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Why Is There a Housing Crisis? | Opinion | East Bay Express
"The Bay Area's outrageous housing prices have led to howls of protest. Average rents have shot up by half during the last five years. Rents and house prices are the highest of any metropolitan area in the country and among the most unaffordable in the world. This is not just true of San Francisco but applies to the entire Bay region — now twelve counties and 8.5 million people, according to the US Census.

According to mainstream policy shops and planners, such as Gabriel Metcalf, president and CEO of the pro-urban growth organization SPUR, the housing crisis is caused by activists and neighborhood residents who oppose more market-rate housing development. Their solution is to allow developers to build more freely.

But while it's true that we need to expand the region's housing supply, building more housing cannot solve the problem as long as demand is out of control, as it is today. There is simply no way housing could have been built quickly enough to avoid the price spike of the current boom.

Three basic forces are driving the Bay Area's housing prices upward: growth, affluence, and inequality. Three other things make matters worse: finance, business cycles, and geography. All of these operate on the demand side of the equation, and demand is the key to the runaway housing market.

The prime mover of housing prices is economic growth. The Bay Area has been booming for the last five years, creating more than 500,000 new jobs on a base of 3 million. This is the global capital of tech, the world's most dynamic industry, and all those jobs have drawn in thousands of newcomers looking for housing. Moreover, tech delivers huge profits and pays high salaries and wages, as do other key sectors, like biomedical and finance. The Bay Area's per capita income has long been one of the highest in the country, and high incomes give people the wherewithal to pay top dollar for housing.

On top of this, income distribution is highly unequal, and wealth inequality is even worse, allowing the upper classes to put additional pressure on the market for good housing in favored locations. The Bay Area has one of the highest indexes of income inequality of any region, caused principally by the high salaries of the top 20 percent of earners. As for wealth, the Bay Area has more millionaires per capita than any other US metro and can claim 45 of the 400 richest people in the United States, second only to New York City.

Most people understand these essential drivers of the housing market, if not how extreme they are in the Bay region. But much more lies behind the runaway rents and sale prices of late. We need to think outside the box of simple supply and demand and look further at a trio of conditions shaping demand: credit and capital, boom and bust cycles, and the spatial preferences of the elite.

First, housing is a big-ticket item that normally requires a mortgage, and an excess of credit will exaggerate people's ability to purchase houses. California had the most overheated mortgage markets during the housing bubble of the 2000s, and our financial institutions have not been substantially reformed. Finance is subject to dramatic swings, and the pressure becomes unbearable at the peak of the cycle. Furthermore, footloose capital from around the world has once again been flooding into the Bay Area in search of high returns, whether as venture investments in hot start-ups, stock holdings in tech giants, or purchases of mortgage bonds. All the wealth in tech is not generated locally, nor is all housing demand.

Second, the housing market does not behave like eBay because supply is slow to adjust to demand. It takes a long time to build new units and most people stay in the same residence for years. Hence, only a small percentage of total housing stock comes on the market in any year — normally less than 5 percent — and markets suffer from intense bottlenecks. As expansive demand chases limited supply over the course of a business cycle, prices accelerate ahead of new building. Speculators and landlords intensify the pressure as they buy properties, evict tenants, and displace people in anticipation of even higher rents. The good news is that booms go bust, sooner or later. Construction will overshoot the market, as it always does, and then prices will fall by 10 to 20 percent, as usual.

Third, housing markets are badly distorted by the geography of privilege and power. If the nouveaux riches of the tech world want to live in San Francisco (even if they commute to Silicon Valley), they have the means to outbid working stiffs, families, artists, and the poor; the result, as we've seen, is a city that has become richer and whiter with remarkable speed. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: The greatest distortion to housing markets is the demand by the wealthy for exclusive, leafy, space-eating suburbs from Palo Alto to Orinda. These favored enclaves reduce overall housing supply by using low-density zoning to block the high-rises and apartments that provide moderate priced homes (not to mention low-income public housing).

So is there no recourse? Since the biggest sources of the housing crisis lie in the general conditions of contemporary capitalism — the tech boom, gross inequality, frothy finance, boom and bust cycles, and the power of the elites — local reforms can only do so much. Without a major political upheaval for financial control, higher taxes, equality, and more public spending, we are in for perennial housing crises. The housing market can never heal itself under existing conditions.

But some things can be done locally. Rent control with reasonable annual increases works quite well to dampen overheated markets. Eviction controls are critical, along with other restrictions on speculation. Demands for set-asides for low-income units are another proven strategy, along with development fees. Land trusts have worked well for open space protection in the Bay Area, and could work for housing, but will require major funding. And a real commitment of earmarking money for low-income housing by the federal government — on a scale to match the money going to highways — is a must.

New housing will have to be built, as well. But developers are profit-seekers, so don't expect them to be innocent bearers of what people need. It is absolutely necessary to question developers and city planners over what is to be built, how high, how big, and where. A livable city demands good design, historic preservation, neighborhood protections, mixed use, and social diversity, among other things, and figuring out what those things are should be a collective, democratic and, yes, conflictual process of politics and public debate. Nonetheless, opposing all new building, greater density, and neighborhood change is not a viable policy, and we cannot cling to the idea that our town or neighborhood will remain the same in a dynamic urban system.

Conservative critics, of course, denounce all popular efforts to control runaway housing costs, displacement, speculation, and bad planning as unnatural violations of some "natural law" of perfect markets. No one should be fooled by such fantasies. The real "market distortions" propelling the housing crisis are inequality, speculation, financial bloat, tax havens, and more. The day when the runaway privileges of bankers, builders, speculators, wealthy suburbanites, and the rest are reined in — that's the day the housing crisis will be over.

Richard Walker."
housing  california  richardwalker  2016  speculation  inequality  growth  affluence  geography  economics  bayarea  power  privilege  capitalism  rent  rentcontrol  eviction 
8 hours ago by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
19 days ago by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Complicated Legacy of Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog” | The New Yorker
"Brand now describes himself as “post-libertarian,” a shift he attributes to a brief stint working with Jerry Brown, during his first term as California’s governor, in the nineteen-seventies, and to books like Michael Lewis’s “The Fifth Risk,” which describes the Trump Administration’s damage to vital federal agencies. “ ‘Whole Earth Catalog’ was very libertarian, but that’s because it was about people in their twenties, and everybody then was reading Robert Heinlein and asserting themselves and all that stuff,” Brand said. “We didn’t know what government did. The whole government apparatus is quite wonderful, and quite crucial. [It] makes me frantic, that it’s being taken away.” A few weeks after our conversation, Brand spoke at a conference, in Prague, hosted by the Ethereum Foundation, which supports an eponymous, open-source, blockchain-based computing platform and cryptocurrency. In his address, he apologized for over-valorizing hackers. “Frankly,” he said, “most of the real engineering was done by people with narrow ties who worked nine to five, often with federal money.”

Brand is nonetheless impressed by the new tech billionaires, and he described two startup founders as “unicorns” who “deserve every penny.” “One of the things I hear from the young innovators in the Bay Area these days is ‘How do you stay creative?’ ” Brand said. “The new crowd has this, in some ways, much more interesting problem of how you be creative, and feel good about the world, and collaborate, and all that stuff, when you have wads of money.” He is excited by their philanthropic efforts. “That never used to happen,” he said. “Philanthropy was something you did when you were retired, and you were working on your legacy, so the money went to the college or opera.”

Brand himself has been the beneficiary of tech’s new philanthropists. His main concern, the Long Now Foundation, a nonprofit focussed on “long-term thinking,” counts Peter Thiel and Pierre Omidyar among its funders. The organization hosts a lecture series, operates a steampunk bar in San Francisco’s Fort Mason, and runs the Revive & Restore project, which aims to make species like the woolly mammoth and the passenger pigeon “de-extinct.” The Long Now Foundation is also in the process of erecting a gigantic monument to long-term thought, in Western Texas—a clock that will tick, once a year, for a hundred centuries. Jeff Bezos has donated forty-two million dollars to the construction project and owns the land on which the clock is being built. When I first heard about the ten-thousand-year clock, as it is known, it struck me as embodying the contemporary crisis of masculinity. I was not thinking about death.

Although Brand is in good health and is a dedicated CrossFit practitioner, working on long-term projects has offered him useful perspective. “You’re relaxed about your own death, because it’s a blip on the scale you’re talking about,” he said, then quoted Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms,” saying, “Much was decided before you were born.” Brand is concerned about climate change but bullish on the potential of nuclear energy, urbanization, and genetic modification. “I think whatever happens, most of life will keep going,” he said. “The degree to which it’s a nuisance—the degree to which it is an absolutely horrifying, unrelenting problem is what’s being negotiated.” A newfound interest in history has helped to inform this relaxed approach to the future. “It’s been a long hard slog for women. It’s been a long hard slog for people of color. There’s a long way to go,” he said. “And yet you can be surprised by successes. Gay marriage was unthinkable, and then it was the norm. In-vitro fertilization was unthinkable, and then a week later it was the norm. Part of the comfort of the Long Now perspective, and Steven Pinker has done a good job of spelling this out, is how far we’ve come. Aggregate success rate is astonishing.”

As I sat on the couch in my apartment, overheating in the late-afternoon sun, I felt a growing unease that this vision for the future, however soothing, was largely fantasy. For weeks, all I had been able to feel for the future was grief. I pictured woolly mammoths roaming the charred landscape of Northern California and future archeologists discovering the remains of the ten-thousand-year clock in a swamp of nuclear waste. While antagonism between millennials and boomers is a Freudian trope, Brand’s generation will leave behind a frightening, if unintentional, inheritance. My generation, and those after us, are staring down a ravaged environment, eviscerated institutions, and the increasing erosion of democracy. In this context, the long-term view is as seductive as the apolitical, inward turn of the communards from the nineteen-sixties. What a luxury it is to be released from politics––to picture it all panning out."
stewartband  wholeearthcatalog  technosolutionism  technology  libertarianism  2018  annawiener  babyboomers  boomers  millennials  generations  longnow  longnowfoundation  siliconvalley  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  politics  economics  government  time  apathy  apolitical  californianideology  stevenpinker  jennyholzer  change  handwashing  peterthiel  pierreomidyar  bayarea  donaldtrump  michaellewis  jerrybrown  california  us  technolibertarianism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Aftel Archive of Curious Scents
[https://www.yelp.com/biz/aftel-archive-of-curious-scents-berkeley ]

"Hi, I'm Mandy Aftel! I fell in love with natural aromatics more than twenty-five years ago, and I have had the privilege to live and work in their world ever since. In my practice of perfumery, I have curated thousands of gorgeous essences from all over the world, many of them antiques themselves. I have written 4 books about natural perfumes, and teach people how to create natural perfumes through my workbooks and in-studio classes."
senses  smells  berkeley  togo  via:derek  bayarea 
november 2018 by robertogreco
By The Bay
[See also: https://www.ballot.fyi/ ]

"Take a break from the national chaos, and dip into the fascinatingly bizarre world of local elections. We explain California, San Francisco, and San Jose propositions & races so you'll laugh, cry, and vote on Election Day, November 6th.

We also made this neat tool so you can save your votes and talk about local issues with your friends.

Okay, let's do this civic duty dance and show how Democracy is done, shall we?



ABOUT US (REALLY)

By The Bay is led by Jimmy Chion and Yvonne Leow, two San Franciscans, who love almost all things Californian.

Our mission is to transform residents into citizens. We think local issues like housing, homelessness, and public transit affect us everyday, but it's hard to know how to participate. By The Bay is our way of changing that, starting with elections.

WE'RE NONPARTISAN, BUT NOT BORING
We try to convey all relevant arguments as fairly and factually as possible. We are human though – so please email us at hi@bythebay.cool if you see anything that needs some TLC.

