Sunday, October 24, 2010

When you are this far from Jaffa Gate, all one can do is post love letters...

Photo by Ira Lippke
Ismael writes again.  Periodically my Palestinian friend Ismael, Jaffa Gate's bard and genuine Professor of Peace to the visitors of Jerusalem and the peoples of the world, updates his plea to rejoin him in Jerusalem. His emails are always piercingly terse, warm little notes of heartfelt expectation:

How are you I hop you are doing will, ..., i send you the translation of "bride and mistress of cities jerusalem" in arabic i wish you fo publish it so the people can find it on google.
in holand an old man "75 years old" he make a music and they sing it.
now we are doing a music to sing it in arabic.
hop to see you soon in jerusalem
I love you, your Bro Ismael.

Heaps of love back at you habibi!  First of all, I'm flattered (though skeptical) that anyone could think my blog is a portal to feed the Google bots.  But on behalf of a worthy author, I will not expend any effort in diffident dawdling and trepidation to get this baby out there. I'm happy to oblige, dear friend...

I'm most glad to post this in its original, unadulterated form, knowing that the authors of Ismael's Arabic-English dictionary are probably fans of late-18th century British Literature.   Not that the intriguing English translation is not without its merits, but one suspects a little work is needed to contemporize things a bit. Unfortunately, I don't know Arabic to be able to contribute my thoughts usefully for a modern English translation.  (Maybe any Arabic readers out there can help us out.)  But I can read just barely enough to see that the poem Ismael sent is more expressive, unabridged and heartfelt.  Here is "The Bride and Mistress of Cities...Jerusalem" as penned by Ismael Obydat in its original language...

عروس المدائن...يا قدس
سيده المدائن...ياقدس
بين التلال تزهو في بهاء
سماوي ودلال
عروسا تزينت بنجوم السماء
باركها العلي...وشرفها الأ نبياء

الله اكبر    الله اكبر   الله اكبر   الله اكبر
باسمها تشدوا البلابل في الصباح
وعلى أسوارها يهدل الحمام
وفي المساء يغفوا الحمام
وبين أحضانها تغفوا الأطفال

تتحد روحي مع روحك
كما يتحد النور بالنور...فلا ظلام
وكما يتحد الماء بالماء...فلا عطش
لا الموت يقدر أن يفرقنا
ولا أحد يقدر أن يقتل حبنا
تباهي وازدادي دلالا وشموخا
ياقدس ...يامدينه الضياء
أسري بروحي اليك
بالحب ازرعها فتنمو وتزهر حين تراها العيون
تسبقني قدماي الي أبوابك كل يوم
أحلق عاليا...بعيدا...بعيدا...مع النسيم
تأخذني رائحه البخور...رائحه العطور
في الأسواق...في الساحات...وفي كل فناء

أعتلي الشرفات التي تلوح لي برايات النصر
تلوح لي برايات السلام
تلوح لي برايات المحبة و الهناء
وكما تحمل الروح بذور الحب اليك تزرعها
احمل روحي  معها...أزرعها
فتنمو فتزهر بالحب حين تراها العيون

اقبل وشمس الصباح
كل شبر من أراضيك
ومع بدر المساء أهمس حبي بعشق أناجيك
بحبك أنا ملك وأنت مليكتي و مليكه  القلوب في كل مكان
يا قدس عهدا سأبقى على حبك...يا قدس
فحبك خالد
حين يذهب كل شئ...كل شئ الى فناء
تباهي وازدادي دلالاً
يا عروس المدائن...يا سيدة المدائن
يا مدينة الأنبياء... يا مدينه الا سراء يا مدينه الضياء

اسماعيل عبيدات
استاذ باحث في علم الاجتماع

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brat Pack Urbanism

Molly Ringwald in John Hughes's Pretty in Pink. From avoidantconsumer's Brat Pack mashup

Coming to a city near you. Brat packs around the world appear to be taking to the rooftops, bridges and streets of their cities to put their spin on the "Lisztomania" dancing-mania viral challenge.

It started when a group of Brooklyn hipsters shot themselves dancing on a Brooklyn rooftop to Phoenix's Lisztomania:

I first saw the "Brooklyn Brat Pack" video via a link by Cerre, who came across it on a Craigslist ad for a Brooklyn apartment. I don't know if it was the urban waterfront and scripted dancing, but the video made me very wistful for my early-90's undergrad days in Boston when I myself first became an urbanite. So I tagged the video in my faves.  I noticed then that a group of SF kids had also imitated the video. I thought it was kind of geeky of SF youth....not wanting to be out-hipstered, of course, but I noted the way the production lovingly profiled the city:

Phoenix - Lisztomania (SF BRAT PACK MASH UP) from chinorockwell on Vimeo.

