Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
"dear brother i miss u i hope u r. healthy do u get marred i wish u hapyy new year mery xmas i hope to see u soon in jerusalem"
By her name the birds responding in the morning
My spirit united with your spirit
As the spirit carries the seeds of love to you and planted
With sunrise I kiss every piece of your land
Full of promise I will stay on your love Jerusalem
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
Favorite foods: soup with fresh sheep meat
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"Father John P. Meier, the author of three magisterial volumes under the somewhat misleading tile A Marginal Jew (with a much-needed fourth volume to come), accurately terms Jesus 'a Jewish genius.' One can go further: Jesus was the greatest of Jewish geniuses. It is as though the Yahwist or J Writer somehow was fused with King David, with the Prophets from Amos through Malachi, with the Wisdom authors of Job and Koheleth (Ecclesiastes), with the sages from Hillel through Akiba, and with the long sequence that goes from Maimonides through Spinoza on to Freud and Kafka. Jesus is the Jewish Socrates, and surpasses Plato's mentor as the supreme master of dark wisdom."
Ah...how different our worlds are, Harold Bloom. Though you trust no covenant, belated or otherwise, in the darkness where you beat your chest I bask in its light.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In response to the World's Worst Urban Places and Spaces Pool on Flickr, someone has started the World's Best Urban Places and Spaces Pool.
Is it just me, or do I think some of the images on both of these pools could belong just as well to the other? This is a perfect visual commentary on why one can't really be sure what makes the 'best' or 'worst' of an urban anything. Urban is urban and it is disturbing or exciting depending on the time of day, your mood, your frame of reference.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
"The trouble with this nationhood, however, is that whereas before, I was defined by my education, my job, my ideas, my character - and, yes, my nationality too - now I feel stripped of all that. I am nobody because I am not a person any more. I am one of 4.5 million Croats."
(commenting on her experience of Croatian Nationalism during the Yugoslav wars)
WEIGHTLESS AND BODILESS
Some faces we dismiss lightly, colour by colour we peel away
the stretch of pain within the eye, wearied by dousing.
We do not see the eyes of those slowly leaving,
we will not recall that they had eaten,
what they spoke of to themselves.
We ended all the tales without them.
We shall gather deep voices, waning to silence,
for those remaining, see them home,
to a neglect more sensuous.
The whole space we shall draw behind us
to weightless bodiless words, words
made rich by the first of their meanings.
In them all our abandoned landscapes grow dark and ripen,
all those beautiful properties sloping towards travellers, shadows and distances.
Now, right now, all we can do is rise and move away.
Lacking the strength to forget, even one more time.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
It is overcast outside, but I'm enjoying a mentally sunny day. Which means I'm deep in thought pondering the fate of all humanity...Seriously, that is what gets me really going in the morning.
Over at BLDGBlog, a thoughtful post contemplates Server Rooms and the Future of Humanism...Seriously, they are threatening our existance (and we're not talking just mentally)!
Over at Matthew's House Project there is an interview with film writer/critic Doug Cummings on the re-release of Blade Runner...one of my all time faves. Just the kind of tasty tart in the morning to get all my apocalyptic synapses firing. In my opinion Blade Runner and ET were the last films to understand what Sci-Fi was about, prodding the depths of the human empathy bug in mankind's encounter with the Other.
But Cummings makes a more down to earth point on the difference between Blade Runner and contemporary sci-fi:
"The one thing I really noticed was what a historical last gasp Blade Runner was for pre-digital cinema. Pretty much everything in the film is either live action or props or models, and it just sort of resounds with an overwhelming physicality that’s missing from so many contemporary films that depend so heavily on digital effects. I don’t know…you watch today’s films…a lot of them have this sort of ethereal, weightless, artificiality to them, because everything is so digital..."
I couldn't agree more.
These two posts beg the question: If our history is now digital...Does that mean that it is becoming weightless? ...hmmm...
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I saw this post at Sprawled Out and couldn't help having a great chuckle to start my morning.
You smart growth people need to lighten up...It was funny, ok?
Sheez....This is why I call myself a 'camp urbanist' - unlike the CNU folks, camp urbanists appreciate a sense of humor. (That and there's Plaza Central - an environment no New Urbanist could dream up).
Monday, December 3, 2007
Digital Urban has organized the World's Worst Urban Places and Spaces Pool on Flickr. Above is the first example uploaded showing a scene from Manchester, UK...
Looking through this photo set, I can't help but to ask myself, So, what is it about these places that I find so alluring...in fact, beautiful? Is it my love affair with failed modernist housing projects?
