Sinica Geography 400
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In the Shadows of the High Line

In the Shadows of the High Line | Sinica Geography 400 | Scoop.it
The High Line has become a tourist-clogged catwalk and a catalyst for some of the most rapid gentrification in the city’s history.

 

Earlier I have posted about the High Line, a project in NYC to transform an old elevated train line into a public green space. This project has fallen under criticism as the property values of homes below the High Line have risen and the neighborhood is undergoing gentrification. Linked is the NYTimes opinion article that critiques the High Line as a “Disneyfied tourist-clogged catwalk.” This project has change the economic profile of the neighborhood and its sense of place and communal identity. The critic’s blog is (self-described) “a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct,” so he is naturally going to be against anything that at changes the historic character of the city. As geographer Matthew Hartzell has said, “to say that nothing should change is an awfully conservative view of urbanity. Cities evolve—neighborhoods evolve.” This is a good article to share with students to get them to think about the economic and cultural issues associated with urban revitalization projects and the impacts they have on the city.


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

The issue of gentrification is always a sensitive topic.  I personally have never been a "victim" of planning that would displace my home or anything of the sort, though an idea to help a neighborhood should always be evaluated and considered.  As other members stated before, this could actually be beneficial to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods by giving them an area still in the city, but unique to them as well.  Green spaces, parks, any areas with greenery that acts as a meeting place have been proven to lighten communities as an attempt to bring people together and even reduce crime.  There will always be people that will complain about projects such as this, but in the end if it shapes the existing community into a better place overall, it should at least be given a chance.

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James Hobson's curator insight, September 15, 2014 6:07 PM

(North America topic 4)
I was surprised to find out how projects such as the High Line could raise strong oppositional viewpoints. Before looking into this topic it seemed like an all-around beneficial project. Delving deeper, however, the unseen consequences of revitalization and gentrification (2 major keywords right there!) become more apparent. Also at this level it is important to note that what is "good" vs. "bad" becomes much less objective, but rather mainly subjective and viewable in many different lights.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, September 25, 2014 5:55 PM

I found this article extremely insightful, a first hand account of how gentrification affects the lives of those who witness their community changing to suit the needs of people who can bring revenue in for the city. Also it shows how well-intentioned grassroots efforts to improve a neighborhood can be high jack by those who see the potential to make money. In the beginning the idea to take this unused high line and convert it into a public green space seemed like a terrific way to take the landscape of the neighborhood and convert it into a public good that reflected the community in which it existed. The railway was covered in graffiti with a "wild urban meadow", if I lived in that community I would have supported making it a public space because it showed my communities creativity and culture. Unfortunately, the policy makers in NYC saw a way to bring tourist in with a new trendy hot spot. They covered the graffiti, erasing the communities imprint on the high line. The NYC government used the walk way as a means to increase revenue and in doing so they over crowded the neighborhood making no room for those who were already living under the rail. What is even more striking is that these gentrification efforts even lead to the rezoning of West Chelsea so they could build luxury developments and destroy existing buildings. This public space started out as a great communal asset that was perverted through gentrification.

Timothée Mariau's curator insight, December 12, 2015 8:14 PM

Cet article parle d'un cas particulier que constitue la High Line dans le West-Side à Manhattan. Cette High Line est une ancienne voie ferrée aérienne de Manhattan qui a été transformée en parc dans la fin des années 2000. L'auteur critique ici l'impact que l'installation de ce parc urbain a pu avoir sur le quartier. Il montre qu'il y a eu une certaine forme de gentrification dans le quartier qui était auparavant un quartier représentant la mixité sociale de Manhattan ( avec des populations ouvrières qui travaillait dans les abattoirs du quartier et des classes moyennes supérieures). Aujourd'hui le prix de l'immobilier a explosé du fait de l'attraction que constitue ce parc aérien du point de vue touristique mais aussi au niveau de la qualité des conditions de vie. Cette attractivité a amené une élite économique dans le quartier au détriment des anciens habitants et propriétaires de boutiques qui ont été obligés de partir dans d'autres quartiers du fait de l'explosion du coût de la vie dans le quartier. Cela montre bien en quoi un projet urbain comme la réhabilitation de la High Line peut avoir une influence sur le quartier ( en favorisant l'attractivité touristique, économique et résidentielle) et comment une partie de la population se sent lésée suite à l'élaboration du projet et des changements que le quartier a subi.



