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.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I had a random thought yesterday, yeah those happen a lot. This random thought was special though. Yes, special in the fact that it had to do with planning, on the other hand, not very special because I have been thinking a lot about the subject lately, it is just not common for ideas like that to pop into my head. Anyway, I don't even think that is a legitimate idea to have, and it probably will make no sense when written in word form. I always hate when I get really good thoughts and can't write them down, either I forget or I just can't spit the words out onto the paper or even the air. Oh well.
It was a random thought while in the scientific fiction state of mind. Weird, maybe, but I read this really good book a couple of months ago. It was entitled Dead Mars, Dying Earth. This book was a real eye opener, and it also speculated the possibility that there used to be life on Mars, Mars had the capability of supporting life, and eventually modern man could be able to colonize on the red planet. It sounds really crazy, but you never know. I wrote a paper a long, long time ago about the possibility of terra-forming Mars. Ok so let's say that Mars has been deemed suitable for human life. Scientists have been making trips back and forth, and it is time to start the colonization. Who will be the ones who make the decisions when it comes to actually laying out a system for this martian landscape. Planners of course. What a task! These people will be creating the future city that has had hundreds of years to be perfected on Earth. What will they do?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I have been sitting here thinking about what to write about and I can't really think of anything. However, I did just have a good thought realated to planning and cities. One city in particular, New Orleans. The class I took last summer session, geography of NC, was very interesting in the fact that it was a NC geography class and we talked a lot about New Orleans. It made for very interesting conversation though. The questions many people had involved what is going to happen to the parts of New Orleans that were completely destroyed. I feel that planning will have a major influence in rebuilding the city.
While we may have lost interest in Hurrican Katrina and the devastation it caused, it still remains a big problem. Many places that we consider New Orleans were quickly repaired, money was no problem, and people got it back to working order in a quick manner. The problem lies in the places of New Orleans that were deemed undesirable in a sense. The houses of those who were in poverty and have no way of rebuilding. What can be done? Could this project lie in the hands of a planner? Could New Orleans take this idea of having a clean slate to its advantage or will it hang on to what was there and try to rebuild upon it. I feel like what structures are there should be cleaned up and preserved and those that are gone should remain gone, but something similar and beautiful and new should take its place. Everyone deserves a nice place to live. The only problem is funding. Who will provide the dollars to rebuild and preserve New Orleans?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tonight I would like to review my thoughts on the movie that was viewed today. Basically, everything that was said in the movie has been on my mind since before I started this class and had no previous planning experience. I am so relieved to find out that I am not the only person who sees urban sprawl as a terrible problem that must be resolved before every good piece of land is devoured by this evil creature. When I see this type of develpment, it makes me sick to my stomach, I could never imagine anyone actually wanting to buy a house in a subdivision built where a field once was and all the houses are the same. Do these people have no souls? Life would be so bland if I had the exact same house as my neighbor.
I wish that this video had more input on exactly how to stop urban sprawl, but I can understand that maybe they don't have many solutions for this problem, they are still creating solutions. I did like the thought of reintroducing the neighborhood, and turning abandoned areas into functional and livable areas. I actually saw a commercial on the tele, or maybe it was a magazine, for an organzation that was turning old schools and abandoned buildings into homes for those in need of them. That seems like such a good idea, which it is. There are many things that we don't need, but housing is one thing that we do need. I really like the idea of recycling a building.
As time goes by I think that many more people will start to see the negative impacts of urban sprawl and start to make changes that can decrease this malignant tumor spreading rapidly across land. It will definantly take some time, because subdivisions are popping up everywhere as we speak. I drive around Charlotte in order to get to Boone and it seems like everytime I drive through and past the Ballentyne area there is another subdivision popping up they are even spreading past the border into SC. They have such stupid names like Copper Ridge or Carolina Lakes... and of course every house looks the same, and they will all look crappy in a couple of years when the cheap construction causes the houses to literally start falling apart.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I've been thinking a lot about the whole idea of Zoning. It is such a sensitive subject. It just depends on who you talk to as to whether it is a good thing or not. I would think that zoning would not be necessary if everyone had good common sense and respect for other individuals. That, is definantly not the case on this planet. People hate and disrespect others all the time, and many have no common sense. So, zoning is definantly needed. There are, however, some instances in which zoning can be tuff for people in certain situations. Zoning can limit creativity most of all, as well as become a burden for those living in poverty.
