Goodbye Weebly! Hello WordPress!

I have moved my ePortfolio, my blog, my docs, and the rest from Weebly to WordPress.

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Information and Beauty

I went and explored Candy Chang’s website containing projects she initiated in cities. These projects strike me as almost the definition of “pinpricks of change,” being so simple and elegant yet make a difference in a community, adding a certain “spice” (for a lack of a better word) that adds character. I really liked the elegance and the visual appeal of her projects. I especially like some of the guides she has made for renters and street vendors, which contain all the information these people (who often are vulnerable) need in order to get by and at the same time are visually appealing. I think it was from this project I learned the most.

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Public Spaces

I watched the film The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces twice, and I found it amazing. The film discusses how the design and architecture of spaces impacts its use. After I first watched the film with Jasmin in her class, I felt like I was suddenly very aware of how the space around me was used and how it could be improved. I felt more like a flaneur than ever before.

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Light and Shadow

Picture

My favorite times of day are twilight and nighttime. During twilight, the sky’s colors are overwhelmingly beautiful. We often take photos of twilight, and I always find it funny. When we look back at those photos, they all seem to be very similar if not the same. When we took the photo, though, we were in awe. It seems that twilight is able to amaze us every day it comes, as if it’s new and fresh, and few photographs (especially those taken by a phone) are able to completely capture its grandeur.

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From a Neighborhood to a Community

… change does not happen when no one takes ownership of the community.

I have written frequently about what is wrong about suburbs and where I grew up. My criticism of suburbs have centered on how they fail to create communities. Everyone in a suburb lives in their own self-contained universe that does not require interaction with the people around them. Even though they are large neighborhoods, they are hardly communities. This is at least how I, someone who is not LDS, perceive where I grew up. Perhaps it would be different if I was one of those people who walked to church every Sunday morning (considering that churches are only two or three blocks apart at most) and would worship with all my neighbors. Even then, though, the fact that I feel like I don’t have a connection with my community means that it has failed; a good community includes all of those who live in it, not just those who are LDS.

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A City is a Collective Dream

When everyone is an activist, everyone can be better off. All too often we resign our responsibility to our community and let others dream. This often is to our detriment; the modernist dream held by city planners turned cities from communal places to places dominated by cars from suburbs. Everyone needs to look at their city and think about how they could improve it and make it enjoyable for themselves and those around them. A city planner in an office building cannot be expected to always make changes that make life for the pedestrian better, and it is the pedestrian’s responsibility to make their desires known. To repeat myself, everyone needs to be an activist.

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Processes toward a Restorative Urbanism

For the local activist looking to transform their city, Jaime Lerner’s book Urban Acupuncture is a rich little devotional. It’s not a long, academic book loaded with theory and complex concepts. Instead, it’s a series of stories, ideas expressed in short yet memorable increments. People often learn best when a story is attached to an idea (even if it’s an abstract one), and Urban Acupuncture is intended to inspire through Jaime Lerner’s personal stories about his experiences in other cities and bringing reform to his own.
Personally, my favorite story/lesson from Urban Acupuncture was Jaime Lerner’s transformation of one of the streets in his city into a pedestrian street. He makes the transformation rapidly, in 72 hours, working nonstop, and would not begin the project until he knew that it would be completed in so short a time that any resistance that could potentially form would not have the time to do so. He basically blitzed reform, resistance be damned, and I saw that as being quite courageous and politically astute. One could call it heavy-handed, undemocratic, abusive of power, and even tyrannical; I won’t say that his methods were completely ethical. But in this day and age, when in the United States politicians are too cowardly to bring serious change, I found the story refreshing and could only wish the same courage were in this country’s politicians as well (or more accurately in those wishing to create positive change; the selfish ones are plenty bold).

With that said, the courage Jaime Lerner brought is the courage any reformer—be they a politician or not—in any city, who is serious about bringing positive change, both can and should have. And while most may not have the mayor’s power, they can still have an impact. Reform will be more powerful when it is swift (though no recklessly executed) and effective, and it can transform communities.

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