WE MADE A THING BEFORE
In 2016, we built ballot.fyi to explain all of the confusing CA propositions. To our surprise, it reached ~1M people in one month. This year, we're covering local elections again. Hopefully making you a little smarter and our community a little better.

WE'RE FUNDED BY THE KNIGHT FOUNDATION
In 2017, we received a $75K grant from the Knight Foundation to continue ballot.fyi. The Knight Foundation is a nonpartisan non-profit that supports local journalism initiatives across the country. BTB is a for-profit organization, but fiscally sponsored by the non-profit Asian American Journalists Association.

WHO WE ARE (AS PEOPLE)

JIMMY CHION was a designer and engineer at IDEO, an instructor at California College of Arts, and an Artist-in-Residence at Autodesk. He has two degrees from Stanford, neither of which have anything to do with politics. He created ballot.fyi, and now leads design and development at BTB. Send him a punny message at jimmy@bythebay.cool

Yvonne Leow
YVONNE LEOW is a digital journalist by trade. She has worked at Vox.com, Digital First Media, and the AP. She is currently the president of the AAJA and was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford. Yvonne leads editorial and partnerships at BTB. Send her a haiku at yvonne@bythebay.cool."
bayarea  sanfrancisco  sanjose  elections  votersguide  voting  politics  srg  edg  glvo  california  propositions 
november 2018 by robertogreco
California State Propositions – a nonpartisan guide [updates every election]
"nonpartisan
We're tired of fliers telling us how to vote. ballot.fyi doesn't tell you what to do, instead we give you the facts and arguments about each proposition so you can come to your own conclusion. We cite all of our sources (try clicking this little circle
) and try to represent all relevant perspectives – that's what we mean by nonpartisan. But, we're human, and we don't know everything, so if you know something we didn't cover, email us at fax@ballot.fyi (with sources cited)

concise
We've read the full text of the propositions, the official arguments of both sides, and many, many opinion articles so we can give you concise but comprehensive digests of what's on the ballot. These are real issues that affect real animals, and we hope these summaries get you interested in what's happening in CA and make you feel ready to vote.

a tool
We want you to feel good – amazing even – on Election Day, and we also hope that you'll want your friends to feel fantastic, because this site's only purpose is to get more folks voting. So do us a solid and tell your friends they get to vote on Daylight Saving Time this November.

About Amir & Erica
Amir & Erica (you know, like "America") was created by Jimmy Chion (a designer and engineer) and Yvonne Leow (a journalist) with the help and balance of many friends, left and right. We first made ballot.fyi in 2016. It reached a million people in one month, and in 2017, we received a $75K grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to continue ballot.fyi into 2018. The Knight Foundation promotes informed and engaged communities through funding in journalism, arts, and technology.

If you live in San Francisco or San Jose, we created By The Bay to cover those local propositions. [https://www.bythebay.cool/ ]"
votersguide  voting  california  propositions  politics  srg  edg  glvo  sanfrancisco  sanjose  bayarea  elections 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Bay Area Census
"Selected Census data from the San Francisco Bay Area -- provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Featuring Census data from 1860-2010.

Spanning from the wine country to Silicon Valley, the Bay Area has a population of over 7 million people in nine counties and 101 cities."
bayarea  sanfrancisco  california  oakland  census  data  population  demographics 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Dodie Bellany: Academonia
"In this lively, entertaining collection of essays, Dodie Bellamy has written not only a helpful pedagogical tool, but an epic narrative of survival against institutional deadening and the proscriptiveness that shoots the young writer like poison darts from all sides. By the 90s funding for the arts had dwindled and graduate writing programs—“cash cows”—had risen to fill the slack. Simultaneously, literary production moved from an unstable, at times frightening street culture where experiment was privileged beyond all else, to an institutionalized realm—Academonia!—that enforces, or tends to enforce, conservative aesthetic values.

Among the questions Bellamy raises: how does the writer figure out how to write? How will she claim her content among censorious voices? Can the avant-garde create forms that speak to political and spiritual crisis? Can desire exist in a world of networking structures? To the keepers of the status quo, what is so goddamned scary about experimental writing? Bellamy’s textual body morphs through sex, ravenous hunger, aging, displacement, cuddling with animals. Along the way she invokes Levi Strauss, Kurosawa, Marvin Gaye, Christiane (the faceless daughter in Georges Franju’s 1959 horror classic Eyes Without a Face), Alice Munro, Michael Moore, Quan Yin, Cinderella, and the beheaded heroine Lady Jane Grey. On Foucault’s grid of invisible assumptions, Academonia casts a blacklight vision, making it glow in giddy FX splendor.

*****

There are the institutions that are created without our input and the institutions that we create with others. Both sorts of institutions define us without our consent. Dodie Bellamy’s Academonia explores the prickly intersection among these spaces as it moves through institutions such as the academy, the experimental writing communities of the Bay Area, feminist and sexual identities, and group therapy. Continuing the work that she began in The Letters of Mina Harker pushing memoir and confession out of its safety zones and into its difficulties, this book provokes as it critiques and yet at the same time manages to delight with its hope.

--Juliana Spahr

Way back in the seventies, and before Bellamy, pastiche and bricolage as applied to literature made me yawn. Smug attacks on linear narrative through the use of tired language games aroused my contempt. As far as I was concerned, theory had ruined fiction by making critic and artist too intimate. Then Bellamy’s pioneering graftings of storytelling, theory and fractured metaphor changed all that, giving birth to a new avant-garde. Her writing sweeps from one mode of thought to another in absolute freedom, eviscerating hackneyed constructs about desire and language and stuffing them with a fascinating hodgepodge of sparkling sensory fragments. The result is true postmodernism, not the shallow dilettantism of the “postmodern palette.” She sustains it on page after page, weaving together sex and philosophy, fusing trash with high culture, injecting theory with the pathos of biography and accomplishing nothing less than a fresh and sustained lyricism. What is more, her transfiguration of the trivial details of life by the mechanisms of irony, fantasy, disjunction, nostalgia and perverse point of view prove that it’s not the life you live that matters, but how you tell it.

--Bruce Benderson"
writing  howwewrite  books  dodiebellany  institutions  proscriptiveness  academonia  academia  highered  highereducation  akirakurosawa  levistrauss  marvingaye  alicemonroe  michaelmoore  quanyin  cinderella  ladyjanegrey  foucault  institutionalization  julianaspahr  brucebenderson  bricolage  literature  linearity  form  feedom  structure  language  senses  sensory  postmodernism  dilettantism  culture  bayarea  experimental  experimentation  art  arts  funding  streetculture  2006 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Michael T Spooky 🎃 on Twitter: "1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA. 2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California… htt
"[RE: @Automotive_News Why aren't California emissions dropping? http://dlvr.it/QhXxzs ]

1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA.

2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California

because coastal Californians conceptualize environmentalism as a consumer identity and individual virtue, they are blind to how blocking more people from living near the coast is the root cause of their long-term environmental calamity.

They will happily blame a construction worker priced out of San Francisco who has to drive 2 hours from Stockton every morning for ruining the air quality in the Central Valley, when the worker has no way to opt-out of those circumstances and suffers the worst consequences

Meanwhile, the wealthy who would just simply rather not permit more people to live near them enjoy the cool and clean air from the Pacific and wonder why on Earth these irresponsible middle class people in Fresno don't just buy $80k Teslas"

[See also:

"Bay Area far from progressive on housing"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/San-Francisco-Bay-Area-is-not-progressive-on-13319525.php ]
housing  emissionss  california  sanfrancisco  bayarea  2018  environment  environmentalism  density  airquality  transportation  publictransit  stockton  centralvalley  class  society  sprawl  virtue  externalization 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Why San Francisco Gets So Windy and Foggy in the Summer | Bay Curious | The California Report | KQED News
"Every day Will Pearson bikes from his home in San Francisco's Marina district to his office in the Financial District. His morning ride along the Embarcadero is pleasant and calm, but he has noticed the wind picks up significantly on his ride home.

"I’ve always wondered why different parts of the day have such different levels of wind," said Pearson.

Fortunately, it's not too complicated, said meteorologist Jan Null.

Here's the simple explainer from KQED cartoonist Mark Fiore."

[image]

"For more detail, here's the breakdown.

Why it's windier in the afternoon

• Air always moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.
• Hot air rises and is less dense, and is typically low pressure, while cold air sinks and is dense, and is typically higher pressure.
• Over the course of the day, the air inland heats up in California. But air remains cool over the ocean — where the water stays about the same temperature all day.
• The cold, high-pressure air from over the ocean rushes inland, toward the warm, lower pressure air.
• It takes the path of least resistance, squeezing through sea-level gaps in the mountains and ridges — the biggest of which is at the Golden Gate.
• This creates something known as the Bernoulli Effect. "Think about a garden hose. You have the water cranked up all the way and you have the flow coming out of it. Well, you put your thumb over it, you restrict it down, and all of a sudden you shoot 20 yards across the driveway," said Null. "The same thing happens if you compress air down to a smaller gap like through the Golden Gate or the San Bruno Gap."

That's why the winds are strongest on the days where it's hottest inland and still cool on the coast, when the temperature and pressure difference is the biggest.

Why it's foggy in the summer

The temperature differences also explain why the Bay Area gets so much fog in the summer.

• There is a system of high pressure over the Pacific Ocean called the North Pacific High. In the summer, it gets stronger, creating big clockwise winds over the ocean.
• Those winds push the surface water of the ocean away from the California coastline.
• Very cold water from deep in the ocean rises to the surface. This is called upwelling.
• Something known as the California Current also brings cold water south from Alaska.
• When the sea breeze blows over this much colder water, condensation forms — creating fog.
• The fog comes inland in the summer for similar reasons as the wind: While it stays cool by the ocean, the high temperatures inland create lower pressure, and the fog is sucked in through gaps in the mountains, like the Golden Gate.

That's why we see picturesque summer fog rolling in past the Golden Gate Bridge in the afternoon.

"Nothing's going to move them out until the sun comes up the next morning and evaporates it," said Null.

Our topography also explains why one neighborhood can be foggy, like the Sunset, and another warm, like the area in Sausalito known as the Banana Belt. The hills and ridges direct the path of the fog and wind, creating these microclimates.

Will our fog and wind remain?

The amount of summer fog has decreased 33 percent over the last century, studies have found. Warming oceans and climate change could continue to affect the complicated weather systems that create our unique Bay Area fog and wind."
sanfrancisco  weather  fog  bayarea  2018  explainer  visualization  markfiore  jannull  meteorology  classideas 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Oakulture | Documenting the Oakland cultural renaissance
"Background and History

Historically, the city of Oakland has always been what can be described as a cultural mecca. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s, West Oakland’s 7th street was known as the “Harlem of the West,” and supported a thriving jazz and blues scene. In the 60s and 70s, Oakland was instrumental in the development of the funk sound through artists like Rodger Collins and Johnny Talbot, as well as the connection between music and social justice movements — exemplified by the Black Panther Party’s “house band,” The Lumpen – a legacy which continues to this day through socially-conscious artists and “artivists” like Boots Riley and The Coup, Kev Choice, and Jennifer Johns.

Oakland music culture has produced everything from the “East Bay Grease” funk sound of Tower of Power, to Latin percussionist extraordinaire Sheila E., to pop-hip-hop phenomenon MC Hammer, to independent rap legend Too $hort, to the urban R&B of Tony! Toni! Toné!, En Vogue, Raphael Saadiq, and Keyshia Cole. It’s no accident that Tupac Shakur, quite possibly the most celebrated rap artist of all time, spent the formative years of his career in Oakland, or that legendary hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics claim Oakland as their home base.