I doubt it. In our era of revivalization aesthetics, we only see the hope these places represent. A speculator sees artist lofts and dollar signs. An urban designer already begins composing 'Before/After' images in his mind. Interestingly, we are sublimating the primitive idealism of the original designers of these worlds in the push toward revitalizing the core...This is the new hope for the postmodern (modern nostalgic) designer: we are able to peer at the morose carcasses of yesterday's failures to recast entire cities as regenerated, glittering, Bobo New Jerusalems in the post-apocalyptic world.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
As many of us with offices inhabited by recent transplants from NY know, part of Charlotte's success has been predicated on the continuing demise of Buffalo, NY. Well, an Iraqi developer is hoping to change things around! Check it out: Buffalo's Field of Dreams.
If I were an investor I'd definitely be exploring every nook and cranny of Buffalo...Not because I believe the tide is about to change (I don't think a skyscraper will do the trick), but because I actually do believe in the power of place and the long vision of a community with staying power. It's an opportunity to get in the door in the kind of cool places that are out of reach in most cities.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal Voting with Our Feet Editorial featured Joel Kotkin's article "The Rise of Family-Friendly Cities: It's lifestyle, not lattés, that our most productive workers want".
Kotkin writes on the efforts of cities to lure young urban single professionals with lifestyle options (not just night life). Can you imagine, stodgy Charlotte, which still has never had a true 18-hour environment (except maybe for Plaza-Central...but that is counting mainly the Common Market) has made the posterchild list of successful cities! Maybe 18 hours are way overrated...what counts is affordability and a future with a bright forecast.
Monday, November 26, 2007
North Americans are deeply conflicted about urban politics. David Olive recently penned a brief article on the strident anti-urbanism of Canadian politics: A brief history of urbanophobia.
I blogged about this American tendency about a year ago, in a seemingly unrelated matter, the "DaVinci Code" mysticism we saw surface in pop-culture about five years ago - a phenomenon which I related to (9/11 inspired) romantic obsession with all things inherently Western, or "Metaphysical Westernism". But there is a good back-bone reason why we are anti-urban. North Americans shall always gaze suspiciously at the "system", or the even more feckless "man", the well-oiled cog in the system. Bureaucracies and gang cultures teem in the cities, and cities, to Americans, are beasts that belch shadowy systems that threaten our personal interest and control. The metaphysical romanticism of Frank Lloyd Wright, Thomas Jefferson and Thoreau is much better suited to our personal idealism regarding our rights and domain: we need to fence out the maddening world.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Austin Williams, whom I can best describe as an admiringly subcultural, urbanist crank (who also happens to be Christian), pretty much sums up what I also think on the matter of "Black Friday". I had the privilige of spending time with Austin in NYC during a screening of What Would Jesus Buy? I encourage everyone to go see the film...and rescue some long-in-coming serenity for yourself this holiday season.
You will thank me for it.
This is how I'm spending Dark Friday: I'm driving my pickup aimlessly around my city's suburban malls gawking at the mayhem, not parking at all mind you...just doing drive-by finger-flipping at every Sam's Club and Macy's I see. I'm really, really taking my time in traffic, enjoying the radio, enjoying the sights. I really love it when I slow down enough to see the veins popping out of the head of the guy honking behind me. It is fun sardonically strategizing how to manuever my pickup through intersections so that I become the jerk who nudges into the tail of a lane backup, not really caring if I stall dead center in the intersection. The funny thing about jerks is that, no kidding, we actually LOVE being pain in the asses.
Monday, November 19, 2007
If it isn't feasible to get the light rail alignment over to North Tryon before the Intermodal/Switchyard facility, then the next best option is to use the existing 30th Street/Matheson bridge (see image below) to get the light rail over the tracks and on to N. Tryon (of course, you will have to put a signal on the bridge to allow the vehicles to cross the traffic lanes). This would create ideal TOD potential on either side of Little Sugar Creek north of the bridge. I actually see a potential to land on either side of the creek, depending on development scenarios (option one - land on the west side of the creek to get more directly to N. Tryon; option two - passing closer to NoDa by landing on the east side of the creek, heading thence to 36th street and from there on to N. Tryon). Notice that there is already a flyover being proposed for getting the alignment over to N. Tryon across Sugar Creek Road, so this would immediately remove that issue. Utilizing the existing 30th Street bridge could potentially save CATS headaches up the line and tons of money, while at the same time enhancing the redevelopment capacity of North Tryon! The TOD site might also help contribute to the greenway trail expansion along the Little Sugar Creek greenway, a huge plus for the Carolina Thread Trail effort.
Image of the 30th Street Flyover Proposal, Looking North
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Our office is attempting an exciting new project: Our own office! Architects designing their own spaces are always fun commissions. Today at lunch we discussed our beginning ideas for the sustainable design to be built on a tight site located adjacent to the floodplain along Stewart Creek in the Belvedere Business Park on Rozzelles Ferry. The generative component of our design will be the leaves of trees. Above is an example I found of a building designed by WhiteDesign in the UK that touches the ground as lightly as a leaf.
