30 July 2011

One less municipality?

Princeton Borough and Princeton Township are considering merging into a single municipality. Can NJ live with only 565 municipalities?  What new map will I have to make for my lecture on municipalities in NJ?  What will the voters decide?

29 July 2011

Household wealth

The latest income numbers from the Census are pretty amazing.  They show that white households have, on average, 20 times as much wealth as black or Hispanic households.  That is clearly more than just a result of predatory lending.  What does it mean for planning?

28 July 2011

GIS Assistant job

GIS Assistant
Roux Associates
West Deptford, NJ

Job Description
GIS and Access Database assistant to work under direct management with Geologists, Environmental Scientists and Engineers assisting in data analysis.

This position has a 6 month probationary period as a part time employee (32-36 hours/week). Full time and benefits may be discussed upon completion of this period.

6 months to 1 year of experience in editing and designing ESRI personal geodatabases, spatial analysis and 3D. 1 year experience in data management using Microsoft Access, with integration to ArcGIS. A degree in Environmental Science or Engineering with a certificate in GIS is preferred.

Application Information:
Please submit your resume and cover letter to Sara Taylor at staylor@rouxinc.com. No phone calls please. The estimated start date is September 2011. Applications will be accepted through August 31st, 2011.

Organization Web Site:  www.rouxinc.com

Third places

In a new essay online, Chuck Wolfe opens with a seemingly odd sentence: "Last week, while the Seattle City Council gave final approval to more street food vendors in public places, Borders Group Inc. began its liquidation of most remaining Borders bookstores, including locations in destination American downtowns."  Huh?

But if you see the title, Assuring Sustainable Third Places in the City, you'll probably realize that he is worrying about the loss of what Oldenburg called Third Places.  These are those places that aren't home (1st place) and aren't work (2nd place), but give people a (third) place to gather and interact in a neutral setting.  Starbucks has been cited lately as the new place for the exchange of ideas, but in many places it was Borders or is a good local bookstore.  But he raises a fascinating question, if these places are key to a healthy social life for our cities, should our cities be doing more to secure them as continuing venues for discussion and debate?

Maybe we should meet up at the corner coffeehouse to sort this out?

27 July 2011

26 July 2011

GIS in the humanities

Now that the humanities have discovered GIS, as reported in the paper of record, we can stop making things up about our past.  Did General Lee have a better view at Gettysburg than we previously thought?  Can you trust that eyewitness testmony from Auschwitz-Birkenau after you compared it with the 3d map of the camp during construction?  Did witchcraft really spread like a disease in communities around Salem, MA?

h/t MRK

22 July 2011

Lights from space

By now you've surely seen the standard image of the Earth showing all the lights of earth on.  But here is a set of real photos of the Earth at night taken from the International Space Station.

21 July 2011

Landscape architectural examples from China

I feel like I have been hearing a lot about China this summer.  One of my colleagues visited at the start of the summer.  And the news stories I keep seeing make it seem more and more compelling.  And now I stumble into  these great photos of two major new parks in China:

The Garden of 10,000 Bridges by West 8
Turenscape's Shanghai Houtan Park

 Both are great examples from Landezine's master collection of searchable landscapes from around the world.  And if their photos don't work for you, maybe you should try Slate's beautiful photos of China's horrible algae problem.

20 July 2011

Natalie Jeremijenko

I am glad to see that NYU professor Natalie Jeremijenko is starting to get some real attention with a TED (Partner) Talk.

I am a sucker for a Wendell Berry quote

"WE ARE DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY - I mean our country itself, our land. This is a terrible thing to know, but it is not a reason for despair unless we decide to continue the destruction. If we decide to continue the destruction, that will not be because we have no other choice. This destruction is not necessary. It is not inevitable, except that by our submissiveness we make it so."