Visual art has also been a huge part of Oakland culture; the city claims to have the most artists per capita of any city in the country, which has manifested through the internationally-recognized Art Murmur, as well as the proliferation of street-oriented visual artists and aerosol art practitioners upholding the legacy of Mike “Dream” Francisco. Somewhat lesser-known is Oakland’s contribution to the film genre, which includes famous actors Danny Glover and Ted Lange as well as recent discoveries like director Ryan Coogler. Similarly, Oakland’s spoken word scene, one of the best in the country, has provided a supportive platform for emerging talents like playwright Chinaka Hodge.

Although Oakland is the center of the Bay Area from a geographic standpoint, for many years its arts and culture scene was overshadowed by San Francisco. But things have changed recently. Gentrification, skyrocketing rents, and the influx of tech workers displaced dozens of artists and musicians from SF; many of whom settled in Oakland. That change has not gone unnoticed by the media: the New York Times named the city one of the USA’s top 5 destinations, San Francisco magazine dedicated an entire issue to its East Bay neighbor, and the Bay Guardian declared Oakland was “cooler” than SF. Meanwhile, the proliferation of new and interesting restaurants has made Oakland a hot topic in the foodie world. It seems the media has finally discovered Oakland, much in the same was as Columbus “discovered” America.

While all the recent national media attention has been gratifying for a city which for years was unfairly maligned for negative portrayals, much of the press coverage can be accurately described as coming from an outside perspective, looking in at Oakland. As current Oaklanders brace themselves for a wave of newcomers with no connection to the city’s rich cultural history, raising concerns of gentrification and the displacement which comes along with it, Oakland finds itself in the midst of a cultural renaissance which has brought new life into the downtown area, symbolized by the First Friday parties which have attracted as many as 15,000 people, and made the city a destination for nightlife seekers.

Oakulture began as a cultural initiative masquerading as an arts and culture column in hyperlocal website Oakland Local. The mission was simple: to document the cultural renaissance in words and pictures as it was happening, from the perspective of an Oakland resident and longtime Bay Area scribe, Eric K. Arnold – a writer/photographer with an institutional memory of the region’s arts and culture scene. Particular attention was paid to spotlighting emerging new talent, to identifying cultural trends – such as the intersection of tech and arts — as they were breaking, and to covering artists of color who were typically underserved by both national and local media.

Oakulture took a radically innovative approach to arts coverage: rather than segregating music from film from visual art from spoken word, as conventional media outlets typically did, Oakulture amalgamated them all together, thus presenting a Big Picture view which was a more honest representation of Oakland’s cultural dynamic – illustrating how the city’s diversity is reflected through the intersectionality of artistic disciplines and cultural manifestations. The column also used the online platform to present more photographs than a typical print story would, giving it a unique visual look which distinguished it from all competition.

Oakulture ran for more than a year in Oakland Local, covering 60 columns in all, and routinely amassing page views 5-10 times the views of typical OL stories in the arts & culture section. Despite outperforming its peers to such a degree, OL’s publisher suggested cutting back on the column due to financial considerations, which made little sense, considering not only the analytics numbers, but also the fact that Oakland’s cultural renaissance was in full bloom, and that more coverage, if anything, was needed.

The choice was made to become an independent site, serving the progressive, diverse arts and culture community, and expanding coverage to become a comprehensive source and resource. Oakulture isn’t just hyperlocal, it’s hyperfocal, zeroing in on the arts and culture niche which informs every aspect of Oakland’s dynamicism, from lifestyle to politics. While currently existing on an online platform, Oakulture isn’t a static representation of the city’s cultural paradigm by any means; Oakulture isn’t just a website, it’s a lifestyle, a movement and a way of being, with plans to expand into other mediums when the time is right.

Right now, Oakulture’s goal is to document Oakland’s incredibly talented, historically slept-on scene and to promote the city’s artists locally, nationally, and internationally. All from an Oakland perspective. After all, Oakland is known for creating revolutionary movements, so why wouldn’t the city’s cultural arts be anything less?"
oakland  news  culture  blogs  bayarea 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Welcome to Drawbridge: The Bay Area's Last Ghost Town | Bay Curious - YouTube
"On an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay sits a series of abandoned wooden buildings, slumped over and sinking into the ground. They’re all that’s left of the town called Drawbridge — often referred to as the last ghost town left in the Bay Area.

Read more: https://www.kqed.org/news/11549263/the-island-ghost-town-in-the-middle-of-san-francisco-bay "
drawbridge  bayarea  sanfranciscobay  ghosttowns  history  2017 
july 2018 by robertogreco
The Essential Guide to Eating California - Eater
"In the American imagination, California has always been viewed through a haze of fantasy. Early on, it was dreams of fist-sized gold nuggets lying in wait. Then a generation of Okies schlepped West, to eventually populate the pages of Steinbeck and the photos of Dorothea Lange, looking for a utopian land of plenty. More recently, it’s reveries of glamour and fame. Of in-ground pools. Of cheap avocados and convertible road trips to Coachella. Of picnics beside granite waterfalls. Of another gold rush, but made out of code. Of palm trees and beaches and children riding surf boards to school.

This is all mostly the stuff of California’s well-marketed mythology: There are swaying palm trees, but no public guacamole fountains. There are uncannily good-looking people and overnight millionaires, but few top-down joyrides (hello traffic). And then there’s the food. The beautiful idea that pretty much anything you can put in your mouth is better in California? That part, it turns out, isn’t a fantasy.

Obscenely wonderful produce is abundant year-round, but there are also peerless sushi bars and Sichuan restaurants and kebab shops and beach burger shacks and prix fixe palaces and pho specialists and bread bakeries and chaat shops and French bistros and tacos — lo, the tacos! This is where even toast sparked a national obsession.

In the course of putting together Eater’s first-ever guide to the entire state of California, we shipped our national critic out West for two months, recruited more than a dozen local experts, ate hundreds of meals, and drove just about every imaginable strip of highway to help you live our favorite version of the California dream. From the definitive list of the state’s 38 essential restaurants to a Central Valley taco crawl to an artist’s statewide search for a Beijing specialty, here’s Eater’s entirely true guide to the totally fantastical state of California — palm trees optional."
food  restaurants  california  centralvalley  centralcoast  sanfrancisco  losangeles  bayarea  socalnorcal  eating  littlesaigon  sangabrielvalley  marin  sonoma  sandiego  orangecounty 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Where Exactly Is “the Bay Area”? | SPUR
"The San Francisco Bay Area has long been understood as a region made up of the nine counties that touch the Bay. This definition has a simplicity that other large metro areas lack; not all can be organized around a natural feature that is significant in geologic time and scale. But the nine-county border doesn’t always hold. The reality today is that counties such as Merced and San Joaquin are growing quickly and housing more and more of the people who work in the nine counties.

SPUR has launched a multi-year project, the SPUR Regional Strategy, to develop a civic vision for the Bay Area over the next half-century. The goal is to collectively imagine what kind of region we want to be and develop an actionable set of strategies to get us there. Addressing many of our current regional challenges — such as job access, housing affordability and congestion — will require working at many scales: at the local level with cities, at the nine-county level with regional agencies and sometimes at the level of the Northern California megaregion.

Given this, is the traditional nine-county definition the correct scale for this project? Should we consider including more counties? Or should we look instead at systems instead of counties?

To answer these questions, SPUR gathered experts, looked to other efforts to define geographies, and studied maps and data to decide which scale(s) will work best for addressing the region’s greatest challenges."
bayarea  sanfrancisco  norcal  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  transportation  transit  policy  population  2018  spur  megaregions 
june 2018 by robertogreco
For Housing Affordability, California Must Amend its Constitution - Opinion | Political News | thebaycitybeacon.com
"This fall, California voters may have the opportunity to amend Proposition 13, one of the most regressive tax laws in the country. The 1978 initiative essentially freezes the assessed value of real estate at the time of sale—inevitably establishing and perpetuating wild inequities between the young and old, renters and landlords, immigrants and incumbents. How can California’s political “third rail” be reformed, albeit incrementally, with lasting, sustainable progress? There are several ways.

Evolve California is currently gathering signatures to place a measure on the 2018 ballot to allow re-assessments of commercial aka business properties—a move that could generate ~$10 billion a year for health care, education and other badly need investments in California society.

Another significant contributor to inequality, segregation, and the housing crisis stands unchallenged in 2018.

Article 34 of the California Constitution, enacted by voters in 1950, states that no cities, towns or counties may ”develop, construct or acquire” any “low-rent” housing “unless approved by a majority of qualified electors of the city, town or county” at the ballot box. Practically, this means our local governments and representatives are prevented from directly providing the homes struggling Californians need so direly today.

Article 34’s proponents intended to control the development of large, federally-funded public housing tower projects. The law also restricts local governments from efficiently building even mid-rise public housing or subsidizing low-income housing. A mid-century, single-story city building, or even a vacant lot, could become a five-story building with affordable rents and public services on the ground floor. Alas, we can’t really have that without an expensive ballot referendum and subsequent approval by a majority (or supermajority) of voters.

Moreover, the referendum process makes the provision of publicly-owned housing intractably slow. In California, prudent politicians tend refrain from placing affordable housing bonds on the ballot until they absolutely know the measure can win a supermajority of voters. When municipal coffers fill up with tax revenue or development fees, cities cannot use it to invest in modern mid-rise public housing directly, absent an expensive and risky Article 34-triggered election.

The crux of the issue is this: California’s landowners have become vastly more wealthy and powerful, by government fiat, at the expense of renters. This inequality is unsustainable. Homeowners receive exponentially more in public subsidies, and Proposition 13 tax rates disproportionately reward greater wealth and “incumbency” of property owners, but renters ultimately foot their landlords’ property tax bill. Not only do renters get little to no relief from this regressive system—because of Article 34, they are essentially forced to beg localized pockets of voters for the direct public provision of badly-needed affordable housing. Property owners, on the other hand, do not have to ask for their Mortgage Interest Deduction through a popular referendum every time they claim it.

Say it with me: public housing already exists. It exists largely not as shelter for the neediest, but as vestiges of historic inequality that abstractly, disproportionately rewards legacy homebuyers with secure asset wealth.

There have been concerted efforts to overturn this unfair system for almost as long as we’ve had it. Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown led two unsuccessful efforts to repeal Article 34 in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The most recent effort, in 1992, was defeated before an entire generation of eligible voters was born, so the current electorate may feel differently about our status quo.

Perhaps its time has finally come.

Since 1950, California courts have whittled down Article 34’s power, and some cities work around the law by delegating the job of affordable housing construction to privately-run nonprofits. But given the severity and depth of our affordable housing shortage, California cannot afford more roadblocks to directly providing publicly-owned affordable housing.

To state the obvious, Article 34 also maintains racial and economic segregation. Requiring voter approval for the development of publicly-funded affordable rental housing means that racially and economically homogenous communities can effectively veto integration. The electorates of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have consistently voted to approve low-income housing placed on the ballot at regular intervals. Compare the generosity of those voters to, say, communities in Marin County or Palo Alto—I can guarantee that the results will not surprise you.

Governing by popular referendum may sound ideal, but California’s experience with direct governance over the last 107 years has demonstrated that local pluralities of voters can sometimes succumb to fear, uncertainty, and outright animus towards marginalized groups.

If you think this is all ancient history, think again: in 1994, nearly 59% of California voters approved of Proposition 187, designed to bar undocumented people from accessing public services like health care and education, prior to it being ruled unconstitutional by the courts. More recently, California voters repudiated marriage equality by approving Proposition 8 in 2008, only for it also to be overturned by jurists. In 2016, California voters brought back the death penalty.

Occasionally, the state’s voters have been unwise enough to approve unconstitutional legislation, and federal courts have found such laws especially offensive when they discriminate against political minorities in the exercise of civil rights or use of public programs, as was the case with Prop 187. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court found no such violation by Article 34 of equal protection under the 14th Amendment in James v. Valtierra (1971).

