Thursday, May 13, 2010

Intro: Group 1 Urban Studies Blog

The authors of this blog are students from an Urban Studies class at CUNY in NYC. This blog incorporates personal experiences and different Urban Studies concepts/theories. Moreover, the authors all acquired new knowledge about the city with newly found sharable experiences.
Eunbyoul, Judy, Terry, Alina, and Jennally were all very familiar with the city prior to this class; however, they never explored the foundations which influence how the city operates and how its design is essential to us on a personal level. Some of the things they learned is that the city is diverse, the contrast between private/public space, how parks are designed, zoning laws, and the significance of sidewalks in our everyday lives. The places mentioned in this blog include Roosevelt Island, Freshkills, Central Park, major Plaza's, and other destinations all throughout the Tri-state. Their adventures are described in this collective. Enjoy it- because they certainly had.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eunbyoul Cho Activity #10 Freshkills Park

On May 5th, I went to the second trip the Freshkills Park. Before going to the trip, I read articles but "Turning Trach Piles Into a Bird-Watcher's paradie" by James Barron from New York Times caught my eye. When I got to the ferry station in the Stated Island, I met all of classmates and the instruction. We ride bus to the Freshkills Park and Doug told us about Freshkills Park. To me, Staten Island is a place where I go when I go to the New Jersey. It was my first time actually to go in the Staten Island and visit place, like Freshkills. While going to the Freshkills Park, there were lots of grass and trees around. Also in the directory which Doug hand out to everyone, there was a map of the Freshkills park. I was really big and I remember that Doug mentioning that Freshkills will be the largest park in the New York City. Also, I remember that Freshkills Park is the largest landfill which is made in to park. When we got to the top of the mountain, I didn't see any trash. But noticed that "The mountain was once a garbage pile. Now it has been sealed off with a plastic membrane and covered with a special kind of grass"(Barron). While going to the other side of the moutain, we saw bird cage and bird flying. Doug also mention like the New York Times said " the parks department plans to build for birders, overlooking an adjacent wildlife refuge on land that was never part of the landfill" (Barron). Doug said that they are trying to keep the wildlife in the freshkills park and also making a place where everyone can come and enjoy. Within 5 years, they are planning to open some areas of the park for people to enjoy. Also they are making many kind of place such as bycircle tracks, horse back riding, and fields for people to play sports and more. When I was their, i was really impressed and amazed that landfill can made it as a park. I knew that Staten Island was a place were New York City's trash were putted but now it is a great place for people to go. Also, I was shocked that people used to live around that landfill but it is a great that Freshkiils Park is in the Staten Island. I have already told friends and family about the Freshkills Park. They were all amazed and interested to visit there. However, when Doug mention that all the New York City's garbage were going to the South Carolina, I am and was really worry about people who live there. Also, I learned that recycling garbage is really important for people, including me. I had taken some pictures because I wanted to show it to people who were around me. It was great field trip, which it was my first time having field trip in New York. I really enjoyed and can't wait until Freshkills to open for public.

Eunbyoul Cho Activity # 9

I used yahoo and google to search for urban life blogs. In there blogs, I found interesting blogs from other peoples view point of their own blog. I was amazed that many people had blog about their urban life. Also, I didn't know there were lot of amount of blogs about urban life. It was interesting that people are really into the urban life.
"This Urban Life" is blog by Eric Mencher who lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He have taken lot of pictures of his view point in his urban life place. He had many snap shopts and had point to every picutres. In his one of picture I wrote "I like your pictures which shows your interest in your urban life. It is really nice to see your pictures." His picutres were really interesting which made me to look city different ways.

