Archive for City

Urban vs Rural Living Differences

Posted in Organic Development, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 3, 2017 by Drogo

Living in an Urban City is different than living in the Rural Country, in a few ways. Civilization and Wilderness both have advantages and disadvantages when contrasted with each-other (pros and cons). People that love cities tend to focus on night-life, restaurants, and dependence on technology. People that love the country tend to focus on tranquility, nature, and independence from artifice. Fans of both often talk about their flow within the setting, and desired emotions evoked.

Associated Generalizations of

Urban / Rural

expensive / affordable

artificial / natural

utilities / agriculture

technology and shows / plants and animals

crowded crazy people / isolated crazy people

congested & stressed / relaxed & lazy

sidewalks / no sidewalks

complex / simple

no stars / stars

loud / quiet

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Urban + Rural = Suburban Sprawl – Wilderness

One of the major planning issues has become Suburban Sprawl. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the first American architects to address the problem of sprawl in his Broadacre City design. Broadacre city was a modern blend of libertarian and futurist urban, industrial, and agricultural aspects important for civic functions.

(add SCOD thesis essays on sprawl)

 

 

 

 

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Savannah, Georgia

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Drogo

Historic Architecture, Environmental Landscape, and Urban Social Art

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Savannah has the historic integrity of an ivy-league campus, yet for the poor as well as rich. Yes, it is very much the old pirate ‘Port Royal’ still, but in some ways it also surpasses the nobility of elite university campuses. Even the SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) campus is spread throughout the city, and SCAD classes are held in renovated industrial buildings, often with Richardsonian strength; so that liberal education is fully-integrated with the city. As far as competing with modern industrial metropolitan cities, Savannah has plenty of modern and post-modern architecture, and SCAD teaches cutting-edge technology; but it has no desire to be as massively impersonal as New York, or any other major city.

Savannah urban design is overwhelmingly utopian, despite there being dystopian flavors as well. The main streets force cars to either park or drive around the eleven park squares (circuses), while pedestrians can go straight through on sidewalks and bike lanes. It is easy to find any place in the formal city because there are no diagonal streets, one tall building in the middle (DeSoto Hotel), and a few tall buildings downtown parallel with the Savannah River. The downtown main-streets (River Street) on Saint Patrick’s Day are celebrated on par with Mardi-Gras. There are so many unique aspects to Savannah, from its very origins. The basic ‘Roman encampment’ grid urban layout is flavored by multiple circuses with vegetation. Live-oaks, palms, and crepe-myrtle trees are naturally hung with Spanish moss. From sandy soil hedges, herbs, flowers and grasses are also publicly grown for the enjoyment of all.

I will find out more about the city founders, besides Oglethorpe; specifically the Native American chief of the local Creek Indians, because he seems to deserve the same level of respect as the English founder, Oglethorpe. The British and Indians were friends, and one of the largest monuments in a prominent park is dedicated to the Indian Chief’s grave. Southern hospitality is less surface courtesy in Savannah, and more a part of its essence; in regards to integration of whites and blacks, international representation, multi-culturalism, and willingness to welcome even enemies (like General Sherman during the Civil War).

There are several ways to consider the social types that comprise the ‘daily population’ of Savannah. There are five basic social types; the rich residents (white blue-blood aristocracy and new-money millionaires), the poor working-class (merchant and service residents and workers), the street beggars (homeless, hustlers, artists), SCAD students (artists, professors, staff), and tourists (pedestrian, trolley, horse-buggy).

According to Dr. Hsu-Jen Huang (SCAD Architecture Professor), Savannah has been growing, even during the recession. In ten years, the city population and SCAD enrollment have doubled. Some buildings still fall between the cracks, but for every loss two more renovations or new constructs emerge. After the 1994 book Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah has continued to blossom as one of the best cities in the World. Many of its qualities were always inherent in the original urban design, and it continues to grow because of accepted differences.

From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, and beyond; Savannah embraces its strange stories. It has an other-worldly, old world, old town feel. Ghost tours are quite at home with the lamp-lights, cobblestone streets, brick walkways, and French ironwork balconies. It is in fact a small city; one which favors pedestrian traffic more than automobiles. The whole downtown is walkable, and locals often easily commute with bicycles as well (as I did for 3 years).

There are so many fun things to do there, it might be hard to know were to begin; if Savannah were not an immediately immersible, hospitable environment. The whole city is a memory garden, which literally blooms because of all the flowers. There are less flowers and leaves in the Winter, but Fall, Winter, and Spring are best weather-wise; as there is rarely snow, and Summers are often walls of heat and humidity (which it is known for even during Fall and Spring).

Architecturally Savannah is truly unique, with historic world and southern romantic blends. Town-houses often have the side-porch design, as with nearby Charleston, SC. The cast-iron railings and french dormers have that New Orleans feel. Parks and trees really do make a huge difference for traffic. Even while continuing to grow, Savannah is still one of the most colorful and pedestrian friendly cities in America. I can say after living there, the magic is real; including the variety of character personalities that the famous book alludes to.

Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil describes much of the architectural and social feel of the town. ‘Midnight’ the book has much more analysis of detail, while the film has literally has more visual images. I lived in three parts of town, and often passed by famous landmarks on daily commutes to classes. The main character’s house (Mercer Mansion) is on Bull Street along a square, towards the largest city park, Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park was my favorite park that I loved living on, because of the large open grass lawns, largest and most beautiful fountain, organic paths, and shady flora. There I was free to publicly practice Tai-Chi, hippy folk music, or jogging without much bother.

Most of this essay describes the utopian aspects of Savannah, but this paragraph should put some of the dystopian perspectives in context. The poor and the dead, out-number the rich and the living. Southern swamp-lands naturally have a salty entropic power that corrodes metals, moisture that promotes the decay of organic matter, and massive humidity that stifles productive activity, while encouraging roaches and gnats. The humane social ‘decadence’ of the town, allows for an ease of poverty. Kindness tolerates and sometimes falls prey to hustlers. Vandalism and theft are common crimes in Savannah, with the occasional mugging (typical of cities in general). Although crimes are committed by lower classes, the majority (which are poor) are respectful, lawful, and often generous. So you see despite the ‘scariness’, actual dangers are minimal for a city.

Savannah’s name appropriately indicates the climate heat, and the flat field look of the surrounding wetland marsh grasses. Old pirate maps referred to the lands inland along the River as ‘Savannah Land’. Google Street view is very impressive, with realism. It really helps get the feel for the freedom of moving through the town by photographic vista. In the 1990’s we were taking panoramic photos for architecture projects so it really feels appropriate. Day trips easily include the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, and Tybee Island Beach.

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30 Million Tons of Free Food!!! Want Not, Waste Not America

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by Drogo

Americans waste an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption (according to a government study). Unopened food waste happens at supermarkets, restaurants, cafeterias and home kitchens. For every citizen of modern America a pound of perfectly edible food is thrown out every day. That means 30 million tons of food is wasted each year (according to the EPA). Donating excess food to Civic Cooperatives is SCOD, because it may sustain civilization in your area a bit longer against hordes of starving ex-consumer victims of the perpetual Recession/Terror-War!

Frederick City Soup Kitchen

Feeding Those In Need

Free Food in Frederick, Maryland

Frederick Community Action Agency
100 South Market Street
Frederick, Maryland 21701
301-600-1506

Food Donations:

Frederick Soup Kitchen accepts FOOD donations (including bread): The building is open Monday-Friday 8-4 and Monday and Wednesday evenings 6-9pm; but 24/7 drop off on loading dock.

Soup Kitchen Operation:

The Soup Kitchen Program provides a full evening meal, seven nights a week from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to anyone in need of a hot, nutritious meal. Most of the men, women and children using the Soup Kitchen are homeless, but some are very low-income renters (including senior citizens) who come to the FCAA for a free meal in order to help make ends meet. The Soup Kitchen Program has been in continuous operation by the Frederick Community Action Agency (FCAA) since 1984. Volunteers are needed Monday through Friday from approximately 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. to set-up and serve meals (we have a paid cook during the week) and then to clean up the dishes and kitchen area after the meal is finished. Groups of volunteers (e.g., religious institutions, civic groups, companies, and other organizations) are used to staff the Community Kitchen on weekends (Saturdays and Sunday) and on major holidays. Groups are responsible for cooking, serving and cleaning-up after the evening meal.

Directions:

Route 355 (Market Street); bear left onto Market Street and turn right at the fourth traffic light onto East All Saints Street. The Frederick Community Action Agency is located at the corner of East All Saints and South Market Streets. one block before Carroll Creek intersects Market Str.

Just pull into the parking lot and the loading dock is on the right.

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Additionally:

Foodbank Program

The Foodbank Program operated by the Frederick Community Action Agency (FCAA) provides a 3- to 5-day supply of food to families and individuals who are facing an economic crisis and cannot afford to buy their groceries. The FCAA Foodbank serves between 300 to 400 households each month ranging from very low-income families who use the foodbank on a regular basis to moderate-income families who are facing a financial crisis and need food assistance. Volunteers are needed to: 1) sort food and re-stock the foodbank shelves; 2) hand-out groceries to families using the foodbank; 3) perform data entry on the computer system to track the number of families using the foodbank; and 4) perform light maintenance around the foodbank (e.g., wiping down shelves, recycling cardboard boxes, etc.).

 

* information from website and email from Coordinator Sarah McAleavy

Organic Design by Frank Lloyd Wright

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Arts (Design & Performance), Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Individuals / Members / Monsters / Creative Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by Drogo

Essay on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Organic Architecture

Taliesin

Fallingwater

Broadacre City

 

American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, borrowed the word ‘Organic’ from his mentor Louis Sullivan. Wright began expressing his own vision of how organic nature applies to design. He tried to define ‘Organic Architecture’ in words, but the truest expression will always be in his designs and how they relate to the landscape.

 

Taliesin East & West

Frank Lloyd Wright formed the Taliesin Fellowship dedicated to organic design, education, and spiritual theory and practice. It later evolved into the FLW Foundation, and Taliesin Architects continued after Wright’s death. Wright built two small Communities based on his designs and theories. Taliesin East was built first on 600 acres in Wisconsin. Then Taliesin West was built on 600 acres in Arizona. Both developments respected the landscape by leaving much of it natural, while fitting in artistic architecture using site features. Both remained in a constant state of evolution during Wright’s lifetime.