Renters from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties sought to have Article 34 invalidated on the basis of racial and wealth discrimination. Instead, Justice Hugo Black, writing for the 6-3 majority found such mandatory referendums on low-rent and public housing to indicate a “devotion to democracy, not to bias, discrimination, or prejudice.” (If only!)

Article 34 of the California Constitution, much like the general political aversion to subsidized housing, is explicitly rooted in prejudice against poor people, people of color, and immigrants writ large. The history is stark and ugly, and it is high time for California to face it head-on. That history, as it unfolded in Oakland, will be the subject of Part 2 in this series."
housing  california  policy  racism  class  2018  1950  article34  inequality  segregation  race  proposition13  sanfrancisco  oakland  bayarea  publichousing  affordability  taxes  williebrown  berkeley 
june 2018 by robertogreco
ALENA MUSEUM
"Alena Museum is nonprofit 501(c)3 creative space that houses multi-disciplinary arts and work studios to cultivate the cultural richness of the African Diaspora. In the African language of Tigrinya Alena translates to  “we are here!"  Alena Museum declares that "we are here" by providing access for the African Diaspora to create original work and keep dedicated space for creative expression, in the face of the rapid displacement of these communities as a result of gentrification. We are empowering our community to be active players in this new economy in order to directly  mitigate displacement and marginalization."

[See also: https://www.instagram.com/alenamuseum/ ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiOzLvhlgtq/ ]
lcproject  openstudioproject  art  arts  coworking  gentrification  studios  africandiaspora  diaspora  oakland  bayarea  tovisit  via:morgansully 
may 2018 by robertogreco
QuantumCamp
"We were founded in 2009 on the simple idea that humans love to learn, and intentionally design an educational experience that supports this in our classrooms. The result is an exciting intellectual and social environment where students leave a class or a summer camp fulfilled, energized, and excited to continue exploring these ideas.

QC AT-A-GLANCE
QuantumCamp is a school enterprise with a core mission of delivering amazing, hands-on math and science courses to kids via three main platforms:

1. In-School Labs
2. Home School
3. Summer Camps

Students
Both homeschoolers and summer campers come from all backgrounds and from all academic skill levels. QuantumCamp students come from all nine Bay Area counties.

Faculty

QuantumCamp instructors are given one main task: facilitate an environment which allows student-driven discovery. We pride ourselves on our curriculum - developed by in-house content experts, and value the importance of collaboration. We are looking for innovative educators, who are excited to teach small classes, and contribute to our growing math and science program."
homeschool  marin  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  bayarea  camps  math  science 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Ross Valley Charter, a public TK-5 learning community in Fairfax, California
"Ross Valley Charter is a free public school that offers an exceptional learning experience for students in Transitional Kindergarten through 5th grade in Fairfax, California. Find out about our program by watching our videos."

[See also: https://rossvalleycharter.org/progressive-elementary-education/progressive-education/ ]
marin  progressive  schools  education  bayarea 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Los Rakas
"The Grammy nominated group, Los Rakas was born in the youth centers of Oakland, CA in 2006.  This duo are of Panamanian descent and raised in both cultures.  They are the future of world music and have trendsetted their way into mainstream, touring nationwide and internationally.  Performing in both English and Spanish, their specialty is that they teach Spanish through their music- no more Rosetta Stone is needed!!  Los Rakas are known for rocking any party - from youth events to world wide festivals, they hype the crowd and get the party all the way live!   What is a Raka?  a person who is proud of who they are.   The Rakas are making sure that the voice of the pueblo is heard, their unique sound bridges cultures from all over the world.  Listen to them here, listen to them on the news, on the radio, the television, in movies, hear them in your favorite video game, read about them in the paper or online - AND be sure to catch them at a live show...  Raka Party..."

[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHsncI2j2fk ]
losrakas  portland  bayarea  music  panamá 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Little Boxes - Tribute to Daly City, CA on Vimeo
"The song "Little Boxes" by Peter Seeger mocks Daly City, the large-tract suburb of San Francisco. This video shows what Seeger missed -- a look inside one of those little boxes."
dalycity  sanfrancisco  bayarea  california  peteseeger  music  songs  video  classideas  malvina  reynolds  henrydoelger  suburbia  conformism  middleclass  us  capitalism  nancyreynolds  westlake 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Little Boxes - Wikipedia
""Little Boxes" is a song written and composed by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963, when he released his cover version.

The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia, and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It mocks suburban tract housing as "little boxes" of different colors "all made out of ticky-tacky", and which "all look just the same." "Ticky-tacky" is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of the houses.

Reynolds was a folk singer-songwriter and political activist in the 1960s and 1970s. Nancy Reynolds, her daughter, explained that her mother wrote the song after seeing the housing developments around Daly City, California, built in the post-war era by Henry Doelger, particularly the neighborhood of Westlake.
My mother and father were driving South from San Francisco through Daly City when my mom got the idea for the song. She asked my dad to take the wheel, and she wrote it on the way to the gathering in La Honda where she was going to sing for the Friends Committee on Legislation. When Time magazine (I think, maybe Newsweek) wanted a photo of her pointing to the very place, she couldn’t find those houses because so many more had been built around them that the hillsides were totally covered.
"

[See also:
http://www.roomonethousand.com/little-boxes-high-tech-and-the-silicon-valley/
http://telstarlogistics.typepad.com/telstarlogistics/2006/11/americas_most_p.html
http://www.willemsplanet.com/2014/10/09/thursday-the-little-boxes-of-daly-city/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/telstar/sets/72157594414534853/
https://vimeo.com/224844379 ]
dalycity  malvina  reynolds  peteseeger  sanfrancisco  classideas  songs  music  henrydoelger  bayarea  california  suburbia  conformism  middleclass  us  capitalism  nancyreynolds  westlake 
january 2018 by robertogreco
I Want it All Now! Documentary on Marin County (1978) - YouTube
"From deep in NBC's archives, a funky '70s documentary which brought Marin County, California to national attention, from its fucked up deadbeat parents to its misguided fascination with mystical oriental ooga-booga horseshit. If you ever wondered why people associate peacock feathers and suicide with Marin, this is why. Strangely, Tupac Shakur does not make a cameo.

Each story in this film is an accurate depiction of everyone in Marin and does not deviate from any Marinite's experience, without exception."

[Via: ".@NBCNews did an extraordinary profile of Marin County 40 years ago:" https://twitter.com/nikosleverenz/status/950213237236117504

in response to: "In the 1960s, Marin County pioneered slow-growth environmentalism. Today the county's also home to some of the nation's highest housing costs, decades-old patterns of segregation and has the state's largest racial disparities http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-marin-county-affordable-housing-20170107-story.html "
https://twitter.com/dillonliam/status/950046576554029056 ]
marin  towatch  1978  bayarea  marincounty  1970s  1960s  history  narcissism  wealth  happiness  psychology  self  self-help  selfishness  race  racism  suburbs  sanfrancisco  capitalism  californianideology 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Charter School Nightmares
[via: https://twitter.com/rboren/status/946971918170775553 ]

"This is what recess at a *~bAy aReA cHaRteR~* is like.

The time allotted for recess is officially 25 minutes, but it is more like 15 with the transitions.

Teachers walk their students down to the black parking lot (without painted lines) structure. That same parking lot functions as the parent drop-off area in the mornings so there is oil and leaves galore on the ground. What you see in any area trafficked by cars. When the teachers drop the students off, the students sit in lines on the floor waiting until their entire grade is dropped off. Teachers are required to wait with students until the recess teachers come.

There are usually between 1 to 4 recess teachers. They are usually the PE or art teachers. The kids are not allowed to talk, because if they do, the recess teachers blow a whistle and everyone has to start over. They wait in lines until the recess teacher picks the quietest line, then they are allowed to WALK to whichever game they want. They are only offered a few choices - hopscotch, soccer, basketball, jump rope or organized races. There is no running allowed anywhere else other than the organized 30-foot or so races.

The picture above is the “basketball hoop”. Kids line up to shoot baskets into that milk crate. They are not allowed to play basketball with defense, offense, etc. They are only allowed to line up and shoot. Students have complained to me that they stood in line during all of recess to shoot a basketball but never had the chance because the line was too long.

The school just got their first real basketball hoop, but this is what the children used for god knows how long.

If anyone is caught running or touching another person (in any way), the recess teacher blows their whistle and everyone needs to sit down wherever they are standing for them to decide if it is something worth calling a principal down for or just a grade-wide talk.

After a very short recess, the students have to return to the lines that they started and silently walk back to their classroom, where lunch is served. Lunch is not served in a cafeteria. Lunch is exactly 15 minutes and it takes about 5 minutes to transition back to the classroom and get everyone lined up to receive lunch - which is how recess ends up being 15 minutes.

Again, no custodians so it’s normal to come back to your classroom and see piles of corn or rice on the floor, with no way of cleaning it."
schools  schooling  control  recess  play  prisons  2017  bayarea  behavior  children  abuse  charterschools 
january 2018 by robertogreco
FoundSF
"FoundSF is a wiki that invites history buffs, community leaders, and San Francisco citizens of all kinds to share their unique stories, images, and videos from past and present. There are over 1,250 articles here presenting primary sources, essays, and images from history... and we hope you'll add to it to help it grow!

How can I access the articles here?

There are four ways to explore the articles in FoundSF. You can use the search bar at the right to look for terms of interest, click on the "Random Page" link at right to jump to a surprise article, check out the Categories to search by topic, or explore the themed collections featuring grouped articles of interest.

The Categories allow you to browse articles by:

Decade
Theme
Population/People
Neighborhood/Geography
Is the information on FoundSF neutral and balanced?

No. Unlike Wikipedia, FoundSF does not have a mission to present a "neutral point of view." Instead, we are focused on presenting real artifacts of history, and some of the best of these are highly biased and provocative. For example, Mark Twain's searing satire of General Funston is a unique, provocative, and highly opinionated piece of history.

So how can I tell what to believe about the information on this site?

Each article on FoundSF is labeled at the top as an historical essay, primary source, "I was there" account, or unfinished history. The primary sources and "I was there" accounts are authentic pieces of history. The historical essays usually have citations and always are signed by the original author. "Unfinished history" pieces are collaborative projects of the community and are still taking shape, a process you are invited to contribute to!

Can I contribute my own stories and edit the articles here?

Absolutely! You can edit any article labeled unfinished history, or create your own following these steps.

If you would like to contribute a primary source or "I was there" account, your article will represent your experience alone and you will be responsible for verifying its authenticity. Please email us to discuss if your work is appropriate to be included as a primary source.

Who owns the content on FoundSF?

FoundSF uses a Creative Commons license (attribution, non-commercial, share alike). For more information on what this means, check out the full license here.

Who manages FoundSF?

FoundSF is part of Shaping San Francisco, a project of Independent Arts & Media. You can reach us with your comments on this project, questions about San Francisco history, or suggestions for improvements by emailing us. We'd love to hear from you.

Found San Francisco, on its initial public release, is the latest incarnation of Shaping San Francisco, begun in 1997 originally as a Windows-based multimedia excavation of the lost history of the city. This is the fifth iteration of the project, and has been produced in collaboration with the forthcoming San Francisco Museum and Historical Society's Museum at the Old Mint.

Found San Francisco is a living archive of the city providing people with access to its lost history. Hundreds of people have contributed stories, photos, video oral histories, and more. Through our unique approach to community history, we developed strong content on labor, ecology, transit, and dissent and how they have changed the landscape of San Francisco since the 1850s. Our project shows that history is much more than Richter scales and gold rushes.

