Eames for IBM

The legendary design team Charles and Ray Eames made films, houses, books, and classic midcentury modern furniture. Eames Demetrios, their grandson, shows rarely seen films and archival footage in a lively, loving tribute to their creative process.

Place Design

Designers of the Nature City
All of the answers are right here in tiny forms as this glimpse from Timothy Beatley, author of Green Urbanism (there are ads)

Would Real-Time Digital Be Useful?
Georgia Institute of Technology’s students are using CCTV video to map actual vehicles and people into Google Earth. Would this help or hinder the public dialogue on planning and community development?

Key Components of Ann Arbor’s Main Stree

In comparison to all of the digital animation of urban life out there, the following is fresh air just outside the fantasy world of a movie theater.  Thanks Kirk, any other small college towns in MI like Albion, Kalamazoo, or Detroit have a main street. On the point of digital exploration there are exceptions.

To New Yorkers, these “one street wonder – pedestrian pocket” stories are instructive.  Our density puts these streets throughout the city, but we tend to disregard their beauty and importance. The urban design investment could help by finding more work like the above or finding a way to send Kirk off to examine places like Denver’s 16th Street for a comparison.  The peak at what is possible is illustrated in this early morning walk by a casual observer. It is bumpy but worth a moment, before moving on.

Perhaps it is obligatory is NYC’s plan to reduce space for vehicles with plazas for people, but NY Times reporter David W. Dunlap explains it with a rye sense of history in this NYT video.

All of this aside, one key question has to be asked. How can the places like those selected above become the subject of the ideas briefly outlined in the following bit of instruction from Janine Benyus author of “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”? Please forgive the introduction… it is well worth a few seconds of aggravation.

Dori on Design

U.S. National Design Policy Initiative has several enthusiastic points to make. Take a moment. Have look.

AKNA’s IT History

Background

In 1996, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) deregulated telecom services in NY, promising that increased competition would bring down prices for cable, internet, and phone service and improve service, including bringing high-speed internet to all New Yorkers. Instead,  20 years later, New Yorkers are paying too much and getting too little while a digital divide based on access to information grows, and good-paying jobs are lost. The PSC has started a proceeding to evaluate the state of telecommunications in New York State by issuing a report by its staff  (the report is called Staff Assessment and can be accessed here).  They have set up public hearings throughout New York State in July and August 2015  (See Update in Oct 2015 here)

The New York City hearing Wednesday 15 July 2015 (See AKNA Testimony)

Common Cause/NY urged anyone concerned with the state of telecommunications (internet, cable, and phone) to testify.  A robust turn-out by public and tech community members will get the PSC smart to the real state of telecommunications in New York.  If Verizon lies to us, why not to the PSC?

Goal: reliable, affordable high speed internet, cable and telephone service

Following is some of the experience at the AKNA

In early 1972, the telecom schematic for the south side of Albemarle Terrace was drawn as part of a general order to document telephone installations.  This is followed by three orders #21710 (1976), #96727 (1982), #27483 (1994), and a final notation to the schematic made in 2001 that looks like the phrase expressed by the term “SNAFU.”  

In the Fall of 2001, Verison installed a splice in a good shaft on the gable wall of 2126 Albemarle Terrace was installed.  It seals telecom lines for the south side of the terrace (buildings in the photo above on the right).  There are no further revisions made to the Tabular Record for Account Code 32C, Tax District 500 P for C.O. Area Brooklyn 050 Division. This is the last recorded project. The result of the reconstruction of “Ragga Muffin,” a retail clothing store on Flatbush Avenue, led to the removal of phone lines on their roof to the roof of the adjacent Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In the Spring of 2011, Cablevision (Optimum) was rolling out 75 Ohm drop cable to the two terrace blocks and sent a representative door to door to pre-sign up customers. They were offering to buy out any Direct TV subscribers who had contracts.

They started, but some of the neighbors (mistakenly) asked them to stop because Cablevision was cutting into the sidewalks and patching them with asphalt. Some homeowners were concerned that they would then be open to Landmark violations because of the damage to the sidewalk and/or responsible for the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged sidewalk sections.

Note: the NYC Landmarks Commission would be concerned, but their jurisdiction is limited to the facades of buildings on the Terraces.  Violations to the facades of the district would be the subject of a lien on the property by the City of New York on the property that would have to be cleared before a sale.  As for all the rest (gardens, and so on), our care and sensitivity are expected.

Eventually, Cablevision repaired the sidewalks with cement, but Cablevision stopped the fiber rollout.  A tragic circumstance of blaming the victims and lack of public leadership in basic enforcement of franchise agreement. Nick and Raina (of Kenmore) called Cablevision several times, trying to get them back.  Getting past the customer service reps is impossible, and they have no idea and cannot help.

In the Fall of 2013, AKNA conducted a survey to use the information to lobby for assistance.  The lesson learned here was to have the lobbying strategy in place before taking the survey.  See the survey data here.

In the Fall of 2015, two Optimum technicians put a ladder up the gable wall of 2126 with a huge spool of 75-ohm drop cable to serve their commercial clients.  And in the Spring of 2015, a series of Verizon technicians entered the south side of Albemarle Terrace (even numbers) to repair landlines.  The story on the north side of the block is long and needs to be told.  I put a brief video presentation for AKNA here to describe our deplorable telecom conditions.

In the Summer of 2015 residents of the south side of Albemarle Terrace managed to get the attention of a Verizon Engineer who after considerable analysis presented a plan for moving forward for the south side and for all of the Terraces with one caveat — the permission of residents to move forward.

The “right of way” process was completed for the FTTP (fiber to the premises (image here) and the details of it are here.

As the Summer of 2016 began to fold over the hope of a Spring installation suggested on the “right of way” documents we signed, a draft was a letter written.  The intent is to send it to everyone our small band of patient believers could influence.  The first draft read as follows:

We are 390 people in 140 households that have bent over backward to get Cable Vision, Time-Warner or Verizon to provide us with service. We recently completed a project led by Lourdes, Engineering (NJ) in contract with Verizon Engineering with all of the forms required of us to assure the provision of service.  Like Cable Vision and Time-Warner, Verizon remains unavailable for comment or the courtesy of a response due to ‘contractual issues’, and franchise agreements all seen by us as the haze of the telecom wars, union/corporate misdirection coupled with the ineptitude of public agencies and political representatives.

I hope you have staff on this or committees put to the task but first find out who is buying their lunch as nothing is happening, information is not flowing and in a democracy, only one group of people pay the price of failed leadership in the brave new world of too big to fail.

In closing, we remind you of Margaret Mead and her point about not doubting the ability of a small group of people to change the world, as it is the only way it ever has changed.  We, therefore, leave you with this one thought that we are just 140 households, and given our history of patience, we are now very interested in creating change.  Look us up.

Sincerely yours,
The Residents.

Winter 2016

Then as winter settled in we received this note:

Dear resident,
The local deployment team has indicated that construction is underway.
Barring any unforeseen delays, service will be available in January 2017.
You will receive confirmation when you can place an order for service.

Representatives from the local deployment team met with Mr. Rex Curry,
the owner of 2126 Albemarle Terrace, and went over different design plans.
He indicated that he will be in contact with all of his neighbors and will
relay information to the association. You might want to check with him for
more specific information.

Thank you and best regards,

Will Freshwater
Verizon FiOS TV | Sr. Consultant, Contract Management
Video Franchise Management Team
One Verizon Way, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
william.freshwater@verizon.com

Rex Curry did meet with some of the guys from Lourds, but not about schedules or sharing update information.  But, as you all know we are beg for forgiveness kind of group. The first rule of management Will be, information weakens as it moves toward the top, while decisions remain best when made closest to the source of the relevant information.

The Hopeful Prologue

Well, who knew it would take so long to get service? Our work ranges from being super polite and meeting some really nice people from V to conducting work with enraged groups of researchers trying to find out what is going on.  We may never know what worked or didn’t work, but we can always ask for forgiveness.

P.S. if you care to respond, please do so through the website so that all our residents can participate. Anyone wishing to add something about the “existing condition” of your phone, satellite, or internet service, please do so in the  COMMENTS section below.

A summary of the communication and data services currently in use by house number would also help us assess needs and/or compare costs. This data was )compiled. Those willing to share ISP provider data (DSL modem, satellite, and so on) and the monthly cost say so, and IT team will follow up directly.  It will be used to update the first AKNA Survey

Special Districts

Review Districts

Following is a review of the Special District language. The view expressed in the Department of City Planning’s Zoning Handbook is that the advent of contextual zoning has reduced the demand for special district formation (e.g., Clinton type protection is between the lines of this policy) and thereby raises the bar for the status of special in the zoning text.

For example, the special district player in Washington Heights is made special by the alleged need to build a 7-story deep bathtub in Manhattanville and then go up 10 to 15 stories to serve Columbia’s interest in a 21st c. campus. It is not likely that CD12 (aka displacement city) will need to protect itself (as in Clinton) or promote this form of specialness as a blue zone approach. To give it a try, the following is offered as a method for discovering language or precedents that may prove helpful in determining a course of action on this theme.

RLC – From the Washington Heights Study.

DCP’s Website Banner on Special Districts Page
OverviewCitywideBronxBrooklynManhattanQueensStaten Island

Before the passage of contextual zoning, the most widely used affirmative zoning technique was special district zoning. This technique permits areas with unique characteristics to flourish rather than be overwhelmed by standard development. Over the years, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has codified special zoning districts to achieve specific planning and urban design objectives for limited, well-defined areas. Each district stipulates requirements and provides zoning incentives for developers who offer the specific urban qualities the Commission looks to promote in that area. It has proven to be a lawful way of using private capital to carry out public policy, but not without its challenges.

We have an interest in reviewing them all with the assistance of a small graduate team of aspiring planners. The DCP has combined access to these places by Borough — a link will take you to all of them.

Excluding the banner, the special districts in New York City using a simple word count is as follows: Manhattan (30) Brooklyn (13) Staten Island (6) Queens (3) Bronx (4).

Special Atlantic Avenue District (Brooklyn)
The Special Atlantic Avenue District was created to preserve the scale and character of Atlantic Avenue, including certain architectural features of the buildings. The special district provides flexibility in arranging building bulk, mandates street-level commercial uses, and establishes design guidelines for renovation and new construction. Demolition of buildings is prohibited except for unsafe structures or to make way for a new development for which a building permit and financial commitments have been secured. To improve the visual character of the avenue, special sign regulations are imposed for commercial establishments.

Special Battery Park City District (Manhattan)
The Special Battery Park City District was created to govern extensive residential and commercial development in an area close to the business core of Lower Manhattan, following a master plan for Battery Park City.

The centerpiece of the master plan is the office complex. To the north and south of this complex are two large residential neighborhoods with street-level retail uses. One central element of the plan is a continuous esplanade providing public access to the Hudson River waterfront. In addition, the district contains special design controls concerning floor area ratio, required building walls, and permissible building height.

Special Bay Ridge District (Brooklyn)
The Special Bay Ridge District was established to protect the existing scale and character of the Bay Ridge community. The special district distinguishes the scale of development in the midblock from that on the avenue frontage. The midblock street zone encourages two- and three-family homes with a maximum height of three stories. The Avenue Zone promotes the rehabilitation of existing structures and limits new development to a six- to eight-story maximum. In addition, notable setbacks, curb cuts, open space, tree planting, and ground floor commercial requirements have been included to preserve the character of the existing street wall both along the avenues and side streets.

Special City Island District (Bronx)
The Special City Island District was adopted to preserve the nautical uses and low-rise residential character. The special district regulations restrict the size and illumination of business signs, limit building heights to three- to five stories, and ensure adequate parking. The only commercial and manufacturing use permitted are those which reflect the nautical flavor of the island or serve the retail needs of the residents.