That was it. I knew that we were on to something viral here. Sure enough, coming back to check later, here are a few other entrants to the Lisztomania bobo-city challenge:





And hey...Boston. If there ever was a Brat Pack U, it's gotta be BU:

As you can see, some are rather slickly produced, others more "carefree".

I didn't infer early on that the "Brat Pack" in the Brooklyn video title was a reference to the memorable dancing scenes in 80's John Hughes flicks, so I was a bit disappointed when I discovered that the original rooftop dancing was all choreographed to roughly imitate the dance sequence in avoidantconsumer's Brat Pack tribute (currently found here), which features the dancing highlights from the Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink,...with a smidgen of Mannequin's(?) thrown in. The dancing revelry in all the above renditions is quite genuine and delightfully city-scaped, but, so far, none of the dancers I notice seem to have captured the utter abandon of the original references. The unloosed ecstasy of Jon Cryer and Anthony Michael Hall. And the undeterred expressions of Molly Ringwald (perfect example above), which in their aped versions I kind of mistakenly thought were sweet and artful montages. (C'mon, do our census-snuffing bourgeois youth have to be blase even in this?) 

But,...then did I fully grasp that undercurrent of nostalgia striking me subconsciously. There was nothing necessarily "urban" in the pop-saturated angst-paraphernalia and upstart don't-hand-me-down attitudes of the Breakfast Club, but we, the kids of the Boomers who were weaned on this stuff, sure brought the mantle of Brat Pack couture into the city in the 90's. I remember Urban Outfitters back when it was just another thriftster dive in Harvard Square.  We turned the city into our urban lab and accidentally created the condo-boom of the early Ought-as. To see these dancing Millennials fooling around on our prized rooftops is both endearing and upsetting, lets face it. Envy-producing. It brings poignant waves of reflection, especially as many of us, with mates and babes now in tow, face the prospect of heading back grudgingly to the burbs, to the wastelands and old haunts of that vacant consumer culture we thought we spurned.

Life moves a full circle. It's hard sometimes to see that so it can be with urbanism. That the "choice" of urbanism is as banal as a tolerance for sharing flats with Friends. What was our love for the city, really? A passing fancy? A sinister fetish? A dance on the rooftop with the fortunate only?...Sentimental, no, not sentimental. Romantic and disgusting. From the mess to the masses...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Savannah in the Desert?

There's Flickr, and then there's Mesa #9

An Odonomy of Savannah VII: A Tale of Two Grids

~ part ii ~
inertness and porosity

Of all the random, visually interesting development patterns I've stumbled across on Google Maps, the trailer/RV parks of Mesa, Arizona sure compose some intriguing aerial ruminations. Unlike the garden a la francaise interests that sometimes appear in aerial photos of suburban subdivisions, what strikes me most about Mesa's patterns are the rectilinear and simple geometries they playfully vary in Mesa's half-mile arterial grid fabric. Here are examples of what I mean:

The brutally efficient compactness of these trailer park patterns, jiggling and permuting different ways within their self-absorbed perimeters, makes one's eye squint a bit at the optical glare produced. Indeed, the bright roofs of the densely packed units are a noticeable feature of Mesa from earth orbit. The bright band in the center of the Mesa area aerial below represents these trailer parks from on high, which are abutting Mesa's Main Street/Apache Trail east-west artery, cutting right between a contrastive greenish swath of sprinkler-squirting Arizona subdivisions:

One can't help to wonder if these trailer parks reflect a lot of solar radiation away from the Phoenix area, and one even suspects a collective recoup here of sorts in lieu of Mesa's heat-island contribution to net global-warming impact. I wouldn't even be surprised if they also help make up for that indeterminate bit of glacial retraction and polar snowmelt that Mesa's emissions produce.

Regardless, I, of course, can't help but to notice the formal similarity between these developments and a Savannah Ward.

Here, for example, is a typical Mesa/Apache Junction trailer park development:

Compare with a (more residentially comprised) Savannah Ward...