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Unusual ways to avoid Jakarta's traffic

Unusual ways to avoid Jakarta's traffic | Sinica Geography 400 | Scoop.it
Jakarta's traffic is legendary and locals have now become experts at finding ways to get around the jams, with some even making money out of them.

 

The population of Indonesia is heavily concentrated on the island of Java, and the capital city of Jakarta faces a tremendous strain on it's transportation network.  This video show that resourceful people will find inventive ways to make an unworkable situation manageable. 


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

I thought Interstate-95 was bad, but this is a whole other level.  Locally when people have to wait 15-30 minutes in traffic, it's a nightmare.  In Jakarta, if you told them the same thing it would be a national holiday.  The population growth not only of the people, but of the automobiles have obviously gotten out of hand and people simply need to get to work, and on time.  It's no wonder that there are various rules being bent or broken to try and keep the flow moving as smooth as possible.

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 2:35 PM

The amount of traffic in Jakarta is staggering and the traffic itself has built up a business of making commuting to work easier. What is troubling is that the government hasn't made enough of an effort to fix the problem of traffic in its largest and most economically viable city. If Jakarta wants to keep growing the government has to step in and find a way to make getting to work realistic for Indonesians.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 15, 2014 9:38 PM

The traffic in Jakarta is insane, to be in a constant standstill on your way to work is unreal. The reporter in the video says that if the city of Jakarta continues on its current path, it could be "in a state of Paralysis" which for an entire city is not good. The traffic has, for some, become a way to make money, illegally but money nonetheless.

Kendra King's curator insight, April 13, 2015 9:01 PM

Humans instinctively look to profit when the situation arises, this is one of those situations. The government implemented regulations that barely seem to manage the traffic jams, i.e. having 3 people per car. Since people do have to work and may not always be able to meet the requirements, others have started making a living as a “jockey,” an individual who offers to ride in a car so the 3 people limit is met. Doing this is considered illegal. Yet, there aren’t good enough jobs for people to work (otherwise they won’t be a jockey) and those who do work can’t seem to always follow the rule without it harming there work life.  Plus, more police now turn their attention towards these people thereby deterring them away from their other duties. I realize that the state probably never intended these consequences to happen, but now that it is I really wonder just how useful this law really is. One thing is certain though, without better planning or economic innovation by the government, the jams will continue to happen.

 

I find it odd that the people keep staying despite the major traffic problem. As one interviewee mentioned. I guess as long as you can find ways to stay productive and still receive enough compensation, the time spend in traffic isn't enough of a hassle for them. As someone who has enough economic opportunity with far less wait time in traffic though, I would find this situation unbearable. Clearly, this isn't that case though. So, I am not sure of the immediate solution. As we learned in class, the government tried transmigration. This just lead to more problems. It was then suggested that the type of opportunity. If that is the case though, what should the government do now? Waiting for a more natural economic opportunity to get the people out of Jakarta won't happen quick enough to curb the increasing population growth. Therefore the strain on the infrastructure will continue because the population's carrying capacity is exceeded. Whatever the answers, I think this would be a great case study for urban planning and the impact raising car dependency has on a society as this driving nightmare shows just how important planning is with more cars. 

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Venice sinking five times faster than thought?

Venice sinking five times faster than thought? | Sinica Geography 400 | Scoop.it

Venice, by virtue of its geographic situation will always be sinking as a course of nature.  A research team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the UCSD has recently concluded that Venice is sinking 2 millimeters per year...not catastrophic on a single year basis, but threatens the long-term viability and sustainability of the location. 

 

Urban ecology: what economic forces created the rationale for building Venice?  What environmental factors are currently threatening it?  Will economic or environmental forces win out? Location: do the economic advantages of a location outweigh the environmental liabilities of the location?  How do these competing factors influence the development of a city?  For additional information on this story see: http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-venice-hasnt.html


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

Day to day, even looking into next year the rate of 2 millimeters per year may not seem drastic.  To a city that has been around for hundreds of years, it's assumed the city plans to stay standing for hundreds more.  Considering the age of the city, say in a couple hundred more years, some buildings could begin to take in water.  It is also possible that certain parts of the city could be sinking faster than others.  There is a similar situation in Mexico City where it was built on a lake and each year that source diminishes due to the demand of water by its residents.  Certain parts of the city are sinking and some buildings are slanted due to the results.  These cities are beautiful  but reality shows that as time passes, it will probably only get worse.  Hopefully preventions can be taken to at least reduce the speed of sinking so that people after us can appreciate the architecture and atmosphere the city has provided all these years.

