Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another Generation's Optimism

While researching a project in SE Missouri at the Mercantile Library yesterday I came across a thin volume on Cape Giradieu and pulled it from the stacks, thinking there might be a chance it could be connected to my work. It wasn't, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.
In 1916 a group in the Cape area put together a proposal/plea to have an armor factory located in their region. Although the US had not entered 'the war to end all wars' yet it looks like anticipation was building. At any rate, I pulled out my cell camerea and snapped a few pix from the book as I was struck by the optimism the went along with a belief in 'almost unlimited electric power' from a 'commercial water-power dam.' Here are a few pages of the book.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sustainability & Exclusivity

from the NY Times piece:

"What Masdar really represents, in fact, is the crystallization of another global phenomenon: the growing division of the world into refined, high-end enclaves and vast formless ghettos where issues like sustainability have little immediate relevance.
That’s obviously not how Mr. Foster sees it. He said the city was intended to house a cross-section of society, from students to service workers. “It is not about social exclusion,” he added.
And yet Masdar seems like the fulfillment of that idea. Ever since the notion that thoughtful planning could improve the lot of humankind died out, sometime in the 1970s, both the megarich and the educated middle classes have increasingly found solace by walling themselves off inside a variety of mini-utopias.
This has involved not only the proliferation of suburban gated communities, but also the transformation of city centers in places like Paris and New York into playgrounds for tourists and the rich. Masdar is the culmination of this trend: a self-sufficient society, lifted on a pedestal and outside the reach of most of the world’s citizens."

In the long run sustainability and exclusivity are incompatible and no development that is truly sustainable can be called both exclusive and sustainable. Click on the pix to enlarge and click on the Times link to see the whole piece on Masdar.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where We Live

These maps , from Bill Fisher, have made the rounds in the last few days - at least they have in my Twitter world. They show ethnic/racial distribution of populations in cities. The first is Chicago, the second is St. Louis and the third is a close up of my Tower Grove neighborhood. I like the multi-colored dots in my neighborhood.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Habitat and FPCC Partnership Continues

The light at the end of the long hall is the bright light of education outside the Lecture Hall where Habitat and FPCC gave a full day's training to a room full of people intent on making a difference. Here Art Stauder and William McHugh teach the basics of blueprint reading to future Habitat Crew Leaders.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Old North Progress

The first images is a vintage 'flounder' behind a new Habitat foundation going in. The rest document the progress of a LEED Platinum 'flounder' going in this summer. Click on the images to enlarge.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

How To Be Alone

How To Be Alone is a collection of essays by Jonathan Franzen. It begins with 'My Father's Brain,' a meditation on his father's Alzheimer's Disease. It is striking to see familiarities with his family and mine coming to the slow realization of the thing that's wrong. That Franzen grew up here and is my age makes identifying with his work, perhaps, a bit easier for me. At any rate, I found common ground.

'The Reader in Exile' and 'First City' are my favorite essays in the collection. Here is a favorite quote: "Reading is a judgement. It brands as insufficient the understanding and priorities that govern ordinary life." I like to think of this not as a snobby elitism, but rather as a response to the vast majority of stuff provided to us in the marketplace.

I also read his new novel, Freedom, this weekend. It is, at its best, a call to mindfulness about the difficulty, responsibility and challenges of having so many opportunities to make decisions. At its worst it reads like a page turner created by someone who has come to understand his market.