For the heck of it, here are other variants of Mesa's trailer parks:

In the above examples, notice that the community/leasing complex usually in the smack center of the development appears as a staple Mesa trailer park amenity. Notice also the way the main drive of the development ties head-on to the complex, much like Savannah's signature north-south streets that lead directly (and encircle) the garden squares. Moreover, these entrance drives tend not to be loading streets, but what I define as "avenue" types that channel travelers directly (and sometimes ceremoniously) to destination points as their predominant function. Of course, the Mesa developments are much larger than a Savannah Ward, up to six times in size even, but the shared community amenity is, very interestingly, roughly the size of a Savannah garden square.

What's most interesting to me about the above comparison, however, is the near similarity in dimensions between Savannah's original town lots, which vary slightly more or less than 60'-0" by 90'-0", and a typical Mesa trailer lot, usually sized around 55'-0" by 80'-0". In some locations, Mesa's developments even have what appear to be woonerf-like open, semi-shared "backyard" spaces in the block interiors (between the rows of mobiles), a tantalizing equivalent to Savannah's intimate residential service alleys. While it, of course, developed more densely and compactly over time, Savannah's present form has evolved out of town lots just a little bit bigger than these Mesa trailer lots. In fact, in some of the more residential squares, Savannah's lots have subdivided further into lots much smaller than the trailer lots, but in a hardly noticeable manner. It's hard to imagine that two or three stately Savannah Victorians can fit in an area not very much larger than a Mesa trailer lot, but they do...and this they do in Savannah with a kind of quiet, comfortable manner that brings added intimacy to their street-setting:

The three detached Victorians on the left share what was originally a single 60' x 100' Savannah town lot

All this begs the intriguing question, could Mesa evolve over time into a kind of "desert" version of Savannah?  Well, if you just glance at the image of a Mesa trailer park by Flickr poster kevindooley (at the top of this post), one can easily begin to imagine suggestive possibilities for a desert-scaped woonerf.  (Why, my landscape urbanists out there in AZ, just turn that couch into a Diller Scofidio park bench and you're already 50% of the way there!)  Unfortunately, the challenges for such a transformation are more daunting than that, of course.  Which brings me back to a critical asset of Savannah's "Two Grids".

I mentioned in part i that Savannah has two literal overlapping grids.  One primary grid handles most of the vehicular traffic work-load, and serves as Savannah's equivalent for Mesa's half-mile segmented arterial grid.  But the other grid of Savannah, which handles the local traffic and much of the ped/bike movement, is not just a discontinuous local/collector/service network but, in great distinction with Mesa, is a true grid, which holds its own integrity from ward to ward.  Savannah's contiguous secondary grid is the unique asset of its form, a profound quality of Savannah's form worth interrogating and experimenting with in our form investigations for cities.  The two-grid system synthesizes Savannah's economic diversity to the very specific circumstances of its public realm and harmonizes its transformations.  

In part i, I went so far as to claim that Savannah's fabric is "open" in its synthetic function, in that uses and their interrelationships are not pre-determinately set or stiffly delimited and are seemingly allowed to transform over time, in distinction to top-heavy and ready city planning approaches. But, I'm realizing "open" might be a bit of a misleading term, and misapplying the takeaway, if one interprets this modifier as "randomizing" or politically-neutering the act of development or, even more, as contemplating some theory of libertarianism.  Rather, I dealt at length in that post with exactly the more mundane and determinate exertions of Savannah's form on land use and transportation decisions in Savannah.  The truth is, Savannah's form must be socially negotiated continuously, as all inhabitants must in every city, but, what is somewhat novel, is exactly how Savannah's system-like form "tunes" and harmonizes these negotiations.  Form and negotiation travel here hand-in-hand in a noticeable way, and both build upon each other.  They make Savannah's invisible "rules" of city transformation legible to the historically reflective eye.  Today, however, Savannah's form has closed like a trapdoor on itself, at least to conditions of transformation in our time scales of experience.  Historical preservation priorities have reinforced this.  A harmonized stasis it might be, but a stasis nonetheless for our present-day vantages of development.  In this respect, we may look with interest at Mesa's potential to urbanize.

Unfortunately, Mesa's discombobulated collector/local/service street fabric exerts a dubious influence on its potential for Savannah-like urbanization.  These small-lot trailer park conurbations are not likely to see any evolutionary development along the lines of Savannah's historical trajectory (even if these fabrics made urbanistic sense - which they don't, really, but I won't treat that topic in depth now). Simply, Mesa's private street networks only serve the abutting users of the street; they do not avail themselves to the greater traffic of the city. This is by no means a trivial distinction. Not only that, but these developments often have a single and highly controlled point of entry, their sole link to the primary grid.   They might as well be gated entry, conventional garden apartment developments, and their only likely fate is to be likewise redeveloped wholesale once their conditions of deterioration become unbearable.

