Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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.
1. http://onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.com/category/civics-and-urban-life/
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.”
2. http://www.urbanophile.com/2010/04/02/replay-the-outsiders/
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.
3. http://livingthecheaplife.net/2008/05/why-living-in-an-urban-area-doesnt-have-to-be-expensive/
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.
4. http://johnson.blogs.nytimes.com/
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.
5. http://www.neatorama.com/2009/01/04/urban-life-is-bad-for-brains/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Neatorama+%28Neatorama%29
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 person...it 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.

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