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Nick Kaufmann on Twitter: "Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although
[this is the event:
https://architecture.mit.edu/computation/lecture/playing-city-building ]

[thread contains many images]

"Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although it's only what i could grasp in an hour or so.

https://twitter.com/nickkauf/status/1071162000145817601
At @mitsap tonight tweeting about Jennifer Light's lecture "playing at city building" #urbanism #education #civictech

Light opened the talk with the observation that more disciplines are looking to study history to "look forward by looking backward" #civicfutures #usablepast

In #civictech we know this isnt the first government reform movement with a "techie spin" in the world or us. At the last turn of the century, anxieties about cities birthed the "good government movement" the "googoos" were reformers kinda like #civichackers of today

Like @codeforamerica and also #smartcities boosters, the goo-goos believed scientific models and tech tools were a source of progress. They were worried about "boss rule" and wanted to "rationalize government" compare to cfa's mottos today

After discussing the good govt movement, Lights set the historical context of shifting expectations around young people's behavior. Child labor laws did not stop children from working however, it was just framed as "play" now

In this context early models of vocational education and educational simulations emerged, including William R. George's "model republic" movement. @Erie @pahlkadot model republics were all over the usa, not as franchised like #cfabrigade but more grassroots diffusion of the idea

There were miniature republics run by children in boston(Cottage Row), Cleveland (Progress City) Philadelphia (Playground City), etc, where children worked as real pretend public servants

media coverage of the time hailed these civic simulations as educational opportunity/chance for a "second life" for youth. Some of the tenement kids that George put into his program ended up in ivy league schools, and as lawyers, Pub. Servants and admins of their own model cities

The educational theories at the time of the model republics were very similar to today's trends of "gamification" "experiential learning" etc. Light referenced Stanley Hall (imitation/impersonation) and 'identity play'

Long before Bateson and Goffman were muddling the boundary between seriousness/play, model republics were also using that ambiguity to educate and also cut costs of programs literally built and maintained by children. Imagine 1000 kids and 3 admins

John Dewey's philosophy of learning by doing was also heavily referenced in the talk, as George took great inspiration from him and Dewey was a supporter of the model republics.

Light stressed just how much model republic citizens did in their pretend-real jobs, building housing, policing, data collection, safety inspections, and they did it so well that they often circumvented the adult systems. Why send some1 to adult court when junior court works?

This dynamic reminded me so much of #civichackers today with our pretend jobs and weekly hack night play that quickly turns into real jobs for our cities

Another point Light made was that the model republics were very much about assimilation of immigrants into a certain set of white american middleclass values. But before rise of consumerism those values heavily emphasized DIY/activecitizenship/production.

One reason for the decline of the model republics might have been the rise of consumerism and passive consumption valued over production. But we still have things like model U.N. and vocational programs, vestiges of this time.

Again today we have a perceived need to train people for the "new economy", so what can #civictech #civicinnovation #smartcities learn from looking back to historical examples? For one thing, we learn that youth contribution to civic innovation is important and undervalued

When model republics were introduced into schools the educational outcomes were not the only advantage, they saved schools gobs of money through "user generated" labor. Again think about civictech volunteerism today...

At Emerson School, Light said, kids were even repairing the electrical system. And in some cities kids would stand in for the mayor at real events.

Heres a page describing the establishment of a self-governing body of newsboys in Milwaukee https://www.marquette.edu/cgi-bin/cuap/db.cgi?uid=default&ID=4167&view=Search&mh=1

Light closed the talk by remarking on the "vast story of children's unacknowledged labor in the creation of urban America". slide shows how their labor was hidden behind play. Although they couldnt work in factories,can you call it "play" if it involved *building* the playground?

Although Light's upcoming book focuses on America, she said there were civic simulations like this in many countries including the Phillipines, China, England, France...

Model republics were not however a well connected, branded international civic movement like modern #civictech. Light said that while they were promoted at national educational conferences on education or public housing, George lamented not having control of the brand/vision

The result of George's lack of guidelines and a organizational network of model republic practiciorners was many different, idiosyncratic models run by different ppl in different places. @pahlkadot George really needed a "National Advisory Council" it seems!

For example an Indiana model republic the kids put on their own circuses! George thought some model republics werent following his original values/vision but couldnt do much about it...another theme in #civictech now Fortunately @Open_Maine is allowed to be weirdos too @elburnett

Light emphasized that although the model republics were a tool to assimilate children into a set of values (presumably including colonial, racist, patriarchal, capitalist ones) they were also a site of agency where kids experimented and innovated.

For example, girls in coeducational model republics held public offices and launched voting rights campaigns before the women' suffrage movement gained the rights in the "real" world. Given the power of the republics to do real work this wasnt just a symbolic achievement.

George for his part believed that the kids should figure out model republics for themselves, even if it meant dystopian civics. One model republic kept prisoners in a literal iron cage before eventually abolishing the prison.

Light's talk held huge lessons for the #civictech movement, and the model republic movement is just one of many pieces of history that can be a "usable past" for us. every civic tech brigade should have a "historian" role!

At @Open_Maine weve always been looking back to look forward although I didnt have the "usable past" vocabulary until I saw professor Light's talk today. @ajawitz @elburnett and I have consciously explored history in promoting civic tech in Maine.Other brigades are doing this too

For example, early @Open_Maine (code for maine) posters consciously referenced civilian conservation corps aesthetic #usablepast

We also made a 100y link w/ charitable mechanics movement @MaineMechanics makerspace never happened but @semateos became president and aligned org. with modern #makermovement. we host civichackathons there. #mainekidscode class is in same room that held free drawingclass 100y ago

So you can see why Light's talk has my brain totally buzzing. After all, @Open_Maine has been dreaming of #civicisland, an experiential #civictech summer camp! Were currently applying to @MozOpenLeaders to develop open source experiential civictech curricula we could use for it.

Next steps here: I want to write an article about the "usable past" concept for #civictech. So if your brigade is engaged with history I wanna talk to you. @JBStephens1 was it you talking about the rotary club model on slack? @CodeForPhilly didnt you make a history timeline?"
nickkaufmann  urbanism  urban  cities  jenniferlight  children  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  civics  civictech  technology  history  codeforamerica  smartcities  boston  cleveland  philadelphia  williamgeorge  modelrepublics  simulations  simulation  gregorybateson  play  seriousplay  seriousness  education  johndewey  milaukee  labor  work  colinward  thechildinthecity  housing  governance  policy  activism  participatory  participation  experimentation  experience  experientiallearning  volunteerism  makerspaces  openmaine  maine  learning  howwelearn  ervinggoffman 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Los Angeles, Houston and the appeal of the hard-to-read city
"This is not going to be a column about all the things the New York Times got wrong about the Los Angeles Times in its recent front-page story by Tim Arango and Adam Nagourney, "A Paper Tears Apart in a City That Never Quite Came Together." It is not, for the most part, going to be about all the things the New York Times got wrong (or simply failed to mention) about Los Angeles itself in that article, which argued that recent turmoil at this newspaper is emblematic of the city's broader lack of support for its major institutions. Plenty of smart people have already weighed in on both fronts.

And yes, every word in the previous sentence links to one of those smart people. Here are a couple more for good measure. When Josh Kun, Carolina Miranda, Daniel Hernandez, David Ulin, Alissa Walker, Matthew Kang and Carolyn Kellogg are united in knocking your analysis of Los Angeles, it might, you know, be a sign.

Anyway. This is going to be a column, instead, about something slightly different: about the legibility (and illegibility) of cities more generally. About how we react — as reporters and critics and simply as people — when we're confronted with a city that doesn't make sense to us right away.

Ten days or so before that story appeared, I spent a long weekend in Houston, meeting up with three old friends ostensibly to see the Warriors, the NBA team I grew up rooting for, play the Rockets — but also just to hang out and eat barbecue and visit the Menil, my favorite museum building in America (just edging out another Texas landmark, the Kimbell in Fort Worth).

Houston is casually written off even more often than Los Angeles, which is saying something. Now the fourth largest city in the country in population — and gaining on third-place Chicago — it's an unruly place in terms of its urbanism, a place that (as Los Angeles once did) has room, or makes room, for a wide spectrum of architectural production, from the innovative to the ugly. Like Los Angeles, it's a city that invested heavily in freeways and other car-centric infrastructure last century and remains, in many neighborhoods, a terrible place to walk.

It's long been a place people go to reinvent themselves, to get rich or to disappear. The flip side of its great tolerance is a certain lack of cohesion, a difficulty in articulating a set of common civic goals. (Here's where I concede that the instinct behind the New York Times piece on L.A., if little about its execution, was perfectly reasonable.) As is the case in Los Angeles, the greatest thing and the worst thing about Houston are one and the same: Nobody cares what anybody else is doing. Freedom in both places sometimes trumps community. It also tends to trump stale donor-class taste.

Roughly one in four residents of Houston's Harris County is foreign-born, a rate nearly as high as those in New York and Los Angeles. Houston's relationship with Dallas, the third biggest city in Texas, is something like L.A.'s with San Francisco; the southern city in each pair is less decorous, less fixed in its civic identity and (at the moment, at least) entirely more vital.

I've been to Houston five or six times; I like spending time there largely because I don't know it as well as I'd like to. That's another way of saying that while I'm there, I'm reminded of the way in which much of the world interacts with and judges Los Angeles, from a position of alienation and even ignorance. I just happen to enjoy that sensation more than most people do.

If I had to put my finger on what unites Houston and Los Angeles, it is a certain elusiveness as urban object. Both cities are opaque and hard to read. What is Houston? Where does it begin and end? Does it have a center? Does it need one? It's tough to say, even when you're there — even when you're looking directly at it.