Special Clinton District (Manhattan)
The Special Clinton District in Manhattan was created to preserve and strengthen the community’s residential character, maintain the mixture of income groups present in the area, and ensure that Clinton is not adversely affected by new development.

Special Coney Island Mixed-Use District (Brooklyn)
The Special Coney Island Mixed-Use District was established to stabilize residential development while protecting the area’s industrial base. The district allows limited new residential infill and requires special permits for significant new industrial products. Existing residential buildings are permitted for enlargements, alterations, and repairs, and construction of new residential buildings is allowed if the buildings are next to an existing residential or community facility use. New manufacturing is limited to specific light industries compatible with residential uses.

Special Franklin Street Mixed-Use District (Brooklyn)
The Special Franklin Street Mixed-Use District was established to balance residential and industrial uses by remapping the area from an M1-1 district to an R6 (M1-1) district. The district allows residential and community facility uses according to R6 district regulations. All existing industrial uses may expand by 3,000 square feet [? Size of a tennis court], or 50 percent, whichever is less. A more extensive expansion may be granted by a special permit from the City Planning Commission.

A new user group, Use Group M, has been established, allowing light industries and commercial uses in Use Groups 6, 7, 9, and 11 to occupy vacant storefronts.

Special Fulton Mall District (Brooklyn)
The Special Fulton Mall District in Downtown Brooklyn was established to create an attractive shopping environment in a city street mall plan. Special retail use, sign, facade, and circulation improvement regulations are provided. In addition, a special assessment district has been created, through state legislation, to maintain the mall.

Vehicular traffic (except buses) is prohibited within the mall. Major public amenities required within the district include improved transit access, street furniture, street lighting, tree planting, and special sidewalks and roadbeds.

Special Garment Center District (Manhattan)
The Special Garment Center District was created to maintain the viability of apparel production in selected mid-blocks in the city’s Garment Center by making a Preservation Area within which the conversion of manufacturing space to office use is restricted. Conversion to office use in the Preservation Area is permitted only by certification of the City Planning Commission that an equal amount of comparable floor area has been preserved for specified manufacturing uses. The legality of this unique district is currently being litigated.

Special Grand Concourse District (The Bronx)
The Special Grand Concourse District was created to protect the distinctive art deco composition and scale of the Grand Concourse by establishing bulk and design regulations and limiting commercial uses to designated locations that will not conflict with the boulevard’s traditional residential character. The district consists of a Residential Preservation Area and three commercial sub-areas. New construction must conform to R8X (Alternate 1) guidelines.

Special Greenwich Street Development District (Manhattan)
The Special Greenwich Street Development District was established to foster and promote the orderly expansion of commercial development in Lower Manhattan adjacent to Battery Park City and the World Trade Center.

This district attempts to implement an integrated plan for improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation and to encourage the development of a variety of retail and service establishments to meet the needs of the area’s working population. This is accomplished through a series of pedestrian circulation improvements and certain lot improvements in the district for floor area bonuses.

Some unique features of this district are its provisions for involving both the developer and appropriate public agencies in constructing specific pedestrian circulation improvements.

Special Hillsides Preservation District (Staten Island)
The purpose of the Special Hillsides Preservation District is to preserve the hilly terrain and unique natural features of Staten Island by reducing hillside erosion, landslides, and excessive stormwater runoff. The primary concept for regulating development under this special district is the slope coverage approach. As the development site becomes steeper, the permitted building coverage decreases, but the permissible floor area on the site remains the same.

Special Hunters Point Mixed-Use District (Queens)
The Special Hunters Point Mixed Use District was created to permit limited as-of-right status for the enlargement/alteration of existing residential buildings and new infill residential construction. All residential and community facility uses are subject to R5 district regulations. In some cases, a special permit is required for certain residential and community facility uses. New manufacturing and commercial uses, or enlargement of existing buildings containing such services, are allowed as-of-right as long as these developments or enlargements contain no residential uses and do not cause significant adverse environmental impacts. In addition, such new developments or enlargements must meet M1 district performance standards.

The Special Court Square Subdistrict has been created within this special district to encourage high-density commercial development in an area well-served by the subway system.
Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District (Manhattan)

The Special Jacob K. Javits Convention Center District was established to enhance the pedestrian configuration and appearance of the area surrounding the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In addition, it is intended to promote new development compatible with the Convention Center by mandating street walls and streetscape improvements that supplement the underlying zoning district regulations.

Pedestrian circulation improvements consist of landscaped sidewalk widenings and through-block walkways, street trees, and retail frontage along Eleventh Avenue. Height and setback regulations govern all new buildings along Eleventh Avenue, the Convention Center Plaza streets, and the through block walkways. In addition, mandated street wall setbacks and sky exposure planes regulate the distribution of building bulk to define the public spaces on which each front and frame the edges of the Plaza.

Special Limited Commercial District (Manhattan)
The Special Limited Commercial District attempts to preserve the character of commercial areas within historic districts by restricting commercial uses to those compatible with the historic district and mandating that all commercial uses be in completely enclosed buildings. In addition, limitations are also set for the size and illumination of signs within the special district. One such special district has been mapped in Greenwich Village.

Special Lincoln Square District (Manhattan)
The Special Lincoln Square District was established to enhance the character of the area surrounding Lincoln Square as an international center for the performing arts. The district mandates the height of building walls along certain streets and the placement of arcades and types of commercial use at street level as a means of guiding the orderly redevelopment of the Lincoln Square area. In addition, the district offers special floor area bonuses by permit from the City Planning Commission for new development. The following public amenities: mandatory arcades, subsurface concourse connections to subways or subway improvements, and lower-income housing as outlined in the provisions of Inclusionary Housing.

Special Little Italy District (Manhattan)
The Special Little Italy District was established to preserve and enhance this community’s historical and commercial character. Special use regulations protect the retail area along Mulberry Street. Other regulations encourage residential rehabilitation and new development on a scale consistent with existing buildings, discourage the demolition of noteworthy buildings, and increase the number of street trees in the area.

Special Lower Manhattan Mixed-Use District
The Special Lower Manhattan Mixed-Use District was enacted to permit limited residential development in an otherwise industrial 62-block area in Manhattan south of Canal Street. That portion of the district, which is mapped as an overlay on existing manufacturing zones, permits certain older manufacturing buildings to be converted to loft dwellings and joint living-work quarters for artists. New contextual residential development is also permitted where the district is mapped as an overlay on existing commercial zones. At the same time, retention of the underlying zoning protects the economic vitality of this area.

Special Madison Avenue Preservation District (Manhattan)
The Special Madison Avenue Preservation District is intended to preserve and reinforce the unique character of Madison Avenue and the surrounding area (from 61st to 96th streets). Bulk and street wall height provisions limit the height of new development to the scale of existing buildings, require a continuous building facade along Madison Avenue, mandate ongoing ground floor development of a selected list of appropriate shops, and require the provision of usable recreation space at rooftop levels. Within this district, the maximum permissible floor area ratio is 10.0. Since building height is limited, greater building coverage is allowed.

Special Manhattan Bridge District
The Special Manhattan Bridge District was established to preserve this Lower Manhattan community’s residential character, minimize residential relocation on development sites, and provide for selective demolition and rehabilitation of existing buildings. A special floor area bonus is allowed to provide new community facility space and dwelling units for low- and moderate-income families. It is possible to transfer development rights from a site containing existing buildings to new development within this district. The district mandates that street trees be planted in connection with new development. Unless renewed, this district was designed to “lapse” on September 1, 1991. Have to update this, any of you all have a line on this…

Special Manhattan Landing Development District
The Special Manhattan Landing Development District guides off-shore development from Battery Park to the Manhattan Bridge along the East River. This district is under review.

Special Midtown District (Manhattan)
The Special Midtown District was established to guide all development within the midtown central business district. The special district includes three areas of special concern that are subject to additional regulations. These sub-districts are the Theatre Subdistrict, the Preservation Subdistrict, and the Fifth Avenue Subdistrict.

The Special Midtown District has a base FAR of 15.0 along avenue frontages and a FAR of 12.0 in the mid-blocks. The base FAR in the Preservation Subdistrict is 8.0 to restrict development on the side streets surrounding the Museum of Modern Art. The base FAR of the Theatre Subdistrict core (on Broadway and Seventh Avenue frontages around Times Square) is set at 14.0 FAR, the FAR in the mid-blocks between Sixth and Seventh Avenues is set at 12.0, and the FAR in the mid-blocks between Broadway and Eighth Avenue is 10.0.

The core of the Theatre Subdistrict has the highest concentration of legitimate theaters and entertainment-related uses. Therefore, the Theatre Subdistrict requires a City Planning Commission special permit to demolish any of the 44 legitimate theaters that are not designated landmarks.

The Theatre Subdistrict has special use and signage requirements (in keeping with the area’s character). A flexible development rights transfer provision has been established for the preservation of landmark theaters. In the Theatre Subdistrict, a new building above a certain size must reserve at least five percent of its floor space (not FAR) for entertainment and theater-related uses. Areas outside the Preservation Subdistrict and the Theatre Subdistrict are eligible for an as-of-right FAR bonus for urban plazas, through-block galleries, and theater retention. The only bonus available in the Theatre Subdistrict core is the City Planning Commission special permit bonus for rehabilitation listed theaters. The Preservation Subdistrict is not eligible for any floor area bonus. Other remaining areas can receive a floor area bonus for subway station improvements and the rehabilitation of theaters.

Certain urban design features, such as continuity of street wall and retail uses, off-street relocation of existing subway stairs, and provision of on-site pedestrian circulation spaces, are mandated. The special district also includes certain use and signage controls for the Fifth Avenue and Theatre Sub-districts. Special daylight evaluation criteria are included to ensure the availability of light and air on midtown streets. The Special Midtown District represents a shift away from discretionary zoning to more predictable, as-of-right development.

Special Natural Area District (the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island)
The purpose of the Special Natural Area District is to preserve unique natural characteristics, such as aquatic, biologic, geologic, and topographic features having ecological and conservation values, by reviewing all new developments and site alterations on primarily vacant land. Natural features are protected by limiting topography modifications, preserving trees, plant and marine life, and natural watercourses, and requiring clustered development to maximize the preservation of natural features.

Under the regulations of the special district, the City Planning Commission must certify that all new development in mapped natural area districts meets applicable preservation standards.
Special natural area districts have been mapped in the Greenbelt and Von Briesen Park areas of Staten Island, in Riverdale, and in Fort Totten. These areas are endowed with steep slopes, rock outcrops, creeks, and a variety of botanic environments.

Special Northside Mixed Use District (Brooklyn)
This mixed-use district is designed to meet the needs of a neighborhood where housing and industry co-exist. The City Planning Commission selectively mapped mixed-use areas — R(M) when the area is primarily residential and M(R) when it is industrial — to allow controlled residential or light manufacturing expansion where such uses can grow and function without conflict. This and the Coney Island district were the forerunners of MX (I know I worked on them).

R(M) and M(R) districts combine the regulations for R6 and M1 areas. In an M(R) district, manufacturing uses are permitted to develop in the same manner as in any other M1 district. Existing residences may be enlarged and new residential construction is permitted as-of-right on blocks that are already primarily residential. New residential construction is permitted on certain other sites after approval of a special permit by the City Planning Commission.

In an R(M) district, residential uses are permitted to develop in the same manner as in any other R6 district. Limited expansion of selected light industries that do not conflict with residential uses is permitted. Other industries become non-conforming and are allowed to remain but not to expand. New industrial development requires a special permit from the Commission.