This blog is called "Jane's Walk RVA" which is in Richmond, Virginia. This blog is gathering place for people who were inspired and to celebrate Jane Jacobs works. People in virginia who are in Richimond are having Jane's Walk to give "the opportunity for neighborhood insiders to celebrate the compelcities of urban life that Jacobs cherished..."(in the blog). I was impress that there were many people around nation who cherishes Jane Jacobs work. I also think that Jane Jacob is really great author and activist. In this blog I wrote "Jane's walk is really insteresting. In my urban studies class I have read Jane Jacobs book. I am really glad that there is Jane's walk to cherish Jane Jacobs works."

THis blog is called Larry Janmes; Urband Daily: Overcoming proverty with data. This blog is for the low-income people to help them in the reality. Especially, for people who are challenging hard times, Larry James is providing good informations to help people to live day to day. Larry James is the President and CEO of Central Dallas Ministries. "By looking at your blog, I was amazed to see that blog is really strong website that can help people to live day to day in thier urban life." He posted some video clips for people to watch and help and give many informations. There are many sources that helps people to know the reality of their life in urban cities.

This blog is called best of :Urban / Sam Gallery. Bloggers name is Joey Veltkamp, he made this blog to "focuses on art, food, drinking, friends and more!"(in his profile). THe blogger provides many shorts of information for people to go and enjoy places and events. Also, he have posted pictures and places where he went with his friends. So, I wrote "Your blog has many interesting information for people, including me. By looking at your blogs, I noticed that there are many events and places to go." There were many interesting artistic pictures to look and to enjoy while reading his blog.

This blog is called "urban farmgirl: inquiring minds..." Ths blog is writing her blog and within the blog she have made many changes which helped and provide in her life. There are many furnitures which she made. she talks about her life. She also has her email address that anyone can ask her about anything. However, I didn't send any emails but wrote "I have blog which is for group work in my urban studies class. But by looking at your blog I learned that blog can help and provide people." In her one of blog, she wrote her past years, which made me to think that blog can help people to think about their past and think about their futures too.

After looking and reading other peoples blog, I told few of my friend. Some were interested in the picutres and others were intrested how blog contained many sorts of information that can actually help people living in the reality. This 5 blogs were my favorites, which I continued looking at other blogs. But By sharing the blogs to others made me to realize that blog can be used in many ways but it just depends on people who are intrested or not. However, the bloggers were the one who are really intrested in their blog, which they don't mind who reads or look at it or not.

Teresa Mira: Activity # 10: Freshkills Park Trip

Last week on a beautiful Wednesday by 12pm I was on the Staten Island ferry getting ready to go on a tour of Freshkills Park. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this trip even after reading “Turning Trash Piles Into a Bird-Watcher’s Paradise” from the New York Times and “Wall-E Park” from New York Magazine. The title of the NYMag article along with the first picture made me almost expect a section of the park to look straight out of the movie Wall-E, despite descriptions of the park such as, “sedges and spartina grass have returned to the tidal estuary, and we see muddy tidal flats, lowland swamps, and drier, prairielike fields.” On the bus ride to the park Doug began telling us about the park and its creation and continued the story throughout our tour.
The landfill turned park we visited was open from 1948 until 2001. That’s over 50 years of garbage now under huge mounds. It’s incredible how all of that garbage is hidden underneath the mounds and made safe to be used as a park. There are layers of various materials separating the waste and the grass to make the park safe. There is a soil barrier layer just above the waste followed by a rocky gas vent layer. This gas vent layer allows the gas and leachate that are by products of the waste to be released without reaching the surrounding environments. There is then a tick plastic drainage layer to prevent rainwater from reaching the waste, two feet of soil called barrier protection material and another six inches of planting soil. This layering allows for the covering of the waste to be safe for the land to be used as a park. Standing on top of the mounds it was crazy to think there was even any waste underneath you, the grass and trees made it seem natural, the only odd part were the gas wells. These wells trap the landfill gas that is released and travels through the gas vent layer and redirects the gas to a plant where the gas is burned to be sold as natural gas. There are also ideas for windmills to be built on the mounds to supply energy. The dilemma they are having with this plan is the issue with the stability of the windmills being built on top of a landfill.
Standing on the mounds and looking around is amazing. There are great views of the city from the top of them. This aspect is part of what is going to make this park truly amazing. There are also a lot of interesting birds that reside in the park and I’m sure more will wildlife will become present as the park nears completion. While on the tour we saw a bird in a nest over the river, I don’t know what it was called as I know nothing about birds. It was very cool to see the mother with her eggs and possibly just hatched babies; it was hard to see into the nest, as it was high up. When the park opens, the wildlife will certainly be interesting to see, especially for bird watchers who can already experience a tour on Sunday mornings.
When the park is finished, they have huge plans for it. The separate mounds are all going to have their own special functions. The mound where they buried the materials from 9/11 is going to be the site for passive recreation, such as hiking and horse trails, cross country skiing and of course some form of memorial to 9/11. There are going to be mutli-use paths and fields where all types of recreation can take place on the other mounds. Various sporting fields will open as well including soccer fields, which will open next summer. Playgrounds will be opened as well throughout the park including one near Travis that is also planned to open next summer. The preserved wetlands and river area will be the site of canoe and kayak launches. The completion of this large project, however, is far in the future, approximately 30 years if everything goes according to plan. It will be very cool to go back when it opens and say that I saw it when they were still building it and I’m sure will go a long way.