We seek to demonstrate and reinforce the simple observation that History is a Creative Act in the Present! By this we mean that the meaning and understanding of the past is always an intellectual and social process carried out in our own time. Given the many so-called "history wars" that have beset U.S. culture in the past decades, and the frequency with which our understanding of our shared history is revised, we think it vital to invite as many people as possible into the process of literally making history. Our long-term goal is to facilitate the discovery, presentation, preservation of, and access to local history, incorporating the past into a rapidly changing future.

We look forward to your contributions to this evolving collection. You can go to our help screen and see our guidelines and learn how to use the system. If you've ever edited on Wikipedia, you'll find this quite familiar. If not, you will find it relatively easy to learn. If you would like to schedule a workshop for your community group, your classroom, or even just yourself and a few friends, please contact us."
bayarea  california  history  sanfrancisco  classideas  wiki  population  geography  neighborhoods  creativecommons  video  orlhistory 
december 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: North vs. South, That Fading Rivalry - The New York Times
"California was once defined by the differences between Northern California and Southern California. But as the state grows and becomes more prosperous, has that begun to change? That question was put to Conor Dougherty, a Times reporter in San Francisco who grew up in the Bay Area, and Adam Nagourney, who moved to Los Angeles seven years ago to run our bureau there.

What do you think differentiates the northern and southern parts of the state and what makes them similar these days? Send us your thoughts at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

Conor: Adam, I think that the classic NorCal/SoCal rivalry is fading. More than a decade ago when I was living in Los Angeles I went and saw a fabulous art exhibit about a fictional war about San Francisco and L.A. I just can’t imagine that today.

Adam: Hey Conor. As a transplant, I defer to you, of course. Well somewhat. The rivalry might be fading. Still, I have to say the Bay Area seems strikingly different to me from Los Angeles, in terms of attitudes, sensibilities, and, to a lesser extent politics. (Different shades of blue).

Conor: It used to be San Francisco was the union town while Southern California gave us Ronald Reagan. Today, the entire state is run by Democrats. When I was a kid, L.A. was the big bad city that stole our water. One thing that’s softened the rivalry, I think, is the growth of the tech industry. How can you resent Hollywood when your companies are trying to eat it?

Adam: The difference I notice, and maybe this is because of the history of San Francisco — the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and the cultural turmoil in the Haight and the Castro — is that politics there have always been more intense and a bit more left. Political interest in Los Angeles has always been more intense than New Yorkers (just kidding, Mom!) might think, though I don’t think it’s quite as intense as San Francisco. (Or wasn’t that is, until last year’s presidential election).

Conor: Fair enough. In the ’90s people said the NorCal/SoCal rivalry was mostly a one-sided affair in which people in San Francisco were jealous of L.A.’s status as a global capital and people in L.A. thought San Franciscans were cute. But now, with the growth of the tech industry, S.F. is taking on Hollywood and the Bay Area has become a Los Angeles-like slurb with 405-grade traffic. My overall argument comes down to this: In various ways, San Francisco and L.A. are a lot more alike now, and that makes L.A. hard to hate."
conordougherty  adamnagourney  california  socal  norcal  losangeles  sanfrancisco  bayarea  rivalry  culture  hollywood  siliconvalley  influence  2017 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Bowman School – Discover. Create. Become.
"Discover, Create, Become: Learning to Innovate for the Future
"Education should no longer be mostly imparting knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentials.”

~Dr. Maria Montessori

In an increasingly technological and globalized world, children need more than just job skills—they need to learn how to think, problem solve, innovate, and communicate. Schools must go beyond the educational models of years past to prepare children for our ever-changing future.

At Bowman, we embrace the challenge of equipping the next generation through an integrated, hands-on approach based on a Montessori understanding of development and learning. We provide a dynamic and prepared environment for children to explore big questions about the world and their potential to affect positive change.

Experienced Montessori teachers provide individual guidance to students in following their developmentally-specific educational path through broad-focused inquiry and examination. Bowman creates responsible and responsive global citizens.

Our Mission
Simply put, Bowman inspires children to love learning in an academically challenging and internationally-aware program that promotes leadership, respect, responsibility, and independence.

Our School
Founded in 1995, Bowman International School is an independent, non-profit, K-8 school committed to educating tomorrow's leaders by promoting a rigorously self-directed and individualized approach to learning year-round. We are pleased to hold the distinction of being one of only two WASC-accredited Montessori schools in California and considered one of the top seven Montessori elementary schools in the world by Tim Seldin, founder of the International Montessori Council (IMC).

Our teachers are models of initiative and engagement as active contributors to education-focused publications, presenters at local and national conferences, and leaders in numerous Montessori organizations. As a result of their influence, Bowman students—representing more than 30 countries—transition to highly competitive high schools, and are accepted to public and private colleges including Stanford, UC Berkeley, Princeton, and Yale.

The Bowman community is comprised of forward-thinkers who are motivated to share knowledge and grow together. Situated on a 1.5- acre site in Palo Alto, our campus currently includes inspirational classrooms and outdoor spaces for gardening, physical activities, and events. We are now coming together to achieve our goal of adding a “Learning Village,” including a new preschool, STEAM laboratory, and gymnasium. By providing the best teaching and resources, Bowman will empower the younger generation toward their highest aspirations for years to come!"
schools  paloalto  bayarea  montessori 
december 2017 by robertogreco
creeksidelearninglab
"Creekside Learning Lab is an independent private school offering a blended 4th and 5th grade program in Portola Valley, CA.
 
We may be a small school, but we have big ideas.  We invite you to discover more about our innovative teaching philosophy and to see the amazing things that happen both in and beyond our classroom."
portolavalley  bayarea  smallschools  schools 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Tru
"Tru is a private elementary school near downtown Palo Alto serving students K – 6, with unique progressive practices to support the love of learning. Students practice mindfulness, engage in stage performance, and learn through in-depth projects with cross-disciplinary themes. Teachers form personal relationships with each child based on developmental research and make strong connections with families"
schools  paloalto  bayarea 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Ventana School
"Welcome to Ventana School. We are a progressive, Episcopal preschool and elementary school with a Reggio-inspired curriculum, tucked away in the serene quiet of Los Altos Hills.

At Ventana, childhood wonder is the springboard for learning. A kindergartener spots a bee crawling on the ground and wonders why it isn't flying. Soon her whole class is studying bee colonies and designing a pollinator garden. Third-grade students learn about “mindsets,” which sparks a month-long investigation into the brain. With teachers as guides, our students take charge of their learning and feed their passionate curiosity.

We give children endless opportunities to express their creativity. We recognize that children process ideas in a multitude of ways — what Reggio educators call the “hundred languages of children.” Our students paint, sculpt, build, tinker, tell stories, create plays, and make music, all ways of reflecting deeply on new concepts.

We nurture students from the inside out. We value social-emotional learning as much as academics. In our safe and supportive environment, students collaborate and negotiate as they grapple with big ideas. They learn to listen and lead. They develop confidence in their capability and resilience, and emerge as life-long learners."
schools  losaltos  losaltoshills  bayarea  reggioemilia  via:derek 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Warriors' Kevin Durant on finding his black identity in America
"LM: When you were coming here, did you know much about the Bay Area’s history of political activism?

KD: I just knew about the Black Panthers, and I knew about so many great, great, intelligent minds always influenced by the Bay. Influenced by Oakland, influenced by Vallejo, San Francisco. Every part of the Bay, from hip-hop culture, music culture, rock and roll, to athletes, to politicians, everything is influenced by the Bay. It has its own style. I knew that, but as far as just coming out here and really feeling free, feeling like you could be yourself, feeling like you can love whatever you want to love and not be judged for it, and not be ridiculed for it, I feel like everybody should want to feel that way, everybody should want to be in that atmosphere. That’s what America is all about. Being out here, it makes me feel that way."
kevindurant  california  bayarea  sanfrancisco  oakland  vallejo  2017  race  blackpantherparty  blackpanthers  freedom  activism  colinkaepernick  culture  hiphop  music  rickjames  tupakshakur 
november 2017 by robertogreco
How to make the Bay Area's tangle of public transit options less chaotic - San Francisco Business Times
"Have you ever tried to transfer from BART to Muni downtown, entering and exiting separate gates after you walk up and down two sets of stairs? Or made the same maneuver transferring from Caltrain to BART in Millbrae? The transfer takes minutes when it should take seconds — and that’s just one way the Bay Area’s transit system can bewilder riders.

SPUR, the region’s urban policy think-tank, just released a hulking 51-page report on how to make the Bay Area’s transit systems less chaotic. Much of the conversation surrounding public transit woes centers on funding shortfalls and overcrowding.

But there's another issue: when there are 27 different Bay Area transit systems, it's difficult for people to use them. The sheer number of intersecting systems makes the Bay Area arguably the most complex public transit network in the country, the report notes. “The Big 7” agencies — Muni, BART, AC Transit, Caltrain, VTA, SamTrans and Golden Gate Transit — each have more than 9 million riders a year.

“I ran into these problems when my family visits. They learned how to use BART but nothing else,” Ratna Amin, SPUR’s transit policy director, said at a panel discussion on Tuesday announcing the report. “While we like transit, we don’t use it because it’s too uncertain.”

It’s not just her family, of course.

There’s been a 14 percent drop in public transit usage per capita in the Bay Area since 1991. Aside from Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, that's biggest decrease among large metro areas. That’s bad company to be in if you care about transit-oriented development, traffic, the environment and making life better for 29 percent of Bay Area commuters who pass a county boundary to get to work every day.

The report notes that the region’s “divergent maps, schedules and fares to uncoordinated capital planning and investment” plays a big role. Part of that decline is because “having so many different transit systems makes it harder for riders to understand and use the services available to them,” SPUR notes.

How can policymakers ease the tension?

The report doesn’t just call for all-out consolidation among agencies because that could be onerous. It does call on state legislators to think of ways to provide financial incentives for just that. SPUR’s interviews found “some apathy among stakeholders about” solving the problem because “state and federal transit funding programs have not emphasized integration.”

SPUR mostly lays out a mixture of small and ambitious steps. They include designing new signage and a region-wide map to be more like New York and London’s signature looks; improving revenue-sharing between agencies; standardizing fares; and using bus fleets more efficiently by letting them provide more service across counties.

The shining example of Bay Area transit agencies working together was the creation of the Clipper Card in 2010. The service allows riders to use one re-loadable card across bus and rail systems. But that system has a major flaw: it includes several different fare structures, penalizing people who switch transit operators. Fixing this would require improved revenue sharing, the report notes.

The group also calls out the Metropolitan Transit Commission, the state-authorized transit coordinator in the region, for stopping short of requiring transit operators to change routes and business rules. For example, there are still no timed transfers from BART to feeder buses, the report said.

SPUR found in interviews that MTC also has strained relationships with its operators.

Planning easier transfers for riders is also important because major transit hubs will soon come online. Those hubs include the Valley Transit Authority’s BART-Silicon Valley Extension to San Jose, Caltrain’s Downtown Extension in San Francisco and the Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway.

“We have shortcomings to identify — interagency disputes, transit lines that stop at one boundary,” State Senator Jim Beall said Tuesday morning at the panel. “if we were starting from scratch, no one would invent the transit system we have in the Bay Area.”"
bayarea  transportation  transit  publictransit  sanfrancisco  bart  muni  trains  2017  sanjose  marin  vta  smart  oakland  caltrain  publictransportation  marincounty 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Solving the Bay Area's Fragmented Transit Dilemma
"The last time I wrote about Bay Area public transportation, my final conclusion was that the region needed to consolidate all of its disparate operators into a single agency, much like the MTA in New York or New Jersey Transit in the entire state. I have since significantly revised my stance on this subject, but before I get into that, I want to first direct you to an interesting statistic compiled by the MTC, the Bay Area’s metropolitan planning organization:

[chart: "The Bay Area is the only metro area in the country without a primary transit operator."]