I discussed using the capillary action induced by the transpiration of leaves as a concept we could carry into the building's solutions for the movement of air (and heated water?) through our building...Can we perhaps come up with an innovative structural/material analogue?
Image also by WhiteDesign
What can leaves do?
Roast Quails (envelop and retain moisture even in the face of drastic changes of temperature):
More later! This shall have to be series for this blog...
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
"To do that it must leapfrog. If India just innovates in cheap cars alone, its future will be gridlocked and polluted. But an India that makes itself the leader in both cheap cars and clean mass mobility is an India that will be healthier and wealthier. It will also be an India that gives us cheap answers to big problems — rather than cheap copies of our worst habits."
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Saturday, November 3, 2007
• Consider not buying gifts this year for Christmas, and, instead, spend time in preparation - in advent - for the coming of Messiah.
• Spend time reading the Scriptures or working in a local charity during the time you would have shopped.
Ten Thousand Villages
A Greater Gift
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Very interesting post over at BLDGBLOG over the Nature Conservancy recent purchase of prime wilderness in the Adirondacks.
I just finished a plan at Huntersville, the Beatties Ford Road Corridor Small Area Plan, to try to mobilize public and land conservancy efforts here to save our prime natural areas in the Mt. Island Lake watersheds. One of the things we did was identify all the threatened properties.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Images by Neighboring Concepts
Above is my result from combing the community gardens of Charlotte for inspiration for this garden proposal in the Duke powerline right of way in Enderly Park.
Enderly Park, incidentally, is adjacent to my neighborhood, Camp Greene, and my house actually backs up to this same right of way.
Last night the City and we the consultants presented the Enderly Park Neighborhood Improvement Project concepts to the Enderly Park neighborhood. About 14 or so people showed up...not as much as last time, but some colorful neighborhood busybodies made the night memorable.
Among the very interesting new tidbits of info I gleaned about my sister hood from a cantankerous local:
1) Enderly Park has more than one raw sewage problem area. Aside from ageing infrastructure (which we are partly replacing), part of the reason for this is that some of the houses are actually built on top of the old Camp Greene landfill from Camp Greene's WWI Army Base days, creating unstable soil conditions and leading to collapsed pipes. (Interestingly, the POW barracks that held German POW's was located across the street from the dump).
2) The copperhead infestation on Maury St. between Enderly and Coker Ave. (Enderly Park speculators make a mental note). Apparently, they can be found in a drainage swale in the interior of the upper block by the dozens. Of course, everybody suspects the root cause of the infestation is the man who lives about two doors down from the problem site who keeps a about similar number of pet rattlesnakes (he milks their venom). Kind of a case of association by viper.
3) Why is the park of Enderly Park so desolate? For a neighborhood where, well, lets just say pretty much every other spot is a loiterer's delight, you'd think the park would be worn-down pedestrian staple. I thought it was the hornets in the grassland of the Duke right of way (I encountered them trying to unsuccessfully photograph that end of Coker one day)...but it turns out the lady with all the cats at the end of Coker, whose house overlooks the isolated end of the park, actually has a reputation for scaring loiterers away by shooting at them!
He, he...a day in the life of hood-improving (if I tried, could I make any this up?). =D
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
John Grooms has written the lucid article in Creative Loafing we've all been needed to read about the effort to repeal the transit tax here in Charlotte:
Needed: A Transit Tax 'Surge'
I heartily agree that the thing the pro-transit folk have been needed to say all along - instead of "fighting rear-guard battles" with the skulky and brainless "No More Trains" people - is to preach the vision for transit, and, preach it more brazenly brothas and sistas...Why stop at a measly half-cent, by God? Why not have the balls and vision to even go as far as suggesting we can make it a fare-free system (such as the fare free transit zone on Whidby Island - ingenious for eco-friendliness as well as tourism and economic generation, btw).
Thank you John Grooms!
Today is the first day of autumn in Charlotte, as far as I am concerned. Of course, it makes me wistful...for the hours of sunlight we're losing. In a way, this concentrates my gaze on the end of December when we will reverse the course towards darkness.
I love pulling out my jacket out of the closet and feeling the pockets, looking for evidence when I last wore it. I pulled out a sheet of notes from the Wild at Heart conference in the 8,000 foot heights of the Rockies , when I trekked to the environs of Denver (what a greenway system they have there, btw!). It was not that long ago after all in August...Brings back the memory of pines and clear air, which we are fortunate to have in Charlotte today after our three days of rain (thank you Abba). I suspect we'll have a perfect afternoon for sunning ourselves in the cafe terraces.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Abba...thank you for the week and sustaining me through three straight weeks of public forums. Bless the Comprehensive Park and Recreation Master Plan recommendations and bless Mecklenburg County's recreational spaces. May we draw inspiration from projects such as these.
Bless this blog Abba.