Wednesday, August 02, 2006

So to wrap up my posting for this session, I think I am just going to give the class a review and reflect upon what has been going on in my head during this class. When I signed up for this class, I really had no clue what it was going to be like. I had some type of a knowledge for planning, but I really didn't know how to express it, because I really had no idea about it. I just knew random and general things. I have enjoyed this class. I liked being able to come to class, and learn something that I didn't know each day. But the things that I learned, weren't very hard concepts to grasp because as it has been stated, planning is some what of a common sense subject.
It was common sense, but I felt that this class made me look deeper into things, think about the infrastructure of Boone as a town, and how it works. Just how there are so many twists and turns in the process of building a structure and the point the lies within those colorful signs around town with the large "Z" on them. This class has been an exploration in understanding the many problems that planners face, and how we should go about solving them. There always seem to be one problem after the other, so a planner's work can never be fully completed, and that is perfectly OK. Everyone understands that we cannot live in a perfect world.
You know what I think, I think that agriculture land, used to grow crops on, should become a thing of the past. Yes, I know this sounds ridiculous, but I think I have a good point in this argument. My father was a farmer and I grew up helping him in the fields, my first "real" job was cross pollinating cotton, "crossing" cotton. Before that my dad payed my brother and sister and me something like a dollar and hour. Yeah, it was tuff, but I think it was a good experience. Anyway, back to this point that I am trying to make.
So, if you think about this, growing the same type of plant in rows for many rows is so unnatural. Yes, you may be growing organic vegetables or something like that, but still. There is no place in nature that you could find that happening. Farming is an invention created by man. We should be preserving that land, instead of robbing all of the nurtients from it, only to make it sterile. We cut down forests for crop land. It is becoming a problem in Brazil, where valuable rainforest is being cut down for soybeans. We should really be focusing on alternatives to traditional farming, something that would take up less space, and help us have more space. After all , a main concept in planning is utilizing space.
So I took the intro to physical geography class last Spring, and our professor asked a very good question to make a very good point. So, what about medians? Well, medians are basically large areas of grasses and a bit of vegetation that seperates one side of the interstate from the other. So, what is this importance of these medians? Well, nothing really. They are useless. When he made this point I got really interested. This is because I never even thought about how much land medians take up. There are some pretty big ones around here.
So, after he made that point, he told us that if we just planted sawgrass in the medians here in the southeast we could produce enough ethanol to support the southeast. Isn't that a really good idea? We wouldn't even have to make room for new farmland, we could make do with what we had. There would be less pollution coming from cars, and more space to do other productive things on.
I was thinking about the negative reputation that this book gives to billboards. I admit, billboards are very ugly and most of the time they don't make much sense. The only really cool billboards around this area ( well not here, but in the south) would be the South of the Border billboards, and they used to be really cool and 70's retro, but they have gotten new ones that suck. Anyway, I was thinking that people can make restrictions and do all of that, but we must face the fact that billboards are key in advertising.
So why don't we just focus on this terrible thing and turn it into a good thing. Which brings up my main point. So, I was watching the science channel the other night, and it was one of those shows about new discoveries. Ok, get this, It was a billboard made of water. It was really cool, It works by shooting out a sheet of tiny, tiny microparticles of water that a picture is projected on. The water particles are so small, they don't even get you wet if you walk through the picture. If people keep on thinking like this, imagine what other types of alternatives to billboards we could produce.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

On the subject of environmental planning, I think that it is very important that planners as well as all others need to be aware of the environment and understand the impacts that we have on the environment. After all, the environment it what has made this possible. This, meaning, mankind and our toys and our way of life. I wish that more people would respect our environment and try to take better care of it. Even though we have been warned about the negative impacts we have brought on, what will it take for people to change their lifestyles? Even as I look out my window I see huge gas-guzzling pick-up trucks, litter spread about the ground, many lights, and what looks to be the taming of nature by way of a park. A park in the middle of a sea of concrete and asphalt. Like a zoo, and the trees and rocks and the stream, those are like the animals. People go to this place to get away from the polluted modern life.
I like the fact that some people have actually addressed this problem and taken it to the next level by proposing things like the Clean Air Act and forming organizations. I mean, I can sit here and bitch about what is wrong with this world, but up until the point that I actually take action and do something to change it, it is really pointless to bitch. Taking action is the only choice we have to really make impacts and help bring our planet to stable condition.