In Savannah, small-grain local negotiations produced gradual urbanization and gave birth to land use diversity, but Mesa's single-use developments and disconnected private fabrics transform only with transactions involving what Jane Jacobs called "cataclysmic money": upon the decisions of leveraged landholders somewhat removed from any slow-forming communities that they might impact.   Savannah's land use diversity evolved under conditions of "porosity" both of travel and of capital flows, catering to locally modulated conditions of access, adjacency and travel pattern in ways that guaranteed that local investments would need to weather the test of time.  But such conditions are not permissible in a Mesa trailer park, both due to the lack of its users' agency in land-investment decisions and their sole dependence on vehicular links to employment and consumption resources that lie outside of the development.  Their money, whose source is more than likely from the outside, likewise travels only in one direction: outside.  It cannot be invested within except to be immediately consumed or parked there intermittently on wheels.  Their interests (and hopes) lie elsewhere.  Their TV's and iphones guarantee it.  Mesa, simply, has too much flux within and without and the inert edges between inside and outside are its most stable condition.

What would happen if this street had more cross connections?...

View Larger Map

Might intermittent residency, economic disadvantage, social powerlessness and isolation continue to haunt Mesa's trailer parks? Might they see their trailer lots become individually owned investment assets? Might they connect their wealthy, land invested neighbors to the north and south of them in interesting ways to create the ripe connections needed for urbanizing Mesa's "Main Street" from a drive of strip centers to vital centers that can also concentrate social capital?

What are the inert conditions that are responsible for this?...

Mesa's Crime Rate Map ...Not just bright from space.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Of Unconferences, Incubators and Worlds

What has Google cached?Yesterday, I attended Charlotte's fourth Barcamp at Area Fifteen.  Area Fifteen is a former industrial space re-purposed ad hoc to serve a bevy of small businesses.  Of the ones I know about, these outfits include a bicycle re-cyclery, office spaces for small businesses, a dance studio, a concrete furnishings workshop, a "free store", a barista training center, a prayer room, a coffee shop, a jewelry/accessory storefront, a massage/tea blending happiness center, artist spaces, Jared's rabbit hole and ...who really knows what else?  Located throughout the complex are many break out areas and assembly spaces, including decks and transition areas/docks, with a large side yard for event parking, outdoor art markets/gatherings and a vegetable garden.  There's something about the loose organizational structure of Area Fifteen that lends itself very well to the equally loose, ready-to-mix ethos of a Barcamp "unconference".  The fact that Area Fifteen has enough leftover space within it to host a random gathering of geeksters and entreprenuers says quite a lot about the virtues of this place.

new CLT Blog space at Area 15In don't think these sorts of venues can exist without a ready-to-use informality to them that suggest an atmosphere of easy adaptability and freedom.  The sheer diversity of users and rapid turnover of activities always amazes me about Area Fifteen.  I expect the place to be literally different every time I step inside.  Area Fifteen, of course, is an "incubator space" of sorts, except without much of the pretension.  Some activities prosper there for profit, others for not.  Characters come and go.  Some uses flop and others, becoming resilient, grow and move out to bigger and better things, much as Jane Jacobs observed some 50 years ago about the tendency of Brooklyn's small industrial flex-spaces to spin out ventures to the suburbs.

Members of Area15 are introduced at one of the Barcamps
But Area Fifteen, like Barcamp itself, is a resource for a community.  Both can be launching pads or catapults.  Area15's mission uses adaptable space resources, Barcamp's emphasizes ready-to-share, moment relevant information that a community values - particularly, concepts and topics that are just percolating from the bottom of coding/media industries - adaptable knowledge resources.  Unlike the community resource that Jacobs observed was disappearing from Brooklyn in favor of the suburbs, Area15 and Barcamp seem to have found a way to catalyze on a draw back to a community.  I realized at this Barcamp that the success of these entities is not predicated on their ability to launch "start-ups", but in their ability to create launching communities - pockets of people with common interests that do often share and leverage each other's resources and talents.