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Paige McClatchy's curator insight, October 6, 2013 9:27 PM

So not only is Mexico City sinking, but Venice is as well, and five times faster than we thought at that. If the heart of an urban, sprawling city becomes completely destroyed what changes will be made to the outlying areas? Will they break up into multiple, smaller districts each with a central area? Where will the rich who used to reside in the heart move to?

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 12:11 PM

Venice is a city that capitalized on its geography and developed canals so the city could grow despite being so close to sea level. Now that sea levels are rising, Venice is in trouble because its survival is dependent on the water levels, as they become out of control Venice will not be able to withstand the change. There are similar circumstances like in the Maldives where global warming and rising sea levels will put entire countries under water.

Kendra King's curator insight, February 15, 2015 6:58 PM

As you mentioned in class, we are living on constantly moving land features. In the case of Venice, the water is moving in on the city so it is actually sinking and has been for quite some time. What is new to the equation is that it might be sinking “five times more than” originally “calculated or “7.8 inches every hundred years.” I say might be because there are others who quibble about this new find, saying it is inaccurate. Also, there is a damn project in the works to try and combat the sinking. While I am happy that the city is working on slowing the process, I am curious to know what their solution is going to be when the city finally does go under. As I was reading this all I could think of was saving all the rich art and history that this Italian city is famous for. In some ways it is great that the city knows ahead of time that it is sinking because they have time to plan a way to save the important aspects of the city. On another hand though, the city is so below sea level that a natural disaster could cause far more damage than anyone could have foreseen. I just hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon because Venice is definitely on my bucket list.  

 

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Giant outdoor escalator built in Colombian shantytown

What impact will this escalator have on this poor neighborhood?  Was this a wise use of funds?  If you had $7 million to invest in a shantytown with the goal of revitalizing the neighborhood and benefiting the lives of the residents, how would you spend these funds? 


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

This is a different approach to trying to revitalize a community.  Usually a park or other community center is put in place, yet I feel this escalator will produce less blatant results.  Imagine you work in the valley during the day, but your home is all the way up the hill...  Having to walk up and down each day, in between alleys and around various homes would certainly be a big reason for emotional and physical stress.  These escalators would reduce all of that time and effort by great amounts.  Putting them in place leaves extra time for people to get up and down the hills, all while reducing stress levels.  When people are stressed, they do crazy things.  If a little part of someone's day goes from being completely uncomfortable to being content, that much of a change can go a long way and even help get the community in the right direction.

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 20, 2014 11:20 AM

This escalator seems like a waste of money. I understand that it will make life easier for the locals and possible cut down crime. But I feel with $7 million the government is choosing to attack the symptoms of living in the shantytown rather than treating the cause of inequalities. Perhaps they could have opened up local markets, started some sort of commercially viable industry, or help educate citizens that could provide the community members with a way to get out of poverty rather than.just making it easier to live in these shantytowns.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 7:09 PM

This is an interesting idea simply because of the discussion that can arise from it. Would the construction of this escalator actually benefit the people living within the slum to any foreseeable degree? On one hand some claim that yes it will have a positive impact as it could cut back on the number at attacks and muggings of those stopping to catch their breath as well as simply allowing them to conserve energy. While those on the other side of the issue say that the benefit the escalator my bring doesn't out weigh the cost of building it. Simply throwing money at a situation like this wont actually bring any relief. 

Kendra King's curator insight, February 8, 2015 4:40 PM

I sincerely believe that was a waste of money. Sure people can now get out of the area in “6 minutes” instead of “30 minutes” which, as was mentioned in class, can get people out of the area so as to get to jobs quicker. However what good does that really do in the grand scheme of things? Do the citizens still have poor jobs? Are their homes unsafe? Are there still sanitation issues? I am pretty sure the answer is yes, to all of the above. Clearly, these issues are more pressing than an escalator. So even if investing in an area can benefit a population, I think the improvement could have been greater because there are other more pressing needs of the area where the money could have been invested. 

 

I am actually surprised people were happy with the new addition. Given that it was a short clip, not all sides were seen. However, I feel that once people get over the novelty of the new toy and back to the reality of their everyday situation tensions could raise. Especially if the outdoor elevator breaks down, which is bound to happen given its exposure to mother nature, as the escalator just adds more of  a maintenance cost in a place that doesn't seem to have money. It wouldn't surprise me if people were later angered by the addition. In fact, I am actually surprised their wasn't protests that stopped the escalator from being built in the first place.  

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2014 World Cup: Will Brazil Be Ready?