Monday, July 31, 2006

So we were learning about transportation today in class, and just as in every class, I really started thinking about the whole idea of transportation. This, of course, is a very new idea for people around the world. Can you believe that people once lived in a world with no cars, and then can you believe that it was once only normal for a family to have one car, just like they had one TV. Now everybody has cars. I know that in my family of five there is a car for each person plus a motorcycle. Cars are such a convienence, I know that if I didn't have my car, I would definantly have to make some changes in my life. I also think that there are way too many cars, and I sometimes wish that I didn't have a car. The problem is like this, we have this luxury, which is awesome and super convienent, but now that we have gotten used to this luxury, it will be very hard to get rid of it, and this luxury is starting to become a nuisance.
Sometimes I have thoughts of planning a town where no cars are allowed. A place where sidewalks are the arteries and buildings are close together, and you would be able to walk or ride a bike as you please, without having to deal with horns and loud engines or polluting exhausts. Yes, this town would be perfect. It is so easy to get a driver's license in the US. maybe rules should be stricter, so people actually know how to drive before they get their license. And maybe cars should become cleaner, quieter, and smaller, thus making less congestion and less pollution and they would take up less space, and things wouldn't have to be planned and designed around the automobile. Then maybe we could stop depending on fuel and stop wasting our money in the middle east. That is another conversation though, I am just thinking about a world that isn't one big slab of ashpalt.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I just read a crazy newspaper article that talked about a guy in California that drives three and a half hours to work. Yes, I do mean three and a half hours each way. How this guy does it, I have no idea, that would be physically exhausting for me. Apparently, he doesn't mind the long commute, he says it is actually exhilerating... that is cool I guess. He has to wake up at 4:30 every morning and he comes home around 8:30. He has no problem with this at all, but for most people in America, commuting to and from work just flat out stinks. The average commute time is 25 minutes or so, but lots of people drive way more than that. I can't even stand driving to Harris Teeter from my apartment near campus. Traffic in Boone pisses me off. But going back to these crazy commuters, as people get more fed up with traffic and soaring gas prices, will they still commute?
What can we do to fix this problem. Why can't we make it so everyone can just walk to work. That would be so great. The problem is, most people are still set on living in the suburbs and raising a family. So roads are made larger and wider and longer. The answer is simple, instead of expand like we like to do so much, we should condense and become compact. Right now, bigger is better, but smaller is cooler. Why do americans have to have so much personal space? We need to accept the fact that we are sociable beings and we like to be close together, whether we like it or not. Have you ever noticed how people like to travel in groups, even when they are in cars. The answer to rid ourselves of the dreaded commute is not in working from home and becoming hermits to society, but we should embrace our sociable nature and lose the mind set of personal space, no normal sized family really needs a five bedroom house or an eight passenger minivan, these are luxuries, and people should understand that luxuries come with a price to pay. Waste and pollution. If we stop expanding and start condensing, we could really clean this place up.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Historic Preservation is very important to a city's culture, aesthetics, and economy. When I think of historic districts I think of strong and beautiful structures that have character. When I think of cities where the historic district is the heart of the city, I think of port towns in the south like Charleston or Savannah. Seriously, would you want to go to these cities if they were just industrialized port cities plagued by large warehouses and steel structures. I wouldn't. I would want to go to these cities to see beautiful houses and churches and museums and markets, cobble stone or brick streets, large live oaks. Yes, it sounds so relaxing just talking about them. Places that are rich in southern history. Man, I sound like an advertisement for these places. But as you can see, the history, is what makes these places attractive.
By attractive I not only mean aesthetically but wouldn't you want to come to these cities and spend some big bucks or even move to these cities. That is why history should be preserved, my mother is director of the Hartsville museum and we have lived in my great grandmother's house in the historic district of Hartsville for all of my life. That is why I am so passionate about history and preserving it I guess. I always find structures built before the 40's or 50's to be sturdy and stand tall through the test of time. They just don't make them like they used to. I look around campus and all of these onces modern buildings built in the 70's and 50's or so, are becoming decrepid and dated, but if you look at the older buildings like smith-wright or DD dougherty they are classics and still look as beautiful as the day they were completed. So, I think that historic preservation is muy importante.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I feel like giving the movie, Delivered Vacant, a review. I liked the real life dilemmia that the movie was giving us, but I definantly felt like it was somewhat repetitive. By the time it was over, I was getting really tired of watching scenes full of angry citizens and council members gathered in one room trying to solve what seemed like unsolvable problems. Then again I found myself taking into consideration that this film took eight years to develop, and providing those repetetive scenes were necessary to develop the story and let people know what was going on. The main subject of the movie which was the gentrification of Hoboken was interesting, but I also enjoyed seeing the culture and life of the times. It was quite fascinating to wonder what the town is like now and where those people are and what they are doing now.
I have been reading websites and looking at real estate for the area of Hoboken and it looks to me that the gentrification of Hoboken has happened with the exception of a few places that provide affordable housing. The real estate in Hoboken is targeted towards city commuters who can afford the expensive rent. But I didn't really expect for Hoboken to remain affordable to those who lived there before the city folks migrated. Gentrification is not unusual around big cities like New York, many other places around New York had the same dilemma as Hoboken, Hoboken just got a lot of attention. There was this movie as well as a book about the gentrification of Hoboken.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Today I was walking on campus and I noticed that behind the cafeteria they have been butchering some trees. It looks terrible now, the sun beats down on the ruins of the gym and just gives you a wierd feeling like you are stuck in the desert. Wierd, but why have they cut these trees down? But of course, they are building the cafeteria, at least I think so, which will probably be done after I graduate. Oh well, I just get to see the construction, and not enjoy the facility. I am just wondering why they had to cut down those big trees.
When planners are planning out what they are going to build and such, do they really take into consideration the landscape around them. Why can't they work around those beautiful old trees or work around them. I know somethings must be sacrificed in the process, but I am sure there are always other options and ways to build around natural things like that. I am going back to the concept of subdivisions. While watching the video I noticed that all of those houses all had nice green lawns. The american way is to have a green lawn. What about those subdivisions in areas of the country where a green lawn can't even exist naturally, but people have them anyway. Say places like Arizona or Nevada, when you are in the middle of the desert. Why can't people start working with what they have to work with instead of wanting what they can't have.