In my neighborhood there was a very interesting situtation that was going on a couple of years ago that had to do with zoning. We live in the historic district of Hartsville, which is something that a town would like to preserve. With this in mind, they wanted to improve the zoning laws by restricting certain colors to be painted on houses, and keeping the appearance of your house nice, like no plastic windows or trash in the yard. Well, they had the meeting to vote on this thing that everyone was in agreement for. Then someone decided to speak up against placing these rules in the neighborhood. This person happened to be my dad. He had a good point speaking up for creativity, saying that people had a right to do whatever they wanted to their homes. So, they didn't place these rules in the neighborhood. Today, there is a pink house across the street from us and a very, very trashy house beside us. They are eyesores and annoying because we live right beside them, but we can't really say anything because of the choice my father made to fight for creativity. So, I respect that people have the right to do what they wish to their property, but then again, zoning can be a great thing when it comes to pink houses and trashy yards.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I am interested in knowing the environmental impact that cities have on the Earth. Well, I think I already have some pretty good ideas of what type of impacts cities cause to the environment. They are concentrated areas of pollution, so why are people so attracted to cities? I always find myself amazed when I listen or watch the news, especially in the summer, and they are telling you that the air quality in Charlotte or some other big city is unsuitable for young children and the elderly. They advise the city dwellers not to do any activities outside until a later time in the afternoon. I find that so terrible, who would want to live in a place where you couldn't even go outside during the daytime? I am wondering if this affects the people in the city. The air quality is so bad that they can't even go outside. It is inevitable though, when you have that many people living in one place, there is going to be excessive waste.
The idea here is what can be done to clean up cities. How can the planner of today not think about this situation. Environmental problems are becoming more and more apparent and people are beginning to see the impacts in their everyday lives. What can be done? I think the answer lies in designing a green city. Cities are such unnatural places. Why not make them more natural. I'm not thinking about adding a few parks, but to really change the whole idea that we have of cities today. The modern city we know of today will eventually evolve into something totally different, and the modern city of today will be the ancient cities of yesterday. We should focus on creating a city that meshes well with it's surrounding. Rip out the concrete and the asphalt, add more green. Utilize every inch of space. Discourage automobiles. It's a good idea, but needs more contemplation.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I don't really know much about planning as of now. Since taking this class, my mind has been turning quite rapidly about the whole idea of planning. It is such an interesting subject, I think about it often. Things like what works best and why do people move the way they do and locate things in the places that they locate them. I see planning as a way to accomodate the world to make people happy, to make things work like people think they should work. I don't really know where this is going, but I am determined to get some type of juices flowing in my brain to write about something that I have been thinking about. It is a very hard task considering the things that are going on up there right now, especially since starting this class. Many new thoughts are entering my head. Right now I am thinking a lot about modern American cities and old European cities. I haven't really decided the area I want to start with this discussion. Ok. I think of that saying that you hear all the time, "Things just aren't made like they used to be" That goes well with this discussion. I have been to big cities in Europe and I have been to big cities in America. When I visit a city I respect quality, history, aesthetics. Old cities have these things mostly Europe and and a few in America as well. America is still such a young country compared to Europe and other places. I feel as if we are still in adolescence making mistakes and trying to find perfection. Cities in Europe are like our old and wise ancestors, we must respect. They have done something right to stay intact for so long.