The same has been said of Los Angeles since its earliest days. Something Carey McWilliams noted about L.A. in 1946 — that it is a place fundamentally ad hoc in spirit, "a gigantic improvisation" — is perhaps even more true of Houston. Before you can pin either city down, you notice that it's wriggled out of your grasp.

People who are accustomed to making quick sense of the world, to ordering it into neat and sharply defined categories, tend to be flummoxed by both places. And reporters at the New York Times are certainly used to making quick sense of the world. If there's one reason the paper keeps getting Los Angeles so spectacularly wrong, I think that's it. Smart, accomplished people don't like being made to feel out of their depth. Los Angeles makes out-of-town reporters feel out of their depth from their first day here.

Their reaction to that feeling, paradoxically enough, is very often to attempt to write that feeling away — to conquer that sense of dislocation by producing a story that sets out to explain Los Angeles in its entirety. Because it's a challenge, maybe, or because they simply can't be convinced, despite all the evidence right in front of them, that Los Angeles, as cities go, is an especially tough nut to crack.

Plenty of journalists have left Los Angeles over the years and moved to New York to work for the New York Times; none of them, as far as I know, has attempted, after two or three months on the job, to write a piece explaining What New York City Means. I can think of many New Yorkers — each of them highly credentialed academically or journalistically or both, which is perhaps the root of the problem — who have come to Los Angeles and tried to pull off that same trick here.

That tendency — to attempt the moon shot, the overarching analysis, too soon — is equal parts hubris and panic. It usually goes about as well as it went this time around for Arango, not incidentally a brand-new arrival in the New York Times bureau here, and Nagourney.

Among the most dedicated scholars of Houston's urban form in recent years has been Lars Lerup, former dean of the Rice University School of Architecture. In his new book of essays, "The Continuous City," he argues that the first step in understanding Houston and cities like it is to begin with a certain humility about the nature and scale of the task.

This kind of city has grown so large — in economic and environmental as well as physical reach — that it begins to stretch beyond our field of vision. The best way to grasp it, according to Lerup, is to understand that it is not Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco or Chicago — to recognize it instead as "a vast field with no distinct borders."

"The old city was a discrete object sitting on a Tuscan hill surrounded by a collectively constructed wall; the new city is everywhere," he writes. "Only when we accept that we can only attain a partial understanding can work begin."

Lerup stresses that huge, spread-out cities like Houston — which he also calls "distributed cities," places where "the spiky downtown is just a blip in the flatness" — have long been tough to read, in part because they are "always in the throes of change." But the relationship between urbanization and climate change has added a new layer of complexity, because big metro regions and their pollution are exacerbating the ecological crisis. The city now "owns everything" and must answer for everything, "even the raging hurricane bearing down on its coast." The vast city has grown vaster still.

If there's one place I part ways with Lerup, it has to do with his insistence that "few conceptual tools have evolved" to help us grapple with the distributed city and its meanings. At least in the case of Los Angeles, the literature on this score is richer, going back many decades, than even many locals realize.

There's not only McWilliams' superb, clear-eyed book "Southern California: An Island on the Land," which I would make required reading for every new hire if I were running the Los Angeles bureau of the New York Times. (Especially the part where McWilliams admits that he hated Los Angeles when he arrived and that it took him "seven long years of exile" to understand and appreciate the city. Seven years! And that was with a brain bigger and more nimble than most.) There's also architect Charles Moore's 1984 guidebook, "City Observed: Los Angeles," which he wrote with Peter Becker and Regula Campbell.

Right at the beginning, Moore, as if to anticipate Lerup, reminds his readers that L.A. is "altogether different from the compact old centers of Manhattan and Boston." (It is not a discrete object sitting on a Tuscan hill.) Making sense of it, as a result, requires "an altogether different plan of attack."

That simple bit of advice is the only one journalists newly arrived in Los Angeles really need to get started on the right foot. It's also one those journalists have been ignoring for 34 years and counting."
houston  losangeles  cities  illegibility  vitality  urban  urbanism  nyc  christopherhawthorne  2018  socal  california  larlerup  manhattan  boston  sanfrancisco  chicago  nytimes  careymcwilliams  joshkun  carolinamiranda  danielhernandez  davidulin  latimes  alissawalker  matthewkang  carolynkellogg  timarango  adamnagourney  elitism  legibility  population  place  identity  elusiveness  hubris  panic  urbanization  climatechange  complexity  charlesmoore 
february 2018 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
How to Get Rid of Your Landlord and Socialize American Housing, in 3 Easy Steps | The Nation
"Homelessness, unaffordable urban real estate, devastating gentrification, and the housing bubble are all rooted in privatized housing."



"More fundamentally, though, what we call private housing is actually public land that government has set aside for private purposes. Land, save the bits beneath one’s feet, can’t be “possessed,” as a phone or a shirt can. What a “land owner” possesses is a deed—a voucher one may redeem with the government to marshal violence (through policing) to exclude all competing claimants. The government established this location-exclusion program, designating pieces of nature as being solely for the use of the deed holders, and devoting its violent capabilities to enforcing that designation. In the 19th century, the government enacted homesteading laws to allow frontier settlers to claim indigenous lands as their own. If those deeds were challenged, the federal government sent troops to back them up. Or look at the 20th century, when the government funded highways and commuter transit—the Federal Housing Administration extended loan guarantees to new housing developments in order to create a massive suburban private-housing stock. The entire apparatus by which housing is privately “owned” is created by the government’s decisions to subsidize or protect certain interests.

Ostensibly, the government pursues the public interest, but treating real estate as privately owned wealth, as a financial asset, has devastating public effects. On a grand scale, treating land as an asset allows speculators to create bubbles large enough to threaten global economic collapse. The housing bubble—really a land bubble—of the last decade bid the price of land up so high, concocting such dangerous “complex financial instruments” to turn out so many sub-prime mortgages, that the burst was enough to sink some of the world’s most profitable firms, plunge us into the Great Recession, extinguish the majority of all black wealth in the United States, bankrupt pension funds worldwide, and destroy the governments of Greece, Iceland, and other nations.

Closer to home, private ownership of land underlies racist segregation. The aforementioned FHA policy, for instance, designed to protect homeowners’ access to gains in their houses’ location value, provided white people with the incentive to take their capital and flee urban centers for sprawling exurban developments, there to adopt racial exclusivity covenants, in order to prevent black people from moving in and undermining the location price—thus, the plot of A Raisin in the Sun. In the resulting “inner city,” which the public Home Owners’ Loan Corporation “red-lined” on its residential security maps, black people who were locked out of “middle-class” neighborhoods were conscripted to capital-starved, decaying ghettos, where parasitic slumlords reigned supreme.

Finally, developers have an incentive to snap up urban land and then leave it vacant until it appreciates in value, driven by community development around it, and then sell it. Meanwhile, residents have to live with the social repercussions of a community riddled with vacant lots.

What to do?

There are a few ways to turn land and housing stock toward the public good.

An exclusion fee …

Community land trusts …

Public housing …

Gentrification, home-mortgage bubbles, homelessness, skyrocketing rent—these are not facts of nature. They are the outcomes of the policies that consign the basic human need of location to the whims of rent-obsessed landlords and chop-licking speculators looking for an easy flip. Private land policies are as evil today as they were almost 4 centuries ago when the Pilgrims near Bridgewater, Massachusetts, arrested Wampanoag people for hunting on a tract of land after the Pilgrims had “purchased” it. “What is this you call property?” the sachem, Massasoit, argued on that occasion. “It cannot be the earth, for the land is our Mother…. everything on it belongs to everybody and is for the use of all. How then can one man say it belongs to him only?” There was no satisfactory retort then, and there isn’t one now."
2015  jessemyerson  housing  realestate  ownership  land  gentrification  history  race  inequality  capitalism  policy  politics  vienna  eminentdomain  boston  communitylandtrusts  exclusionfees  publichousing  publicinterest 
january 2017 by robertogreco
ds4si [Design Studio for Social Intervention]
"We are an artistic research and development outfit for the improvement of civil society and everyday life. The Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) is dedicated to changing how social justice is imagined, developed and deployed here in the United States."

OUR WORK
Situated at the intersections of design thinking and practice, social justice and activism, public art and social practice and civic / popular engagement, we design and test social interventions with and on behalf of marginalized populations, controversies and ways of life.

OUR PEOPLE
The people behind the Design Studio for Social Intervention make up a constellation of activists, artists, academics, designers, dreamers, tricksters, organizations and foundations.

The Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) is dedicated to changing how social justice is imagined, developed and deployed here in the United States. Get in touch to inquire about art commissions, residencies or to hire us to run a creativity lab or other generative process for your organization, coalition or campaign."
activism  design  boston  education  openstudioproject  lcproject  via:caseygollan 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Of Thee I Read: The United States in Literature - The New York Times
"Reporters and editors on the National Desk of The New York Times were asked to suggest books that a visitor ought to read to truly understand the American cities and regions where they live, work and travel.

There were no restrictions — novels, memoirs, histories and children’s books were fair game. Here are some selections.

Recommend a book that captures something special about where you live in the comments, or on Twitter with the hashtag #natbooks."
us  literature  geography  2016  books  booklists  losangeles  california  thesouth  pacificnorthwest  seattle  cascadia  southwest  midwest  boston  neworleans  nola  maine 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Home × Sosolimited
"The studio was founded by Justin Manor, John Rothenberg, and Eric Gunther. The three met at MIT where they collectively studied physics, computer science, architecture, arts and music. Today, we have locations in Boston and San Diego, and continue to operate at the boundary of art, design, experience and information.