Special Ocean Parkway District (Brooklyn)
The purpose of the Special Ocean Parkway District is to strengthen the existing character and quality of the community and to enhance the scenic landmark designation of Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. All new community facility developments or enlargements are limited, except by special permission, to the residential bulk regulations of the underlying districts. All developments with frontage on Ocean Parkway are required to provide a 30-foot unobstructed front yard, subject to limitations on paving and landscaping, thereby preserving the character envisioned by the original designer of the parkway. Accessory off-street parking for all new developments must be completely enclosed and all new developments along Ocean Parkway are required to provide street trees. Isn’t that special…

Special Park Improvement District (Manhattan)
The Special Park Improvement District was created to preserve the character and architectural quality of Fifth and Park Avenues. It limits the height of new buildings to 210 feet or 19 stories, whichever is less, and mandates street wall continuity.

Special Planned Community Preservation District (The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens)
The Special Planned Community Preservation District designation protects the unique character of well-planned communities that have been developed as a unit. Those communities characteristically have large landscaped open spaces and a superior relationship of buildings, open spaces, commercial uses, and pedestrian and vehicular circulation. In many cases, they have been threatened by development pressures. No demolition, new development, enlargement, or alteration of landscaping or topography is permitted within the district except by a special permit of the City Planning Commission. Preservation districts have been mapped in Sunnyside Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Parkchester, and Harlem River Houses.

Special Scenic View District (Brooklyn)
The Special Scenic View District is intended to prevent outstanding scenic views from a public park, esplanade, or mapped public place. No buildings or structures are allowed to penetrate a scenic view plane except by a special permit of the City Planning Commission. To protect the waterfront view of the Lower Manhattan skyline, Governors Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge, a special scenic view district has been mapped for the area west of the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade.

Special Sheepshead Bay District (Brooklyn)
The Special Sheepshead Bay District was devised to encourage development that will strengthen and protect the neighborhood’s unique waterfront recreation and commercial character. In the area immediately north of the fishing fleet wharves, commercial uses are restricted to uses that support waterfront and tourism-related activities.

All new development along Emmons Avenue must provide widened sidewalks, street trees, and plazas which may contain sitting areas, landscaping, kiosks, and cafes. Floor area bonuses are provided for plazas, arcades, usable residential open space and additional accessory commercial parking. Special density and height limits have been established. This district is under review.

Special South Richmond Development District (Staten Island)
The Special South Richmond Development District was established to guide the development of predominantly vacant land in the southern half of Staten Island. The special district maintains the densities established by the underlying zones and ensures that new development is compatible with existing communities.

To maintain the existing community character, the district mandates tree preservation, planting requirements, controls on changes to the topography, height limits, and setback and curb cut restrictions along railroads and certain roads. It restricts construction within designated open space (a defined network of open space set aside for preservation in its natural state). To preserve designated open space without penalizing the owners of such space, owners are permitted to transfer development rights from the designated open space to the balance of their property. The developer must submit a topographic survey and a report on the availability of public services as a prerequisite to any application for development. A performance bond must also be provided to assure continued maintenance and improvement of public open space.

Special South Street Seaport District (Manhattan)
The purpose of the Special South Street Seaport District is to facilitate the preservation and restoration of the seaport’s historic buildings following an approved development plan. The low scale of the port is retained by transferring development rights above the low buildings to specified neighboring locations for commercial development.

Special Transit Land Use District (Manhattan)
The Special Transit, Land Use District relates development along Second Avenue to a future subway line. The special district requires builders of developments adjoining subway stations to reserve space in their projects by providing ease for public access to the subway or other subway-related use. The resulting new subway entrances and mezzanines would be airy, attractive, and functional instead of sidewalk obstructions that impede pedestrian circulation. The district is mapped at locations between Chatham Square and East 126th Street.

Special Union Square District (Manhattan)
The Special Union Square District was established to revitalize the area around Union Square by encouraging mixed-use development. Its urban design provisions provide compatibility between new products, existing buildings, and Union Square Park. The district mandates ground-floor retail uses, off-street relocation of subway stairs, and the continuity of street walls. In addition, unique streetscape and signage controls enhance the physical appearance of the district. Within this district, a floor area ratio bonus for subway improvements is available by special permit of the City Planning Commission.

Special United Nations Development District (Manhattan)
The Special United Nations Development District attempts to guide the midtown area adjacent to the United Nations. A significant feature of the district regulations is a unified design concept. In addition, the primary floor area ratio for the district was increased from 10.0 to 15.0 to promote exceptional public amenities needed in the area and to implement the development plan.

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The Informals

In super generalized terms, by 2030, there will be nearly eight billion people on the earth. About two billion will live in informal settlements throughout the world. Almost one billion people live in those distinctive and creative enough to become projects for investigation.

There are many settlements to discover, and that is your task. Find colleagues and share a phrase from the poetry of Octavio Paz describing the sprawling urban landscape of Mexico City as “a paradise of cages.” Is that an excellent description as well as carefully judgmental? However, a visit to SenseableMIT reveals a different assessment. The tech invasion of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro is a unique form of physical research. The MIT site (here) and well worth your time.

The Well Known

The most unwieldy and well-known places are connected to major cities such as Accra (Agbogbloshie), Mumbai (Dharavi), Cape Town (Joe Slovo), and Mexico City (The Favelas, un paraíso de las jaulas). Other settlements within the developed world are far more challenging to locate and define for a cause other than “it’s the best we seem able to do.” As with any other type of constraint, a cage reveals creativity. That, too, is discoverable in the examples below.

Dharavi @ Mumbai

Dharavi slum was founded in 1882 during the British colonial era. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For the context, go to a Google Map.

Agbogbloshie @ Accura

Agbogbloshie is a former wetland known as the dump for locally used electronics from the City of Accra. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For context, go to Google Maps.

Rocinha @ Rio

Rochina is the largest favela in Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For additional context, go to Google Maps. Finally, go to the MIT links above for more detail regarding the 4D video sketch below.

Summary

Sustain this question. How and why are cities producers of homelessness and displacement? List the goals and objectives of a detailed analysis of the cages. Is the conversion of a favela into an explorable fourth dimension, a metaverse, a helpful exercise? How easily could they be made safe and secure? Does the known and possible richness of economic degeneracy of presumed physical decadence produce a quality of life for those who choose to stay, can leave or are willing to return to invest?

Liz Cheney

C-Span is the only place with Liz Cheney’s whole concession in Wyoming. Watch it and make a decision. (here

“No citizen of this republic is a bystander. All of us have an obligation to understand what actually hapened.

We cannot abandon the truth…”

Rep. Liz Cheney

Her mission is to end the Trump provocation and put an end to supporters willing to pander to lies throughout the United States. She should not, and will not stand alone. In the most minimal sense that is a call to pay attention, and over the next few months it is a call for a maximum effort against an impending crisis of lawlessness and violence provoked by an unhealthy one-term president. Wyoming is in big trouble environmentally (water/fire/poverty). The hesitation to pull billions of investment out of that state remains valid, but only through the next two elections.

Her district is “at large,” thus the massive loss to the lies of Trump and his allies in their authoritarian reaction to losing an election and willingness to promote and embrace dangerous conspiracies.  Watch a person “disappeared” by the GOP’s Russian-style politics. Most important watch what she does next. Again, the challenge, onslaught, test, ordeal, gantlet, and sword is thrown. (here)

The Creative Democracy

Political leaders panel
Search “political leaders” for images – the public sphere is vast.

Critical :: Reflective :: Creative

Critical thinking shows that the characteristics of foolishness can be for good or ill. A critical thought such as a laugh of joy or scream of horror functions in the short term. The product of policy in a Democracy is therefore politically incremental and expedient because Democracy responds well to the demands of a presumed representative majority or an established, passionate minority. The short-term response is well-tempered by using day-to-day data to reveal the lack of fairness, equality, and justice.

On the other hand, reflective thinking will reveal the small steps that introduced critical items such as impact restraints to help people in automobiles. The occurrence of resistance to this introduction fell to respect for life at a level higher than individual freedom. Various pragmatic responses to problems, such as vehicular safety technology, separate the knowledgable from those willing to be unknowing as a form of trust. One can understand how the life-first argument can win as an emotional appeal in the arc of creative talk in a Democracy.

At the national level, reflective and creative thought is dying. It was possible to illustrate the horror of impalement by a steering wheel but not exhibit children’s bodies ripped apart by assault rifles. A reason for the loss of reflection and creativity is how Democracy relies on statistics selected to measure the population’s overall well-being, parsed geographically with indicators that reveal distress capable of opening a rift. The data is an aid in identifying foolishness that allows the potential for violence at the critical scale of change yet retains enough shared, well-validated content to encourage a social movement. Here is an example.

Today one can place “an app” into your computer’s operating system. I have two that illustrate the difference between creatively reflective and foolish. Whenever a dollar amount shows up in an online document, the app provides an equivalent of a whole public education budget of a city with “the cost of a Raptor Jet in 2018.” On the other hand, an app is available that will replace the word “millennials” with the term “snake people” on a webpage. The former is useful and verifiable, the other is nothing more than an ostensibly benign violation. The line is blurred here by political leaders. How will it be possible to reveal its dangers to Democracy?

Implementing creative thought encourages influential events at the local level. As “actions,” each step requires the selection of stepping stones for crossing thousands of the data-rich creeks, rivulets, brooks, and burns that feed the rivers that establish boundaries and the commerce of ideas that build the big communication bridges. Unfortunately, the creative Democracy is slipping away for failing to understand a core change agent. When questions of “ends” become questions of values, the question of promoting an issue without reason makes good listening problematic. After that, the natural bullheadedness of non-compliance and lack of compromise between rival values becomes challenging to resolve. Steps to strengthen reason are not used by political leaders.

Therefore, the next and final post regarding the need to improve political reasoning calls for a review of Methods

The Brutality of Change

The brutality in the life and death of rebellious Luke in the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke” was far less than known to exist in the South if he were Black and where “noth’n can be a real cool hand.” Black history writers must have made the connection as prison segregation ended with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, a reference linking Black History and “Cool Hand Luke” occurred in a New York Magazine Feb 25, 1991 TV listing where Black History 1990 was on at 9 AM, and the film was at noon on Monday. The dire potential of chaos by Lazard is accompanied in the arc of metaphores possible in this film. The sense of strange connection reveals a dangerous cognitive gap in the rawness of it.

RLC
NYM TV Guide Page
New York Magazine Feb 25, 1991

Luke concluded that he was doomed and acted according to that view. Similarly, those “in the house” that proved a global warming problem in 1896 represent a similar communication failure. However, the terrifying issue is acting according to that outlook. Over the next century, the fire in the engine of cheap energy could accept the facts as accurate yet still treat them as intolerable. The Earth can become that unjust prison experienced by Luke or, as Lazard forwarns.

Historically these actions begin as a group of advocates small enough to fit in one house. On the other hand, the global structure of these actions in the digital energy regime begins in thousands of “houses” simultaneously. The world will continue to change “the only way it ever has,” as Margaret Mead notes, but today change for good or bad is possible exponentially in the world.

The Lazard proposition presents a set of facts that describe an entirely new set of fires in the engines of commerce with an equally frightening set of systemic waves of unintended economic and environmental consequences. So, again, I urge you to listen carefully to Olivia Lazard before proceeding. Promoting critical, reflective, and creative thought imagines actions and demands a record of how well they are known as good or bad worldwide.

