An exciting article in the December 2006 issue of Conservation Biology discusses achieving global conservation by promoting direct experiences with urban species. It is thought that people are more likely to become involved in conservation action when they have direct experiences in the natural world. 80% of people are found in cities, therefore, humans mostly experience nature though much maligned urban species such as pigeons and other introduced species thought of as urban pests. The paper examines the idea that perhaps global conservation will depend more and more on people's interactions with urban ecosystems.Read the short article here.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
A) Read one more chapter (at least) in the second half of Ecocities book, e.g., Chapters 7, 8, 10, 12, focusing on tools and applying the key design ideas.
B) Walk through a downtown area (Commons, Northside, Southside, Fall Creek) OR a proposed new development area of Ithaca (Southwest Park, Cherry Street industrial area, Inlet Island) for at least an hour. You do not need to cover a lot of ground, and you may wish to cover enough ground to make comparisons and contrasts. Make observations and jot down notes about the design & infrastructure issues we discussed in relation to Rob & Joan’s presentations and the material from the related Ecocities and Green Urbanism chapters (see sample questions below)
C) Write a blog entry that summarizes the chapter you read, your field observations, and perhaps some emerging ideas about what a Sustainable Ithaca might look like. (Extra credit: and how we might get there)
CAPITALIZED BECAUSE NEW OPTION: I ENCOURAGE YOU TO PICK A PARTNER FROM ONE OF THE GROUPS YOU WILL BE GOING OUT WITH ON TUESDAY AND GO THROUGH STEP B, THE FIELD EXPERIENCE, TOGETHER, WRITING UP THE SECOND PART OF YOUR BLOG ENTRY COLLABORATIVELY. (i.e., still summarize the chapter you read on your own)
Questions for the field experience:
Take time to observe carefully. You just need to consider a few of the questions and a few of the roles suggested below. No need to be overwhelmed or try too hard. At different points consider how the following questions might feel to you if you were a merchant in this neighborhood, an Ithaca city planner, a low-income resident, a person considering retiring to a walkable urban area, a Cornell employee living in the Enfield or Danby areas, and, also, yourself.
1) From the point of view of sustainable urban development, what are some of the current assets, promising possibilities, and major liabilities of this place, as far as I know or can guess from observing it?
2) How and where might mixed-use buildings with mixed-income housing work in this place?
2) How much density and how much vertical development might work here, and might I be comfortable with?
3) How might a mostly car-free area here improve or hinder economic development in this neighborhood/on this block? What kind of green economic development might be possible here?
4) How would an overhead or an on–the-ground light rail system look and feel here, given the character and history of this place? Pros and cons.
6) How & where could street space, parking lots, and single story buildings best be converted into more attractive and sustainable possibilities? What might they be?
7) How could this neighborhood be more integrated as a healthy ecosystem, and as part of a city-as-organism?
8) How could design changes support multicultural community building processes? What might most draw diverse people together here?
9) What quality of life improvements seem most likely to bring about here?
10) How might a radical redesign actually come about here in the next 5 or 10 years?
11) What might prevent gentrification?
12) Would I consider actually living in this transformed place? What about the other characters I’ve been role-playing?
DETAILS ABOUT FIELD TRIP STARTING POINTS AND TASKS , ETC. YET TO COME. ARRANGE TO LEAVE CAMPUS WITH YOUR TEAM OF 6 OR 7 BY BUS CLOSE TO 10 AND RETURN BY AROUND 12
Primarily, we are interested in looking at the difference between
city-supported vs. spontaneous community gardens.
This interest has led us to focus on looking at the “roots” :-) of the garden – what were the founders’ original intentions for the garden? How does the original vision compare to what has taken place over the years and what will happen in the future?
It was brought up that it would be interesting to look at the (implied) mission of the gardens (that are intended for public use) regarding access. Which gardens (city-supported or spontaneous) appear to be more successful at being accessible to the community?
What elements define “success” of a community garden - from both the perspectives of the gardeners themselves and the surrounding community?
- Interviews and/or survey
o community gardeners
o non-gardeners in the local neighborhood
o home-gardeners in the local neighborhood
Through our work, our goal would be to find a common ground :-) between community gardeners (both in public-supported and spontaneous gardens) and city planners. We discussed a few potential “end-products” which, once determined, will help us narrow down the focus of our work.
Potential end products:
- to invite gardeners and city planners to a presentation of our findings
- to present our findings AND facilitate a community meeting between gardeners and planners - to write a paper on our findings (and try to publish?)
Some questions that came up:
- Should the community “control group” we use for comparison be home-gardeners or non-gardeners in the surrounding community?
- How are we defining “access”? Do we take a quantitative approach and examine (map) proximity to gardens from different income areas? Do we take a qualitative approach and interview local residents and ask them about their interest in their local community garden, and if they even know about it? Both?
- How is a community garden defined? If a community garden has exclusive membership, (whether it’s overt or implied) is it still considered a “community” garden?