There was an insight here about approach.  What is the resource?  Compare the gregarious workspace of Area 15 with the acres of mostly vacant air-conditioned carpet at your local convention center.  Conventions are useful and nice, and pretty darn expensive to run and attend.  But what is the return on their value really?  I would say that the horizon for your industry is rather limited if you depend on conventions to tell you what's next. I mean, just a thought. You're not really at a convention to integrate what's new, but to kind of participate in, well, conventional adoption.  People go to Barcamp to find out why conventional wisdom is wrong.  The claim of one session at Barcamp was that volume of (automated!) posting can catapult your presence on Twitterspace. Which led to some interesting discussions.  You're not at a barcamp to find out  how you are falling short of next-wave normal. You're at a barcamp to "network", but the kind of networking that is a heat-seeking learning process, testing the idea space, hopefully leading you to bump into others who can help you move an idea. I would argue that it is these kinds of situated, local connections made in a ripe time and place that bring sparks to a city's industries.  

It got me back to thinking about the world-scenario ingredients of the Institute for the Future's 2010 Map of the Decade. In Aesop's parable of the  Oak and the Reed, a strong wind uproots a rigid tree, but a reed, being able to bend in the wind, survives. One lesson: The mighty are usually not very adaptive. 
The IFTF four world-scenarios (briefly described in my last post) are presenting four points on a conceptual two-item sliding scale of world-future possibilities.  This single-contrastive line is traveling along an imaginary axis measuring the extent of organizational adaptation/innovation under different global realities and constraints. Toward the one end of the sliding scale are worlds that see relatively little organizational adaption that lead to fundamental changes in infrastructural systems. These are the Growth and Collapse scenarios. These are the Oak worlds.  The Growth world sees progress as conventional growth - the bigger the oak the better, and the Collapse scenario is that tree uprooted by the storm.  On the other end are worlds that employ fundamental changes to the extent that they are able to - these are the Constraint and Transformation scenarios.  Both of these worlds allow "reeds" of progress to adapt to uncertain conditions.  In the case of the Transformation scenario, circumventing institutional, oak-ways of doing things is de rigueur. 

It is easy to argue that the Transformation scenario is the one furthest along the process of infrastructural restructuring (or at least has the greatest capacity for such).  The Constraint scenario is undergoing some fundamental restructuring due to its institutional refocus on ledgers assessing "Gross National Happiness", but, in a low-capital world, it has less investment capacity and broad cross-organizational ability to employ wholesale and unfamiliar infrastructural changes (what the IFTF calls "superstructuring").

Here is the thing I notice about the denizens of Area 15 and barcamps ...the people there are the sort that sniff for the kind of changes and "reed" models that lead to fundamentally new ways of doing and valuing things.  Growth constructs lead to convention center ways of approaching industries, effective while the wind behaves, but Area Fifteens are where I suspect our next decade's reeds will sprout.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What will the Next Decade look like? Some fun with Scenario Mapping

    MOTD Game BoardI recently came across the 2010 Map of the Decade, created by Silicon Valley's Institute for the Future (IFTF), and I have lately been having fun with forecasting and scenario mapping.  IFTF is a non-profit think tank that forecasts/evaluates the new social and infrastructural transformations impacting global forces.  The Map of the Decade project is part of the IFTF's Ten-Year Forecast Program, which hosts a yearly "game event" for collective prognostication among social tech folks, marketing futurists and the like.  This year's map is an intriguing (game-board like) table for conversationally imagining the transformations in key areas of human activity that are likely to emerge over the next ten years.

    I am blessed by my friends, but, well, they are not nearly as geeky as me.  So it is highly unlikely that I may find willing volunteers who would join me to play the IFTF's forecasting "game", but ...I enjoy nonetheless thinking about the construction of this alternative reality table.  The game's contrastive scenario mapping presents to me one of those engrossing random occasions where interesting topics from my MITSAP studies envisioning the city intersect with my interests in ancient rhetorical devices.  The deep past and next decade collided here.  ...But, I may have to get to that part later.  For now, let me just explain this simple but intriguing "gameboard". 