Defined narrowly, Democracy is “the vote,” and that is all people require if they are safe. It becomes essential if they are fearful. For two centuries, the trust behavior in a Democracy functioned well with cheap energy and labor with little thought of consequences, unintended or not. The brutality on the new energy front will be similar without a very different structure for evaluating change. The failure to communicate or recognize choices that must be made produces the lack of foresight that got Luke shot, and the inability to act preventatively as Lazard encourages.

Blind Spots as Control Leaders

The idea of the Lazard Proposition is to expose blind spots with an aggressive information campaign on global issues. Each of these “spots” carries unique local experiences connecting GHGs with Climate Change. Confirmed in math and science, the laboratory for proof is now the Planet Earth, but like an unjust prison from which one cannot escape, the campaign will not argue causality. Instead, each event floats in the high cost of failing to communicate the importance of one as a member of them all.

The transition to blind spots as control leaders encounters the problem of conflict. First, however, Lazard points to the need for violence reduction measures spread across thousands of political jurisdictions. The minerals listed on the Green Minerals Conflict map below offer a clean-energy future. However, getting them will require massive mineral extraction to get the equivalent of that ball in the mine (left). The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts intense mining due to increased demand. For example, the electric car requires six times more mineral inputs today than a conventional vehicle.

According to The World Bank, a 500 percent increase in mining will occur by 2050 for minerals such as graphite and cobalt. Unfortunately, the impact and effect of these new mining activities have multiple blind spots, all associated with the urgency of demand, leading to violence.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development produced this map in 2018

Mineral extraction processes have a regulatory place within a Democracy similar to oil and gas extraction and processing. The framework for this builds on the quality of transparency in government needed to correct past errors. In business and government, the common denominator is to reduce the occurrence of violence. Two methods are in play at all times to do that. The first is building a manageable capacity for collective knowledge in the common interest; the second is the raw military power to acquire land as a power of the state and wealth to buy expertise.

Locally, Eminent domain serves a combination of public/private economic development ideals. Hundreds of trillions of transactions occur from routine urban improvements to the expansion of Russia into Ukraine. Each one produces “dots” along multiple pathways. On the other hand, the placement of these dots recently became a dangerous force. In addition, and only lately has it been possible to record these dots as exhibits in sets of enduring serial data, proving trends as regressions to the mean and, in some cases, probabilistic timelines.

The Daily Crisis

The following deals with global climate health using two components. The first is the power of machine learning systems, called Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the second is the human capacity to manage. The critical question about AI was when Kevin Kelly asked, “what does technology want? It was then that AI separated from its human counterparts. Imagining all aspects of AI entities and observation systems is due to a robust and durable memory that links laptops to quantum panels. The AI design replicates in ways similar to Richard Dawkins’ description in The Selfish Gene. How the miasma of personal experience becomes part of our consciousness aids in automatic responses, most of which are genetic and shared by everyone and every living thing.

Given this bifurcation of information processing, the second component would be composed of leaders capable of standing on facts with enough charisma to produce trust and say, “mining here is OK, there it is not.” The power of enforcement is the blind spot. Here we will find many social groups attempting a system change. The practice presents multiple implications for governance in a Democracy as its leaders confront a series of relentless crises.

Using blind spots as control leaders will define a genuinely systemic, peaceful, and nonviolent foundation for building bridges to a safe future. Not doing so produces intolerable indifference to human suffering. The example all can imagine is how national policy responds in today’s communication economy. Imagine the difference in the policy response if events such as the demonstrations in Ferguson, MO, occurred in fourteen cities during the same week in defiance of local authorities outfitted with surplus military equipment and a large vaguely regulated group of “militias” joining in the proceedings. The policy shifts from a local issue to a national unease in the global shadows of civil war and outright aggression.

What to Do, What to Do

First, create a trusted regime of science. Second, use that trust to build a public-good system with a global decarbonization agenda as a matter of healthy human survival and mitigate inevitable conflicts by location during planetary breakdown events. Third, to do this, it will be necessary to change business economics radically, and fourth, with these in play, promote specific innovations supporting three actions during the reversal of the oil/gas extraction industry:

  1. a steady decarbonization system to assure global environmental integrity with some
  2. big advances in ecological diplomacy and unique new law with a variety of
  3. corruption elimination services with powers dedicated to protecting habitat.

Your sense of hopelessness in Lazard’s recommendations is real.

Total prevention of geopolitical competition is possible with a new foundation of human security in the era of globalization. Exposure to blind spots in responding to this obligation can reveal the pathways that prevent climate-disrupted futures as cascading events. Identifying these ” blind spots” are those that remain aimed at the darkness of failure and lack of transparency.

Yes, it does seem impossible. However, supporting the individual as a member of a change agent group can have powerful consequences in the ongoing globalization process. What is needed is a “so say we all” moment. The means to that end may begin with a few language specialists and the focus of our next post — The Creative Democracy

Unspecified to Self, Unexplored by Others

The key to effectively using a stepping stone such as voting to get across a data stream is recognizing the necessity of balance, which leads to other conflict-reducing efforts.

How does a Democracy successfully serve the structures of social membership in forming a national identity while sustaining the right of difference?

A broadening sense of “existential crisis” occurs among the knowing people. Data gives them proof based on global-to-local factors such as climate extremes and the equally local-to-global experience of winner and loser economics. To succeed, American Democracy needs a new bridge-building system. The one explored here produces the following mandala for us to enjoy. Geometric presentations of thought and meaning present the psychological work of humans unknowing. Those with words tend to say “follow us, we know the way” to focus their attention and form groups.

Regenerataive Mandala

Here is an excellent example of the thinking required regarding the unknown to self and unknown to others often referred to as the Johari Window situation that Lazard calls blind spots.

Getting Luke

Hundreds of maps using remote sensing satellites and streaming data on the ground put observers such as Olivia Lazard into a global orbit, able to see graphic representations of a warming ocean and the growing incidence of damaging events coupled with a profound recognition of multiple layers of international power structures. All of the measures of all things physical that one can imagine are possible with these observation tools. The stones offered by Lazard set a path toward establishing a new goal for Democracy.

Routine reference to “reduce consumption and maximize well-being” is met with “we ain’t doing that” for the lack of viable demonstrations outside a monastery. Thousands of people such as Ms. Lazard present the grist for developing a new participants pool for producing additional proof. The examples presented below remain lost in the din associated with lies and gross assumptions that create objective proof, such as unjust prisons. If one of those prisons becomes the Earth, the problem has a name: Getting Luke.

The twenty-first century is faced with changing the structure of trust due to the construction of bridges to a new energy regime and decoupling the engines of economic growth from GHGs toward new sources. However, the confidence promised by technology is not hopeful. It is evolving into a terrifying repetition of history. Therefore, I urge, insist, implore and beg readers to examine this issue for an eighteen-minute talk on TED. Then, please follow that experience with four minutes of a scene from the Cool Hand Luke movie.

The next post examines these two media experiences. The analysis sought asks how many “Cool Hands” are out there exploring the blind spots of the global order. Next, The Brutality of Change recognizes the foolishness of catastrophic resolution policy.

Avoiding the Stupid Democracy

The following series of posts attempt to describe how sheer stupidity is fostered in the immediacy of the American Political Condition debate. Foolishness, although considered momentary, now threatens the Great American Experiment. To the extent possible we have avoided reference to individuals in preference to the threads that tie events into a reasonable sense of wholeness.

RLC

Three Plus Two

Five essential characteristics of foolishness are part of everyone’s experience. In this sense, the jibe, “you can’t fix stupid,” is inaccurate but also loving in its acceptance. Occasionally, fixing efforts will also yield the appearance of an attack on government institutions. Therefore, before working to fix or not fix, we recommend revisiting the unique types of foolishness that lead to the stupid world. We remain a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal. The work needed to not perish from the Earth and endure for these ideals remains.

First, the probability that anyone can be foolish at any time is a trait independent of all others. Second, the often stated “we all make mistakes” contributes to underestimating the number of stupid actions possible regarding any issue by anyone at any time. Third, foolishness depends on the lack of thinking within social membership. These three aspects – the right to be foolish, everyone can be, so “let’s not talk about it” are intricate deficiencies. Alone or in combination, they reveal a failure to practice the reflective, creative, and critical modifiers of thought in a Democracy. The research on rude behavior as a type of negligence is plentiful. However, the inability to encourage people to examine feelings as finite and facts as friendly tends to suppress reason and dangerously isolate social structures.

Five

The remaining two characteristics of a Democracy stumbling into “the stupid world” reveal a lack of will to find the seeds of shared national purpose using the deep roots of misunderstanding. The fourth exhibit of foolishness, exclusive among the foolish, reveals support for declaratory positions associated with unknown people offering unverified data. Finally, the fifth aspect occurs when a policy becomes a push for morality. This effort tends to be in opposition to personal integrity. It pushes people with varying levels of force and resilience into disproportionate confrontations.

Still, a nation as diverse as the United States will readily accept rebellious clusters because it recognizes the preeminent concept of individual nonviolent freedom and allows the opportunity to persuade others toward a system change. The actions taken under the influence of these moments are proof of effective communication. The right to be foolish because everyone can be, so “let’s not talk about it” is now part of a national personality. It is developing due to the immense bubbling expansion of digital communication as a cheap vehicle for argument. The introduction of an ancient rating system regarding the analysis in modern times is entitled Good Listening. Returning to this practice as an essential part of public awareness is greatly needed.

The transmission of ideas builds on the individual’s experience at their front doors (such as danger), or the thresholds of international expression (this nation under God) exhibits a self-consciousness through language systems composed of sounds, light, and movement interpreted by all living beings. The consciousness of interpersonal argument is vital to public discussion, yet it is treated as ill-advised.

Thwarting the role of false trust or conforming in advance is countered by the authenticity of a Democracy that supports critical, contemplative, and innovative techniques. Implementing creative thought encourages influential events at the local level. As “actions,” each step requires the selection of stepping stones for crossing thousands of the data-rich creeks, rivulets, brooks, and burns that feed the rivers that establish boundaries. The commerce of ideas is what builds bridges to a common ground. Unfortunately, the creative Democracy is slipping away for failing to understand that when questions of “ends” become questions of values, Reason is silent. After that, the natural bullheadedness of non-compliance between rival values becomes challenging to resolve.

The following posts examine these aspects of political change as a question of leadership and foolishness.

  1. Unspecified to Self, Unexplored by Others
  2. The Brutality of Change
  3. The Creative Democracy
  4. Methods

MacArthur

The MacArthur Foundation

MacArthur Fellows Program

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation support creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks, building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector.

President John Palfrey defines the values that drive the Foundation and remain accountable to the community. It is also the approach every narrative in search of resources should include. 

Creativity encompasses innovative, imaginative, and ground-breaking ideas, thinking, and strategies that will have a meaningful impact on large and complex challenges. Bring them inventive ideas that support the creativity of individuals and organizations.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion The Foundation sees Diversity as the characteristics that make people distinct. Equity as treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while eliminating barriers that have prevented the full participation of some individuals. Inclusion is an environment where all individuals feel welcomed, respected, valued, and feel a sense of belonging.

Compassion is central to respectful and compassionate interpersonal interactions with kindness and caring, reflecting the foundation’s recognition and understanding of integrity as the act of behaving honorably. It is a commitment to sound judgment, honesty, dependability, and accountability. Finally, life-long learning is the practice of seeking new understanding, knowledge, and skill with values acknowledging continuous lessons from staff, grantees, partners, peers, and communities.

Environmental Works

Environmental Works is a nonprofit Community Design Center directed founded in Seattle, Washington (1997). EW’s long track record has proven to be pivotal in all areas of need in the Seattle area. For example, the design-resource library for sustainable, affordable communities developed by EW was instrumental in reducing the stormwater impacts and increasing overall energy conservation practices in vulnerable communities.

