Archive for October, 2010

28
Oct
10

Urban Planning Adventures

I’m at the point in my grad-school experience where I have to put together and carry out a supervised research project. The SRP, as it is more simply known, is a sort of ‘thesis lite’, with less writing but more hands-on work. Having worked in disaster relief and reconstruction in the past, I have decided that I will be going to Haiti for several months to work on a research project related to urban planning and disaster relief.

My planned departure date, at this point, is less than two months away and the amount of work which I still have left to do is considerable. I’ve narrowed my potential field of research down to two ideas… The first has to do with how new technologies can be used to facilitate communication on the ground in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster between local planners and emergency responders, area residents and international experts, while the second relates more to how pre-disaster planning can incorporate the identification of sites for refugee camps, relief and aid infrastructure, and temporary supply warehousing. The aid influx which followed this year’s earthquake wound up bogging down quickly in part due to the lack of up-to-date maps of Haitian cities, plans for the removal and disposal of rubble, and a somewhat haphazard and impromptu establishment of scattered ‘tent cities’ throughout much of Port-au-Prince.

Of course I’m also thinking of carrying out a side project on streetart and graffiti in Haiti. I’ve really been starved for time streetart-wise since this semester began, and the idea of documenting and writing about Haitian street art fascinates me. Then there’s the possibility of a collaboration or two…something to help bring attention back to the situation on the ground.

I’m also planning on setting up a bit of a donation drive to cover project expenses (including transportation costs and vaccinations). I’ll likely be producing a limited-edition small-run multicoloured stencil print (possibly a run of 30 or 40) and putting it up for sale. More updates on this project will follow as things unfold.

e: This is why I love Roadsworth

I’m also hoping for a Posterchild response to Rob Ford’s election

15
Oct
10

Burning Man and some urban planning thoughts

The term ‘Black Rock Desert’ is somewhat of a misnomer. A desert is a hostile, harsh ecosystem wherelife of some sort has managed to adapt and thrive under the sun’s harsh glare and blistering heat. There are no sand dunes and no cacti out in the alkali flats, just cloudless brilliant blue skies and endless clouds of harsh dust that stings your eyes and leaves your lips hardened and chapped. The alkali flats themselves are ringed by a small mountain range that seemed deceptively close and looked, in the morning and afternoon, like something out of a Lawren Harris painting. I had vowed to bring in no more gear than I could carry on my back and in my arms, and so I arrived in a dust storm and freak rain-shower with some one hundred and twenty pounds of, well, stuff. George Carlin famously said that a house is a place for your stuff and stuff is the collected array of things that slowly but surely fill up your house…and a small 7-by-four foot tent would be housing my stuff for the next eight days. Most of this- eighty pounds- was water.

Pictures do not do Burning Man justice. I’ve heard someone say that trying to describe Burning Man to someone who has not been there is like trying to describe the colour red to someone who has never before seen colours. Burning Man, in a way, reminded me of what it is like to walk around wide-eyed and in wonder of everything around one’s self and I’ve done my best to try and take that feeling back home with me. Besides being a research assignment, it was also a meditative exercise. When I left Reno, Nevada there were two major hurricanes in the Atlantic south of Bermuda threatening the U.S. east coast, the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall was being commemorated, and talking heads on the major American news networks were chattering on about the NYC Islamic Center controversy and the upcoming Congressional and Senate elections. Being in a total communications technology blackout for eight days gave me a chance to think about urbanism, street art and life in general with only my surroundings for inspiration.

to be continued with more from Burning Man and some thoughts on what I’ve been reading recently and the current state of our cities. New streetart update coming soon… and for you Canadians out there, this awesome book is out in bookstores tomorrow! This is definitely on my reading list this month.





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