Freshkills North Mount Looking At The City

Diagram of the Park's Infrastructure from the Freshkills Park Site Tour Guide

Freshkills Park Site Plan, 2006 from the Freshkills Park Site Tour Guide

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Freshkills Tour (Activity 10)-Alina Gertsenshteyn

I attended the Freshkills tour last week (I was in the afternoon group). Our tour guide Doug told us that the word “kills” means body of water in Dutch. The area got that name because it used to be very beautiful and natural. Ironically, men had literally killed the area by turning it into a wasteland. According to an article posted on nymag titled “Walle-E Park” By Robert Sullivan there is about 150 million tons of waste, leaking chemicals, and “312 gallons of liquid dump excretions processed by the Sanitation Department every minute” in this area and the Sanitation Department is not planning on leaving for at least another thirty years. In addition, the National Grid buys gas from the city (produced in Freshkills) for $10 million annually. While this seems like a good thing, unfortunately there is another problem lurking called leachate which is not a healthy chemical for us. This is all a result of us messing up the land but now we are trying to design it to be a fun place full of activities (as Doug told us) such as horseback riding. There are different specialists advising on how restore Freshkill such as ecologist Steven Handel who is suggesting how nature plants should be planted to absorb sunlight and to attract birds to bring in seeds (Robert Sulivan). The first step is to plant grass and bring in soil which is very expensive to do but it is getting done. We saw a patch of its “work in progress” when we came out of the bus.
A memorable aspect of the tour was observing the birds. Doug told us to be on the look out for a red-tailed hawk and we were. We saw a bird nest on a tall pole when the mother or father was present and we were amazed by it because in our urbanized environment we do not usually witness something like this. We were informed that bird-watchers come to Freshkills and there are many species there. The other reading we were given prior to the tour is from the nytimes website -“Turning Trash Piles into a Bird Watching Paradise” by James Barron and it states that “it is not uncommon to have a large bird population on a former landfill site.” This point was definitely validated my by own observations.
My thoughts about Freshkills after the tour are a mixture of excitement for its future and concern over how we will deal with our trash from now on. Our environment is changing constantly and even though we are improving technology and designs we kill nature on the way there and even restoring it will never get it to be exactly the same. Dumping our waste to North Carolina does not seem to be a great fix because who is to say that NC is not as important as NYC. With that being said, I think this experience has opened my mind to be more environmentally conscious and to start recycling.