Our design studio is focused on the creative applications of new technologies. We help our partners and collaborators solve difficult technical problems with aesthetic flair. These projects have been recognized with awards from The Art Directors Club, Creative Review, and Cannes Lions, to name a few.

As an art practice, Sosolimited applies the language of data visualization and information design as an artistic medium, focusing on the live transformation of broadcast media. The studio has exhibited artwork internationally at festivals and museums including Ars Electronica, Transmediale, Walker Art Center, Cooper Hewitt, Shanghai Biennial, and the ICA Boston."
justinmanor  johnrothenberg  ericgunther  sandiego  boston  technology  via:sophia  via:enzo  design  datavisualization  dataviz  data  informationdesign  information  installations  art 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Mapping Boston’s soundscape – News – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
"Erica Walker, SD ’17, biked around Boston to take the measure of a city’s noise and its effects on residents.

Hot coffee dripping. Steamed milk hissing. Muzak droning. Keyboards clacking. Patrons murmuring: Erica Walker’s soft voice was almost drowned out by the ambient noise in a Starbucks. It was an ironic touch, considering that Walker has spent the past five years intently tuned in to Boston’s cacophonous urban soundscape.

The 36-year-old researcher, who will receive her doctorate in environmental health next year from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has pedaled nearly every inch of the city on a purple commuter bike—hauling a bulky sound monitor, a boom microphone, and a camera in her backpack—all in the service of plotting sound levels in 400 separate locations and collecting residents’ subjective responses to the aural onslaught.

Most people have approached her with curiosity and, on learning her mission, gratitude. A few, alarmed by the paraphernalia of her sonic surveillance, have reported her to the police.

It’s all in a day’s research for Walker, a former artist who was compelled to undertake the study after suffering her own noise nightmare. The children living in the apartment above hers “ran across the floor literally 24 hours a day, and it drove me crazy,” says the Mississippi native. Plagued with headaches and sleeplessness, she sent out an impromptu Craigslist survey asking about annoying footstep sounds and was flooded with responses. She began to suspect her auditory torment was not isolated.

SIGNATURE SOUNDS

Walker has discovered that each Boston neighborhood carries a unique acoustic signature. The dominant note of Dorchester, for example, is transportation. “You have planes, you have trains, you have automobiles,” Walker says. But Dorchester’s rich cultural diversity also lends evocative countermelodies

to the main theme. “Something I hadn’t planned on is people standing outside and yelling across the street to each other, or sitting on their porches talking really loud—that human element,” Walker laughs. She wonders: “If people are part of that cultural landscape, is it ‘noise’ or just ‘sound’?”

By contrast, East Boston, which abuts Logan International Airport, is perpetually assaulted by the din of low-flying jets. In a community survey that Walker created, one resident called the commotion “a regular horror.” Another lamented, “Everybody is walking around looking wrung out, some are getting nasty, kids are crying more, kids with behavioral issues are out of control. People don’t know what to do.”

THE MISMEASURE OF NOISE

Most formal surveys of sound gauge what are known as “A- weighted decibel levels,” or dB(A)—sounds that are perceptible by the human ear. Boston’s noise ordinance defines “unreasonable or excessive noise” as that in excess of 50 dB(A) between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., or in excess of 70 dB(A) at other hours. To put this in context, normal human speech at about 3 feet apart takes place at between 55 and 65 dB(A).

Walker found that the city’s ordinance thresholds are rou- tinely flouted. Boston’s two loudest enclaves—East Boston, with the roar of jet engines, and Savin Hill, awash in jangling nightclub noise from across Marina Bay—average 80 dB(A). Passing ambulances clock in at 105 decibels. Construction site jackhammers reach 112. Even those neighborly conversations between porches can hit 85 decibels.

And these numbers don’t tell the whole story. Walker
is also measuring a type of low-frequency noise called “infrasound.” Although vibrations at this level are not picked up by the ear, our bodies still register them. “Infrasound is totally inaudible; we don’t hear it, we just feel it, such as when a bus passes by or a plane takes off,” Walker says.

In nature, low-frequency vibrations take the form of thunder, earthquakes, volcanoes, or nearby herds of wild animals. Such vibrations signal approaching danger—a clue to the toll they may take on mental and physical health in modern urban environments. “Maybe our body is processing these vibrations and we don’t know it,” Walker suggests. Making matters worse, infrasound is not only highly prevalent in cities but also persistent, hard to mitigate, and it travels long distances.

What Walker wants to know is: Are these low-frequency noises, which are rife in urban environments but not included in standard A-weighted decibel measurements, exacting a hidden public health toll?

NOISE AND HEALTH

To find out, Walker, along with her adviser, Francine Laden, MS ’93, SD ’98, professor of environmental epidemiology, will map audible and infrasound noise levels across Boston’s neighborhoods, using color gradients to denote areas of higher or lower average sound intensity. Walker will also catalog residents’ perceptions of noise levels, using the Greater Boston Neighborhood Noise Survey, an instrument she developed that is being translated into Spanish, Simple Chinese, Vietnamese, and Haitian Creole. The survey, Walkers says, “will put a human face on community noise.” Eventually, Walker will correlate soundscape metrics with data from established health studies conducted in Boston to learn if any type of noise is linked to cardiovascular and mental health outcomes.

Walker’s research takes place in the midst of a heated discussion about airplane noise—much of it low-frequency—in Greater Boston. In December 2015, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, who lives in South Boston, hosted a forum with Federal Aviation Administration officials, during which residents from across the region furiously recounted tales of babies constantly woken, rising asthma rates in families living beneath flight paths, and spouses sleeping in basements to escape the racket of Logan’s traffic. According to Lynch’s office, aircraft noise complaints in Greater Boston have worsened since the installation of a new GPS-based navigation system that directs planes on the most efficient route.

Francesca Dominici, professor of biostatistics at Harvard Chan, co-authored a 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal, which found that elderly individuals living on the noisiest flight paths near airports have a 3.5 percent increase in cardiovascular hospitalization for every 10-decibel increase in airport-related noise. She also found a strong association between noise exposure and cardiovascular hospitalizations in ZIP codes with noise exposures greater than 55 decibels.

For her part, Walker will be posting Boston sound maps and updates on her project’s progress at www.noiseandthecity.org. She has been biking Boston’s clamorous streets long enough to know that the most anguished complaints are about airplanes, construction, booming bass tones from car stereos, and barking dogs.

She can sympathize. “People don’t have a place to voice their noise issues,” Walker says. “They’re just kind of stuck here, suffering. And the city has no idea what’s bothering them.”"
noice  sound  boston  audio  soundscapes  2016  ericawalker  health  airports  maps  mapping  recordings  acoustics 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Tim Devin
"What's it all about, Tim?

I believe that people can have a say in their communities and in the world at large. To do so, they need information, and they need to feel more connected. I try to support both of those needs.

A lot of us feel that we don't have a say in our world, and that our ideas and opinions don't matter. But we do have a say. And we can make a difference. We just need the right tools.

One of these tools is information. Another is community. I think these two are closely related.

Information helps us make better decisions about the things we're already involved in, and it can inspire us to do more--by showing us what others have done in the past, or what needs to be done in the future. Information can also make us feel more connected with our world at large, and show us what we have in common with individuals around us. This leads to a sense of community.

A sense of community is important because people who feel connected help each other out on an individual level, and band together to make their neighborhoods more livable on a grassroots level. They participate in the political process, and they take part in movements such as environmentalism and the push for social justice. If that's not enough, studies show that a sense of belonging just plain makes us happier people.

Through my independent projects, my work as a librarian, and my involvement in various community organizations, I try to spread information, and help foster a sense of community where I live. "
timedevin  art  community  somerville  boston  activism 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Learning at Le Lab
"Learning @ Le Lab is just about everything we care about. If you do not learn when creating, or participating in the creative process, you've missed the point. Our emblematic program is The ArtScience Prize. This is a curricular program that rewards the passion and commitment of young people to develop and pursue dreams of a better world through art and design at frontiers of science. The ArtScience Prize has improved creativity skills of thousands of teens and university students over the last five years while spreading from the Boston Public Schools in 2009 to over 15 sites around the world from its origins in the “ideas that matter” course of Laboratoire founder David Edwards. With the opening of Lab Cambridge we are starting a whole new exciting era. For more information see www.artscienceprize.org."
lelaboratoire  cambridge  boston  lcproject  openstudioproject  education  art  learning  bostonpublicschools 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The ArtScience Prize: Cloud Founation
[See also: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-cloud-foundation-boston ]

"The Boston ArtScience Prize is a part of ArtScience Labs and is hosted by the Cloud Foundation. Our building is referred to as Cloud Place, or The Idea Translation Lab at Cloud Place.

The Mission

The Cloud Foundation aims to foster confidence and hope in urban teens through artistic creation and cross-cultural expression.

The History

From Science to Art: David and Aurélie Edwards created the Cloud Foundation in 1999 to provide opportunities for urban teens to create with passion across cultural boundaries, as they have since their own youths. Scientists, the Edwards’ chose to work through the arts, recognizing that very often, before ideas grow as science, they emerge as art the most natural language of youth. From 1999 to 2001 the Cloud Foundation provided grants to Boston-area nonprofits to support work arts programming for urban teens. From 2001 to 2004, the Cloud Foundation opened and established Cloud Place in Boston’s Copley Square as a venue for urban teens’ artistic development and expression. The Foundation continued in this era to provide grants to nonprofits throughout the city. From 2004 to 2009 the Cloud Foundation made Cloud Place the core of its cultural enrichment model.

