lawrence Brook

Tuesday, September 17th
Milltown Senior Center 
Dr. Jean Marie Hartman, of Rutgers University 
Results of a Regional Analysis of Lawrence Brook with Storm Water Management Recommendations
This talk should be of great interest to anyone living in the Watershed or similar areas.

11 September 2013

2013 ANJEC Environmental Congress

2013 ANJEC Environmental Congress 
"Planning in a Changing Environment" 

Saturday, October 19 
9am - 3:30pm, followed by networking reception 
Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ  



This summer we had the chance to make a return visit to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. You can also see the original visit here.

New Jersey Geospatial Forum

The New Jersey Geospatial Forum will meet this Friday, September 13th, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The meeting will be held in the ITC Room at OIT, 300 Riverview Plaza, Trenton, NJ 08611.

John Reiser of the Rowan Geospatial Research Lab, will present 'NJ Map: Building a different kind of GIS platform using open source tools'

10 September 2013

Groundbreaking for Flight 93 Visitors Center

Today the National Park Service held the groundbreaking for the visitors center for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA. It is another sign of progress, albeit slow, for the least visited of the three national 9/11 memorials. And presumably it will be nicer than the pre-fab building that was near the site when I last visited.

09 September 2013

How should we internationalize planning education?

How should we internationalize planning education? 
Speaker: Dr. Andrea Frank, Senior Lecturer,
   Cardiff University, School of Planning and Geography (Cardiff, UK)
When: 4:00 PM
Where: 113, Civic Square, College Avenue Campus
Sponsor: Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

08 September 2013

See the Turrell

Time is running our for you to go see the Scott Turrell installation at the Guggenheim. The featured piece is Aten Reign which has filled and obscured the museum's famous atrium. When I went this summer the museum wouldn't let us photograph the space, but Daily Dose of Architecture was able to. Check out their photographs and then go.

07 September 2013

PhD Defense

PhD Dissertation Defense
Lindsay Campbell: September 25th 1pm
Lucy Stone Hall, B120

City of Forests, City of Farms:
Nature in New York City

06 September 2013

Putting More Environment into Environmental Planning and Design

Steiner and others have a paper in the issue of ESA's Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, called "The ecological imperative for environmental design and planning."

The paper carefully walks through arguments for increasing and enhancing ecological literacy among designers. Naturally, the place to begin is in the classroom:
This shift would also require a major alteration in design and planning education, with the aim of improving ecological literacy. For students working toward professional degrees in these disciplines, this would involve, at the least, requiring a basic and an applied course in ecology plus one or two additional courses in other environmental sciences during their education. Through a stronger foundation in ecological and environmental knowledge, designers and planners will be better equipped to collaborate with ecologists. Likewise, ecologists must be better prepared to communicate more effectively with designers and planners.
As the authors acknowledge, making it a reality within the existing constraints of accredited programs that are already jam packed is a remarkable challenge. But is a challenge that needs to be addressed as policy makers and citizens are desperately seeking help and not finding enough help from the fields of environmental planning and design.


NatGeo writes about how to build a sand dune to protect from the next big storm. Their version is simple and cheap.

05 September 2013

Bridging the Climate Divide: Informing the Response to Hurricane Sandy and Implications for Future Vulnerability

Save The Date! October 14, 2013. Bridging the Climate Divide: Informing the Response to Hurricane Sandy and Implications for Future Vulnerability. This conference is open to the Rutgers community and public highlighting the scholarship that Rutgers faculty and staff continue to bring to the climate change arena in commemoration of the 1st anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Cook Campus Center. More information will be forthcoming.
Yesterday's NY Times took a closer look at how neighbors are pressuring other neighbors at the shore to allow dunes to be built. Will the owners of duneless beachfront homes become pariahs? This story makes it seem like they already are.

04 September 2013

World Water Week

It is World Water Week, which should be a time to think about things like the scarcity of clean water in many parts of the world and people drinking water known to be contaminated in others. But in New Jersey we might also be forgiven for thinking simultaneously about water surpluses resulting from Nor'Easters and hurricanes, since it is that time of year: "The climatological peak of the season is during the second week of September, so – on average – that is when all of the ingredients typically do come together."

02 September 2013

Beach replenishment and rebuilding dunes

This fall my studio will be looking at Sandy recovery further inland, but we need to remain aware of the beaches as front lines for storms coming in off the Atlantic. The Bergen Record offered a diagram of some expensive beach replenishment work that the US Army Corps of Engineers has undertaken. At a distance this sometimes seems linked to the construction of sand dunes that Christie has visibly (or audibly) pushed for. But, writes Bill Wolfe, much of the beach replenishment is of the type that won't provide protection, but will help expend plenty of Federal funds.

As we start this studio, it would be worth looking at these distinctions. They represent a larger lesson. Whether it is raising houses, or razing houses, or restoring marshes or hardening open space, not all improvements are improvements. We are going to race through the semester, trying to digest lots of information and sort out better approaches and solutions.