EW is organized into four studios: housing, community facilities, landscape, and special projects. Each studio is headed by an experienced architect with more than twenty years of experience. It is a nonprofit full-service landscape, and architectural firm that responds to projects that the for-profit architectural community agrees would be unprofitable. This community also recognizes that a substantial record of sustainable practice, material use, and cost impacts of this public service-based agency has been of value to community needs throughout Seattle.


Good Listening

The practice of making logical arguments in Latin began well over 2,000 years ago. An interesting contribution of Latin to the world today remains in the methods of argument used to persuade as follows:

Argumentum:

  • ad hominem – the appeal to personal prejudice
  • ad populum – an appeal to mass emotions
  • ad misericordiam – an appeal through the exploitation to pity
  • ad baculum – the application of brute forces – “to the club.”
  • ad crumenam – an appeal to money, “the purse.”
  • ad verecundiam – the playing up of prejudice
  • ad ignorantiam – stress upon ignorance
  • ad captandum vulgus – a dishonest argument to “catch the crowd.”

The Standard of Risk

This is an odd post to do at this time. The thoughts of all on Eastern European theaters have only moved a bit north and west of the Middle East. There is more war-detail. No real loss of enthusiasm, but more emphasis on atrosity. I sense dread, but it is not as serious as thinking about my kids, old friends and how tired everyone seems to be. To dig into it, I began this long essay on perspectives. It is unedited. It will be a string of thoughts to come back and review, edit, remove and start again as so do we all.

RLC – Occupy

Urban planning is full of socially conscientious jargon: sustainability, diversity, social action, consensus-building, anti-poverty, ecologically sound, and a recent favorite, decarbonization. Many planners think that planning should be a tool for allocating resources to eliminate the significant inequalities of wealth and power in a society. That sounds more interesting than maintaining and justifying the status quo. It is a popular approach in social science schools of grad and undergrad universities. Thus the charge of a liberal bent. Change is motivating because learning to manage it is encouraging. The motive is reasonable, and it feels right to stand before that massive billboard demanding “A Fair and Just Society.” On the other hand, a drive down a road with that notice includes another. That billboard will always say, “It Will Never Happen.” Why? Progressivism and neoliberalism function in policy as if the proponents were mortal enemies. That is not the case. They are siblings of the same parents who want to keep the kids under control and uncorrupted, especially during a divorce.

When the public attempts to serve ordinary people, the task begins with laws governing the ability to trade freely in a “free market” and a public policy to fill gaps. Democratic solutions to problems become difficult when these two processes define the other as corrupt. For the planner, the control power builds on reforms of past errors in these markets. Buildings fall and kill people – write a safety code. Land uses poison land and lungs – legislate to protect the environment. Much can be done to either embrace or obscure failures. A property is taken by law and redeveloped by public/private partnerships to erase failures blandly defined as entropy. In all of these instances, clever T-shirts that say things like “Blight Me” or “There Is No Planet B” sell very well, along with resistance to a lawful change by lawful means. When these disruptions happen, you have met the parents attempting to distinguish lies from truth.

The Process for Corruption

The quick answer to the “lies” problem is that only the demand for currency and not cash alone will support intangible assets such as health, welfare, and safety. It is the demand that counts. Whether represented by T-shirt sales, or flipping property, the process creates openings during and after the push and pull of a reform movement. The intent is to capitalize on the obstacles used in resistance to “the state” and when it is “the state.” When that happens, you have watched the parents at work on practical matters of intelligence. However, the accompanying values determine likely pathways along the historical arc of questions of currency encountering parental guidance.

Those born after 1944 and before 1965 in New York City accept and understand how truth began to disappear worldwide. For New Yorkers, the disappearance has a date. On November 9, 1965, New York City suddenly lacked electric power for twelve hours, trapping about 800,000 people 2019 now reveal to New Yorkers that these disruptions are part of a continuum. Although this example, among many others throughout the world, is given a specific tipping point, the causes remain meaningless. These many failures have one reason – the rise in the demand for power coupled with systems of organized lying. The ensuing malaise has “tells such as the inadequacy exposed in, “we are doing the best we can,” or the hypocritical “thoughts and prayers,” sentiment.

National Archives and Records Administration 1944

Nevertheless, the “switch-trip” part of the truth on the cause of events such as a massive power failure remains a source of assurance, if not meaning. A mere nod to the web entangling every person plunged into a sudden market failure and crisis reveals the survival instinct among those with political capital and those without it. Social scientists recognize psychotic elements in the survival instinct embedded in ordinary people can also be found in large corporations as they continue to enlarge.

The defining measures for a reduction of sanity include lack of remorse, unassailable leaders, disturbingly globalized economic structures, and resistance to comprehend the experience of others when damaged. Even war offers this unhopeful truth. With the enforcement of laws and regulations, the public is responding to disruptive behavior only to discover the impossible task of detecting future errors. Hence, the action creates a condition of contrast and comparison necessary to publish new law. That is the parent. The next question is about the currency of that parenthood.

The Mask of Persuasion

The desire for control over creating something that every human on the planet would pay ten dollars to acquire is arousing. Is this feeling similar to “love thy neighbor?” Both motives are undeniably human. But sadly, The Mask of Sanity (here) is on both sides, offering cash and currency. The free-wheeling explorations of the global capital mask are brought under political control all of the time, but not for long periods. These ventures cover the demands of social justice ideas routinely. Yet, the desire to get ten dollars from everyone every day to use a widget remains inevitable.

Despite the production of vast imbalances, recently expressed as a series of dirty little wars, ultimately just war prevails for the lack of headway on other fronts. Progress by its Latin origin would be a combination of pro and gradi and translate to for the stride. The proverb — the road is made by walking is a personal expression of that kind of need for change. The desire to get to a new place or resolve differences through negotiation and compromise unavoidably involves the reallocation of a resource. The walk is through a government willing to enforce standards. The policy examines this demand for change based on risks such as lawlessness, disparate causes, and violent methods—all events representing good reasons for being conservative.

The analysis of Ludwig von Mises (Bureaucracy 1944) and Friedrich Hayek (The Road to Serfdom 1944) describes today’s neoliberalism. They characterize the risks associated with FDR’s New Deal as a welfare state expression of communism and ensuing totalitarian control. Hayek’s book sales and the attention of the wealthy, fearful of powerful governments tuned by war, led to the Mont Pelerin Society, an organization dedicated to neoliberalism in 1947. Under these historical conditions and compassion for the status quo, the political aim embraces the spirit of reform. It is a foil against risk factors. A modern social reform will always look to a standard for justice in this granular context of the law built on the inadequacy of measures from one group to the next. Thus, the “he said, no, I said” context believes persuasion is the priority, not fact.

From refugees to American homeowners, the focus on distinct groups (regions) sees resourceful individuals, corporations, and governments agreeing to mitigation regulation, watchdog administration, and planning. Hence, since 1944, the advent of exquisitely refined measures with terabytes of data per issue. Each can measure system conditions in continuous change from one state to another. The first test of this new order has two words – global carbon.

From 1939 to 1944, the spectacular industry growth in steel, rubber, aircraft, munitions, shipbuilding, and aluminum became possible due to the infusion of public capital from 1933 to 1940. During these two periods, it was possible to build a public investment argument to resolve the excesses of business practices in response to an economic collapse and include the stimulus of a massive war in Europe.

Similar to the climax of the industrial era, the technological revolution became equally exponential. An excellent example is the number of internet users at three million people1990 became nearly two billion by 2010 and four billion in 2020, representing over 50% of the earth’s population. It has occurred before, but this was the first time it was global. The macroeconomic impact was recognized early by Nobel Prize winner Robert E. Lucas Jr. in 1995.

“For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth… Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before.”

Robert E. Lucas Jr

Parenting

Every parent knows that when you take a kid’s stuff away, privileges, or worse, their phone, or demean their political outlook, all hell can break loose. Setting milestones provide the mitigating factor to this crisis. Examples would be grounding for a week, reduced allowance, or driving privileges for a month. Parents can be very creative when controlling the household until they fail. The parents we are talking about here are very close to losing control of the kids. Very close, but then I came across a video blog by Anderson Cooper on the entire concept of parenthood. As it turns out, his quest to be the best parent possible offers valuable insight into the metaphor used here on the meaning of liberty in a free society.

His first thoughts involved the newness of parenting and the seriousness of doing it well. His first post introduced his desire to have conversations with other parents and people who offer advice. His first interview was with Janet Lansbury regarding her insight into parenting.

Kids’ personalities are constantly growing, and they should be observed and related to as persons. All parents have a unique relationship with kids. In this sense, it is the most private and most public of human relationships. Lansbury quickly clarifies the importance of the differences between parents and children, all parents and children of all ages, their caregivers, educators, and scientists. 

The rate and absorption of content in these relationships vary in these relationships. The example given is when a baby reaches for an object. A parent might seek to give it to the child. Being mindful of differences suggests other interests, such as seeing fingers, feeling arm motion, or cloth texture. From the beginning of a relationship, it is essential to not “rush” and consider combinations of perceptions.

Cooper’s inquiry then turned to how vital talking is in this relationship. From describing individual actions to making emotions known, the brains of young children function almost exclusively on sounds. The endeavor absorbs those that are inclusive and personally engaging from other sounds that are less so. At this point in the conversation, the idea of “braving the silence” came up. Like not rushing to give an object to a child, silence in a conversation is equally important in these relationships knowing the kids are not parents. Cooper noted it was a journalism technique to wait and listen for more during an interview to gain information.

The example was how can a new kid not change everything when parent-child becomes parent children. The silence helps to more openly welcome the unstated feelings of change that represent new levels of change, such as confirming being upset about this change in awareness.   Confirmation bias remains a confirmation confirmed in the relationship.

As most aunts and uncles will confess, it is easy to wind up the kids with the excitement of play itself. On the other hand, stopping play confirms a unique power component. As the parents will tell the aunts and uncles that the kids are not adults, parenting represents the initial relationship model followed by many others. When it is time to stop play, recognize “the courage to confirm” balance in building a life for the kids outside of the parent relationship is preeminent.

Cooper then turned to a parent and colleague, Clarissa Ward, on the challenges of being a working parent. This portion of the interview hinged on media communications with kids instead of the warmth of a parent’s personal space. When separated, the parents are in pain. On the other hand, the deep emotion comes from knowing the kids are not. Despite the separation, parents struggle to discover what is best for their children. Nevertheless, if the kids still feel love, are being held, appreciated, and sense stability, the parent’s comfort remains strong and perhaps survives the entire journey.

Government

Because it was Anderson Cooper, it felt appropriate to replace parents with governing and the kids with the people as a schema on parallel analysis to determine the number of components needed to uncover the underlying structure of a large set of variables. So the following is a drill down on finding the government and people within a parent and child metaphor.

His first thoughts involved the newness of governing and the seriousness of handling it well. His first post introduced his desire to have conversations with other governments and people who offer governing advice. His first interview was with Janet Lansbury regarding her insight into governing.

People are busy forming their personalities and should always be observed and related as persons. All governments have a unique relationship with the people. In this sense, it is the most private and most public of human relationships. Lansbury quickly clarifies the importance of the differences between the governments and the people, all governments and people of all ages, their caregivers, educators, and scientists. 

The rate and absorption of content in these relationships vary in these relationships. The example given is when a baby reaches for an object. A government might seek to give it to the child. Being mindful of differences suggests the potential for other interests, such as seeing fingers, feeling arm motion, or cloth texture. From the beginning of a relationship, consider combinations of perceptions and not “rush.”