I dislike the progress of America, and the direction it is headed in. I find that we as Americans take up too much space. Why do we do this? Is it because the US is such a large country. I was actually thinking of this idea the other day. I remember this from elementary school. Goldfish, when kept in a small tank they stay small and live comfortably in there environments, when they are moved to large aquariums, they adapt by growing larger. Do you think that this could happen to humans if you gave them more space. When people have less space they adapt, and when they have a larger amount of space they have to adapt to that. Americans have adapted to their large amount of space by making everything larger: cars, roads, building, even themselves. It would be nice to see the U.S stop sprawling, but could this be our natural reaction to this large space that we have been given.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My first Blog

My name is Caroline M. Dunlap. I come from a small to medium town located in South Carolina called Hartsville. I lived there for 18 years up until I left for Boone in 2004. Hartsville is an ok town. Speaking in my own personal opinion I would never want to move back and grow old there. I still like visiting though. Considering other small towns around the area, Hartsville would be at the upper level of the spectrum. We have more than one stoplight, Coker College, a couple of nice restaurants, four grocery stores, oh yes and we can't forget the Super Wal-Mart. Which I think is good for the economy and businesses around it, but a very large threat to Hartsville in the long run. We also have a stable, well-rooted industry located in Hartsville. Sonoco Products Company (they make paper products) has been around for quite a while. Mills and warehouses have come and gone through out the history of my town, but Sonoco has been there for quite some time. Sonoco and the Nuclear Power plant, those would be the biggest employers.
These industries help keep Hartsville intact but in the early nineties Hartville got some major plastic surgery that made it such a better place to live. The downtown area was in desperate need of a facelift. The sidewalks were crappy, there were abandoned buldings all over the place, it was just ugly. A new guy got hired for the planning job, and he really did a nice job. Trees were planted along the streets of downtown. Where an abandoned building once stood, a city park was installed. Brick was layed for the sidewalks, and many other nice things. He did such a good job, Hartsville was even named an All-American city one of those years in the 90's. I forgot. Hartsville, has so much potential, and this change made its potential shine in my eyes. New businesses were popping up and old ones were getting a face life along with everything else. This was such a good time for Hartsville. Hartsville still looks good from this renovation, but things are beginning to change for the worse, in my opinion.
Things all went downhill with the introduction of the Super Wal-Mart. We had had a regular Wal-Mart before and it was just fine. Then we had to go and get one of those Super ones, which everyone was excited about. With the Super Wal-Mart came the long strip mall with the same old stores that are beside every super Wal-Mart, and then the fast food restaurants that pop up along the edges, oh, and the gas station too. I think they have some type of layout that they use everywhere, because I went to Newberry, SC a while ago and there setup was the exact same as Hartsville's, right down to the stores and everything. It was a little strange, and scary. Whatever happened to creativity? I hate that Hartsville has lost its small town identity to Super Wal-Mart and all of its excess baggage.
When I come home now, I can really see the effects of Wal-Mart and the gang to the actual downtown area of Hartsville. Many stores in the downtown area are losing tons ans tons of business. It is ridiculous. It is starting to look like a ghost town. The only thing that hasn't lost tons of business is the Sonic Drive Thru which attracts all of the teeny boppers and such. Many businesses have had to shut down, they just can't compete with a corporate giant like Wal-Mart.
It is really sad to see these beautiful historic buildings going unnoticed and slowly being forgotten, while the cheap construction of Wal-Mart and others are being worshipped upon. I used to pick cotton where those stores are located. There are still a few fields surrounding these stores, but they are filled with plastic shopping bags. It is disgusting.
If I had it my way, I would burn down Wal-Mart, but that is totally illegal. Seriously, something needs to be done about this. What can you do though? How can you get rid of a Wal-Mart without having angry mobs of people hunting you down. So, getting rid of Wal-Mart is out of the picture. What could I do to keep downtown Hartsville alive. Hmmmm. It would be nice to liven it up a little. Attract people to the area for different reasons than those that would usually result in a trip to Wal-Mart. I'm thinking, cute caf├ęs, ice cream parlors, art stores, eclectic coffee shops, revamp the movie theatre, antique stores, more bars for the college kids (the college is practically in downtown). I would like for Downtown Hartsville to be a place where you could walk to or drive and park, and relax, hang-out, and enjoy the ambience of the whole historic downtown area. A refuge for those who are tired of being controlled by Wal-Mart. It all looks so perfect in my head.