- Wendell Berry, "Compromise, Hell!", 2004

19 July 2011

Mapnificent goes mainstream

Mapnificent must have really arrived now that it is being featured in major political blogs.  (Of course, access and walkability are pretty political topics)

17 July 2011

July Hazards map

According to NOAA's Climate Predication Center, July looks like it will continue to be a rough month for plants and people just about everywhere.

15 July 2011

Photo essay on New Zealand

Friend of the blog, Ken McCown, has published a fantastic photo essay called "Point of Astonishment" from New Zealand through Places Journal.  The short introduction he offers raises an interesting comparison between California and New Zealand, but it isn't as fascinating as some of the photos.

14 July 2011

The new reading in the new academe

First Monday has a great paper by a Canadian librarian that will get you thinking about how the Internet and eBooks are changing reading patterns and knowledge acquisition:
Information access does not equal knowledge gained. Thanks to our information technology, the former is becoming relatively easy, while the latter continues to be difficult. It continues to take time. The power of reading, whether of print or online text, continues to lie in this power of time — time to digest words, time to read between the lines, time to reflect on ideas, and time to think beyond one’s self, one’s place, and one’s time in the pursuit of knowledge.
Is reading online intentionally changing us?  Or should be intentionally changing to adjust to it?  And what does it mean for an author or publisher trying to get out in front of those changes?

13 July 2011

Planning is moving in NJ

According to The Record, the governor is moving the Office of Smart Growth and the State Planning Commission under the control of Lt Gov Kim Guadagno unless the legislature intervenes.  It is being described by some critics as a power grab, and others as a way to help businesses get around those pesky planning rules and regulations (or both). Will non-profits have to take over the state plan?

The NY Times interviews Jack Dangermond

It is amazing to see an interview with the President of ESRI in which he doesn't talk about GIS, cloud computing or new apps.  Instead, the NY Times got him to open up about his management style, his willingness to do whatever is necessary, and the importance of hiring people with good writing skills.
Now that summer is here and the oppressive heat has set in, the floods of the spring are a distant memory.  Well, for you maybe.  But in several areas around the US there remain significant problems with flood waters.  Where?  Just check ESRI's High Water map to find out.  (It looks like at least 15 states as of this posting)

And, since it is a dynamic map, we'll probably be connecting to it the next time Places and Spaces writes about flooding.

11 July 2011

Housing report

A new report from John Hasse at Rowan is being reported on in different ways that show how hard it is to decipher the media message on an academic report.

The Star-Ledger reports that it finds that affordable housing rules in New Jersey are keeping sprawl from being worse than it already is: "It found that although it’s not a catch-all, court-ordered affordable housing efforts were effective in some areas, and sprawl would be significantly worse without them."  It takes an interesting look at how towns appear to be over-zoning their land for commercial and industrial, which doesn't add a burden to local schools, but would create traffic nightmares if developers built these lands to their legal maximum density.  But, phillyBurbs.com quotes the report about the flip side of the problem:
“By consuming practically all remaining residentially zoned land, large lot subdivisions are locking in a residential land-use pattern that excludes many New Jersey households that cannot afford a large-lot single-family home that ability to live near their jobs,” the report said.

The Cherry Hill Courier Post (and other Gannet papers) reports it as "Looking for affordable housing in N.J.? Good luck, report says". They interview Dr. Hasse (a Rutgers and CRSSA alum) who pointed a finger at Home Rule:
"What led New Jersey to the Mount Laurel rulings was a very strong home rule approach to housing and planning. If you leave the choices to the towns themselves, they're going to zone to their advantage and there are other built-in biases that will drive large-lot zoning and other exclusionary measures," Hasse said.The release of the report came a week after Gov. Chris Christie submitted a plan to the state Legislature to abolish the state Council on Affordable Housing.

Does this mean that affordable housing rules are hurting affordable housing availability?  Since no one seems to know where things stand with affordable housing in NJ right now, a report that offers a serious, nuanced description of the current situation will simultaneously be seen as a call for refining the parts that aren't working so well and for dismantling the whole requirement.

