This photograph by Nathan Carlsen is a finalist in the 10th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest. Carlsen calls it a “man-made ice geyser,” created by a water pipe that is “bled” every year to keep it from freezing. Carlsen had the idea of putting LED lights into the center of the ice mass and then shooting this picture. Syracuse does not stay cold for as long as Duluth, Minnesota, home of the ice geyser, but surely we could achieve some interesting landscape effects with ice and snow??
The Google Ngram viewer lets you search Google's huge corpus of scanned English-language books for mentions of any word or phrase. It's a fun way to track the rise and fall of words, people, and ideas.
Below are the results you get if you search on various subfields of ecology: population ecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, evolutionary ecology, behavioral ecology, physiological ecology, landscape ecology, and restoration ecology.
That tiny speck is Venus, as seen through Saturn’s rings. Captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
This enchanting image was taken by a staff photographer, Alan Spearman, in my hometown newspaper, the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Alan is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker. It has been a couple of decades since I lived in Memphis, but hometowns always have a pull on your heart, don’t they? In this case, it is a poignant, even painful, pull on my heart. I discovered Alan’s work on a chance visit back in January to the Commercial Appeal’s website. I have been haunted, in particular, by the film As I Am which won a “Top 12 of 2012″ Vimeo award among other awards. If you follow the link above, be sure to scroll to the bottom for the video of the tree, April, and her friend, Faith.
Landscape plays a prominent role in Am I Am. It is a landscape of poverty that lies just south of Downtown Memphis. It would be easy to produce a film of Memphis downtown revitalization that would prompt envy among city planners and urban designers (perhaps). There is nothing to envy about the world that Alan Spearman depicts. Urban poverty in the U.S. is not really acknowledged, but it occupies a significant footprint in every American city. From my perch in academia, I cannot help but see another incongruity – the fact that “urban ecology,” “ecosystem services,” and other concepts are the fodder for academic inquiry, but what actually constitutes urban open space are places just like the neighborhood depicted in this film. Cuts through the hood. What should happen at the intersection of “sustainable urbanism” and environmental justice? What is our duty to these landscapes, these neighborhoods, these people?
Alan Spearman gives us a gift, an insight into the lives of people that the middle and upper classes never encounter, even if they live nearby (and they do). Landscape architects, city planners, urban designers, urban ecologists, and other professionals who claim the city as their subject also need to grapple with the issues raised in this film, IMHO.
Posted in Cities, Design Practice, Green Infrastructure, Landscape Urbanism, Reflective Practice | Tagged ecosystem services, environmental justice, poverty, sustainable urbanism, urban design, urban ecology, urban neighborhoods, urban open space | Leave a Comment »
Along the way, the poor are crushed. It’s an old story. From today’s NY Times:
Many said they were given 20 minutes, at most, to pack up their belongings.
“Everybody was running helter-skelter,” said a resident, Femi Aiyenuro, adding that those who went back in to retrieve possessions risked being beaten with rifle butts and batons. “They started beating people.”
What little that could be salvaged was piled along a railway line running along Badia’s edge.
“They were flogging me,” said Charity Julius, 27 and pregnant. She said she ran into her dwelling to fetch her baby boy, and once he was safely out, she ran back to gather as many possessions as she could. The police did not like that and beat her, she said, showing a bruise on her right arm as evidence.
The Lagos state commissioner for housing, Adedeji Olatubosun Jeje, provided a different version of events.
“It’s a regeneration of a slum,” he said. “We gave enough notification. The government intends to develop 1,008 housing units. What we removed was just shanties. Nobody was even living in those shanties. Maybe we had a couple of squatters living there.”
Love this map! Thanks Brandon M. Anderson!
Skimming an article on biomimicry in the NY Times today revealed the usual eye-candy approach to the subject. Beautiful structures inspired by natural forms with claims to greatness, but little more. Two parts of the article, though, are worth noting. Located near the end, it would be easy to overlook these passages. The first references Skygrove (image below), the highrise concept that won first place in MOMA’s Rising Currents competition.
Daniel Williams, a practicing architect in Seattle who specializes in sustainable waterfront design, noted that Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina obliterated nearby mangrove forests in Florida. The trees’ adaptive strategies, like their tendency to clump together and utilize all of the land around them, could be more worthy of emulation than the shape of their roots, he suggsted (sic).
“We should look at the ecology and botany and how the tree is functioning, rather than just copying its form,” [emphasis added] Mr. Williams said.
The really funny part, IMHO, are these lines:
When it comes to functioning optimally despite extreme weather, the octopus could be the ultimate model. Rafe Sagarin, a marine ecologist and the author of “Learning from the Octopus,” said a physical readiness to adapt, combined with a thoughtful approach to sudden change, gives the cephalopod its edge.
“The octopus has this really strong, powerful brain,” [emphasis added] Dr. Sagarin said. “It’s thoughtful and can plan but also adapts in an automatic way.”
The octopus’ combination of quick and measured thinking could inform coastal cities’ approach to climate change, he said. While government must respond quickly in emergency weather situations, people on the ground can provide the other half of the octopus approach: carefully considered, long-term solutions.
“All these amazing minds out there aren’t activated for certain problems,” Dr. Sagarin said. “But if you can reactivate them, you get the aspects of adaptable systems.”
It is not clear if Sarah Amandolare, the author, meant to be funny, but concluding that the best biomimicry might come from modeling ourselves after another animal with a big brain is just that. Her words are a call for crowd-sourcing really, capitalizing on the multitude of ideas that could come from an informed citizenry, and coupling that with good urban planning.
In other words, the more people who are invested in creating to solutions to climate change, the better. But first, the public needs access to detailed information and hazard maps depicting sea-level rise.
A functional federal government would help too!