So even in America’s famous preference for local and decentralized government, the Bay Area stands outs. There is no primary transit operator here who has managed to capture a majority of the region’s transit riders. There is only a hopelessly disjointed patchwork of more than two-dozen local agencies (click here for map) an arrangement that is failing to provide a seamless transit service that would be expected of a world-class region. Back in 2009, the MTC noted this problem in its Annual Report:
“We have multiple layers of decision-making and service delivery -- 28 separate transit agencies, each with its own board, staff and operating team, that confound efforts to deliver a regional system passengers can understand and effectively navigate, and that can keep pace with changes in demand. And at times we … have made decisions to invest in system expansion when reinvesting in the existing system might have been the wiser choice.”


And they have since failed to do anything meaningful about it. The status quo is supported by band-aid fixes and duct tape and disappoints on multiple fronts, but these three are the most significant:

First of all, there is no standardized visual guideline that determines what station signage, vehicle design, nomenclature, and maps look like. Each agency has different names for the same thing (e.g. Limited, Rapid), uncoordinated schedules, dissimilar visual guidelines (colors, fonts, logos), and most perplexing of all, there is a procession of maps of all shapes, sizes, and colors that confound earnest attempts from tourists and locals alike to navigate the system. Just designing and displaying a unified map that realistically displays every route and different levels of service would go a long way to facilitate wayfinding."



[continues]
edmundxu  bayarea  transit  transportation  trains  2017  bart  sanfrancisco  sanjose  marin  vta  smart  oakland  caltrain  publictransit  publictransportation  marincounty 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Bay Area transit fails to put riders first - San Francisco Chronicle
"The northern terminus of SMART, the new passenger-rail system in the North Bay, is the Sonoma County Airport Station in Santa Rosa. But after my 8-year-old son and I flew in, we learned the airport is more than a mile from the train.

There is as yet no dedicated shuttle from plane to train. My son wasn’t up for walking. A public bus that would get us nearer to the train wouldn’t show up for hours. Uber wasn’t picking up, and my Lyft app kept crashing. The four cabbies outside the airport refused to take us on such a short, cheap trip.

The Bay Area is our richest large metropolitan region because it skillfully connects the world. But if you need to make transit connections in the Bay Area, good luck.

Lured by this summer’s preview rides on SMART, I recently spent three days navigating the Bay Area sans car. I enjoyed trains, ferries and buses. But I was bewildered by the failure of a place famous for integrating culture and technology to integrate its own infrastructure and transportation.

The SMART train is eventually supposed to reach the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, a 35-minute boat ride from San Francisco. But the first segment ends 2 miles short of the ferry. There’s a bike path to the terminal, and a bus station in San Rafael that can get you to the ferry, but that bus ride would take 26 minutes. We opted for an Uber and got there in eight minutes.

We shouldn’t have hurried: The ferry left 10 minutes late. But on a clear day, we enjoyed views of the Golden Gate Bridge. At the Ferry Building, I bought my son ice cream at Gott’s.

After meetings in San Francisco, we went to BART’s Embarcadero Station, heading for Oakland Airport and a flight home. But the first six trains were too full to board. BART is a system built for 60,000 riders that moves more than 400,000 daily. The system badly needs more cars, better maintenance, governance that isn’t dominated by unions and a second tunnel under the bay.

When the seventh train arrived, we pushed our way in. “That’s rude,” said one rider.

“We’re from L.A.,” I replied.

We made the flight, but the day produced sticker shock. The four-station ride from San Francisco to Oakland’s Coliseum Station, from which a tram takes you into the airport, cost $10.20 each. Add that to my $11.50 ferry ticket (my son’s was $5.75), the $9 Uber ride to the ferry, the $11.50 one-way fare on SMART (kids are half-price), and $10 for the airport cab ride, and our journey was pushing $70. In L.A., a Metro ride is just $1.75, with free transfers.

A few days later, I was back in San Francisco, contending with delays on the local Muni system, when I needed to get to San Jose, a city BART doesn’t quite reach yet. That meant riding Caltrain. BART and Caltrain share a station in Millbrae, but the schedules aren’t synchronized, meaning possible delay. So I walked 25 minutes from BART’s Powell Street Station to the Caltrain at Fourth and King.

In San Jose, I disembarked at Diridon Station, which may have a bright future as the northern end of high-speed rail. But for now, it is just another setting for connection frustration, as I waited a half-hour for a train on Santa Clara County’s VTA system.

The next day, to get to San Jose Airport, I took Caltrain to the Santa Clara Station, which offers a VTA bus shuttle. But the bus driver refused to open the bus door for 15 minutes, even during a brief rain. And the shuttle took a meandering route with a stop at a soccer stadium.

If the Bay Area is ever going to be the design-savvy ecotopia of its dreams, it must combine transit systems and put the rider’s needs first. Right now, using transit there makes you feel powerless. And that should be unacceptable in California’s most powerful region."
bayarea  transit  transportation  trains  2017  bart  sanfrancisco  sanjose  marin  vta  smart  oakland  caltrain  joematthews  publictransit  publictransportation  marincounty 
november 2017 by robertogreco
These photos of growing up in the Bay Area suburbs tell a story of innocence and disaffection
"Since the 1950s, exponential growth has pushed the San Francisco Bay Area built environment into, and over, the wetlands, valleys and hills of the region. What were once rural outposts are now commuter towns, villages are malls, farms are paved over and the ranches boxed in. In the postwar era, Walnut Creek transformed from a pastoral small town into the wealthy enclave east of the Oakland Hills that it is today.

Berkeley photographer Mimi Plumb, 64, spent her childhood in the town during its vast expansion. What Is Remembered is her record of alienated youth in 1970s suburbia—a milieu common to towns across America.

She arrived in Walnut Creek in 1956, at age three, after her parents upped sticks from Berkeley and moved out to one of the town’s first tract housing developments. They were quite content to trade in the intellectual life of the liberal college town for “a place where their kids could run around.”

Between 1950 and 1960, the population of Walnut Creek quadrupled from 2,460 to to 9,903. (It’s now more than 67,000.) Beginning in her teens, Plumb documented the townsfolk — particularly the children — living in the shadows of perpetual construction. Time was marked by the completion dates of new roads and housing projects.

“At the start, we were surrounded by walnut orchards. I could horseback ride, so there were things I could do, but for the entire time I lived there they were constantly tearing up land and building new sub-divisions.”"
photography  bayarea  miniplumb  walnutcreek  1950s  1960s  1970s  suburbia  orchards 
november 2017 by robertogreco
New sculptures installed at Richmond Branch Library | Richmond District Blog
"To honor the first birthday of the renovated Richmond Branch Library, the SF Arts Commission recently installed two new sculptures in front of the building.

Entitled Touching Earth, the two disc shaped sculptures were created by artist Scott Donahue. The pieces are inspired by the transient nature of the Bay Area’s population in that everyone arrived here from elsewhere using different modes of travel. The artist himself initally rode into the Bay Area on a bicycle.

Located on either side of the walkway leading up to the library’s entrance on 9th Avenue, the sculptures are two concrete containers covered with bronze epoxy domes. On top of each dome is a relief map of the Bay Area.

The south side sculpture depicts the historical Bay Area, before there was any Golden Gate or Bay Bridges. Inset in the relief map are various small photos showing how people reached the Bay Area in the past: by foot, horse, ship, train or prairie schooner.

The north side relief sculpture shows a closer, more contemporary view of the Bay with the Richmond Library highlighted in the center. More modern methods of transportation are shown including a jet plane, a bicyclist, a ferry, cars and even the 38 Geary MUNI bus.

The pieces were commissioned as part of the Branch Library Improvement Program. Donahue’s proposal for the pieces was selected through a community-based process back in 2005.

Donahue got into some hot water last year when he was paid $196,000 by Berkeley’s public arts program to create two large statues honoring the history and daily life of the city of Berkeley. At the base of the statues were small medallions showing dogs doing what they do – biting each other, defecating, even having sex with each other.

Apparently in his original proposal to the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission, Donahue’s design didn’t show the tiny canine reliefs. Many Berkeley-ites were not thrilled with the artist’s irreverent, canine commentary on Berkeley life, nor the Commission’s oversight of it."
sfsh  richmonddistrict  sculpture  art  libraries  maps  mapping  sanfrancisco  berkeley  2010  bayarea  scottdonahue 
october 2017 by robertogreco
El Diablo in Wine Country « LRB blog
"The big picture, then, is the violent reorganisation of regional fire regimes across North America, and as pyrogeography changes, biogeography soon follows. Some forests and ‘sky island’ ecosystems will face extinction; most will see dramatic shifts in species composition. Changing land cover, together with shorter rainy seasons, will destabilise the snowpack-based water-storage systems that irrigate the West."



"This is the deadly conceit behind mainstream environmental politics in California: you say fire, I say climate change, and we both ignore the financial and real-estate juggernaut that drives the suburbanisation of our increasingly inflammable wildlands. Land use patterns in California have long been insane but, with negligible opposition, they reproduce themselves like a flesh-eating virus. After the Tunnel Fire in Oakland and the 2003 and 2007 firestorms in San Diego County, paradise was quickly restored; in fact, the replacement homes were larger and grander than the originals. The East Bay implemented some sensible reforms but in rural San Diego County, the Republican majority voted down a modest tax increase to hire more firefighters. The learning curve has a negative slope.

I’ve found that the easiest way to explain California fire politics to students or visitors from the other blue coast is to take them to see the small community of Carveacre in the rugged mountains east of San Diego. After less than a mile, a narrow paved road splays into rutted dirt tracks leading to thirty or forty impressive homes. The attractions are obvious: families with broods can afford large homes as well as dirt bikes, horses, dogs, and the occasional emu or llama. At night, stars twinkle that haven’t been visible in San Diego, 35 miles away, for almost a century. The vistas are magnificent and the mild winters usually mantle the mountain chaparral with a magical coating of light snow.

But Carveacre on a hot, high fire-danger day scares the shit out of me. A mountainside cul-de-sac at the end of a one-lane road with scattered houses surrounded by ripe-to-burn vegetation – the ‘fuel load’ of chaparral in California is calculated in equivalent barrels of crude oil – the place confounds human intelligence. It’s a rustic version of death row. Much as I would like for once to be a bearer of good news rather than an elderly prophet of doom, Carveacre demonstrates the hopelessness of rational planning in a society based on real-estate capitalism. Unnecessarily, our children, and theirs, will continue to face the flames."
mikedavis  2017  fire  fires  winds  diablowinds  santaanawinds  bayarea  napa  sonoma  sandiego  oaklandhills  santarosa  santacruz  stephenpyne  nature  urbanism  urban  capitalism  greenland  climatechange  lacienega  pacificnorthwest  cascadia  vanouve  britishcolumbia  phoenix  jerybrown  california  oakland  carveacre  mcmansions 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Public Knowledge
"Public Knowledge is an expansive, multi-faceted project that aims to promote public dialogue about the cultural impact of urban and technological change and the role of public institutions in these turbulent times in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Bringing together artists, librarians, scholars, and community collaborators and partners from many backgrounds, it is spearheaded by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.

The Public Knowledge initiative explores the tectonic economic, social, and cultural shifts transforming San Francisco, the factors involved in the changes taking place, and the stakes involved in surviving, resisting, adapting, and trying to shape these changes. Valuing the unique contribution that artistic thinking and practice can make to public conversations, the project will unfold over two years of artists in residence, free talks, discussions, workshops, performances, and other events in neighborhoods and libraries throughout the city. Together we will explore how contemporary art can illuminate issues of concern to our community, and create spaces for new conversations, both locally and farther afield.