If you think this is obscure stuff about which no one cares, read some of the comments on the NJ.com link. Whether or not they understand the deeper issues, commenters clearly saw this as a topic worth writing about.

Fitting in

The NY Times had a feature on a cottage in Nova Scotia that is trying to respond to it site/location. Even if the design weren't sensitive enough, I completely bought in when I saw the hallway of maps.

09 July 2011

GPS and privacy

A NJ Appellate Court judge has ruled that, under certain circumstances, planting a GPS tracking device in a car does not violate that driver's privacy. This case is about a cheating spouse where both spouses have an ownership interest in the car, so they could be arguing that they are just keeping track of their own car.

While the long-term implications of the ruling may still take some time to play out, the media attention this case has gotten this week, added to the recent iPhone privacy issues, is another demonstration of the level of interest people have in the link between GPS and privacy

You could just click on this little logo to see how we are tracking you RIGHT NOW!

Map IP Address
Powered byIP2Location.com

08 July 2011

Why NJ doesn't have more parks

The story of Triangle Park in Newark is instructive.  You'll notice that the many consultants listed do not include landscape architects.

Friday Fun Photos: Rainbow City

On a recent visit to see Phase II of the High Line, we were pleasantly surprised with a sight that one writer describes as a "psychedelic amusement park".  Sponsored by Aol, Rainbow City is a temporary installation by the artists collective known as Friends With You.  As if the High Line didn't get enough attention anyway, this installation at the food court helped get plenty of people to the new northernmost entrance to the High Line.


But you will have to wait to see the pictures of the High Line in another post. 

07 July 2011

Dangerous plants

The local media have been enjoying the hype this week over the Giant Hogweed. Don't touch the 12' high weed our you could suffer blisters or blindness, they say.

International readership is up

Well, really, I suppose our US readership is down.  But over this last weekend (a holiday weekend in the US) our international readership level surged to 49%.  In contrast, during the Spring semester we were averaging about 38%.

So, Bienvenido! Velkommen! Welcome!

Chicago's plan for climate change

Chicago is getting serious about planning for climate change.  The NYTimes reports on their new plan, "Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century."  All that without the benefit of boiled crawfish?

Lots of green roof projects (they are already a leader).  And check out the diagram of the street of the future.  It seems like it requires an equal mix of planning and design.   (h/t Bognar)

06 July 2011

And a fine fellow he will be...

Proud Rutgers alum Bob Snieckus is making us proud.  ASLA has announced that he will become a fellow this fall. Despite his important work serving the nation in DC, Bob has been a regular participant in all sorts of activities on campus as a Cook alum and LA alum.  Check out his bio from the Fellow announcement:

Robert E. Snieckus, ASLA
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Washington, D.C.

Robert Snieckus was nominated by the Potomac Chapter in the Leadership/Management Category. Throughout his career, he has showcased the creative problem-solving acumen of landscape architects to the many multi-discipline professionals in the agencies in which he has worked. Be it gravel pit stabilization, a flood detention basin, or the USDA building on the National Mall, he has consistently introduced long-term, visionary aesthetic solutions. His creativity and enthusiasm are as astonishing as he is unique. Despite his administrative responsibilities, he still leads design teams in the execution of creative and sustainable solutions to very difficult land and water management problems all across the country. Perhaps the most challenging and rewarding was the landscape regeneration plan he implemented following the eruption of Mount St. Helens. His BLA is from Rutgers University.
Who's next?

05 July 2011

Flight 93 Memorial

A while back I posted some photos from the future site of the Flight 93 Memorial. Now the National Park Service has this video showing what they are working towards:

I don't know when it will be finished, but the NPS says they will be dedicating this year on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The new memorial in NYC will get more attention, but because of its unusual location, this one may turn out to be gratifying to visitors. (Mapped)

Very, very small green roofs

The DIRT shows how Philly is trying out very small green roofs. And Philly has a website to sow off more too.