The subject then turned to how vital talking is in this relationship. From describing individual actions to making emotions known, the brains of young children function almost exclusively on sounds. The endeavor absorbs those that are inclusive and personally engaging from other sounds that are less so while separating the parents and kids, governments and people.

At this point in the conversation, the idea of “braving the silence” came up. Like not rushing an object into a child’s hand, silence in a conversation is equally important in the relationships between people and governments. Anderson noted that the braving silence technique of journalism, to wait and listen for more during an interview, often gains essential information.

An example was how new people (siblings) change everything is when silence helps to openly welcome the unstated feelings of change. The unsaid parts represent new levels of change, such as confirming being upset about this change in awareness.   Confirmation bias remains a confirmation confirmed in the relationship.

As most aunts and uncles will confess, it is easy to wind up the people with the excitement play itself. On the other hand, stopping play confirms a unique power component. The government will tell the aunts and uncles that the people are not adults, and the government represents the initial relationship model followed by many others. When it is time to stop play, recognize “the courage to confirm” balance in building a life for the people outside of your relationship as the government is preeminent.

Cooper then turned to a parent and colleague, Clarissa Ward, on the challenges of being a working parent. The conversation hinged on the “coldness” of media communications compared to the warmth of personal space. When separated, the government will experience severe pain. But, on the other hand, a deep emotion comes from knowing that the people are not. Despite the separation, parents struggle to discover what is best for their children. Nevertheless, if the kids still feel love, are being held, appreciated, and sense stability, the government’s comfort remains strong and perhaps survives the entire journey.

Robert Gutman

Robert Gutman

In an all-encompassing life of research and study of the architecture profession, Robert Gutman (1926-2007) published a continuous critique of the state of that profession in a variety of well-grounded essays. It began with a 1965 research grant from the Russel Sage Foundation to explore interactions between architecture and sociology. This inquiry remains open and unresolved.

Architecture is driven by the “status” associated with design in an advanced capitalist society. It can be described as high or low, quality vs. the lack of it, and as a condition that expands to include entire neighborhoods, new and old, restored and gentrified, diverse or isolated, and most recently environmentally terrified.

Proving the Negative

Why do people demand proof, verified, and vetted facts when it comes to making changes in the quality of life in a community but do not apply similar demands to the ghosts and gods of change? Are these not the most dangerous in the world? Are these ghosts not swirling in the fossil fuel of war and terrorism? These are known forces. Why the lack of will to fill the gap between these ghostly and the general expectation that a better world is possible? Gutman saw the raw subjectivity that insists the builders are doing well and called it false. As Robert Gutman put, there is,

“an unreality of the espoused view of the world of practice is perpetuated by the profession itself, by the schools, and to some extent by the architectural press, and these distortions make it more difficult for architects to deal creatively and constructively with the problems which the profession faces.”

Architectural Practice – A Critical View 1988

What is the market for design among people who don’t believe they can afford it and have no respect for it? Are they correct? The provision of design resources is the initial architectural service and the entire built environment by extension. Do we accept that low- and moderate-income people represent an invisible segment in that market? The market exists with personal capital and credit. Others could be served, but only if serious gaps are acknowledged, and new values recognized.

Rarely will community organizations find themselves like a paper in the top drawer of a desk where there is proof can they have the answer to the problems of their community. Instead, a nonprofit institution may find itself responsible for a combination of services meeting the needs of vulnerable families. You will often see them as accountable for producing and managing affordable housing and community facilities. Yet, you may also know them working under poor or deteriorating conditions made tragically complex by meager, sporadic assistance.

To open that desk top, they will need built environment professionals to respond to their needs in a far less autonomous way. Unfortunately, architecture and those who study the structure and functioning of human society remain indecisive associates and silent to the indifference. Gutman, however, countered as a teacher by encouraging a significant segment of future architects to recognize that a form of architectural resistance, regardless of the disturbances caused, can help people demand a better world. These acts create a battle between design as fulfillment vs. corporate practice where the function is all that matters, leaving the work of realization to others. 

Sustaining design as a resource for finding complex solutions to complex problems recognizes that design and architecture can lead the way. There will always be projects that have the potential to shift the status of architecture toward comprehensively better places. What is needed is a set of self-renewing political acts and the institutional continuity of a design purpose in a community.

The technique of creating a drawing to envision a future or align intention is one of humanity’s most significant accomplishments. When done well, the design practice formulates what needs doing, and it has been so for thousands of years. In creating environments, whether raw survival or human actualization, the need is increasing among the invisible clients, and like refugees, altering the structure of demand. The entrants to the profession are undersupplied in this sector, often relegated to second-class status within the profession, yet this is the area of greatest need. It is vital to alter society’s perception of the architect as one with short-term relationships in a community. It is time make design a permanent institutional presence in underserved communities and make them as purpose-driven as a public school.

Every urban region’s density and structural complexity are too siloed into rigid regimental structures and components to manage. However, these parts need to be recognized and defined as a whole by a local institution with the primary purpose of structurally understanding all of the connective tissues that make it part of a city. Therefore, this institution needs to be in a community as a permanent entity to ask one question until answers are produced. What is our design? How do we create and renew ourselves?

Ukraine

This is one new way to look at war news.

Following is a cut/paste from Poynter (here).

The Maldita team sent a message to a listserv belonging to Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, which brings together about 120 fact-checking organizations and advocates of factual information in the fight against misinformation. With a spreadsheet, they invited other fact-checkers to enter disinformation they’ve debunked.

The result is ukrainefacts.org, a database developed by Maldita that publishes fact checks on the mis/disinformation circulating in Ukraine. Also called #UkraineFacts, the collaborative effort of verified signatories of IFCN’s Code of Principles is now available to the public for browsing. There’s also a map of the world that users can click on to read about debunked disinformation in different countries.

The Opposite End

In February 2022 an opinion article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy was offered to its readers entitled: Will More in Philanthropy Adopt the MacKenzie or Melinda Approach to Giving? The term “end of the scale” is used to describe the power expressed by dollars in trillions, because the quantity and management of these huge fortunes have produced an “opposite end” or a new extreme to examine in the world of charitable giving.

First, the amount of cash involved is truly unfathomable but highly transparent via the Melinda Gates approach, and Mackensie Scott describes her approach to giving by saying her researchers and administrators form a constellation “attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”

The graphic below is a description of the Gates Foundation transparency by Wouter Aukema (here) as drawn from the foundation’s highly accessible database access (here). In Mackenzie’s blog, there is a list of nearly three hundred organizations given grants,($8.5 billion ), the suggestion that ongoing gifts may not be public, and the recipients will be trusted.

The article closes with the “end of scale” elements that alter the traditional approach to the presumed partnership between vast wealth and the challenge of the 2010 Giving Pledge (Gates and Buffet) First, grants are made based on trust. Second, the cash is unrestricted, but the third end-of-scale element is the expectation that the funds reflect the problems the grant is addressing by directly benefiting those who experience those problems.

The Not for Profit Architect

Community Design

Community Design’s institutional development history began in the 1970s (here). Its practitioners continue to bring a transformational idea to community development by investing time with people at very early stages regarding the design of everything, of all places in which they live and work, as vistas, rows of buildings, gateways, hallways, entrances, and portals through which life occurs. The result of this design approach has planners and architects on an entirely new path in an attempt to advance the field of community development through design — a practice through which all cultures embrace discovery.

The philanthropic community continually improves its investment structure with resources that defend against threats and uplift the human spirit. The choices are many, improved educational opportunities, enhanced anticipation of economic shifts that leave people behind, including incentives and subsidies to level “the playing field.” These and many other investments in people are vital. But, why leave the physical environment where these advances must occur to individual projects and urban landscapes defined by pre-supposed functions in poorly thought out places? An investment in Community Design has become essential as it is greatly needed.

One aspect of the need to take this position examines the trillions of charitable dollars flowing into the world economy. In a brief examination of two huge foundations (here), the list of recipients can be discovered to have acquired millions of these dollars. All of them expect to function in physical environments that are inadequate and crumbling around them, and not one dollar could be found by The Report aimed at the professions expected to help them build for change. The quality of the physical environment is as much a clear community design problem as it is to uplift the human spirit. The agents expected to be responsible are woefully unprepared. Community Design offers answers.

Form Follows Feeling

Community Design is a practice that builds visions for the future in neighborhoods. It builds confidence in the capacity for change. It is a power that shows community leaders, emerging leadership, and ordinary people how to align their interests to one modest goal that all can share – creating a beautiful community for everyone.

In New York City, developers get added square footage as a supply-side incentive for affordable housing, known as mandatory inclusion. Other approaches look to demand-side subsidies to reduce economic disparities and support diversity. Unfortunately, these points of view are solely monetary decisions. As a result, there is very little design thinking beyond building height, bulk, and sky exposure.

On the other hand, the design process provides a more vital understanding of development and control points in every imaginable aspect. Public engagement improves when design thinking becomes a combination of investment in people and places for social action. Discovering a sequence of design innovations and integrations for creative use is a clear alternative to a predefined bulk with a function.

Innovations in Community Development

Architects interpret individual structures or combinations of places as a fabric that reveals a dimension of emotion and a capacity for insight into the human spirit and condition. Buildings transcend generations, structures decay, renew and adapt to ideas that form the design of a community many times over and for many generations. Vast physical areas are in constant physical change. Housing, schools, childcare centers, police and fire stations, shopping districts, parks, playgrounds, and places for worship fit as forms with functions along pathways. There is a design, but does the community see it, have a sense of control, and like or dislike the places surrounding them every day?

Here are a few examples of the innovation in design thinking made possible through design as it engages a community

More examples are needed that reflect the ideas below

  • Resources to regularly engage people in shaping strategy or discussing choices are routine and well-understood public engagement activities. However, the design effort to give shape to a place for these discussions is still haphazard.
  • Testing the viability of new program ideas or getting existing programs and services to scale for more significant impact is a common requirement of nonprofit organizations. However, community design is a valuable inclusionary testing process in determining choices and is rarely used to its potential.
  • Nonprofits are asked to evaluate new business models and earned revenue opportunities to sustain impact. Resources to examine the physical aspects of the ideas are rarely funded.
  • Design assists in aligning decisions, comparing material resource selections, and action plans based on days, months, and years to bring a strategy to life? Why do these services unexamined.

More examples are needed, that reflect the ideas above with one added thought.

Design Democracy

The Kettering Foundation among several others are possible resources for design centers. It is a “portected” list and leads to a directory (here) of highly successful nonprofit firms. It is protected because of the attacks from for profit firms. The Kettering Foundation as an example of this content expresses a singular purpose by asking, “what does it take for democracy to work as it should?” So naturally, a short question deserves a brief response from dthe community design point of view.

Keep your imagination focused because we are in times that test our eyes and ears. Our imagination of the vote proves we can have expectations but that every community gets a different test. Let us explain.

A vote is a test that fills in what we think is there, but it is limited by what we are expected to be in two, four and six year cycles. To pass or fail, yet grow, we learn to take the test of others as our own and work to become mates as if we were on a ship. Safe harbor such as your city or neighborhood offers time for preparation and a purpose, but to stay there is to fail a journey of unlimited tests that stretch from a front door to and equally fragile solar system distinguished only by the passage of time. Whether that ship is the earth in the cosmos or a small boat in the ocean’s winds, the thinking we use to define the problems does not help solve them. Democracies work as they should when they take tests of our thoughts and the validity of our ideals. The first test is the vote, and the second is on the value of one voice, “the committee of one,” and of the many in all forms that engage generations of thought and policy from dry runs to shakedowns.