In a time when providing access to public information and social engagement, once a key role of public institutions, is now being taken over by technology, the Public Knowledge project recognizes that people seem to be abandoning public institutions, and ambitiously seeks to examine the historic role of public institutions and reinvigorate their relevance today. By experimenting with new ways of forging relationships and nurturing connections, we look to act as a catalyst for participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another, and together to develop new approaches to strengthening the fabric of civic life.

The project will have a physical location at a new pop-up Public Knowledge Library, a temporary branch of the public library at SFMOMA where visitors can engage with all kinds of related materials, and an online location where anyone interested can learn more and participate.

Public Knowledge is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library. The project has been made possible in part by a major Public Humanities Projects, Community Conversations grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor."

[See also: https://www.sfmoma.org/artists-artworks/public-dialogue/public-knowledge/

"Launched in April 2017, Public Knowledge is a two-year project that aims to promote public dialogue on the cultural impact of urban change. Through artist projects, research collaborations, public programs, and publishing, it builds new connections between ideas, individuals, and communities. Public Knowledge is based in San Francisco and takes place at multiple locations in the city.

The project grew in response to the profound changes taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area due to the rapid growth of the technology industry. While many have benefited from the resulting boom, it has also led to increasing inequality. Rising costs and unevenly distributed gains create ever greater difficulties for those excluded: a fraying sense of community as everyday life becomes more precarious; the disappearance of an inclusive and diverse cultural ecology as nonprofit organizations and cultural spaces are priced out of neighborhoods; and the loss of cultural memory for those without the means to represent themselves.

San Francisco may be an extreme instance of this process of hyper-gentrification, but it is not unique. Many other cities in the United States and around the world have shared similar experiences. The changes are so fast and so deep that it can be hard to interpret and respond to their impact on public life.

At the same time, the technology industry, with both a deep local impact and a global reach, has disrupted what knowledge is, how it is produced, and how it is circulated. As information and resources are increasingly privatized and public trust is eroded, how can the forms and institutions of public knowledge be maintained?

Public Knowledge brings together artists, scholars, librarians, community organizers, and San Francisco residents to consider these questions. By sharing their varied expertise and creating new knowledge through the project’s activities, participants can learn from each other and, collectively, begin to develop new approaches to strengthening the fabric of civic life.

Public Knowledge is co-curated by Deena Chalabi, Barbara and Stephan Vermut Associate Curator of Public Dialogue, and Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Practice. Stella Lochman, Program Associate, Public Dialogue, is head of production.

Participating artists include Burak Arikan, Bik Van der Pol, Minerva Cuevas, Josh Kun, and Stephanie Syjuco.

Participating scholars include Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jon Christensen, Teddy Cruz, Fonna Forman, Jennifer A. González, Shannon Jackson, and Fred Turner."]

[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/911987274497380353 ]
sfmoma  sanfrancisco  art  public  bayarea  libraries  community  sfpl  economics  society  culture  place  change  thinking  practice  conversation  publicinstitutions  institutions 
september 2017 by robertogreco
East Bay Yesterday by East Bay Yesterday on Apple Podcasts
"East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties."
eastbay  bayarea  oakland  berkeley  richmond  alameda  contracosta  podcasts  history 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Seasonal recipe guide: Preparing meals fresh from the market
"These recipes showcase the best of Bay Area seasonal produce. Many come from our region's top chefs, and all have been tested in the Chronicle Test Kitchen. Go to your local market and get cooking."
food  recipes  california  sarahfritsche  seasons  produce  sanfrancisco  bayarea  glvo 
july 2017 by robertogreco
CUESA | Cultivating a Healthy Food System
"CUESA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1994 to educate urban consumers about sustainable agriculture and to create links between urban dwellers and local farmers.

Farmers Markets
CUESA has managed the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco since 1999, and the Jack London Square Farmers Market in Oakland since 2016. CUESA’s markets are certified farmers markets renowned for diverse offerings of high-quality, delicious local products. Learn more about our markets »

Education Programs
CUESA’s educational initiatives inspire eaters of all ages to participate in cultivating a healthy food system, including cooking demonstrations, farm tours, youth programs like Foodwise Kids and Schoolyard to Market, and more. See our programs overview »

Vision
We envision a healthy world nourished by environmentally sound, humane, economically viable, and socially just food systems.

Community Commitment
CUESA is committed to conducting its business, programs, and market activities according to the following core values: sustainability, excellence, vision, and community. CUESA pledges to:

• Operate world-class farmers markets that provide high-quality, nutritious, and safe products from local farmers, food artisans, and restaurants.
• Foster transparency in our markets by requiring truth in labeling and by offering opportunities for shoppers to learn about the foods sold at the market.
• Provide exceptional services and education programs to our market patrons.
• Incubate small food businesses and support farmers and food entrepreneurs in making their operations more sustainable.
• Expand public access to fresh fruits and vegetables and teach skills for growing and preparing them at home.
• Work toward a healthy, just, and sustainable food system through education, advocacy, and action."
sanfrancisco  oakland  bayarea  food  classideas  farmersmarkets  agriculture 
july 2017 by robertogreco
E744: Initialized Capital Operating Partner & TechCrunch contributor Kim-Mai Cutler on affordable housing crisis in San Francisco Bay Area at intersection of race, class, & Silicon Valley | This Week In Startups
"Housing has become a hot button issue in the Bay Area, and in fact, the world, with homes being unaffordable and the ability to produce more housing being throttled by a number of interests. Housing in the Bay Area has become more expensive than anywhere else in the country, and the ability to rent an apartment has reached a level that has exceeded NYC. Our guest today, Kim-Mai Cutler, is a Bay Area native, Initialized Capital Operating Partner, TechCrunch contributor, and has become an authority on housing in the Bay Area. Join us as she explains the affordable housing crisis, the structural issue of power, the causes and consequences of transit fragmentation, gentrification and income inequality, and more."
housing  2017  california  kim-maicutler  sanfrancisco  losangeles  nyc  oakland  sanmateo  paloalto  cupertino  history  transportation  bart  bayarea  gentrification  policy  politics  proposition13  inequality 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Welcome to Elkus Ranch - UC Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center
"The Richard J. Elkus Ranch is an environmental education center providing unique hands-on learning experiences for Greater San Francisco Bay Area youth. Elkus Ranch is the property of the University of California and was a generous gift from Mr and Mrs. Richard J. Elkus in 1975.

The Elkus family envisioned that the Ranch would provide the University with an opportunity to conduct educational outdoor programs for urban, disabled and inner-city youth. By offering environmental science, California history, animal care and agricultural programs that are scheduled year round, that goal has been achieved.

Located on the central California coast, in Half Moon Bay, the ranch offers diverse programs including those specifically designed for students with special needs, allowing participants to learn about the inter-relationship of the environment and themselves in a rural setting.

In addition, the Elkus family felt that the Ranch would make it possible for youth with disabilities or financial hardships to work, play and learn together with youth from different backgrounds, so that both would benefit by a new understanding of other people as well as by the learning experiences gained at the Ranch.

Each year, Elkus Ranch serves an increasing number of young people with the goal of continuing to provide meaningful learning experiences that will enrich their lives and provide opportunities for growth and development.

Elkus Ranch hosts more than 6,000 youth and adults each year from all over the San Francisco Bay area including: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties. Elkus Ranch invites all children to explore the wonders of this outdoor classroom.

The Ranch offers a myriad of educational programs and activities for children of all ages and ethnicities. Individuals and groups participate in day and overnight field trips, community service projects, internships and volunteer opportunities."
classideas  outdoors  environment  education  bayarea  halfmoonbay 
june 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



"Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”"



"The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

The Future

Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Where is Gentrification Happening in Your City? | Data-Smart City Solutions
"Gentrification—demographic and physical changes in neighborhoods that bring in wealthier residents, greater investment, and more development—has become a buzzword in urban planning. As traditionally low-income neighborhoods across the U.S. gentrify, social justice advocates have become increasingly concerned about displacement, the dislocation of low-income residents due to prohibitive prices. As a result, policymakers and urban planners have begun to consider strategies to combat the byproducts of gentrification in recently-developed or developing neighborhoods, such as providing low-cost amenities and rent controlled or low-income housing.

The first step in addressing gentrification is understanding where it has happened and where it is likely to happen in the future. A number of cities have found mapping to be a powerful tool for observing gentrification trends, allowing them to intervene before low-income residents are seriously affected. Cities have created maps using data mostly from public sources both to better understand historical trends in gentrification and displacement and predict the next areas where low-income residents are likely to lose their homes. While each model is unique, all display methodologies that are applicable across cities. For a factor by factor overview of models in seven U.S. cities, see

Los Angeles i-Team’s Indices of Neighborhood Change and Displacement Pressure

Urban Displacement Project Los Angeles Map of Neighborhood Change

Portland’s Susceptibility to Gentrification Model

Seattle Displacement Risk Analysis

Boston’s Displacement-Risk Map

Urban Displacement Project San Francisco Bay Area Displacement Risk Analysis

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development’s Displacement Alert Project Map
Limitations

Appendix: Comparison of Models"
gentrification  displacement  demographics  maps  mapping  losangeles  sanfrancisco  bayarea  seattle  portland  oregon  boston  housing  2017  chrisbousquet 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Urban Displacement San Francisco Map | Urban Displacement Project
"The Bay Area’s booming jobs and housing market necessitates a careful look at the causes and consequences of neighborhood change to protect residents that are most vulnerable to potentially being displaced. Wages for the Bay Area’s low income residents have not kept pace with the sky-rocketing housing prices resulting in massive demographic shifts in the area.

UC Berkeley analyzed regional data on housing, income and other demographics to better understand and predict where gentrification and displacement is happening and will likely occur in the future. This analysis, which is summarized in the interactive maps, will allow communities to better characterize their experience and risk of displacement and to stimulate action. The analysis behind these maps was validated through in-depth case studies of 9 Bay Area communities and with the support and advice of the Regional Prosperity Plan at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. In developing 8 neighborhood displacement typologies, communities can better understand where they’re at and develop actions to prevent from advancing in the stages of gentrification and displacement.

Key Findings:

• In 2013, 48 percent of census tracts and more than 53 percent of low-income households lived in neighborhoods at risk of or already experiencing displacement and gentrification pressures.

• Neighborhoods with rail stations, historic housing stock, and rising housing prices are especially at risk of losing low-income households.

• Low income neighborhoods are not the only ones experiencing displacement pressures – many higher income neighborhoods that still house low income households are also rapidly losing low income population.