Over these first ten years the Cloud Foundation, and its founders, pursued parallel activities in Paris, France, and at Harvard University. Each year urban teen artists traveled from Boston to Paris, and from Paris to Boston, where they explored the meaning of their art, and of their lives, across cultural boundaries. Urban teen artists also began working with university students and Harvard faculty to develop projects of greater and greater scope. These projects, like MuseTrek, often provided new and intriguing cross-cultural questions and barriers that became catalysts of learning and artistic expression.

From Art to Science: In 2007, with the opening of Le Laboratoire in Paris, France, and with the publication of David’s essay Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation (Harvard University Press 2008), David and Aurélie Edwards began to work with fellow Cloud Foundation board members Marti Wilson Taylor and Bob Carson to create a network of experimental idea development organizations, the international ArtScience Labs, through which opportunities for urban teens’ artistic creation and expression might grow even more beneficially across cultural boundaries. Integral to this reflection was the experience of the Idea Translation Lab at Harvard, created by David Edwards to accelerate student learning through idea creation and development, a process David calls “Idea Translation.” In 2009 the Idea Translation Lab at Harvard produced student ideas that led to new cultural exhibitions, new nonprofit organizations, and new companies, guided by the arts and reflecting ideas at the frontiers of science. The Idea Translation Lab now forms the core of The Laboratory at Harvard, which David Edwards opened in the University’s Northwest Building in November, 2009. With the launch of the ArtScience Prize in January 2009, the Cloud Foundation enters its second decade as a core partner of the ArtScience Lab, an international network of creative organizations which aims to expand access to the benefits of artistic creation and expression in Boston and other cities of the world.

The Idea Translation Lab
at Cloud Place

In its second decade, the Cloud Foundation now hosts the Idea Translation Lab at Cloud Place as an artistic learning and creation environment for Boston high school students, in support of the Boston ArtScience Prize. Through the Idea Translation Lab at Cloud Place participating Boston high school students work with professional artist mentors and teachers to develop their ideas within a curriculum that both reflects the practice of the Idea Translation Lab at Harvard and also is specially designed for urban teens, building on the Cloud Foundation’s last decade of rich experience in youth development and artistic creation."
cloudfoundation  art  openstudioproject  lcproject  arts  education  teens  youth  boston 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 54: Nominative Determinism
"EPICYCLES:

[…]

Probably what I appreciate most about the holiday break is not commuting. When I started driving in suburban Boston, I almost immediately generated a working hypothesis about why dense urban areas tend to lean left politically and why suburban areas lean right (in my hometown of Toronto, there was a pronounced political divide between the city proper and the surrounding '905ers', named after the area code for the immediate suburbs). Living in a city teaches you that strangers can co-exist and even cooperate (like everyone standing aside to let subway passengers disembark, for example). But if you live in the suburbs, your primary interaction with strangers is almost certainly in your car, and cars are sociopathy machines: people do many things in cars (like cut into a line) that they would never do on foot. Driving in the suburbs sends the message that, given the opportunity, a significant fraction of people put their own interests first regardless of the effect on others, so it doesn't seem like a big step to deciding that you need political systems that do similarly to ensure that you don't lose out to the people around you. Whereas living in cities, especially ones with good public transit, make it clear that strangers can work together and that homophily is not a requirement for everyone to benefit from shared resources; hence, left-wing. Getting a few days' break from driving definitely helps me with that seasonal 'good will towards one and all' thing. [While we're into amateur theories of political sociology, I'm a fan of the zombie apocalypse vs utopian future [http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/ ] dichotomy.]

ON FRIENDSHIPS, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND HOUSING: Speaking of the suburbs, I was struck by this article [http://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship ] on how American choices in land use affect their ability of adults to make and maintain friendships: the norms of single-family homes and driving mean that social interactions need to be deliberately scheduled (or, in many sad cases, not scheduled). The evidence is that there are two key requirements for friendships to form: repeated, spontaneous interactions, and an environment where people can confide in each other. There's been a lot of discussion in my circles recently about the modes and affordances of social media sites, and a quiet exodus from public Twitter to small private accounts, or to Slack, or to mailing lists, or to, yes, newsletters. For many of us, Twitter was--and remains--an excellent place for those repeated, spontaneous interactions. But it's shifted from the 'small world growth phase' [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/File:SNSPrivacy.png ] to one where our experience is dominated by context collapse [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/Context_collapse_in_social_media ]. It's therefore no longer a safe environment for that second component of a nascent friendship, sharing with others, as the norms of civil inattention [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_inattention ] fail to keep pace with the site's phenomenal growth (This was most memorably demonstrated to me when a well-known author and speaker jumped into a conversation that a friend of mine and I were having about relationships to inform us--and the rest of his many followers--that 'women like bad boys'. Welp.) So this type of trust-building personal sharing is moving to more private fora. In my case, because I travel a fair bit, that includes the offline world. This use of Twitter and travel probably goes a long way to explaining why I'm an outlier in that, while I have a few good friends that I made in and kept from my teens and early twenties, I also have a number of very close friends that I've made in the last five years or so (the second major reason is likely because I do live in a dense urban walkshed where I run into friends spontaneously, in a city that draws out-of-town friends to visit). But I'm interested in seeing how people use different types of social media differently in the near future."
debchachra  2016  friendship  socialmedia  twitter  cities  cars  suburbs  sociopathy  housing  thewaywelive  urban  urbanism  toronto  boston  commuting  sociology  politicalsociology  suburbia 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 | icaboston.org
"A small, experimental liberal arts college founded in 1933, Black Mountain College (BMC) has exerted enormous influence on the postwar cultural life of the United States. Influenced by the utopian ideals of the progressive education movement, it placed the arts at the center of liberal arts education and believed that in doing so it could better educate citizens for participation in a democratic society. It was a dynamic crossroads for refugees from Europe and an emerging generation of American artists. Profoundly interdisciplinary, it offered equal attention to painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, music, and dance.

ICA_BMC_perf_pro_download_350.jpgThe teachers and students at BMC came to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains from around the United States and the world. Some stayed for years, others mere weeks. Their education was unlike anything else in the United States. They experimented with new ways of teaching and learning; they encouraged discussion and free inquiry; they felt that form in art had meaning; they were committed to the rigor of the studio and the laboratory; they practiced living and working together as a community; they shared the ideas and values of different cultures; they had faith in learning through experience and doing; they trusted in the new while remaining committed to ideas from the past; and they valued the idiosyncratic nature of the individual. But most of all, they believed in art, in its ability to expand one’s internal horizons, and in art as a way of living and being in the world. This utopian experiment came to an end in 1957, but not before it created the conditions for some of the 20th century’s most fertile ideas and most influential individual artists to emerge.

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 focuses on how, despite its brief existence, BMC became a seminal meeting place for many of the artists, musicians, poets, and thinkers who would become the principal practitioners in their fields of the postwar period. Figures such as Anni and Josef Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, Robert Motherwell, Gwendolyn and Jacob Knight Lawrence, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley, among many others, taught and studied at BMC. Teaching at the college combined the craft principles of Germany’s revolutionary Bauhaus school with interdisciplinary inquiry, discussion, and experimentation, forming the template for American art schools. While physically rooted in the rural South, BMC formed an unlikely cosmopolitan meeting place for American, European, Asian, and Latin American art, ideas, and individuals. The exhibition argues that BMC was as an important historical precedent for thinking about relationships between art, democracy, and globalism. It examines the college’s critical role in shaping many major concepts, movements, and forms in postwar art and education, including assemblage, modern dance and music, and the American studio craft movement—influence that can still be seen and felt today.

Organized by Helen Molesworth, the ICA’s former Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with ICA Assistant Curator Ruth Erickson, Leap Before You Look is the first comprehensive museum exhibition on the subject of Black Mountain College to take place in the United States. The exhibition features individual works by more than ninety artists, student work, archival materials, a soundscape, as well as a piano and a dance floor for performances, and it will be accompanied by robust performance and educational programs. It will premiere at the ICA/Boston and be on view October 10, 2015–January 24, 2016; it will then travel to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (February 21–May 15, 2016) and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (Sept. 17, 2016–Jan. 1, 2017)."

[Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9URP8GgSg5M ]
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2015  ica  boston  exhibits  leapbeforeyoulook 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Monster — The Message — Medium
"Personal beliefs do not trump human rights. This is how we create and live together in a civil society."



"We taught him Humanities, and somehow, at least for one crucial moment, he lost his humanity.

Saying anything positive about a terrorist is impossible. You’re a sympathizer. You’re Hitler. You wanted people to die. You’re as repulsive as the person who committed the crime. How could you? But we aren’t born monsters. Dzhokhar is still all of the moments leading up to that monstrous one and many moments afterward. He’s a young man who destroyed lives. He’s a young man who lost his brother. He’s a young man who was once a child who went to school and was surrounded by people who cared. He’s a young man who used and betrayed his friends. He’s a young man who fell through the cracks. He’s a young man who is sentenced to death.

Humanity and inhumanity are actions. They are choices we make daily in our treatment of others and in how we respond to the way we are treated. In the jury’s forced choice, everyone walked to the same corner, and they have no option of changing their minds.

Calling Dzhokhar a monster dehumanizes him and is the only way to justify killing him. If he is not a person, we are not depriving him of personhood.