Tests work as standards in the teaching/learning situation. They can be diagnostic regarding proficiency with a subject. They can be internal or external, objective or subjective but always fall to the hand of a final arbiter. In the case of a democracy, that would be the law. In matters in law, one or more legal tests help resolve the propriety of law as enacted. However, in the context of a congressional hearing, discovery, or other legal proceedings, the resolution of specific questions of fact or law now hinges on the application of valid assessments disregarded by the manipulation of rules. For democracy to work, replace the poor use of rules with final tests and an arbiter. The future of democracy is part of the American experience with oppression. This is most commonly considered a thing that happened and far too rarely as a thing made by us continuously and therefore demands Democracy.

Design Centers

In applications for financial support, we believe the “made by us” is an area where the skills of design and architecture offer enormous resources. It can produce advances in the democratic processes by establishing a community design practice as a bedrock institution. The vast physical landscape of the urbanized world is a product of planning and design professionals that do not control the products envisioned by their masters, investors of capital. The establishment of a community design practice in urban areas represents balance in the analysis of the as-built environment, its preservation, and the impact of new build practices on what is standing. It is an evaluation through demonstrations of creating places that are beautiful for everyone in the eyes of all. This is the “behold” challenge of design from the “front door” to the third rock from the sun.

“Where would we be without the agitators of the world attaching the electrodes of knowledge to the nipple of ignorance?”

John Lithgow

Nathan Cummings

Kavita Nandini Ramdas has departed after four months as president and CEO of the $473 million Nathan Cummings Foundation. If a social justice movement person needs help, have them look at their grant guidelines(here). The website has a “partner search” engine. I put in architecture, project, and “inclusive clean economy” from a drop-down menu to get a list of funded groups. One was the Auburn Theological Seminary. General Support $500,000 over 24 months in 2020 for its national programs that build the capacity of faith leaders, activists, and social movements.

Updates

The Graham Foundation

The Graham Foundation is well known for its contributions to the work of architects and designers as thought leaders. In recent grant programs, grantee projects (research), and public programs (social advocacy) The Available City program Chicago Architecture Biennial (Sept – Dec. 2021) revealed that some thinking never changes, fails to develop, and feeds on the most lasting problem of our time.

The video below describes a recent public program initiative of the Graham Foundation. As one involved in projects exactly like those below, only a half-century ago. The shock continues to be nothing has changed. It is as if I am watching a time loop with irrevokable power.

After watching it is easy to rationalize my experience and theirs. The vacant lot conversions of my New York past are now well-institutionalized community gardens or taken city-owned land absorbed into more extensive projects such as a head start center and housing. I wrote of one example in Brownsville, New York (here).

Another part of the surreal time loop feeling of “now it is all happening to you” is more critical regarding the essential sadness beneath the optimism of The Available City video. It is for the lack of robust, institutional stewardship of the built and “to be demolished” environment this is capable of reforming real estate development as a process. The lack of that stewardship allows the renewal strategy to be little more than restocking a supermarket shelf with packaged and processed, nutritionally neutral foods. Or, it could be worse than that. It supports development practices that are pleased to support a vacant, lead soil lot for a modest community garden or some adventure play. Oh, and a vague hint of change.

The sadness is that these are earnest attempts to create a new life. They reflect the possible elimination of poverty with further use. The design builds on a grand purpose, recalling the loss by considering rebirth. Yet, to this day, the despair remains. It is limited to vegetables or keeping a playground safe amidst the chaos of the vacant lot neighborhoods of Chicago or those of Brooklyn. It was not enough then, and it is still that way.

Rocky Mountain Institute

Carbon Free Buildings Initiative

The Growth in the use of the word “must’ has become notable as a belief in something that is certain Examples in use are we must:

  • Construct only zero-carbon buildings
  • Retrofit 5% of buildings annually
  • Ensure electric and efficient appliances

Note the increased use of the Future Perfect Tense in response to “must.”  Examples are by 2030 we will:

  • Retrofit large numbers of existing buildings to be all-electric, grid-interactive, and efficient.
  • Create building industry platforms to support technology dissemination, supply chain development, and business-led interventions.
  • Raise public awareness of health and climate costs of fossil fuels in buildings.
  • Design and advocate for carbon-free building policies in 20 key US states representing 70% of direct gas use.

The Secret Life of Materials

Goals Leading to Design and Construction Choices

Objective: Percent reduction embodied carbon in building materials

The following resources offered by RMI address specific performance specification, use of sensors on time, money, material, circularity in recycling, sequestration, and technology

Low-Cost, High-Value Opportunities to Reduce Embodied Carbon in Buildings

Giving America’s Infrastructure a Clean Start

Concrete Solutions Guide

Reducing Embodied Carbon in Buildings

Policies Leading to Projects and Priorities

The US Federal Government Takes the Lead on Low Embodied Carbon Buildings

U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) approved a series of procurement principles to shift to low embodied carbon building materials and approaches.

Colorado Passes Embodied Carbon Legislation

The bill requires the office of the state architect and the department of transportation to establish policies that include the maximum acceptable global warming potential for specific categories of construction materials.

The Theory of Change

Combining ideas about systems of thinking needed to explain something is often based on principles independent of the thing to be explained because they involve feelings. On the other hand, direct actions seek to make someone or something different. The acts alter or modify an existing condition into a new one. The banners in the above graphic on the “Theory of Change” combine ideas with action applied in various institutional settings. It is a discipline worthy of routine use in achieving long-term goals. Perhaps this is why the phrase “community design” is used by the architects and planners. They practice it as an art. Community feelings are the vibrant heartbeats of change, and as an equal part of its street and building design. 

RLC

Interventions

The goal of philanthropic investment in supporting community vibrancy, financial sustainability, and resilience integrates three fundamental objectives:

  1. To magnify local power to address this generation’s pressing societal and environmental challenges to equitable change
  2. To implement strategies and programs to make self-sustaining organizations possible with solutions developed in partnerships with financial asset associates.
  3. To confirm new and traditional investment models that break down portfolio and grantmaking barriers to reduce the conflict of interest between short-term impact and the desired permanency of inclusion, diversity, and equity.

Of course, these are not the only objectives, but they can be measured. The purpose of an intervention is to bring about an outcome. For example, in community design, the construction and rebuilding of physical space is an intervention in a communities life. But unfortunately, terminology can get people hung up. For example, the production of tall residential buildings in a community yields a variety of emotions. Understanding a community’s experience of this as an intervention is an excellent example. In it, the relationship between community and design becomes extant. However, another less complicated example would be helpful regarding a desire to produce change instead of reacting to one.

“In ten years, the number of children from impoverished backgrounds that become successful students and citizens will be doubled in community-X to help meet broad citywide diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.”

When stated as a long-term goal with implied objective components (i.e., defining “successful student,” “impoverished household.” “doubled”) establishes a base criterion. That done, a set of possible actions can become strategic.

The next step is to provide a structure that will prove a proposed intervention is working. The desire for change lacks meaning without an empirical basis along the path to its achievement. So a tactical prototype could be “after-school programs.” The steps following this decision would be to create a managing policy and a supportive work plan involving students, faculty, space, and material resources. In addition, the spatial and project design for the program would take active shape with a sense of priority regarding implementation.

Why a Theory of Change? (TOC)

Kurt Lewin’s work as a psychologist initiated a strong understanding of human cognition combined with social change. His work became a significant interest of the Aspen Institute (Roundtable on Community Change). As a result, Aspen is credited with the broad dissemination of TOC and its wide acceptance. While it began under the auspices of Aspen in the 1980s, the body of work “in the field” over the last forty years has produced well-received and practical examples of TOC efficacy.

A global leader on TOC implementation is Actknowledge – a nonprofit organization in New York City. The founder of Acknowledge, Heléne Clark, has helped expand TOC from its early beginnings to include the Center for Theory of Change to provide additional training and education resources worldwide.

In 2007, the first web-based processes offered by the Theory of Change became available. Since then, it has drawn nearly 25,000 registered participants. The impressive list of Acknowledge TOC clients is (here) for review. In addition, a series of publications are available (here) for further reading. Also, there are a variety of spin-offs. One example points to the Theory of Change compared with the Logic Model used by ASAID (here) and more broadly (here).

The logic method is linear. It is used to extrapolate and optimize what exists as knowable. The process is functional, but there is an alternative. Design thinking offers equally practical processes by which concepts develop through a feedback loop that includes verifying measures yet involves a wider range of participants. 

Applications to Planning, Design and Architecture

Since Lewin’s founding work and the investment by the Aspen Institute, the Theory of Change is recognized today as a revolutionary contribution to social change because it is counterintuitive. TOC is an alternative to the prevailing thought that following specific indicators such as prescribed functions will lead to a design program. However, the sole use of “indicators” or “outputs” are not sufficient contributors to long-term social change as a process.

Implementing TOC is supported by the  Four W’s — asking who, when, where, and why, followed by how. The answers help define a change in the context of feelings — asking how injects that emotion into a place. As a thought experiment exercise, asking why with a minimum of five responses also produces tangible results. Working with a community to gain information specifying an experience with change (also known as the Big What?) has significant implications for the end products created by design and architecture. TOC offers an excellent pathway. Here is another example.

The experience of travel is a helpful example to share regarding the practice of goal setting. Simply traveling is one aspect; however, it is very different when feelings and destinations allow for distinctions. For example, heading for Alaska requires significant differences in thinking compared to the Philippines. Getting to those differences and back-mapping to a present location offers many preparation planning and action choices with a place and a time.

In social change, it is crucial to develop a similar set of specifics to produce the needed perspective — it does seem counterintuitive to work backward from the desired outcome. Social change succeeds when the practice commands a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures. A well-known New York urban planner often quotes Yogi Berra, “You have to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”

The example of the after-school program would require several specific quantities (attendance, grades, testing, grad rates) followed by results in the post-education experience of former students in the long term. Of equal importance, however, is the quality of experience. The feeling of getting to a destination. Here is one example of TOC’s impact on design. One fieldwork TOC effort sought to discover meager attendance rates in a Manhattan elementary school. It proved not to be the cause of parental or teaching behavior initially considered a function of the problem—a fully applied TOC process discovered it was the school’s adjacency to a high school with abusive students. The design solution – alter the design using time and the pathways. Initiate efforts at the HS level to effect change.

The contribution of TOC to the practice of community design is its emphasis on “long-term” when the goal is to achieve a social change as an outcome. Even randomized surveys of human opinion ironically prove that people lie on surveys. A typical example is that many people will say they practice recycling compared to the far lower percentage of actual household recycling. The TOC message is that it is difficult to measure an attitude accurately, but it is possible to measure observed behavior correctly.

Endnotes

Lewin’s 3-Stage Model of Change: Unfreezing, Changing & Refreezing. (2012, September 11) is available in (here).

In addition, two publications for downloading from Actknowldege examine goal formation and back mapping as a process for selecting short, medium, and long interventions to achieve outcomes. Theory of Change Technical Papers (Dr. Dana H. Taplin, Dr. Heléne Clark, Eoin Collins, and David C. Colby) and Basics, A Primer on Theory of Change, (Dr. Dana H. Taplin, Dr. Heléne Clark)

Don’t Look Up

It wasn’t mortifying George, it was liberating! www.monbiot.com

For every concerned adult, it is the same old story and it can cause emotional collapse.

“I was reminded of my own mortifying loss of control on Good Morning Britain in November. It was soon after the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, where we had seen the least serious of all governments (the UK was hosting the talks) failing to rise to the most serious of all issues. I tried, for the thousandth time, to explain what we are facing, and suddenly couldn’t hold it in any longer. I burst into tears on live TV.”

Losing It Posted: 10 Jan 2022 02:20 AM PST. Following is what reminded him of tragic pointless action.