    The table synoptically maps the structural transformations of five forces in four alternative world-scenarios.  The columns of the table represent the five forces that will emerge - or undergo some extent of structural transformation - in the coming years, which the IFTF dubs: (1) the Carbon Economy; (2) the Water Ecology; (3) Adaptive (Political) Power; (4) Cities in Transition; and (5) (Social/Personal) Molecular Identity.  (Parenthetical modifiers mine). The rows of the table represent the four contrastive world-scenarios in which these transformations could play out.  The world scenarios represent four different trajectories of global economic, environmental and political circumstances that the world could progress into as we travel the next decade. They are:

    • A Scenario of Growth, "Staying One Step ahead of Disaster" -- This is a world-scenario in which the current "growth paradigms" of the global economy continue to be the measure of personal and national success, but where infrastructural adjustments basically attempt to just plug the leaks in our Gaya bucket.  In this world, political activity tends to shore up national self-interests.  Investment is motivated by crisis management.  Instead of encouraging a fundamental restructuring of a wide variety of human activities, knowledge resources remain uncoordinated, and current societal circumstances (e.g. increasing income disparities) continue in their present trajectories.
    • A Scenario of Collapse, "Local Disaster, Regional Conflicts" -- This is a world-scenario in which local instabilities lead to widespread regional conflict and societal upheaval, sparking mass migrations.  The de-legitimization of institutions "signals the end of the globalization era". In this world, political activity is opaque and distrustful. But, as cities go "feral", some local-system restructuring takes place at the small-grain scale as communities adapt to new circumstances (e.g. the coalescence of urban farming communities).
    • A Scenario of Constraint, "Sustainable Paths in a Low-Capital World" -- This is a world-scenario in which the current wealth-production paradigms of the global economy can no longer be sustained.  Instead, national and personal happiness is measured in non-monetary terms. In this peer-measuring LEED version of the world, lessening one's carbon/water footprint is the path to success.  Infrastructural adjustments are policy based and draw on participatory self-monitoring strategies.  In this world, political activity is policy-focused and concentrates on the scientific management of resources.
    • A Scenario of Transformation, "Superstructured Systems" -- In this world-scenario, the barriers preventing wholesale restructuring of human activities are removed as new paradigms of organizational/social coordination arise (employing neural innovations for one).  Conventional institutional paradigms of management are quickly outmoded (much as the cell phone has outmoded the need for erecting land-lines in developing countries, for example).  Rapid innovation leads to biomimetic technologies and ecological infrastructures, enabling human colonization of the oceans and harsh environments. All aspects of human activity, including politics, are approached (or circumvented) through diffuse and cross-disciplinary activities.  In this world, integration is the norm as new frames to approach systems draw to the surface and become widely engaged in a highly networked world.  This is a world of wholesale "superstructuring" of basic human activities into novel forms.  Think World 2.0.

    MOTD Game BoardFor a force transformation item isolated in each square of the world-scenario grid, players of the game are asked to imagine how "happiness" and systems of "resilience" are created within that transformation, and how interventions could leave a "legacy" our posterity would value .  "Happiness", "resilience" and "legacy", however, must employ the evaluative paradigms of social value and self-identity extrapolated for that potential world, which is a kind of role-playing turn which puts the fun into this exercise of wonkery.

    The really fun part for me is that the game naturally leads you to ponder the spring points impacting important arenas of human activity, from the wholesale to the particular, in a wider matrix of possibilities that expand imaginative outcomes and lead to a better way to grasp the transforming subjects themselves.

    More on that later.

    MOTD Game BoardFor now, let me just say that in the Southeast, this whole "Water Ecology" business is a force indeed to be reckoned with.  Over the next ten years it will increasingly shape our local and regional policies, priorities and conflicts.  Urbanists need to engage the water problem more and bring it front and center into the way we think of physical contexts.  Atlanta, for one, has long been staring at a water crisis and has already adjusted mentally more than other cities to the large-scale implications of water ecology management challenges.  We should not underestimate the potential for regional conflict over management of water ecology. Already, my city, Charlotte, is an embittered party in a cross-state debate over our water management issues.

    I like the fact that the IFTF uses the term "Water Ecology" (rather than the easy go to "Water Economy").  So often when we think of water, we think in terms of water pipes and utilities and things with dollar signs preceding them.  But if we think in terms of ecological systems, suddenly there's more ways to think of water.  The water systems and interrelationships between kinds of water you may be overlooking.  Buildings in our Southeastern climates, for one, generate enormous amounts of condensate from air conditioning equipment.  Typically, this water is fed directly into the wastewater stream, instead of being put to good use.  The design team for one of the projects that I'm doing some LEED consulting work for is thinking of ways to take advantage of absolutely enormous amounts of condensate.  It is a cold storage facility.  When the design team proposed the idea it blew my mind away when they presented their figures for how much water they could capture.  There you go... a new water source to think about, for a facility of which, heretofore, I thought of only as a sink.  An ecological cycle of water there all along invisible to me.  Designers, plot those sources on your map.