As adults in his life, we failed to show Dzhokhar that human life is precious. In sentencing him to death, we become monsters ourselves."
aninditasempere  boston  ethics  terrorism  deathpenalty  humanity  humanism  2015  justice  education  humanrights  teaching  society  personhood 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Why One Silicon Valley City Said “No” to Google – Next City
"Big money and even bigger egos are colliding in the tech world’s new company towns."



"In 2012, Mountain View and Google entered into a $222,000 annual contract for Google to pay for city planning staff to handle all the reviews needed to get Google’s projects off the drawing board and into construction phases. Today, that contract is valued at $377,838. While the city normally charges companies an hourly rate for municipal services, the vetting of Google projects required more hours than the city had available. Instead of rejecting the company’s plans outright for lack of staff, Mountain View asked Google to fund the hiring of two additional planners. It was an unusual arrangement, the kind usually reserved for corporate polluters that must pay for large-scale government cleanups.

The agreement to have Google subsidize public servants didn’t necessarily raise many local eyebrows. After all, like it had before, Google solved the problem it had created, albeit by playing a major role in government affairs.

But local will for such involvement appears to have waned. In rejecting the vast majority of Google’s campus expansion, the Mountain View city council also rejected most of the company’s $240 million community benefits package, from the bike lanes and affordable housing, to the $15 million public safety center and ecological restoration, all planned at Google’s behest and design.

The vast majority of the North Bayshore area was instead granted to LinkedIn, which offered far fewer community benefits, but had one major factor in its favor: It’s not Google.

The political climate for tech companies in the Bay Area is, to a great extent, confused. The Googles of the world are blamed for a sharp rise in the cost of living and an increased strain on public services and infrastructure, but at the same time, no one can deny the huge boost they’ve given local government coffers.

Still, there is a discrepancy between the billions of dollars these companies make and the checks they write to the local governments that host them.

The sales tax model that served California cities for decades doesn’t work in the knowledge economy. While Apple remits local tax on the products it sells, Google and Facebook don’t collect sales tax on the digital ads we click away and the data we unwittingly share. Community benefit deals can potentially bridge the gap between those taxes and impacts, but they allow companies to determine which civic projects should be priorities. Facebook might want more police and Google might want more local ecology — but what do residents want?

If cities want to take greater control of their future, they’ll have to create and enforce new tax revenue streams — something Mountain View council member Lenny Siegel says he is working toward.

Without a significant local tax burden, companies can afford to drive policies and services, superseding the role of local government and advancing their own ideology. When that ideology includes bike lanes and public school support, this arrangement might work well.

But in a region in the grips of a controversial housing crisis spurred in no small part by an influx of high-paid tech talent, Silicon Valley companies on the whole appear comparatively disinterested in funding the affordable homes these cities so desperately need."



"Big companies in small cities are bound to exert some of their own power, either purposefully or passively. Much of this seems inevitable — it’s how this valley was named “Silicon” decades ago. But these companies are no longer dealing just in silicon. Regardless of Google’s loss in North Bayshore, soon Mountain View will feature Google-designed cars running on Google-funded roads planned by Google-paid city engineers. Where they once built semiconductors and software, tech is shaping the future of human communication, infrastructure, transit, law and collective lived experience — all the things that make up a city."

[Related: “New Balance Bought Its Own Commuter Rail Station [in Boston]: Instead of asking the cash-strapped public-transit system to add a stop, the company simply paid for one itself.”
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/new-balance-bought-its-own-commuter-rail-station/392711/ ]
siliconvalley  google  mountainview  california  infrastrcuture  taxes  2015  susiecagle  government  governance  economics  publictransit  transportation  housing  law  transit  boston 
may 2015 by robertogreco
City as University, Museum, iLab – Boston Arts & Culture Testimony | ZILLA617
"Hello, I am Maggie Cavallo and I am a curator and educator committed to contemporary art and artists in Boston. My first job after moving to Boston was at the Institute of Contemporary Art, I have also worked as the Curator of Education at Montserrat College of Art working with former Boston high school students who, as undergraduates, are our next generation of emerging artists, I am an employee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and am currently enrolled in the Arts in Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

I want to start by saying that it is necessary that the teams responsible for making decisions that involve and affect the contemporary art community of Boston, have an acute understanding of how art operates in society. Further, it is necessary that these teams have an acute understanding of the history of arts and culture in Boston. There is a lot that can be learned in understanding the cultural development of the Brahmins, if only we take their tactics and turn them on their head. (Please see attached reading by Paul DiMaggio)

I want to stress that it is also necessary that that Mayor’s office be committed to risk-taking and experimentation when it comes to developing its new artistic identity. We should imagine Boston: A City of Art and Education, providing art education experiences outside of K-12 alone, focusing on developing art audiences across the board, nurturing the post-graduate trajectory of Boston’s college-level art students and providing resources for the creative community to develop its own infrastructure. The office should support social entrepreneurial ventures that will not only alleviate problems that arts community faces, but will enhance Boston’s regional, national and global identity as an innovative cultivator of art and education. We should imagine our city as a university, and the public as teachers, students and collaborators.

I would like to briefly share three examples of entrepreneurial ventures that are inspired by real problems within the contemporary art community in Boston, but are strategically designed to create opportunities outside of these issues as well. What I want to know is what type of resources will be available to social entrepreneurs such as myself to build our own projects, as well as collaborate with the city government on developing civic programming.

1. Art School 617: AS617 is an intensive arts immersion course designed for the Mayor and his cabinet that will take place in two hour sessions, once monthly, for twelve months. With a curriculum designed and facilitated by local arts leaders, AS617 identifies unique teaching and learning experiences in the arts, for the Mayor’s office, to increase the office’s ability to authentically support and collaborate with the contemporary art community. Sessions will range from onsite presentations, collaborative exercises and discussions, to off site trips to local cultural institutions and artist spaces.By investing two hours a month in learning about contemporary art and the contemporary art community of Boston, it is assured that the Mayor’s office will be able to identify unique avenues for synthesis and collaboration between these concepts and artists and the initiatives of our city government. Also, one can imagine the amount of press that the Mayor’s office would receive for celebrating a commitment to learning with and from the contemporary art community in this way. (Please see attached slides for proposed lesson themes and an in-depth assessment plan).

2. Public Art as Public Art Experience/Learning: As a city, we should take an innovative and education-based approach to how we define and design public art. While the number and quality of public art pieces in Boston must increase if we want to be artistically relevant globally, we should reconceptualize public art as a model that includes public art programming. Events and learning experiences should be designed in tandem with temporary and permanent works of public art, a quality resource that would be of value to tourists, artists, and youth art programs a like. We should consider our city a Museum, and the public as curators, educators, artists and audiences. In order to do this, the city should consider an annual rotating curator program, inviting proposals from contemporary art curators both regional, and from elsewhere, to design exhibitions and strategic arts programming for the city’s public spaces.

3. Creating opportunities for success in social entrepreneurship. Imagine a program that brings together Masters-level Business & Entrepreneurship students from Harvard, Fine Arts students from MassArt and Art History majors from Boston University, with the task of designing and building sustainable art spaces in our city. We should consider our city as an Innovation Lab, and its thousands of college students the innovators. What resources can a city provide to young social entrepreneurs that will encourage them to take risks and invest in building projects in Boston?Long-known for it’s limited gallery scene and scarce collector base, new Boston must prioritize building such a commercial foundation for the sake of a healthy contemporary art community. Imagine the new spaces built by young entrepreneurs coupled with programming that introduces collecting contemporary art as a method of civic engagement to young professionals and “contemporary curious” philanthropists. A newfound collector base of contemporary art in Boston that was developed around strategic and authentic educational art experiences would have a significant affect on not only the lives of artists, but the economic and social realities of our city as a whole."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nynqjPk_mY ]
cityasclassroom  boston  maggiecavallo  2014  education  unschooling  deschooling  art  arteducation  urban  urbanism  brahmins  publicart  glvo  lcproject  openstudioproject  thechildinthecity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
SINGLE STREAM (trailer) on Vimeo
"2014, 4K CinemaScope, 5.1 surround sound, 23 minutes
Picture: Paweł Wojtasik, Toby Lee
Sound: Ernst Karel

SINGLE STREAM explores a recycling facility in the Boston area, where hundreds of tons of refuse are sorted daily. Blurring the line between observation and abstraction, SINGLE STREAM plunges the viewer into the steady flow of the plant and the waste it treats, examining the material consequences of our society's culture of excess."

[See also:
https://twitter.com/single_stream
http://ek.klingt.org/currenthappenings.html ]
sensoryethnography  sensoryethnographylab  ernstkarel  pawełwojtasik  tobylee  film  documentary  boston  video  2014  observation  abstraction 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Going Home From the South, a New Holiday Exodus - NYTimes.com
"It wasn’t so long ago that the holiday exodus went in the other direction, and the reversal highlights a basic change in American culture. The Southeast has replaced California as the place where many people now go to find the American dream.

“You have the feeling that you perhaps might be a little more successful here than if you stayed in Southern California,” said Laura Voisin George, 52, an architectural historian in the Atlanta area. She is enough of a Californian to be planning to volunteer, again, at the Rose Parade in Pasadena this New Year’s Day – but not enough of one to live there anymore.

Since 1990, the share of residents of Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas who were born in California has roughly doubled, according to a New York Times analysis of census data. The number of Oregon, Washington and Colorado natives – as well as natives of Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – in the Southeast has surged, too.

These migrants are crowding into airports this week, including Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport. And when they are back in their old hometowns, many will end up singing the praises of their new ones, potentially recruiting new migrants in the process.

“I love California – I love California,” said Christoph Guttentag, a San Francisco Bay Area native and dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke University, where he has been since 1992. “But the prices are too high, and the commutes are too long.”