Activity #9 "Why Blog if No One Reads It?"-Alina Gertsenshteyn

When I googled “urban life” an overwhelming amount of blogs came up including ones from different countries. I read through a few and picked out five which I thought were interesting. Below is what I found.
This particular blog is about volunteering in Brooklyn. It informs that there is going to be an event in Brooklyn on May 13th in which 95 different organizations will hand out information on different volunteering projects. The blog described the event and talks about how there will be free admission and refreshments there (it seems that urban events almost always involve food/drinks whether they are free or sold by vendors- a theme we talked a lot about in class). Moreover, the event is being advertised here by incorporating quotes such as this one by Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 6., ““A real measure of a neighborhood’s strength is the extent to which its residents share their time and talents in their community.” This piece reminds me a lot about my community board experience since during the meeting I attended one of the issues outlined was volunteering. It is nice to discover that there are people out there that actually care about these community board meetings enough to quote representatives and take events seriously.
This is my comment which is pending now “I love how you point out that volunteering is for everybody. It is not just for kids who do it so it looks good on college applications. I think that volunteering is a good way for people across all ages to interact with each other. An event like this will make volunteering possible for different people since everybody has distinct abilities and interests.”
Here the author talks about his/her (?) trip to Paris and the astonishing differences the city has from US cities. This is what the author noted “Some things I remember noticing about Paris from my first trip was that you could buy beer in a coffee shop, the metro system used rubber wheels and wasn’t noisy, it had incredible headways, and the lattice design allowed easy “anywhere to anywhere” journeys. Usually whenever I visit a place I come away with at least one new good idea.” I loved the last line in this quote because I think that the whole point of all of our field trips in this class was to leave a place with new ideas about the design and structure of a city and how it affects our lives. I am in awe that the metro system is not noisy in Paris because in NY all we hear is noise everywhere and the funny thing is that I do not even notice it. I am completely immune to it. I am now wondering if Paris is “quiet” by our standards.
My comment: “People from different cities rely on certain senses more than others. In the book I read “The Hidden Dimension” by Edward T. Hall he talks about how people across cultures vary in their sensitivity to sound, smell, seeing, and touch. In my opinion, New Yorkers rely more heavily on sound than the French do but the French are more sensitive to the sense of smell.
This blog is about the cost of life in urban cities which is expensive. It is interesting that the author says that even though he/she has a car this person still takes advantage of public transportation and biking. Transportation is a theme we explored in class. The author even points out that when he/she lived in the suburbs owning a car was more important. Every time you use a car you have to spend on gas and at times parking; therefore, substituting it for a bike or a bus is both beneficial to yourself (you save money) and to your community since traffic is not a positive aspect of the city (our city is constantly trying to reduce congestion).
My comment: Wonderful that you are taking advantage of bikes and public transportation! You are not only saving ourself money but you are helping the community and enjoying yourself outdoors. In addition, using these alternatives might get you where you need to go faster since a common problem in the city is traffic.
This is a New York times blog about NY and it reads like an academic piece. Steven Johnson writes how much safer NYC is presently than it was throughout history. Even though the population is growing there is “there is remarkable diversity with very little ethnic or religious conflict; and dozens of major new parks and public spaces are either being planned or built”. I would have to agree with him. In the gender/sexualized activity we did (activity 6) I was surprised to discover how there are many gay spaces which seem to be existing peacefully. It is also great that there are new parks being built…just like in Freshkills! I was able to read this piece and actually know what he is talking about because of the exploration we did during the semester.
My comment: The city needs more parks. I believe that by living in such urbanized areas we are losing touch with nature and we need to restore it. With that being said, I would like to bring up the Freshkills project which is going to transform a former garbage dump to a gorgeous park! Our city is definitely improving and it is amazing that we are becoming smarter in its design.
This blog is very scientific and psychological. The author says that “After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory”. I agree with this to a certain degree. When we had to do the urban storytelling assignment I personally felt overwhelmed because my brain could not focus on a certain place since there is just an ENORMOUS amount of information each city space gives off. Even a place that has personal meaning to me had multiple meanings so forming one story in my brain was super difficult. Also, from my experience since we see so many different faces in a day it becomes harder to recognize people. It might also be more difficult to remember how to get someplace or to determine if you are on the right block (the one you need to be on) since everything kind of gets mushed together and starts looking the same.
My comment: Our mind and senses are indeed limited. Can you imagine having to process all the different senses coming towards you at once while walking down a city block? How would we ever focus? Usually I find myself blocking everything out altogether and just concentrating on some personal matter one my mind.