• The number of tracts at risk of displacement are 123% higher than the numbers already experiencing them, indicating that the transformation of the Bay Area will continue to accelerate."
displacement  gentrification  sanfrancisco  bayarea  maps  mapping 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Indian Summer – Boom California
"You follow the execution of architectural plans with the extreme precision of a surgeon. In your line of work, perfection is a requirement. From the structural integrity of the foundation to the application of a subtle shade of paint, you meticulously manage every detail. The architect and contractor are conciliatory as you are kind but assertive, even forming your commands as gentle requests followed by astute observations and independent research. That is to say, before you make your recommendations, you hit the books, study the matter, prepare with knowing. Your assumption of authority has been learned in the military, but of gentleness, trained at the hospital bedside. But there is another veneer not so easily interpreted. You were born into one of the few Japanese families in a small rural town in Montana. Your father came at the turn of the century, labored as a foreman to complete the Northern Pacific—Minnesota to Spokane, and one day made enough to pay for your mother’s passage, a picture bride. As you come of age, you and your family represent an enemy from a place you have never known. To compare the small tightknit fishing villages of your parents to the rugged mountainous cowboy town of your upbringing is to imagine a folktale about two distant and exotic lands. If only it were a folktale and not a navigation through territories of hatred. Within months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, you are aware that less than 200 miles away, across the border in Wyoming, 10,000 Japanese Americans evicted from the West Coast have been incarcerated in the same spectacular but desolate landscape in which you continue to be free. But it is a perilous freedom, especially for your immigrant parents designated enemy aliens. Thus every movement, every action, every facial expression must avoid trouble, anticipate a precarious future. Like any other kid from Montana, your older brother volunteers for the military. Your mother embroiders a thousand knots into a woven cotton belt that he obediently wears under his uniform, a protective talisman; so he returns but only to be killed in peacetime. You follow your brother’s path as if to complete what can never be completed, but you are driven to succeed. You skip lunch and drive from your practice at midday to see the rising stone escarpment, 650 tons of quarried Arizona sandstone, flashing a toothy grin toward the Pacific, a gesture of grandeur and place against a precarious future."
california  2017  karenteiyamashita  santacruz  franklloydwright  architecture  bayarea  aarongreen  fiction 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Weird Thing About Today's Internet - The Atlantic
"O’Reilly’s lengthy description of the principles of Web 2.0 has become more fascinating through time. It seems to be describing a slightly parallel universe. “Hyperlinking is the foundation of the web,” O’Reilly wrote. “As users add new content, and new sites, it is bound into the structure of the web by other users discovering the content and linking to it. Much as synapses form in the brain, with associations becoming stronger through repetition or intensity, the web of connections grows organically as an output of the collective activity of all web users.”

Nowadays, (hyper)linking is an afterthought because most of the action occurs within platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and messaging apps, which all have carved space out of the open web. And the idea of “harnessing collective intelligence” simply feels much more interesting and productive than it does now. The great cathedrals of that time, nearly impossible projects like Wikipedia that worked and worked well, have all stagnated. And the portrait of humanity that most people see filtering through the mechanics of Facebook or Twitter does not exactly inspire confidence in our social co-productions.

Outside of the open-source server hardware and software worlds, we see centralization. And with that centralization, five giant platforms have emerged as the five most valuable companies in the world: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook."



"All this to say: These companies are now dominant. And they are dominant in a way that almost no other company has been in another industry. They are the mutant giant creatures created by software eating the world.

It is worth reflecting on the strange fact that the five most valuable companies in the world are headquartered on the Pacific coast between Cupertino and Seattle. Has there ever been a more powerful region in the global economy? Living in the Bay, having spent my teenage years in Washington state, I’ve grown used to this state of affairs, but how strange this must seem from from Rome or Accra or Manila.

Even for a local, there are things about the current domination of the technology industry that are startling. Take the San Francisco skyline. In 2007, the visual core of the city was north of Market Street, in the chunky buildings of the downtown financial district. The TransAmerica Pyramid was a regional icon and had been the tallest building in the city since construction was completed in 1972. Finance companies were housed there. Traditional industries and power still reigned. Until quite recently, San Francisco had primarily been a cultural reservoir for the technology industries in Silicon Valley to the south."

[See also:

"How the Internet has changed in the past 10 years"
http://kottke.org/17/05/how-the-internet-has-changed-in-the-past-10-years

"What no one saw back then, about a week after the release of the original iPhone, was how apps on smartphones would change everything. In a non-mobile world, these companies and services would still be formidable but if we were all still using laptops and desktops to access information instead of phones and tablets, I bet the open Web would have stood a better chance."

"‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/technology/evan-williams-medium-twitter-internet.html]

[Related:
"Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/technology/techs-frightful-five-theyve-got-us.html

"Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?: The Big Five tech companies increasingly dominate our lives. Could you ditch them?"
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/10/technology/Ranking-Apple-Amazon-Facebook-Microsoft-Google.html

"Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are not just the largest technology companies in the world. As I’ve argued repeatedly in my column, they are also becoming the most powerful companies of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. But which of the Frightful Five is most unavoidable? I ponder the question in my column this week.

But what about you? If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?"]
alexismadrigal  internet  2017  apple  facebook  google  amazon  microsoft  westcoast  bayarea  sanfrancisco  seattle  siliconvalley  twitter  salesforce  instagram  snapchat  timoreilly  2005  web  online  economics  centralization  2007  web2.0  whatsapp  evanwilliams  kottke  farhadmanjoo 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A new map for BART with better names
"Now that BART has extended to Warm Springs/South Fremont and will soon go further south to Milpitas and San Jose, it's high time to create a new BART map, that not only includes other regional rail like Caltrain and Capitol Corridor, but ALSO all new station names!

Standardizing the BART policy of creating long station names, preferably with a slash, the new stations are plenty long. Note that some of the station names have evolved since the last time station names were discussed.

Please help us decide if the stations should have local area names with some describers, or if they should simply be named after cross streets."
names  naming  bart  transportation  publictransit  sanfrancisco  bayarea  2017 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Draft Reports | Plan Bay Area 2040 Draft Plan
"The Plan Bay Area 2040 draft supplemental reports provide more detail on specific subject areas covered in the plan, including transportation, land use, equity and the environment, and performance and public participation."

"Equity & Environment
Air Quality Conformity Report (available early May)
Environmental Impact Report
Environmental Impact Report - Appendices
Equity Analysis Report

Land Use
Land Use Modeling Report
Regional Forecast of Jobs, Population and Housing
Scenario Planning Report
Statutorily-Required Plan Maps

Performance & Public Participation
Glossary
Native American Tribal Outreach Report
Performance Assessment Report
Public Engagement Program Report

Transportation
Financial Assumptions Report
Freight Emissions Reduction Action Plan
Investment Strategy Report
Project List
Local Streets and Roads, Bridges and State Highway Needs Assessment
Transit Operating and Capital Needs and Revenue Assessment
Travel Modeling Report"
bayarea  transportation  landuse  policy  equity  environment  classideas  sanfrancisco  sfsh 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Bay Curious | KQED News
"A podcast exploring the Bay Area one question at a time"

"00:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.
KQED’s new podcast, Bay Curious, gets to the bottom of the mysteries — both profound and peculiar — that give the Bay Area its unique identity. And we’ll do it with your help! You ask the questions. You decide what Bay Curious investigates. And you join us on the journey to find the answers"
bayarea  sanfrancisco  classideas  podcasts 
april 2017 by robertogreco
A map of San Francisco's subway system that almost was
"The original 1956 plan for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system was way more complex on paper than it is in reality. Designer Jake Coolidge has imagined a universe in which this full plan was implemented. And even though it doesn't involve filling in the Bay or underground rocket trains or pyramids, it does complement world-building for any tales about an alternate reality San Francisco rather nicely."
maps  mapping  bart  history  sanfrancisco  bayarea  1956  jakecoolidge  trains  transit  publictransit  classideas 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Bay Area 2050: the BART Metro Map
"Introduction
The BART Metro Map consolidates the Bay Area’s existing transit — currently spread over two dozen different transit agencies — and aggregates proposed, planned, and under-construction projects. The map envisions a “best-case scenario,” in which every proposal currently under consideration around the Bay has been funded and constructed (wishful thinking, of course). As we trudge down Geary on the 38, jam ourselves into rush hour BART, or as CalTrain experiences yet another delay, this map imagines an integrated, reliable, and truly regional transit future.

Purpose
The Bay Area has over two dozen different transit agencies. The lack of coordination and the competition for funds costs our region economically both in terms of inefficient government spending on poorly planned routes, and lost productivity due to poor service for commuters. In addition, as the population in nearly every city around the Bay grows, it is clear that our current infrastructure is inadequate to handle future growth, much less the recent tech boom. Although proposals and plans have sprung up left and right to augment transit capacity and service in the 9 counties, in isolation it can be difficult to visualize how these different projects would improve transportation in the Bay.

I’ve created this map to help people understand what is being considered and what our transit future could look like with more funding and more commitment from local governments. You can also take a look at SPUR’s hypothetical unified Bay Area rail map and CalUrbanist’s map of current regional rail.

Jump below for a comprehensive list of the projects referenced in this map, as well as an explanation of the style."

[See also: http://sf.curbed.com/2016/6/23/12017204/bart-metro-map-bay-area-future-plans

Another project: http://www.jakecoolidgecartography.com/regional-rapid-transit-bay-area.html

And more: http://www.jakecoolidgecartography.com/regional-rapid-transit-bay-area.html
]
maps  mapping  bart  muni  sanfrancisco  bayarea  trains  transit  publictransit  2050  future  adamsusaneck  spur  caltrain  classideas 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Why ravens, crows are more common now in Bay Area - SFGate
"Not so long ago, common ravens were uncommon in the Bay Area. A 1927 reference calls them "rare" except at Point Reyes. American crows lived mostly along the Marin County coast, not in the East Bay.

In 1991, Audubon Christmas Bird Counts tallied 17 crows and 54 ravens in San Francisco; 60 crows and 23 ravens in Oakland. The 2011 San Francisco count reported 599 ravens and 566 crows; Oakland had 1,152 crows and 193 ravens.

Remarkable, especially considering that crows, if not ravens, are highly susceptible to the West Nile virus. California Department of Public Health statistics show more dead crows than any other bird species testing positive for West Nile: 1,792 in 2008; 468 last year. (Raven mortality was minor.) The disease devastated crow populations in the East and Midwest, but California populations weren't dented.

Much of the crow and raven boom is urban. Birder Josiah Clark has seen flocks of 90 ravens in San Francisco. City crows are hard to miss in Berkeley and elsewhere in the East Bay; they're certainly, noisily, all over our neighborhood.

What brings them here? Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes that they don't get shot in cities; they benefit from both federal protected status and local firearms ordinances. That alone may encourage boldness. Also, he says, cities tend to be warmer than the countryside, and have large trees for night roosting. Urban crows are less likely to encounter their mortal enemy, the great horned owl, and city lights let crows spot owls before the owls spot them.

There's food, too: not so much the landfill smorgasbord (more the gulls' beat) as the fast-food parking lot buffet. "We eat so much out of doors now that these very intelligent birds can access all those food scraps we just drop or toss on the street," said Dan Murphy, compiler of the San Francisco Christmas Count. Some people feed them on purpose, too."

[See also:

"Clever crows, ravens crowd the Bay Area"
http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/thedirt/article/Clever-crows-ravens-crowd-the-Bay-Area-2738443.php

"They’re everywhere! Crows, ravens overrun Bay Area"
http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/02/14/theyre-everywhere-crows-ravens-overrun-bay-area/ ]
sanfrancisco  crows  ravens  birds  corvids  bayarea  2012 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Into The Mix | KQED Arts | KQED Public Media for Northern CA
"Welcome to Into The Mix, a new feature from KQED Arts that focuses on the recording industry in the Bay Area, both in the present and the past. Inspired by the new documentary series Soundbreaking: Stories From The Cutting Edge Of Recorded Music, we wanted to dig deeper into the studios, schools and legends in our local music scenes. Through our reporting, we'll introduce you to the local producers that were the unsung heroes behind your favorite recordings and the places where those bands made magic happen.

This is also the home base for news about Soundbreaking: Stories From The Cutting Edge Of Recorded Music. Episodes will air weeknights at 10pm, November 14-23, on KQED 9, and we will post additional broadcasts and other information in this series."
sanfrancisco  bayarea  music  recordingindustry 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Imperfect Produce-Ugly Produce. Delivered.
"In America, 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables grown don't fit grocery stores' strict cosmetic standards -- the crooked carrot, the curvy cucumber, the undersized apple -- usually causing them to go to waste.

Imperfect's mission is to find a home for these "ugly" fruits and veggies, starting with our produce delivery subscription in the Bay. And because they look a little funny, you get the 30-50% off!"

[via: https://twitter.com/shu/status/789887617563111425 ]
produce  waste  food  sanfrancisco  oakland  bayarea  glvo 
october 2016 by robertogreco
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