What’s your side?

So it has been a while since I last posted.  But I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of views surrounding the events of 2016 and it seems change is on everyone’s mind.

I had an interesting discussion with my husband the other day when we were talking about the events that had unfolded in the past year (mainly Brexit and Trump) and what that says about the world today.  While I thought that globalisation was the main contributor to making Brexit and Trump happen, my husband thought that gradual polarisation had led to an unbelievably large divide in society which no one saw coming because it happened over a slow period of time.  This polarisation has made it difficult for people to accept a view different to their own because it somehow goes against their moral code to even listen.  And I believe he’s right.  Everybody has a side.  No one can be ‘on the fence’ or undecided about an issue these days – you’ve got to be either for or against – there’s no room for you on the fence.

PP-2014-06-12-polarization-0-01

The internet has made it frighteningly easy to share information (and misinformation), and everybody has an opinion.  Every day my social media is bombarded with articles and posts containing yet another take on what’s going on and what might happen in the future.  This article written by Helen Pluckrose on her journey as a feminist is a long but worthwhile read.  She alludes somewhat to the radicalisation of the feminist movement and her efforts to give her opinion on the movement:

I decided to hang on and try to tackle, from the inside, the problems of cultural relativity, science denialism, raging incivility and the disempowerment of women by feminists. This resulted in my being blocked by feminists, told I am not a feminist, called an ‘anti-feminist,’ an ‘MRA’, a ‘misogynist’ and even a ‘rape apologist’ (I had suggested that the men who invented date-rape drug detecting nail polish were well-intentioned.)I have been told to fuck myself with a rusty chainsaw, and that I am a confused middle-aged woman who does not understand society.

The persecution of the author by fellow feminists seems to be a common occurrence not just on the issue of feminism, but on other issues too where the extreme views of some push others to view the movement as radical, making the opposing views seem just that little bit more reasonable.  The actions of the women or men who called the author all those things are not seen as radical by some and that is what the internet has allowed, the views of the radical to be backed by others who may agree with the statement being made.  This emboldens the author of the radical response, in their eyes, it legitimises their view and beliefs because someone on the internet agreed with them.

I write this because I’m wary, something feels different but I’m not quite sure what it is yet or what it might mean.  I think people should feel okay to sit on the fence and remain undecided about political issues.  But, this is just my opinion.  This is just another internet article expressing yet another personal view.

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MoMA Curator Paola Antonelli on Hybrid Spaces

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Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, a “cosmopolitan canopy” / John Greim, fotolibra Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, a “cosmopolitan canopy” / John Greim, fotolibra

“In this day and age, is a hybrid approach a panacea, a cure-all?” This question was posed by Paola Antonelli, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)’s senior curator of architecture and design, who was host of a recent salon at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), which brought together an unusual group of professionals, all who engage with hybrid approaches in their work – either as methodology or research subject. The event sparked a conversation that was in itself a hybrid of sorts, which I would venture to guess was one of Antonelli’s ambitions.

Unburdened by the limitations of a single disciplinary focus, the speakers were free to engage with each others’ work, asking questions, making suggestions, comparing and contrasting experiences. For the designers in the audience, mostly millennials who are not scandalized by the cross-pollination of disciplines…

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Placemeter Measures the Flow of People Through Urban Spaces

An interesting article about how to use technological advances in data collection for the field of landscape architecture. While the last paragraph will always be relevant (the experience of being on site and observing is necessary to design), data could be used to measure responses to changes in the landscape and analyzing how people and traffic move over a longer period time to make sure we design more accurately.

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dilworth Placemeter at Dilworth Plaza / Placemeter

Cities are increasingly loaded up with technology. Sensors now enable managers of urban water and sewage infrastructure to spot leaks as they happen. Meter maids no longer have to tromp around all day looking for violators — with new video and analytical tools, transportation departments can locate parking offenders in real-time. Cites prone to flooding now have robust-technology-enabled early warning systems. Ubiquitous security cameras can lead to rapid arrests. And smart phone apps enable citizens to report potholes and other problems in the urban environment as they find them. Many technologies aim to improve the responsiveness or resilience of city services. And while many of these new systems are sold as an easy, all-encompassing solution, like any software, they are high maintenance. Smart city technologies certainly can’t fix all of a city’s problems, particularly deep-seated structural issues like inequality and displacement.

But one technology…

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Saving Lives with Smart Urban Design

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Cities Safer by Design, a report by the World Resources Institute Cities Safer by Design, a report by the World Resources Institute / WRI

Globally, 1.24 million people are killed in traffic accidents every year, with more than 90 percent of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income counties. Traffic-related incidents are the eighth-leading cause of death worldwide, and the number-one leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15-29. A response to the United Nations’ declaration to create a “Decade of Action” on improving traffic safety, Cities Safer by Design, a new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, offers urban design best practices and real-world case studies both developed and developing world cities can use to put an end to traffic deaths and injuries.

Cities Safer by Design presents five basic urban design elements that create safer travel environments: block size, connectivity, lane width, access, and population density.

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The Challenges of Providing Public Space with Private Funds

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central-park Central Park Conservancy sign in Central Park Park, NYC / Sallanscorner.wordpress.com

In an age of ample private wealth and an increasingly constrained public sector, a number of American cities have become dependent on privately funded conservancies to maintain and refurbish their public parks. A new report by Peter Harnik, Hon. ASLA, and Abby Martin from The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence explores the rise of such city park conservancies — private organizations that use donations to rebuild, renovate, and, in some cases, maintain some of the most iconic parks in the country. Interspersed with examples from 41 conservancy organizations that have a collective experience record of nearly 750 years, the study serves as a how-to guide for building successful relationships between city governments and urban park conservancies.

While many park-support organizations exist throughout the country, including friends-of-parks groups and business improvement districts, the study defines a…

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An End to Forgettable Stormwater Management?

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PennypackerCovers-FinalFront Artful Rainwater Design / Island Press

As our climate becomes more unpredictable, finding better ways to manage stormwater is crucial to reducing floods. However, traditional stormwater management strategies can be unforgettable at best and unsightly at worst. In the new book, Artful Rainwater Design: Creative Ways to Manage Stormwater, Pennsylvania State University professors Stuart Echols, ASLA, and Eliza Pennypacker, ASLA, prove that this doesn’t always have to be the case — it’s possible to effectively manage runoff without sacrificing aesthetics.

In this well-organized how-to guide for designers, Echols and Pennypacker highlight the benefits of Artful Rainwater Design (ARD), a term coined by Echols in 2005 to describe rainwater collection systems that are not only functional, but also attractive and engaging. These systems are usually designed to handle small rain events and the initial — and dirtiest — events, rather than major flooding from large storms. Given these smaller rain…

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Hypernatural: Architecture Evolves

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hypernatural Hypernatural / Princeton Architectural Press

All living creatures employ technologies to gain evolutionary advantage. For example, bats have evolved the use of echolocation to find their way as well as things to eat. A tortoise has evolved a shell to protect itself. There are countless examples. These technologies are tools for survival. Humans are equally a part of nature and now harness new “hypernatural” tools to “amplify, extend, or exceed natural capabilities.” Novel approaches are resulting in advances in the most essential technologies: shelter, or, in its cultural form, architecture. These new hypernatural forms be the “very aim of evolution itself,” write University of Minnesota architecture professors Blaine Brownell and Marc Swackhamer, in Hypernatural: Architecture’s New Relationship with Nature, their brilliant new book.

Although, they add that “evolution is a complex, messy process.” Hypernatural architecture, with all its technological advancements, is then subject to the same evolutionary development processes…

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