In 2012, 2.2 million – or 8 percent — of people who were born in California lived in one of the 16 states that the census defines as the South, according to the analysis. In 1990, the share was only 5.7 percent, and in 1960 it was 3 percent.

At the same time, the Southeast now sends fewer of its own natives to California and some other states.

“In the Depression and World War II, you had people leaving the South in very large numbers,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center. “That’s reversed.”

The main reason is a version of what economists call arbitrage: Growing numbers of people have realized that many of life’s biggest costs — including housing, energy and taxes — are lower in the South, said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which specializes in regional economic data.

House prices, for example, were already lower in the Southeast in the early 1990s than in much of California and the Northeast – and the gap has widened significantly since."



"Whatever the drawbacks, many of the Southern migrants say they are happy with their move. In particular, they say that places like Atlanta, Nashville and the Greenville area of South Carolina still have their original advantages – lower cost of living and slower pace of life – but have also become more cosmopolitan. The options for good food, music and art, among other things, have blossomed.

For better or worse, depending on your views, the migration patterns have also begun to change politics. The Democrats’ miserable showing in 2014 notwithstanding, the party now wins a substantial number of votes in Georgia and North Carolina – not to mention Florida and Virginia – from natives of the Northeast and the West.

Years ago, Mr. Guttentag was eating dinner back in California with friends, and they could not understand why he had chosen to make his life in North Carolina. To them, the South seemed “exotic and not well understood and slightly mistrusted,” he said. “Now, you talk to people and, they say, ‘Yeah, I know someone who moved there.'”

As an admissions officer, Mr. Guttentag has also participated in one of the causes of the trend: the nationalization of the college-admissions market. The number of high-school students at Duke from California has roughly doubled since the early 1990s, and other Southern colleges also attract more students from outside the region than in the past. A fair number of those students end up staying after graduation.

Over all, more than 40 percent of North Carolina residents in 2012 were born in another state; a generation ago, it was less than 25 percent. Similar increases have occurred in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. And the increases often have a self-sustaining nature to them.

James and Sarah Terry – who both teach at colleges in the Atlanta area and have two small children – miss much about their life out West. “You might have said we left Seattle kicking and screaming,” said Mr. Terry, in an interview from Napa, Calif., where the Terry family is for the holidays. She added, “We were just really sad to leave.”

Yet they were able to buy a house in Atlanta, and the weather lets them have a garden. They have no immediate plans to leave."
california  2014  migration  south  atlanta  raleigh  charlotte  georgia  northcarolina  housing  costofliving  losangeles  sanfrancisco  boston  nyc  southeast  northeast  seattle  nashville  southcarolina  tennessee 
december 2014 by robertogreco
12 ideas for making Boston more inclusive - Magazine - The Boston Globe
"1) CREATE SPACES WHERE PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS CONVERGE … — Francie Latour

2) HELP SKILLED IMMIGRANTS GET RE-LICENSED … — Omar Sacirbey

3) BRING HIGH-TECH OPPORTUNITIES TO THE INNER CITY … — Michael Fitzgerald

4) GET HIGH SCHOOLERS TO CROSS CLIQUE LINES … — James H. Burnett III

5) ENSURE ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION … — Sarah Shemkus

6) NURTURE URBAN BUSINESSES … — Michael Fitzgerald

7) SPREAD THE HEALTH … — Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

8) BUILD MORE MIXED-INCOME HOUSING … — Jeremy C. Fox

9) PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER PEOPLE … — Jeremy C. Fox

10) CULTIVATE INCLUSION EXPERTS … — Nadia Colburn

11) CELEBRATE DIVERSITY THROUGH THEATER … — Cindy Atoji Keene

12) TEACH TOLERANCE TO CHILDREN — Sarah Shemkus"

[See also: "What are Boston’s biggest barriers to inclusion? Community and nonprofit leaders, academics, activists, and others discuss problems and priorities."
http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/12/03/what-are-boston-biggest-barriers-inclusion/0PnxFPYOYlqbAyQRGS4TRK/story.html

[via: https://twitter.com/anamarialeon/status/543045803393433600 ]
boston  cities  urban  urbanism  inequality  2014  francielatour  omarsacirbey  michaelfitzgerald  jamesburnett  sarahshemkus  priyankadayalmccluskey  jeremyfox  nadiacolbum  cindyatojikeene  inclusion  housing  education  health  healthcare  business  highschool  relationships  community  diversity  tolerance  theater  children  youth  technology  immigrants  urbanplanning  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Institute for Infinitely Small Things
"The Institute for Infinitely Small Things conducts creative, participatory research that aims to temporarily transform public spaces and instigate dialogue about democracy, spatial justice and everyday life. The Institute’s projects use performance, conversation and unexpected interventions to investigate social and political “tiny things”. Based mostly in Boston, MA, and occasionally under the leadership of kanarinka, James Manning, Jaimes Mayhew, Forest Purnell or Nicole Siggins the group’s membership is varied and interdisciplinary."

[via: https://twitter.com/AlJavieera/status/536609502464704512 ]

[See also:
http://www.ikatun.com/kanarinka/
http://www.ikatun.org/ ]
theinstituteforinfinitelysmallthings  small  kanarinka  jamesmanning  forestpurnell  nicolesiggins  interdisciplinary  via:javierarbona  interventions  publicspace  democracy  conservation  unexpected  tinythings  boston  participatory  ikatun 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Buzz Andersen — Whenever a traveler from the East Coast announces...
"“Whenever a traveler from the East Coast announces that he is making a trip to California, he is expected to express revulsion if his business trip takes him to the cultural cesspool of Los Angeles but to leap into paroxysms of ecstasy should his business to him to the shining city on the hill where little cable cars run halfway to the stars. (Should he announce that his business is taking him to San Diego, people will usually tell him to visit the zoo.)

We hold no brief for, nor have any ax to grind against, the burgeoning municipality of San Diego; it certainly has a nice zoo. Yet on the question of San Francisco vs. Los Angeles, we feel compelled to advance a minority view and admit that we generally like LA, while finding San Francisco, a quaint hamlet that has somehow confused itself with Byzantium, has long benefitted from an uninterrupted stream of booster-spawned propaganda that has hornswoggled the American public. Consequently they believe that what is basically a glorified Austin, a slightly less nippy Ann Arbor, a boho Vancouver, a New Hope writ large or a seismically suspect Charlottesville is actually a first-tier municipality, one that can take its place alongside such world-class North American cities as New York, Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, Montreal, and, of course, Los Angeles. Frankly we find this idea quite ludicrous. In our view, San Francisco is Quebec with more Chinese restaurants.”

—"Omnia California" - [Joe Queenan] Spy Magazine, February 1994 (via Jim Ray)

[http://goo.gl/vnm7Bp ]

I’ve been meaning to transcribe this from Google Books for awhile now because it’s hilarious and it pretty well nails how I feel about San Francisco’s pretensions (and about LA being pretty awesome)."
buzzandersen  2014  1994  spymagazine  losangeles  sanfrancisco  nyc  annarbor  vancouver  quebec  sandiego  pretensions  charlottesville  chicago  montreal  neworleans  boston  nola 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Le Laboratoire Cambridge
"Le Laboratoire Cambridge is a unique art and design center that invites visitors to explore the experiments and wonders of innovators of all kinds discovering at frontiers of science - from leading artists and designers to chefs and master perfumers. Founded in 2007 in Paris by renowned inventor, writer, and Harvard Professor David Edwards, Le Laboratoire now opens in Cambridge as the new center of ArtScience Labs, a global organization dedicated to the development of the most radical ideas that transform the way we learn, imagine and evolve. The design, and architecture, of Le Laboratoire Cambridge, is the work of French designer Mathieu Lehanneur and the American architects Zeke Brown and Josh Fenollosa."

[via: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/on-learning-by-doing/ ]

[previously:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:a3d471d9f3f3
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:2efadd789363 ]
cambridge  massachusetts  2014  2007  art  science  mathieulehanneur  zekebrown  joshfenollosa  davidedwards  lelaboratoire  design  lcproject  openstudioproject  boston  mit 
october 2014 by robertogreco
You Are Here
"You Are Here is a study of place.

Every day for the next year, we will make a map of a city in which we have lived.

Each of these maps will be an aggregation of thousands of microstories, tracing the narratives of our collective experience. We will make maps of the little things that make up life — from the trees we hug, to the places where we crashed our bikes, to the benches where we fell in love.

Over time, we will grow this to 100 different maps of 100 different cities, creating an atlas of human experience.

We hope that by showing these stories, we empower people to make their city — and therefore the world — a more beautiful place.

You Are Here is a project of the Social Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab."
place  microstories  maps  mapping  narrative  storytelling  humans  experience  classideas  us  losangeles  sanfrancisco  portland  oregon  boston  youarehere 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Public Lab: a DIY environmental science community
"The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab) is a community -- supported by a 501(c)3 non-profit -- which develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible Do-It-Yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of practitioners who actively re-imagine the human relationship with the environment.

