I don’t agree with the presentation of these two images together.

With that said, people in power love maps. Love. Them. Does the map help the average person? Obviously, in this day and age with the highly mobile and transitory global workforce they are essential to the average person in navigating their new, unknown surroundings. But the map means nothing to those with familiarity. With proximity. The map is a projection of power and colonialism immune to real borders.

It reminds me of visiting Hebron and our guide pointing out all the bricked up cut-throughs that the Israelis used to limit the movement of Palestinians. A ‘tactical’ decision to be sure, and yet this local guy still beat us from one point in the city to the next. He was everywhere at once it seemed. Who needs a map when you live it.



  • We should never abandon the city in favour of a virgin territory.
  • There is no innocent state of nature to defend: cities are flourishing ecosystems in themselves, a true ‘human participation in nature’.
  • In fact, nature builds no idea of nature. The image of nature has always been an artifact…

Yea. I didn’t understand it on my first read through. But I’m not convinced that it lacks worthwhile ideas. Gonna give it a couple more go’s and let it sink in before I finalize my thoughts on it. Go ahead and give the whole thing a read thru here. It’s certainly novel which is welcome in the Tumblr/Twitter echo chamber on urban issues.



Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

There is just so much wonder and mystery in this video. Take that with a grain of salt as I’m feeling especially whimsical after finishing a TV episode that really affected me.

My favorite feeling is when things move me. There’s nothing like it. An high comes with it that sort of lingers like a cloud of cigarette smoke. It’s like the rush that I got after bungee-jumping…but different.

ANYWAY. This is a really incredible video at the very least for its sheer historical value of showing pre-war Berlin.

Historical Preservation


You guys.

I’m kind of against historic preservation unless you’ve made it to the 100-year mark on your own. Or someone famous died inside you.

If people are still alive that would have seen the structure in question built, it’s not worth preserving. 

I just don’t understand the point otherwise. 

The whole point of our built environment is that it can change with each new generation to meet their needs. If you lock certain buildings, or god forbid, entire neighborhoods into a legal historical preservation scheme, that land/building is pretty much useless and inflexible going forward. Sure, it will look quaint but it’s use to people will not be able to scale efficiently. 

Actually, let me clarify. I don’t think that much in America is worth the effort of preemptively preserving. We have only really started to build important structures in the last 100-150 years. And for the last 50-60 we’ve built shitty- looking personal castles willy-nilly all over the place. 

The major reason unimportant buildings get restored and rebuilt is because of government subsidies in the form of tax credits. There are some people that do redevelop these properties out of a love for the actual buildings, and I commend them for it. 

I’m sure this opinion will develop further over time but I’m willing to discuss it with y’all!

4/26/12 ed: So I’ve tempered somewhat in the couple months since I initially wrote this post. I suppose my rigor came from how people who advocate historic preservation sometimes do so in a way that assumes any new construction will not surpass the original building in uses, or better serve its community. The same goes for designating a (single-family home)neighborhood as an historic preservation zone, which is even worse in practice than traditional protection of individual buildings. Is a living museum the best course of action?  Or is documentation enough? In many central districts of smaller towns at this moment it is quite hard to justify the demolition of older structures especially when there is much unused or underutilized property in close proximity that should be built upon first. Scars of urban renewal that need to be grafted over.

Other times historic preservation seems like it is the nuclear option for communities that don’t approve of new development near them. This absence of a middle option for communities seems like it is a space for civil innovation. Also, how much do the historical tax credits exist just to prevent demolition? Many of the tools the government has appear to be inflexible which will be where our generation makes its mark, in my opinion.

Firm buys foreclosed mortgages at a much lower rate > contacts homeowner about selling or staying in their property > if they want to stay, they negotiate an affordable rent and possibility to buy > this firm MAKES A PROFIT.

You don’t need to abandon capitalism to do good work. You just need a heart and the will.

"Financial opportunity + social mission"

Wade agrees the vision is largely about entertainment, which he feels brands need to do more of to contend with the utility of online selling.
Excerpt from this article over at Atlantic Cities. I think this is a real issue that needs to be addressed both in the leasing structure of retail space and the willingness of owners to take risks. I’m not sure what the viability is of “retail” space going forward in the future. It seems like there will be more service industries and general goods stores (groceries, hardware, interior design type products) in our downtowns and less of the kinds of goods that we can locate online and have conveniently delivered to our doorstep/apartments. Experiences like this might become more common or big consumer goods brands will set up a rotation schedule to keep their product in the minds of more consumers who spend less time at the mall and more time online. Making it an event and increasing the scarcity of when you can go and try on clothes or demo electronics seems like an exciting idea. There’s constantly new business, it doesn’t stagnate and you can really activate the streetscape with that ever-present churn.

Not all cities and towns are created equal.

At some point, hard and tough choices will need to be made about where all of our money goes. Policies of equity should be directed at citizens and not municipalities. But then, cities are people so it complicates the issue a great deal. How do you decrease/increase incrementally in a way that isn’t a shock but also consolidates the population? Sort of how more federal money goes to red states with lower economic output and less federal money goes to blue states which generally have a higher economic output.

I would imagine much of that federal money goes towards infrastructure. The money tied to social services is, I would hope, linked to the citizen and not the municipality or state. It’s a mix though correct? Services like Medicare/aid are partially funded by the federal government and states have to pick up the rest of the bill. Wow. That is really inefficient. I think I just thought my way through the argument for a single-payer healthcare system. 

The primary goal going forward, besides increasing density and lowering the amount of car trips per person and length, should be how to bust up the zero-sum game going on with cities and states in relation to businesses. Centralizing businesses more and reducing the number of competing interests that our current sprawl policies encourage would do alot to eliminate the job-poaching that is so prevalent now. Cities and states should not be paying large corporations to relocate anywhere. So reducing the number of choices would hopefully do something about our current embarrassing culture that applauds cities and states for grovelling at the feet of private business. Perhaps cities and towns don’t respect their citizens because they don’t respect themselves? I think that is a thought worth exploring further.