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Archive for the ‘PEOPLE’ Category

BY BETSY ANDERSON

Mitchell Silver

Mitchell Silver. Courtesy the American Planning Association.

If public planning and design efforts seem to yield increasingly to private-sector pressure (consider the developer-fueled High Line), Mitchell Silver may promise some relief. Silver’s appointment as the new parks commissioner for New York City was recently announced, and his respected 25-year track record in urban planning suggests that he will bring a collaborative approach to park management that balances social, health, environmental, and economic concerns—in short, a holistic vision for parks reminiscent of the days of Olmsted.

Silver, a former president of the American Planning Association, leaves his post as the chief city planner in Raleigh, North Carolina, to join the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor praised Silver to a crowd gathered for the announcement and described him as an experienced “visionary” who is capable of restoring equity to the city’s parks (de Blasio also noted the link between underfunded parks and larger issues of income inequality, a primary focus of his campaign). Silver emphasized that as a planner, he considers the city’s parks to be part of a single system, of vital civic infrastructure: “Parks do not sit in isolation,” he observed.

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

In this dispatch of the Queue, the LAM staff reads up on the politics of space, urban parks in Mexico, an extraordinary gift of land in California, why architects talk funny, and way too much more.

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

Alexis Madrigal’s piece on California’s water problem is being heavily circulated, but in case  you haven’t seen it, the Atlantic has it posted in full.

Also all over the interwebs is Elizabeth Kolbert talking about her new book, the Sixth Extinction. “We are effectively undoing the beauty and the variety and the richness of the world which has taken tens of millions of years to reach,” Kolbert tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.  “We’re sort of unraveling that…. We’re doing, it’s often said, a massive experiment on the planet, and we really don’t know what the end point is going to be.”

Do our green urban policies actually undermine social equity? Tom Slater fires a shot across the bow of the advocates for urban sustainability and resiliency, and asks, Who gains? Who loses?

FIELD STUDIES

Recognition for the groups, including TCLF, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, and the Minnesota chapter of Docomomo US,  who rallied to save M. Paul Friedberg’s modern landscape, Peavey Plaza.

Lorena Martínez, the mayor of Aguascalientes, Mexico, finds that the new 8 mile long linear park park, La Línea Verde, solves a host of urban problems, from asthma to crime. Cityscope talks to the mayor and the citizens about what it took.

Via Grist, Brentin Mock interviews Clarice Gaylord, who was in charge of the EPA’s first effort to deal with issues of environmental justice–under the Bush administration.

Instead of selling his 300 acres of highly valuable land near Silicon Valley–the number $500 million was thrown out there–Walter Cottle Lester willed his family farm to the state to be preserved as an agricultural park. No playgrounds, no swimming pools, no basketball court, just wide open space.

Via PlaceswireEsri’s ArcGIS opens up its platform to the public and puts reams of government data, including the EPA’s, into the public’s hands.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

Photographs by artist/geographer Trevor Paglen of never before-seen-surveillance sites cracks open the hidden landscapes of intelligence gathering.

So very cool new Multiplicity project from Landscape Forms and Fuseproject lets designers play with street furniture.

Translation, please: “Interrogating the hermeneutic potentiality of the urban fabric’s boundary conditions is the key to intervening in the city’s morphology. The phenomenological nature of a building and its neighborhood is enhanced by ludic acts of horizontality.”

How to make pennyfloors, with much chortling in the comments about cost per square foot.

The world without people is a little bit creepy.

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LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE STAFF EDITOR/WRITER

Landscape Architecture Magazine is the monthly magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Since 1910, the magazine has served as the voice of the landscape architecture profession. The magazine’s purview encompasses landscape design, land use, and environmental and ecological concerns at all scales, including gardens, parks, streets, urban development, brownfields, watersheds, and regional and global issues, not least climate change.

We are seeking a versatile staff writer/editor for its print magazine and website to cover landscape architecture, environmental and urban affairs, design practice and technology, among other areas. The ideal candidate will be a sharp, fast writer and reporter with a natural ear for news and emerging developments, a perceptive and constructive editor, and an omnivorous but skeptical consumer of design and culture.

The job duties include:

  • Regularly developing your own stories, both short and fast and longer stories, for the magazine and its blog.
  •  Cultivating story ideas for the magazine’s departments and feature well.
  •  Assigning stories to outside writers and managing their work on deadline.
  •  Substantive editing of outside writers’ stories.
  •  Researching, assigning, and gathering photography and graphics with an eye for vitality in presentation.
  •  Shaping the tone of stories and display copy with a distinctive voice.
  •  Aiding with basic page layout.
  •  The ability to work quickly, accurately, and independently on a tight deadline as part of a small staff.
  •  Excellent grammar, usage, and copy skills.