The core Public Lab program is focused on "civic science" in which we research open source hardware and software tools and methods to generate knowledge and share data about community environmental health. Our goal is to increase the ability of underserved communities to identify, redress, remediate, and create awareness and accountability around environmental concerns. Public Lab achieves this by providing online and offline training, education and support, and by focusing on locally-relevant outcomes that emphasize human capacity and understanding."
diy  environment  research  science  sustainability  citizenscience  classideas  open  technology  opentechnology  community  opensource  publiclab  civicscience  hardware  software  boston  cambridge  lcproject  openstudioproject 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Home | A Year at Mission Hill
"Ten videos. One year. A public school trying to help children learn and grow. The national conversation we need to be having."
missionhillschool  education  schools  documentary  democracy  boston  learning  lcproject  tcsnmy  publicschools 
march 2013 by robertogreco
ParkDayTom: Mission Hill - Jamaica Plain, MA
"Always deflecting the attention to teachers and students, Ayla holds a prodigious set of responsibilities, beyond the reach of most mere mortal school administrators. Since its founding in 1997, the school has been committed to directing its resources as directly as possible to the students, and consequently the layer of administrative support found in most public or private schools does not exist. Funding normally channelled to administration has been redirected for the purpose of hiring teachers and keeping class size as small as possible. Most of the classes I visited had 16 students."

"Ayla defines progressive education as the natural enhancement of that which humans bring to learning. Progressive educators consider all things about the child in developing around him or her a learning experience. In a progressive school, each child's individual experience is considered in the context of the whole; this does not mean that each learning experience is unique- indeed, schools create learning experiences for groups - however, each child is deeply understood as a learner and as a full human being."

"The mission of the school tethers all adults to the interests and well-being of the children; all decision and actions must flow from this covenant."

"Five "habits of mind" bring ballast to the curriculum and learning program at Mission Hill. Evidence (How do you know?): Conjecture (What if things were different?); Connections (What does it remind you of?); Relevance (Is it important? Why does it matter?); Viewpoint (What would someone else say? What would someone else feel?). These essential framing questions are prominent throughout the school and very alive in the classrooms. The teachers are scrupulous in their work to make these questions underpin the activities and lessons they construct with the students."

"True to form, Ayla's take on this question was unique - she'd not have it any other way. The relatively high number of male teachers and teachers of color at Mission Hill can be directly tied to the phenomenon of teacher autonomy at the school. Because each member of the Mission Hill faculty must assume a leadership role in the school, a top-down administrative structure would never work. Ayla relies on the teacher autonomy factor to bring a work ethic to the school that would not be possible if teachers were always seeking direction. That said, Ayla is quick to point out that autonomy comes with accountability and responsibility. To be sure, it is a teacher's privilege to have the autonomy to build his/her program, but it is also his/her responsibility to be accountable to the cohort of teachers and the mission of the school. A rogue teacher would stand out like a sore thumb and never be successful; the faculty is far too collaborative.

Misson Hill answers the question, "Can progressive education work for all children?" As an inclusion school, not only do the classrooms include children from disadvantaged backgrounds, they also include the widest range of learning and behavioral profiles."
missionhillschool  2013  boston  progressive  schools  education  habitsofmind  aylagavins  teaching  learning  deborahmeier  classsize  administration  leadership  management  administrativebloat  burnout  tomlittle  autonomy  collaboration  responsibility  accountability 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Publication Studio
"We print and bind books on demand, creating original work with artists and writers we admire. We use any means possible to help writers and artists reach a public: physical books; a digital commons (where anyone can read and annotate our books for free); eBooks; and unique social events with our writers and artists in many cities. We attend to the social life of the book. Publication Studio is a laboratory for publication in its fullest sense—not just the production of books, but the production of a public. This public, which is more than a market, is created through physical production, digital circulation, and social gathering. Together these construct a space of conversation, a public space, which beckons a public into being.

Currently there are eight Publication Studios, in Portland (run by Patricia No and Antonia Pinter), the San Francisco Bay Area, CA (run by Ian Dolton-Thornton, with sage advice from Colter Jacobsen), Vancouver, BC, Canada (run by Keith Higgins and Kathy Slade), Toronto, Ontario, Canada (run by Derek McCormack, Alana Wilcox, and Michael Maranda), Boston (run by Sam Gould), Portland, Maine (run by Daniel Fuller and the Institute for Contemporary Art), Philadelphia (run by Robert Blackson and the Tyler School of Art), Los Angeles (run by Sergio Pastor, Matthew Schum, and Lizzie Fitch), and Malmö, Sweden, run by Ola Stahl. To contact one of the Publication Studios, click on its name on the home-page of this site."
art  artists  books  diy  publishing  portland  oregon  bayarea  sanfrancisco  vancouver  britishcolumbia  toronto  boston  maine  philadelphia  losangeles  publicationstudios  selfpublishing  ebooks  publication  self-publishing  publishers  bc 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Field Trip Day | Events in Six Cities on September 29, 2012
"Field Trip day is a series of explorations in six cities on Saturday, September 29th.

Find hidden places, and learn skills long forgotten. There are no right choices, no wrong turns - but there are wonders to be uncovered. Tickets are limited. Register below.

NEW YORK • SAN FRANCISCO • LOS ANGELES • CHICAGO • MINNEAPOLIS • BOSTON"
discovery  fieldtrips  fieldtripday  urbanexploration  urbanism  urban  boston  chicago  greenpoint  brooklyn  minneapolis  nyc  losangeles  sanfrancisco  cities  2012  atlasobscura 
september 2012 by robertogreco
sprout & co.
"sprout is a community education and research organization devoted to creating and supporting the community-driven learning, teaching, and investigation of science. We're united by a passion to reclaim science as a richly personal and creative craft. Through our PROGRAMS & STUDIOS, we're working to make our vision real in Somerville.

You might say we're working to create a community college that lives up to its name—not a college in a community or a school in a building, but a community of people who work together as colleagues to explore questions they care about."

[From the Studios page]

"Our studios are a bit unusual. Here you can find out WHERE they are, how you can use them as a COWORKING space, a community VENUE, a WORKSHOP AND LABSPACE for independent investigation, or WHATEVER ELSE you have in mind. And if you're interested, you can read about WHY we run our studios the way we do."
deschooling  unschooling  schooldesign  venues  workshops  labspace  coworking  glvo  shaunalynnduffy  alecresnick  michaelnagle  lcproject  openstudioproject  mit  massachusetts  somerville  learning  community  diy  sprout  makerspaces  hackerspaces  education  science  design  boston  sprout&co 
september 2012 by robertogreco
General Assembly
"General Assembly is a global network of campuses for individuals seeking opportunity and education in technology, business, and design."

"We offer a wide variety of learning opportunities, from 90-minute classes to long-form courses. With new options added daily, your only limit is scroll speed."

"A whole may be greater than the sum of its parts, but it's our parts that make us great. From members and instructors to knowledge-seekers and partners, our community defines what we are: collaborative learning advocates, forward-thinking envelope-pushers, and capri-pant enthusiasts.

We're excited to serve as a base for so many creative, innovative, and passionate thinkers and makers. Here are some of the Member Startups in our Community: [list]"
schooldesign  learning  classes  coding  philadelphia  sanfrancisco  boston  berlin  sydney  toronto  london  coworking  nyc  startups  openstudioproject  lcproject  sharedspace  technology  design  entrepreneurship  education  generalassembly 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Los Angeles | Submitted For Your Perusal
“Los Angeles is the cutting edge of the culture, despite the claims and pretensions of San Francisco and New York and Boston and Washington. It has all the verve and dynamism that I found in New York when I went there in 1950. Verve and dynamism that New York has lost, that Chicago wanted and for which substituted brutality and angst, that New Orleans is afraid to let loose. For me, L.A. is like a big, gauche baby with a shotgun in its mouth. It’ll do anything. And with more style, with more fire, with more Errol Flynn go-to-hell vivacity than any other city I’ve ever experienced.”

—Harlan Ellison
nola  neworleans  chicago  dynamism  sanfrancisco  washingtondc  boston  nyc  harlanellison  losangeles  dc 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Twitter / @ablerism: Love Berlin. Human scale o ...
"Love Berlin. Human scale of Boston, sophistication of Brooklyn. And way cheaper, even in 2012. Wish I could share it w/ @bjford, @infrathin."
nyc  2012  comparison  sarahendren  cities  brooklyn  boston  berlin 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Embark | Mass Transit Made Simple
"We make mass transit simple. Embark provides an accurate, reliable, and interactive transit experience that helps you get where you want to go."
navigation  mapping  maps  longisland  newjersey  philadelphia  dc  washingtondc  sanfrancisco  london  chicago  boston  nyc  applications  trains  transportation  transport  guidebooks  iphone  android  ios 
february 2012 by robertogreco
:: NuVu studio
"Students register for a specific studio such as “Balloon Mapping”, “Music and the City”, or “Future of Global Warming” of which there will be approximately 10 students, one Coach and an Assistant Coach. The Coach begins by providing a general overview of a problem to the students, an ambiguous real-world problem with potentially millions of answers. With the Coach’s help each student frames the problem from his/her perspective and enters into an iterative development process supported by the studio team of students & advisors.

Students are provided with access to outside resources – leading thinkers and experts – to whom they present their framework and receive feedback. Students document their process and progress, continually reviewing it with the Coach. They set parameters, synthesize, and continue refining, refining, refining. NuVu trains students to apply multiple perspectives to challenge and refine ideas over and over again until it becomes a natural way of learning."

[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5ZlJVHfiYg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmY2_Xlhpng and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4f4vb7GBIg&list=PL4D54C52BBC9A68D8 ]
education  engineering  highschool  lcproject  openstudio  mit  pedagogy  stem  design  make  innovation  technology  problemsolving  learning  boston  process  unschooling  deschooling  studioclassroom  designthinking  nuvu  nuvustudio 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Mapped historical photos, film, and audio | SepiaTown
"SepiaTown lets you view and share thousands of mapped historical images from around the globe. Search the map to view images or...