ESPN Video: With the FIFA World Cup two years away, will Brazil be ready to host soccers premiere event?

 

This short sports documentary (12 minutes) looks at some of the socioeconomic and urban planning issues that are a part of the logistics for a country to prepare for a sporting event on the magnitude of the World Cup.  The discussion of demolitions in the favelas (squatter settlements) is especially intriguing.  Major sporting events of this magnitude that last for two weeks can reshape local geographic patterns for decades.  

 

Tags: sport, Brazil, planning, squatter.


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

I know my soccer, and I know Brazil knows its soccer considering the country has one of the richest histories in the world.  The nation eats, sleeps, and breathes the beautiful game and to host a World Cup right now is immaculate timing.  Some of the best players (possibly ever) in the world would be playing next year, all from star-studded nations.  The forecast for this spectacle will surely be one of the best in history, but that's if it all goes to plan.  There's been many videos and articles of Brazil coming into more problems than solutions.  Repairing and even building new stadiums have set back schedules and have even angered many locals.  In some cities, there have been cases of gentrification, places such as favelas have fell victim.  Being such a passionate fan of the sport, it's almost upsetting that all of these people are being misplaced to house the tournament which has been anxiously waited on since 2010.  The main picture says it all with the three hands covered in blood...  A nation which cares so much about a sport, where it is a way of life and prosperity, is in fact doing more harm than good in some areas.  In the end I hope Brazil can get back on schedule, and leave as little people harmed in the process so the world can enjoy one of the greatest sporting events come summer of 2014.

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Ashley Raposo's curator insight, December 19, 2013 12:16 AM

The World Cup is getting closer and all eyes are on Brazil. The Favelas are seeing the worst of it. To improve their country for it's soon to be influx of tourists, the Favelas are going through practically forced renovations. Not to mention safety hazards in Brazil are being pushed to the limits with the building anf remidelling of the soccer stadiums. Just last month 2 construction workers part of the rebuilding were killed by an accident. The question is especially true. Will Brazil be ready? Soccer fans around the globe sure hope so.

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Dhaka: fastest growing megacity in the world

A five-part, multimedia series on the coming dystopia that is urbanization.

 

This is a great introduction to the explosion of the slums within megacities.  This video as a part of the article is especially useful.   Click on the title to read the accompanying article.


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

I recently did a project on the topic of megacities in the past, present, and future and how the natural risks they posed.  In past decades there was Tokyo, New York City, or even Mexico City.  I also covered present cities such as Shangai and Los Angeles to name a few.  The city that basically topped the growth charts in my statistics was Dhaka.  The city literally is growing like a chia pet, but with no direct plan or proper use of land.  According to future calculations, the city of Dhaka can reach roughly 23 million by 2025, that's about 600,000 new people coming in every year up until that point.  This video is just an example of how poorly planned this megacity is, and what the future holds for all of the people living there.  It's simply chaos.  There are already squatter settlements and unorganized living conditions for the current residents, picturing the population to grow even more is outrageous!

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Meagan Harpin's curator insight, November 20, 2013 11:43 AM

The city of Dhaka has experienced a massivie boom in population. Both the rich and the poor are flowing into this city causing many problems that all complain the government is ignoring instead of fixing. The city is very inefficient, with traffic so bad that it is costing the city millions of dollars. There are frequent water shortages resulting in protests in the streets. There is much infrastructure throughout the city as well. But it is also represents a sense of hope to the people that are coming in and moving into the slums, that with the better jobs and money they will be able to get they can better provide for themselves or their family.

Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, April 6, 2014 11:23 PM

Dhaka is the fastest growing city in the world, as rich and poor people move to the city everyday. So many poor people are moving here due to the fact there is no other place worth living in Bangladesh. The city is facing many problems, such as lack of traffic signals, minimal clean drinking water for residents and horrible housing for many people. However, some feel the city’s slums offer the best chance for an improved life.   

Sarah Cannon's curator insight, December 14, 2015 10:48 AM

There is a lot of poverty and pollution in Dhaka. The demands for energy and water are high in Dhaka as well. I personally don't see how these people and migrants can live in such a polluted and dirty place and the reason why I can't imagine living in such a place is because I never have. I'm lucky enough to not experience poverty and I greatly appreciate  my life and home. Hopefully things improve in Dhaka and places like Dhaka. Hopefully there will be less pollution and poverty in the future any where in the world.

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In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup

In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup | Sinica Geography 400 | Scoop.it
An unfinished skyscraper occupied by squatters is a symbol of Venezuela’s financial crisis in the 1990s, state control of the economy and a housing shortage.

