Sunday, September 30, 2007

9/30 - Chapter 8 and Urban Eco Tour

For my previous assignment I chose to read Plunge on In! I found it really interesting yet I lacked some basic elements as chapter 8 built on chapter 7: What to Build. After reading chapter 7 this week I got fixed on Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. I think the patterns contrived are very interesting and plan on pursuing their content. For Ecocities sake, Register devised his own eco city principles which I found to be the most important content. They included: Build the city like the living system it is, Make the city’s function fit with the patterns of evolution, follow the builder’s sequence – start with the foundation, reverse the transportation hierarchy and build soils and enhance biodiversity. These principles were all-encompassing and really are some interesting points to creating the eco friendly city.

What I found most interesting are the issues that were left out in chapter 7. These include how??? How do you go about “reversing the transportation hierarchy”. This is an impossible job. Transportation is the sole of this country and is what makes everything work together as well as it does. Reversing transportation would potentially bring a country like America back to the 1700s where there was no Midwest because there was no way to get there. Urban ecocity activists encourage walkable cities and light rail but how will this happen without first destroying infrastructure that the economy and society is built on.

The people are already converted; it is now the government that must be too. Sometimes I feel as if there is so much outreach going on with activists trying to convert the public. The public can continue to be “converted” yet more action steps must be taken to get the government involved in subsidies for renewables and alternative resources. Without this support no matter how much the public cares I don’t think much can be done. This may seem like a far-out conclusion from where Register was coming from but I am tired of hearing all the great things that can be done, let’s hear how we can get the “big guys” interested.

This weekend I went with Carlos to the commons to explore the area. We noticed one general attribute as we walked around. Everything was very green and friendly. The commons is a model for a green city as the commons is a city in itself. The commons is probably the most attractive meeting area in Ithaca surrounded by little gardens, trees, the carl sagen memorial and other friendly, fun walkable things. In the commons there are places to eat, get some money from the bank, and even get a hair cut. There are few problems with it logistically and is very walker-friendly.

Ways that the commons could be improved included adding some bike racks to make it more bike accessible. Despite the walker-friendly attitude the commons holds, there is a severe lack of bike racks. If the commons were ever to be expanded (which would be a fantastic idea) there would definitely need to be better access. One of the most fun and interesting parts of the commons is the alley next to cinemetropolis. This charming place allows access to a major road, yet successfully hides the big city feel that the road represents.

Finally, we felt that the commons would benefit more from more events like AppleFest. This was a fantastic community gathering opportunity that allowed Ithacans to get out and see how great their city is. If there were more events such as this Ithaca in general would be a more socially sustainable place to live.

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