The ideal candidate will show:

  • Excellent reporting, fast writing, and oral communication skills.
  •  A passion for landscape architecture, and a working knowledge of the design and construction industry in general.
  •  An innate sense of great design.
  •  A strong sense of enterprise in spotting and developing stories.

Education: B.A. in English, journalism, communication, or related field; degree or coursework in landscape architecture, horticulture, or environmental design issues a plus.

Skills: Proficiency in written, verbal, and interpersonal communication.  Excellent organizational skills, good judgment, and attention to detail.  Ability to balance heavy workload with short- and long-term project deadlines, address changing priorities, and work well under pressure. Experience with basic magazine layout, blogging, knowledge of InDesign and Adobe Creative Suite a plus.

Experience: Minimum three years’ experience in writing for publication; knowledge of landscape architecture, design, planning, and/or environmental issues.

Apply to: HR@asla.org

Please send your résumé, along with 3 writing samples, and salary requirement (negotiable will not be accepted). All of the items must be received in order to be considered.

This is an in-house, staff position located in the Chinatown section of downtown Washington, D.C. No phone calls or agency referrals, please.

No relocation benefits or remote working are offered.

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From the January issue of LAM:

I wouldn’t call 2013 the Year of the Bike in the United States, but only because I hope that 2014 will be an even better one. It was a pretty great year, though. Two of the biggest American cities added bicycle sharing programs. New York City opened its Citi Bikes system in May with 330 stations; by year’s end, nearly 100,000 people had bought a year’s subscription to the system, and by October, the system had recorded 42,000 trips a day. Not bad! Chicago started its Divvy bike system in June with 3,000 bikes at 300 stations between Cicero Avenue and Lake Michigan, and is planning on 4,000 bikes by this spring. The new Bay Area Bike Share started in late August in San Francisco. It was considered a slow start by some measures, but then many people in the city are already married to their own bicycles. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in December that the Municipal Transportation Agency, which has counted cyclists around town since 2006, found that by 2013, cycling had risen by 96 percent. One September evening during rush hour, more than 1,200 people were counted on bikes at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets.

What could be the downside to all of this? I honestly don’t know, but for some people, there seems to be one—usually grounded in irrationality. A perfectly benign technology that runs on calories, presents almost no harm to anyone, that is cheap and environmentally sound, fast, convenient, and, not least, very enjoyable will inevitably make people uptight for their own reasons. Dorothy Rabinowitz, of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, finds Citi Bikes depressing to no end because she thinks it’s socialist and ugly. You could grant her those points and she still sees no benefits. Rob Ford’s bike hatred helped him become the mayor of Toronto. Adrian Fenty’s bike love helped unseat him in Washington, D.C. Many people in cities greet bikes as you might an invasive species.

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge behind Crissy Marsh. Courtesy the National Park Service.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge behind Crissy Marsh. Courtesy the National Park Service.

There’s been a new salvo in the Crissy Field development project, which we wrote about back in October (At the Presidio, a Field of Schemes, Oct 22, 2013). The National Park Service released a letter last week expressing strong reservations about the development plans at Crissy Field and encouraging the Trust to take the long view. The letter echoes their concerns voiced in a letter earlier in the fall, but this time stating, “There is wisdom in allowing these new uses to settle in before selecting a major new use and tenant for the Commissary site.” For more coverage see John King’s article in SF Gate and read the full  letter from Frank Dean, General Superintendent on the Presidio Trust site.

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2000px-Moose-warning.svgPeople living and working in critical wildlife habitat have a new tool in the box, thanks to big data and the Western Governor’s Wildlife Council. The Wildlife Council has just released the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT), which displays information on important wildlife habitat and corridors across 16 western states.

The new mapping tool will allow planners, students, developers, and communities to see what is described as “crucial habitat” at the regional as well as the state and local level. CHATs will enable users to see where wildlife habitat exists and how potential development may affect those areas. The GIS mapping application coordinates data for energy, transportation, and land use planners, but could be used by any member of the public. Several state CHATs are already in use.

Information about the release of the Western Regional CHAT can be found here, but if you want to play around with the state CHATs, they can be accessed below:

State CHATs

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From the November 2013 issue of LAM:

Outdoor classrooms take shape at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women.  Credit: Bob Elbert.

Outdoor classrooms take shape at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women. Credit: Bob Elbert.

After a long day of building at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, Meredith Ver Steeg, Student ASLA, took inventory of the tools. She had to make sure none of them had slipped into a prisoner’s pocket. “If a single hammer is missing, there will be no movement on this campus until that hammer is found,” explains Julie Stevens, ASLA, Ver Steeg’s landscape architecture professor at Iowa State University.

For much of this past summer, Stevens supervised five landscape architecture students and eight offenders as they constructed a complicated new landscape for the prison. Students learned to build walls, cut stone, and move earth with a skid loader.

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