Basically I am going to start advertising these blogs on a small scale to get people into it. First, I put up a link to our blog as my status on facebook... not to sure who will actually go on it but you never know...I have about 400+ added friends. I also messaged my best friend who loves the NY Times and told her about the blog I found from their website and she said "cool I will check it out" and I think that there is a good chance that she will go back to it being that she is a sociology major and took an urban class before (but she wasn't introduced to blogging). So even if it is just one is a start. In addition, if I am ever on the conversation topic of urban studies with someone I will tell them about my blogs and the odds are that they will be interested in looking at it since they are engaged in the conversation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"The Hidden Dimension" by Edward T. Hall -Alina Gertsenshteyn

Edward T. Hall is an anthropologist and author of the book “The Hidden Dimension.” He has coined the term “proxemics” to the field which studies how men across cultures make sense of their space. As he explains “people from different cultures not only speak different languages but, what is possibly more important, inhabit different sensory worlds” (3). Furthermore, since our urban setting are man made it has been created to appeal to our different senses but not every culture makes use of space the same way. A person and his/her environment are constantly modeling each other. Hall uses many anthropological concepts in his book by discussing evolution and the biology of senses. He points out that since a changing environment influences how a species evolves than when humans create an environment they are directly shaping who they will become in later generations (4).
Furthermore, in chapter two of his book Hall discusses how similar we are to animals in regards to space. Animals are territorial to protect themselves from danger and to acquire needed resources; however, some species prefer to live in communities to protect themselves from factors such as predators. Similarly, we are the same way…we build gated communities to mark a safe space yet it is a community nonetheless for nurturing reasons. Hall also explores how when we communicate there is a concept of keeping a “safe distance” and it varies upon the relationship between the individuals (15). In an experiment done with observing rats in a community he found that “An increase in population density leads to a proliferation of classes and subclasses” (28). This is another striking similarity with us because class systems influence how space is created to appeal to certain groups and exclude others by, for instance, making the place expensive and therefore only affordable to its desirable crowd.
In addition, Hall outlines our reception of space through our eyes, ears, and nose. These three are our distance receptors which examine distant objects and our skin, membranes, and muscles are immediate receptors which feel the world up close (40). With that being said, he gives cultural examples of how our senses are used differently. For instance, Germans use double doors and thick walls to drain out sound and they have a harder time than us to have to rely on physical concentration to not pay attention to noise. Also, in America using deodorant is the norm and public odors are suppressed- Americans have an underdeveloped and bland use of olfactory space (44). Hall gives examples in the later chapters of how the senses are used across groups.
I liked the chapter “The Language of Space” in which he uses great authors such as Mark Twain, Butler, and Thoreau to describe how people poetically perceive their dimensions. He points out that even though the text were written a long time ago they could have been written today since they are so applicable (95). Poetry and fiction rely on senses to appeal to readers.
In conclusion, since our world has become increasingly “man made” we are getting better at creating things which appeal to us best. This makes sense from an anthological perspective since space has primitive usage for survival. Besides that, our space is a reflect of other culturally designed concepts such as those dealing with prejudice and class status- we are in a sense picky of who we share our environment with. For instance, I know that when my parents were buying our house one of their main concerns was to find a safe neighborhood and they liked the fact that ours was very middle class suburban and had plenty of other Russian people around because those are the types of people they want to be next to. It made them feel that they are doing the right thing by picking a safe place to raise kids and they had the advantage of being around people of similar interests who can always help out when needed. Therefore, many of the factors in Hall’s book are applicable to my personal experiences.