 

This skyscraper that was once a symbol of wealth, in an incredible paradigm shift, has now become is occupied by squatters. The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents--especially with problems in the rural countryside. A complex web of geographic factors needs to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation. The video link "Squatters on the Skyline" embedded in the article is a must see.


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

This is the epitome of improvisation.  These people had come into troubles of trying to make a better living for themselves, and their last option was to live in the skyscraper.  Astonishingly, when residents were questioned there was a positive outlook on the building and the people in it which is actually surprising.  At first glance, this skyscraper would seem like a free-for-all and be ridden with crime considering there is no regulations or authority within its walls.  Yet that wasn't the case for this particular complex.  The residents show diversity and a community-like approach to living next to one another.  Toilet systems and water was set up all on their own and being able to develop a system with no real authority or government figures is great.  It shows that when people work together and keep calm by simply trying to survive with as little trouble as possible, good things can happen.  This is a good model for other areas and countries with "squatter" housing developments.

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Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 5:34 PM

The video we watched of the squatters living in an unfinished skyscraper was unlike anything I've ever seen before. In a country with such high population rates and a housing shortage, people have gotten creative and made homes in this 45 story building where they share what would have been office spaces and bathrooms.  Over 2,500 people have moved into the dilapidated skyscraper and made a home out of it for their families. They have rigged electricity that the government does not provide for them and built small stores on almost every floor.  The people have not been evicted because the government of Venezuela knows of the housing shortages, yet does not fix it.  

I feel ashamed that a country with so many oil resources has such high rates of poverty and no one is fixing it.  It shows the corruption in the government through an extreme although innovative example.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, February 17, 2014 10:46 AM

The problems in Venezuela with housing and the lack of response to the problem by the government has led people to become squatters.  The using of the abandoned buildings was a good idea by the original squatters.  The vacant buildings can house many of the countries it is a shame that the government did not think of this solution to the housing problem and vacant building first, if they had, they could have made sure they were safer for the residence.  The idea of a vertical city springing up in this building is also an interesting one.  Not only are squatters living in these buildings but creating businesses and other services for the residence.

Jess Deady's curator insight, February 18, 2014 1:02 PM

In life, I constantly find myself comparing situations with what I read and what I know. Imagine this skyscraper is the Prudential in Boston. How could something meant to be so great fall to its death (and to peoples literal deaths)? One day there is a massive financial building occupied with bankers and lavishness. The next day there is a skyscraper in the form of a house. Housing shortages are happening everywhere and Venezuela is being hit hard in this situation. Imagine visiting this country and asking where someone lives? "Oh, I live in the Tower of David, which used to mean a whole lot more."

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Bridging the Digital Divide

This is an inspiring project that seeks to elevate poor slum-dwelling Indians by providing educational resources to children.  As free computer terminals are made available, their literacy skills soar and possibilities are widened.  Visit the projects homepage at: http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/ ;


Via Seth Dixon
Brett Sinica's insight:

As a child, most of us probably didn't particularly learn through technology or computers but through other hands on methods.  In these slums, getting school supplies which we are fortunate to have may not be so easy.  There are just so many people and living conditions make it harder for each child to be benefit equally.  That being said, these computers just might benefit the youth in the long run.  It might not be traditional, or even equal at times yet it is a type of improvisation that can probably be helpful.  In the video you could see the kids waiting in line, wanting to use the touchscreen, wanting to learn.  It is an abstract approach to education, but with the growth and diversity, it just might work effectively.

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Lisa Fonseca's comment, November 27, 2011 9:51 PM
I think the hole in the wall program is a positive outcome for the children. They are learning to work cooperatively with others. They are also learning to play and work with programs that are used frequently in other areas of the world. These children may not have resources to teach them vocabulary, or phonics, or the alphabet but with these computers that are able to learn. As they learn they can then teach others, it is has a great educational value to help later in their lives. These children also get to see other parts of the world. They don't just see their world of poverty but it will also get them to think and view life with more light and better views.
Seth Dixon's comment, November 29, 2011 5:50 PM
This is a fantastic program that I'm excited to hear about...education for the disenfranchised is one of the best vehicles for positive social change.
Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 16, 2014 8:15 AM

In the United States we take for granted the resources that are so easily accessed like computers. In this poor neighborhood in India, a computer was put in a wall and the children taught themselves how to use the computer. These slum kids don't have the tools needed to get out of poverty. Given them these computers may seem like a drop of water in the bucket but it is an important step.