We welcome historical images from collections of all sizes, from libraries and historical societies to individuals with a boxful of cool old photos."
via:javierarbona  archive  photography  geography  mapping  maps  history  images  cities  moscow  boston  london  sanfrancisco  paris  amsterdam  losangeles  buenosaires  valparaíso  sandiego  local  portland  oregon  googlemaps 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Urban Omnibus » Code for America ["We need to get in there and change the culture and the modes of communication first, and remake City Hall so it acts more like the citizens of the city it serves."]
"Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America, a non-profit partially inspired by Teach for America that connects city governments and Web 2.0 talent. We caught up with Pahlka to get the backstory on the project, not just to hype the chance to become one of the fellows, but because the program offers profound lessons for how to reimagine how our city governments might work better. In architecture and urbanism, the words developer and designer refer to different professional roles than they do in technology. Nonetheless, perhaps designers of the physical world might benefit from a perspective in which certain networks, systems and spaces are virtual, but no less designed, and no less crucial to service delivery, citizenship and quality of life."
cities  government  citizenship  classideas  innovation  web  web2.0  urban  urbanism  technology  networks  networkedurbanism  systems  systemsthinking  qualityoflife  democracy  services  codeforamerica  collaboration  accessibility  demographics  boston  dc  seattle  boulder  philadelphia  needsassessment  municipalities  citizens  bureaucracy  government2.0  washingtondc 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Ascent Stage: Lessons from unmaking urban mistakes
"We've got more data about cities than we know what to do with. It's lying in archives, published on government websites, being sensed from instrumentation in the environment, deduced from aerial imagery, and built from the ground-up by citizens updating, tweeting, and texting a kind of pointillist painting of city life.

There's simply no reason that we can't design tools to bring city-dwellers into a closer relationship with information that can inform their choices. All the raw materials are there: data, visualization, analytics, and tools for socializing one's insight or commentary. This would not obviate the need for town hall meetings or public presentation of a city's plans, but it would equalize the power imbalance, bringing a Jacobsian emergent planning ethic to a suasive critical mass that can interact with top-down planning around a common set of facts."
urbanplanning  urbancomputing  complexity  design  infrastructure  transportation  urban  systems  streets  community  datamining  roads  planning  cities  highline  portland  nyc  chicago  johntolva  via:adamgreenfield  janejacobs  boston  freeways 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Places I Have Come to Fear the Most « Snarkmarket
"I have a reflex­ive dis­like of sub­urbs. I grew up in Orlando, in one of its sub­urbs stacked on sub­urbs, all in dis­tant orbit around a tiny cen­ter of faux-urbanity we called down­town. (Which in turn hov­ered in dis­tant orbit around a giant cen­ter of faux-reality we called Dis­ney World.)

Orlando feels hor­ri­bly life­less to me. I often say that in Orlando, you have to drive 20 min­utes to get to the con­ve­nience store. I can’t think of a sin­gle good Mom-&-Pop shop around where I grew up. When I go back to visit, there are no places where my friends and I can sit idly and chat until the wee hours. For a while, we seri­ously took to fre­quent­ing the lob­bies of the nicer hotels...How could any­one choose a sub­urb over a city? I ask myself. Cities engen­der cre­ativ­ity and comity & effi­ciency. The Renais­sance could never have taken place in a sub­ur­ban­ized Europe.

But I occa­sion­ally get jolted out of my city-worship when I encounter a bit of real­ity like..."
mattthompson  snarkmarket  cities  suburbs  2005  orlando  boston  washingtondc  schools  parenting  urban  sustainability  nyc  suburbia  vibrancy  efficiency  invention  renaissance  creativity  dc 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Race and the new urbanism « Snarkmarket
"This is some­thing I think about a lot, not least because I’m an aspir­ing col­lege pro­fes­sor mar­ried to an urban plan­ning stu­dent who is also a black lady. Who doesn’t drive. And we have kids."

[references: http://www.newgeography.com/content/001110-the-white-city ]
race  cities  progressive  progressivism  us  portland  seattle  austin  minneapolis  sanfrancisco  snarkmarket  politics  urban  urbanism  planning  society  comparison  diversity  boston  nyc 
october 2009 by robertogreco
These Things Are Related - Anil Dash
"technology adoption happens now because of culture and media, not simply for its own sake or because certain types of capital are available. It happens because a vision is ambitious enough to capture the attention of artist and writers and creators of all sorts, not just other technologists or people within the bubble of the existing tech community. And cities like Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C. and, particularly, New York City, have a decided advantage when it comes to connecting to those in the tech community to the rest of the world. We also have an unparalleled history of ambition (and, yes, ego) to match that potential. I hope entrepreneurs learn a lesson from the few underwhelming startups that are out there, and realize that the model of making incremental improvements on companies that already exist is a recipe where, even if you achieve your goals, you may not have achieved much of a success."
anildash  startups  entrepreneurship  trends  creativity  technology  culture  innovation  success  tcsnmy  cv  glvo  environment  siliconvalley  chicago  boston  washingtondc  nyc  cities  disruption  gamechanging  progress  small  change  reform  leapfrogging  intuit  mint  comparison  bayarea  dc 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Boston to debut ‘killer app’ for municipal complaints - The Boston Globe
"City officials will soon debut Boston’s first official iPhone application, which will allow residents to snap photos of neighborhood nuisances - nasty potholes, graffiti-stained walls, blown street lights - and e-mail them to City Hall to be fixed."
iphone  applications  boston  government  crowdsourcing  transparency  technology  mobile  urban  gps  municipal  ios 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: How to travel in the U.S.
A reader asks: "I was wondering whether you have similar advice for traveling in the US? If someone who has never previously visited the US asked you for five places they should visit in the US, what would be your advice? Or perhaps more generally, what should they look for in their destinations? Assume they're driving, and budget isn't an issue, and that it's not a requirement to see the most popular tourist spots. What's the best advice to properly see and experience the US, in all its diversity?" Tyler Cowen responds: "Most of all, drive as much as possible and do not shy away from a few days in the "boring" (yet wondrous) suburbs. After that, here is my list of five: 1. Manhattan 2. Detroit and the Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn 3. Memphis and the Mississippi Delta 4. San Francisco 5. Grand Canyon and southern Utah"

[... follows with discussion of possible swaps & top ten cities. I'm guessing Kottke will point to this/ask on his own blog, comments will get even more interesting.]
us  travel  tylercowen  advice  foreuropeans  nyc  manhattan  detroit  memphis  texas  sanfrancisco  boston  miami  neworleans  chicago  nola 
february 2009 by robertogreco
How the city hurts your brain - Boston.com
"Recent research by scientists at the Santa Fe Institute used a set of complex mathematical algorithms to demonstrate that the very same urban features that trigger lapses in attention and memory -- the crowded streets, the crushing density of people -- also correlate with measures of innovation, as strangers interact with one another in unpredictable ways. It is the "concentration of social interactions" that is largely responsible for urban creativity, according to the scientists. The density of 18th-century London may have triggered outbreaks of disease, but it also led to intellectual breakthroughs, just as the density of Cambridge -- one of the densest cities in America -- contributes to its success as a creative center. One corollary of this research is that less dense urban areas, like Phoenix, may, over time, generate less innovation."
landscape  fredericklawolmstead  cities  urban  urbanism  brain  via:adamgreenfield  psychology  urbanplanning  design  architecture  culture  environment  housing  health  nature  cognition  attention  intelligence  neuroscience  mind  boston  biodiversity  behavior 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Cities and Ambition
"Even when a city is still a live center of ambition, you won't know for sure whether its message will resonate with you till you hear it...You'll probably have to find the city where you feel at home to know what sort of ambition you have."
paulgraham  cities  living  life  lifestyle  happiness  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  paris  entrepreneurship  employment  work  careers  demographics  economics  proximity  urban  geography  society  bayarea  boston  california  education  knowledge  universities  psychogeography  location  art  restaurants  technology  science  math  research  money  business  challenge  wealth  class  social  insiders  intelligence  culture  commentary  losangeles  washingtondc  berkeley  comparison  dc 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Cherry Blossoms
"backpack+microcontroller+GPS...Recent news of bombings in Iraq downloaded every night...if wearer walks in a space in Boston correlating to site of violence in Baghdad...detonates air cloud of confetti...inscribed with name of civilian who died"
activism  art  iraq  war  technology  mobile  performance  boston  gps  information  mapping  maps  politics 
january 2008 by robertogreco
David Byrne Journal: 10.11.2007 Sexual Selection & Creativity
"Shared a talk at the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston about art and sexual selection with the evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, author of the book The Mating Mind."
evolution  psychology  geofflreymiller  davidbyrne  art  movements  trends  identity  elitism  play  creativity  dillerscofidio  architecture  design  schools  experience  social  boston  diller+scofidio 
october 2007 by robertogreco
'City Bike' Hot New Category at Bicycle Industry Show
"Some people believe that, right now, a quiet revolution is taking place. In cities like London, San Francisco, Boston and New York, the ranks of bicycle riders are swelling with the rise of a new breed: the urban biker."
bikes  transportation  cities  urban  urbanism  losangeles  sanfrancisco  nyc  london  boston  chicago  seattle  bikeoptions 
september 2007 by robertogreco
'City Bike' Hot New Category at Bicycle Industry Show
"Some people believe that, right now, a quiet revolution is taking place. In cities like London, San Francisco, Boston and New York, the ranks of bicycle riders are swelling with the rise of a new breed: the urban biker."
bikes  transportation  cities  urban  urbanism  losangeles  sanfrancisco  nyc  london  boston  chicago  seattle  bikeoptions 
september 2007 by robertogreco

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