 

Fallingwater

Fallingwater was a unique residence designed by Wright which show-cases his Organic Architecture. The natural organic landscape meets his organic designs above a waterfall. I was awarded a student residency there in high school, and every day for weeks we went down to the cold waters of Bear Run to wake up and begin our sketches and studies. Inside the house, concrete rests on stone, and the woods are seen through generous windows. That house has more of a give and take between the architecture and the landscape (including the water) than most other modern buildings in the World.

 

Broadacre City

Broadacre City was designed to show how various types of buildings should be organized in urban planning, using Organic Architecture. The hypothetical City was 4 square miles and published first in his Disappearing City, 1932 and continued to evolve until his death in 1959. One important rule was that the tallest buildings (sky-scrapers) should have enough open space around them so their shadows do not fall upon other buildings. Another factor was giving most residents one acre to build their own houses based on Usonian models. It was an effort to take the new concept of suburbs to a Utopian extreme by furthering the concept of combining rural and urban while striving to keep the best of both. Broadacre decentralized urban design, and lay grid upon rural country; advocating that the desire for suburban life be fully granted. Mass transportation would still be available at stations, but freedom was maintained through the use of individual vehicles on the roads and in the air.

 

 

Garden Cities by Ebenezer Howard

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Book Reports, Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by Drogo

From the book Garden Cities of To-morrow by Ebenezer Howard 1898, 1902

Ebenezer Howard was a shop keeper’s assistant, farmer, writer, sociologist, and statesman. Howard valued good living conditions, democracy, nature, human rights, and personalities. Osburn and Mumford added notes that introduce, critique, review, and praise Howard. JH Osburn claims Howard may have been influenced by Bellamy’s book Looking Backward. According to Lewis Mumford Howard was also inspired by Spense, Buckingham, Wakefield, George, and Kropotkin. Howard’s narrow building lots were handed down from medieval English dimensions (20 x 130 ft).

Garden Cities of To-morrow begins by describing the “Three Magnets”: Town, Country, and Town-Country. Howard explains why we are attracted to the best of both Town and Country aspects. Town-Country benefits have cooperation, beauty, nature, green fields, green parks, good utilities, good commerce, social opportunity, high wages, low rents, low price rates, and low pollution!

In most chapters, Howard proposes how Garden Cities would function with diagrams. He describes inter-connected urban nodes. Central City is shown with a constellation of satellite micro-cities (garden cities, towns, villages, developments). Garden Cities at their heart have a central garden, with rings of dwellings, shops, roads, industry, fields, and farms. The ordered layout is meant to improve biological, social, economic, and personal life for everyone.

Howard considered some difficulties with analytic self-criticism. He saw the weak points in his plans, and how they might fail. This foresight can allow us to prepare for the worst problems, to better shape designs for the future. He maintained that human ideals are worth trying; quoting Darwin “Selfish and contentious men will not cohere, and without coherence nothing can be accomplished,”. Howard believed that Socialism and Individualism must come together in the future to realize a true, vital organic society and state.

Ebenezer Howard felt that Garden Cities would work, because the plans were based on understanding human nature. He indicated that Urban or Communal failures are a result of the ‘Duality Principle’ (Janus). Ignorance of the Duality Principle allows kindred mistakes, by regarding one principle action to the exclusion of others. Howard believed we are all communists to some degree, even those that shudder at being told this, because we believe in roads, parks, and libraries. Individualism is no less excellent, in his mind, as he compares good society to an orchestra that plays together, but practice separately. Expense, however, always tends to get in the way of progress.

Sir Raymond Unwin worked with Howard. In 1903 they designed and established the first Garden City in England, named ‘Letchworth’. Letchworth proved a success, and in 1919 the second Garden City ‘Welwyn’ was founded. By 1950 the cities had a combined population of over 40,000. The account of their success is given in Purdom’s Building of Satellite Towns. Some key points regarding the study of Garden Cities are: how urban and rural districts connect, health and sanitation, zoning limitations of density and sprawl allowing light, gardens, and leisure, harmony rather than standardization, communications, ownership and cooperative leasing, public freedom and choice of enterprise.

Contemporary critics dismissed “Garden Cities” as more akin to the fantasy of H.G. Wells, than to the realities of urban planning. Despite the critics, Garden Cities of To-morrow is cited in countless planning bibliographies, and provides an organic alternative to bleak industrial future city-scapes. So what happened? Our suburbs in America do not follow his models, although some are better than others. Howard wanted to keep the city, town, and country distinct from each other, unlike amorphous suburban sprawl. He wanted more green around and in cities, by confining and condensing urban development, to keep the country rural, pastoral, and agrarian; yet integrating their foundations for healthy and function living.

“The pathway of any experiment worth achieving, is strewn with failures. Success is, for the most part, built on failure.”  – Ebenezer Howard

“Creative work always arises by the synthesis in one’s mind of material from otherwise unrelated sources…”  – J.H. Osburn