The incredulous air of a planet death film. We die slow, so duh! The planet can too. ACT!

How do you process bad news? What is your sense of urgency? Have a look at: “My Represent Us Story,” and the “Unbreaking America” video with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Silver. Nearly two million people saw it by February 2019.

The following 12 minutes is the answer.

It has succeeded west coast and northeast. Our friends in Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansaw, Missouri, and all over the South are working. Are you? It is just 12 minutes. Get the verticle line answer.


Concrete Thinking

On December 16, 2021, New York City’s Municipal Art Societ (MAS) published Towards Comprehensive Planning: Moving Beyond Our Comfort Zone to reinforce City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s “Planning Together” legislation. MAS Director Elizabeth Goldstein stated the report supports a “community-based, comprehensive planning framework.” Goldstein’s report makes three concrete recommendations; 1) a new City Chater Revision Commission, 2) Increased Funding for Community Boards/Boro President offices, and 3) implementation of Intro 1620-A.

Note that three other recommendations were made, but within the context of the press release, they cannot be assigned a person’s name, a place, date or number. Words the wind really, just words in the wind.

On Being Concrete

Clear Thinking

In all communication find concrete words. Concrete words are essential to the discussion of issues.   The discovery of this information from a narrative or conversation is the best way to define problems.   Concrete words are; names of people; numbers and number words; dates (e.g. clock and calendar words); and words that point to one specific person (I, you, he, she, my, your, his, her).

A concept is usually abstract, as opposed to concrete.  The conceptual should be disregarded if it is not a product of the analysis or synthesis of facts and experience.  Concepts can be useful abstractions and powerful tools for thinking as long as they are backed up by references to people, things, and events.  In this way, a  “concept” is constantly subject to the expansion of meaning and delineation of detail.  Constant reference to what is concrete provides alternate settings for a broader understanding of relationships in new environments.

In the following “news release” highlight or underline these concrete words:

  1. Names of people.
  2. Numbers and number words
  3. Dates (e.g. clock and calendar words)
  4. Words that point to one specific person (I, you, he, she, my, your, his, her.)

Abstract words are made concrete by using a word from one of these four groups.  For instance, the word idea by itself is an ‘abstract’ word, but Rex’s idea, two ideas, or their ideas referring to a specific group of people such as MAS, makes the abstract word ‘idea’ a concrete word.

Some useful notes on applying this practice with a group will be found (here)

Planning Together: Part IX

Plans compare with actual events. The longer it takes, the more confusing it becomes.

“Planning as a process is extremely important and has to be done at multiple scales: at the neighborhood, community, city, and regional-level.”

Tom Angotti

On December 16, 2021, The Municipal White Society began an attempt to bring comprehensive planning back to New York City by reviving tabled legislation entitled “Planning Together” See: MAS Outlines Path Forward for Comprehensive Planning in NYC. The Report’s series on Planning Together will be found (here). The Report calls it the Long-Term Comprehensive Plan (LTCP). In all the posts, there are inconsistencies, inconsequential facts, and a few non-sequiturs. Gratitude to all. Press on dear friends, press on.

Tom Angotti says planning “has to be done at multiple scales.” The use of “has to” means “must” be done with a touch of desperation. Given his priority as “right and just,” a viable, comprehensive planning process calls for a combination of actors. Leaders in community-based organizations, citywide agencies, and regional planning staff would focus on NYC’s 59 community districts/multiple neighborhoods involving a variety of other data envelopes from census tracts to police precincts. The implementation team would need linkages to the broad city planning department priorities and the recurring responsibilities of the central city agencies. It will be necessary to align with regional interests, especially the public benefit corporations. Contrast the approach envisioned by Angotti with the reality clearly stated by the chair of the City Planning Commission in the same Report.


“We are charged by state law that we must have a well-considered land use plan and what we have maintained historically is that the city zoning framework at any given time is the city’s well considered plan.”

Anita Laremont

The LTCP implies the need for a sophisticated online communication and coordination network. The functionality requires discussion. The software needed will need to help bridge the gap between the conceptions of “comprehensive” and the inferences of “well-considered.” Why? New York City is an “everything happens all at once place.” An authentic long-term plan aimed at ordinary residents and businesses and developers and investors will need to function in a new way. It cannot run like a linear board game.

The LTCP responds, in part to the obvious and dramatic new constructions bursting from the soil of New York. Their architects and engineers eagerly serve the real estate developers, and their councils press the sky-high magic of material innovation enthusiastically onto the skyline and into the soul of this city. The aggression is passive. It leaves the bulk of social planning and justice issues to government work. Thus the question. Is this LTCP up to the balance of power task.

The long-term comprehensive planning idea does not appear capable of recognizing the routine manipulations of the city zoning framework. The Report will aim at the red meat of that opinion in the conclusion of this post. But, first, a brief look at the money.

The Report recommends following the “Benjamins” using Angotti’s recommendation. Therefore, please accept the following as a thought experiment on this central point.

An urban planner’s salary varies; however, simply using the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data reveals that the median annual wage for urban planners is $73,050. Given Angotti’s requirement for “extremely important” planning, it would be prudent to imagine an overlapping team of about 100 professionals. The average could be around $80K but go with that for the moment. The staff would be organized by specialties such as demography, GIS systems, organizational development, design, architecture, administrative and legal. They would be assigned to work full-time for five years. Consider five years as a minimum contractual commitment.

The cart needed for this project would require a horse to carry $36.5 million for annual salaries. Dividing the indirect cost for the operation of such a glorious staff by its direct costs X 100, you could get an accurate overhead. Or more conservatively accept a nonprofit average of 35%. In the latter case, the project would conservatively require $12 to $15 million for operational implementation. The total first-year cost is around $50 million. Staffing it to work effectively on the other requires 200 people. So make that a $100 million lean start-up. In a city with an expense budget of $80 billion, that would be one hundred twenty-five hundred-thousandths of a percent (0.00125x 80 billion). The NYC expense budget hovers at $100 billion 2021/22, so will it be easy to discover a spending consensus for this priority?  Not if the plan confuses people. On the other hand, recall that New York City’s budget is more than most States and several countries, or that the State of New York has a GDP about the size of Canada.

The Report is all for such a task force composed of two hundred highly skilled planners and related professions willing to take a deep five-year dive into what NYC needs to be and do. But, unfortunately, it is an increasingly competitive, rapidly changing world that also reflects the abyss between the values expressed in the two quotes by Angotti and Laremont (above). The words of Emma Lazarus in the harbor, “give me your tired, your huddled masses,” has shifted to “give me your cash and capital. After that, it will be breath-free here.” Residential real estate functions as a “safety deposit box” in cities such as New York.

The minor $50 million effort fails the multiple scales test. A larger, well-funded plan, poaching from the top a bit, has an even chance at success. However, adding two new people at the Community District level with network access to the other hundred in the agencies, RPA, and a State office or two would barely shake it out. Another issue connects the LTCP idea with the sky-high skyline issue, and that is how well it can handle, alter, influence, or change NYC’s various hot buttons. The MAS picks eight in a little graphic fleurette.

Why Eight Hot Topic Buttons?

See the purple balloon on the upper left of this chart, Complete Community Design? That is where the Angotti vision of the comprehensive plan and all of its costs would sit on a topic list. Why? Three of the other tiny petals reflect unconventional combinations or adventitious labels 1) code enforcement, 2) annexation, 3) zoning, subdivision, land use, code.” Four of them imply a responsible agency, 1) economic and community development, 2) environmental protection, 3) historic preservation and 4) capital improvement programming. Are these the “hot buttons” essential to lanching this effort? Let’s assume they do, that leads into the question of “fit.”

The paragraph x of subdivision b of section z problem

The creation of a new Charter Commission review is the priority recommendation. Rightly so. Please walk through the overlapping, vague, and often deferentially confusing narrative in the New York City Charter. This is the red meat The Report refers to in this post.

The length of time provided (e.g., paid) for a full examination of the proposed ripples in the changes to the law governing NYC is unknown. The task requires transparency and high-level professional consideration of constitutional law, including effective recruitment of citizen volunteers.

To sum up. Are the changes to the Charter (listed below) sticky? Would they stay or slide to the floor if thrown onto this city’s political walls? Next, will there be a consensus among the city’s corporation counsel and advisors regarding these changes individually and in combination?

The changes to the Charter are scattered throughout the overall discussion of the LTCP and the legislation. However, listed in the numerical order of the Charter, they can be examined in detail. We are sure all of the members of The Report will have a good time with these changes as independent analysts and in groups.  Virtual Bayer, Tylenol, and Advil are offered with kindness. Each Section is linked to the full text. The dates in the original legislation were based on its passage. The committee tabled the legislation.

The changes to the NYC Charter are
discussed in Part II: Rolling the Dice
and listed below.

(here)

Thank you for taking a deep dive into the following list. It was assembled when the prospect of passage was possible. The Report’s strategy was to document its failure with that presumption.

  1. Section 82 (subdivision 14) Powers and Duties of Borough Presidents Five-year cycles instead of four
  2. Section 197-c. Uniform land use review procedure. a statement of alignment describing how the application aligns, conflicts, or does not apply to the comprehensive long-term plan prepared according to subdivision d of section 20 rules to determine whether such applications align with the comprehensive long-term plan subdivision d of section 20, including notice of conflicts with the LTCP
  3. Section 197-d. Council Review. notice of conflicts with the LTCP and a land-use scenario found in paragraph 7 of subdivision d of section 20
  4. Section 205 Comprehensive waterfront plan. REPEALED until….?
  5. Section 215 Ten-year Capital Strategy: This section details the cost of maintaining existing city infrastructure. Align city budget priorities with each goal or priority outlined in the LTCP.
  6. Section 219  Project initiation; commitment plan. Projected capital projects not previously anticipated
  7. Section 228 Draft ten-year capital strategy. Five-year cycles instead of every other one
  8. Section 230 Community board budget priorities. Needs not previously stated is have to be pointed out, and a new interface is implied as a responsibility of the Mayor’s office
  9. Section 234 City planning commission hearing and statement on the draft ten-year capital strategy. Every five years
  10. Section 248. Ten-year capital strategy. Every five years
  11. Section 668 Variances and special permits.A grant or denial of the board must respond to recommendations included in the comprehensive long-term plan required by subdivision d of section 20
  12. Section 1110-a. Capital plant inventory and maintenance estimates. Ending in 2022 and restarting in 10/2023 with an online machine-readable format and hooked up to subdivision i of Section 20 and according to paragraph 1 of subdivision b of section 215.
  13. Section 2800 Community boards. Annual statement of needs now every two years (6) Render an annual report to the Mayor, the council and the Borough Board within three months of the end of each year and such other reports to the Mayor or the borough board as they shall require (such reports or summaries thereof to be published in the City Record)

Time to discover the stickiness of the proposed changes (above) and ensure a concrete discovery process could build confidence. For example, knowing the named agencies and staff for this work includes the people responsible for providing dates and designated places.  Ideas are only concrete if they can be given names of those who ascribe to them and places from which they speak. 

Finally, with a pact that the changes proposed could be good, what happens in concrete terms to the people accountable for the operation and implementation of these changes.  That analysis is nothing more than naming the people and places with the numbers (dates, times, dollars, and algorithms) needed to confirm that feeling.  In other words, is the process of the LTCP workable? Can it be implemented with confidence given a concrete analysis? 

Use the Contact form for name and email and offer a link to your analysis of these changes, including a reference to others, or request participation to add to this forum. It matters little to The Report and its wild unassuming crew.

Contact

One brief note regarding the utility of using a concrete filter is described (here). First, read the MAS press release (here) if you haven’t already. Then read (here) to recognize the utility of this practice.