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Jersey City, a Photo Essay

1 Aug

If you had to portray Jersey City in only a dozen photographs, what photos would you choose? I took a crack at that this morning and failed. It took me sixteen photos. Here they are, with light commentary.

* * * * *

jersey city from governors island.jpg

I think of that as a Chamber of Commerce shot, or a postcard shot. It’s slick, bright, and cheery. But it’s also real. That’s the Jersey City that’s been getting all the attention, the Jersey City of Big Money high-rise buildings on the waterfront.

This is Jersey City from the other side:

urban jumble.jpg

When you drive into downtown Jersey City heading to New York City by way of the Holland Tunnel, that blither of signs is what greets and guides you. For tens and hundreds of thousands of commuters and travelers, that’s all there is to Jersey City.

And this Jersey City is hidden to most, but it’s near to my heart:

empty sleeping platform 10AM.jpg

The graffiti is first class and, like almost all graffiti, it’s transient (as are we). Some homeless men got embroiled in a conflict several months later and set fire to one another’s stuff (see it there in front of the wall?). These pieces were badly burned and are now underneath several more layers of paint. Continue reading

I Want to Be a Mayor – NYTimes.com

30 Jul

Smaller is better.

In fact, if you want to be an optimist about America today, stand on your head. The country looks so much better from the bottom up — from its major metropolitan areas — than from the top down. Washington is tied in knots by Republican-led hyperpartisanship, lobbyists and budget constraints. Ditto most state legislatures. So the great laboratories and engines of our economy are now our cities. This is the conclusion of an important new book by the Brookings Institution scholars Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, entitled: “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.”

via I Want to Be a Mayor – NYTimes.com.

How I Found a Home in Jersey City and Got Steve Fulop Elected Mayor, Part 2

17 Jul

By the end of the first part of this essay I’d made my way to Jersey City and bought a point-and-shoot camera. Jersey City was where I lived, but not my home. I had no home, unless it would be the virtual world of intellectual activity.

What that camera allowed me to do was to connect my intellectual world to Jersey City itself. It’s not merely that Jersey City is where I live and so where I conduct that intellectual activity, but that Jersey City itself became the subject of that intellectual activity. And more.

It’s 2004 and I return from my conference in Chicago with a camera full of photographs of Millennium Park. I turned them into an online exhibit that my friend (and one-time teacher) Bruce Jackson put online as a working paper. And I shelved the camera. Except every now and then I’d get it out and walk around taking photos, mostly of this and that.

In the Fall of 2006 I decided to photograph signs: street signs, billboards, signs on cars, storefronts, and, of course, graffiti tags, which were plentiful.

dumpster with tags.jpg

I decided they might be particularly interesting. After all, this mural was just across the street from my apartment:

jj-elephunt.jpg

What if there were more like that? Continue reading

Ideas to Bolster Power Grid Run Up Against the System’s Many Owners – NYTimes.com

16 Jul

Our current power grid is a balkanized mess owned and operated by 500 different entities. It needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. But we also need to allow for resilience at the local level so individual communities will have their own power from renewables sources.

For now, engineers in the grid redesign project have determined that conducting business as usual between 2010 and 2030 would require $18.5 billion in new transmission lines in the United States, while a system designed to integrate renewables like wind energy on a large scale would cost $115.2 billion. In some places, however, renewables could cut electricity costs by allowing the replacement of high-cost generators with lower-cost ones.

The technology, the engineering skill and even the money are all available, experts say, but the ability to reach agreement on such a grid is not. Dozens of experts said in interviews that there were simply too many players, both commercial and governmental, and too many conflicting interests.

via Ideas to Bolster Power Grid Run Up Against the System’s Many Owners – NYTimes.com.

Math Models Seek to Prevent Network Failures | Simons Foundation

8 May

There’s a mathematical form to systems too big to succeed:

Three years ago, Stanley and his colleagues discovered the mathematics behind what he calls “the extreme fragility of interdependency.” In a system of interconnected networks like the economy, city infrastructure or the human body, their model indicates that a small outage in one network can cascade through the entire system, touching off a sudden, catastrophic failure.

First reported in 2010 in the journal Nature, the finding spawned more than 200 related studies, including analyses of the nationwide blackout in Italy in 2003, the global food-price crisis of 2007 and 2008, and the “flash crash” of the United States stock market on May 6, 2010.

“In isolated networks, a little damage will only lead to a little more,” said Shlomo Havlin, a physicist at Bar-Ilan University in Israel who co-authored the 2010 paper. “Now we know that because of dependency between networks, you can have an abrupt collapse.”

via Math Models Seek to Prevent Network Failures | Simons Foundation.

New seasons with new names – Roger Ebert’s Journal

20 Mar

Reget Ebert has seen lots of documentaries about global warming, and he’s scared.

Sally Potter’s new film centers on two teenage British girls (Elle Fanning and Alice Englert ) who get involved in the Ban the Bomb movement at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. I remember that time. On a weekday afternoon, Soviet warships bearing missiles were approaching a line drawn in the sea by President Kennedy. If they crossed it, JFK had vowed retaliation. Would our missiles take flight? Would the Soviet bloc Would there be war? We felt so powerless. Craning my neck to see over the heads of the crowd, I was jammed into the front lounge of the University YMCA. At a time like that you do not–you cannot–want to be alone.

This time the line has not been drawn on a map. This time the enemy, if we can use the word in this context, is an American lobbyist group. They seem focused on maximizing profits and shareholder benefits, at the cost of any environmental conscience. It seems possible that their policies will lead to a different kind of seasonal calendar. Instead of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, this new generation will know Blizzard, Flood, Heat and Fire. Month follows month as the seasons tear themselves apart.

via New seasons with new names – Roger Ebert’s Journal.

Why Victory Gardens Still Matter — Bonnie Plants

22 Feb

We need our own gardens so we can be victorious against agri-business.

Today, people are gardening for all sorts of victories: saving money, sharing with others, teaching themselves or their kids a skill, fighting hunger, promoting physical well-being, helping the environment. Gardening is the perfect cause and the perfect solution to many personal and larger-scale issues. Gardening is victory!

via Why Victory Gardens Still Matter — Bonnie Plants.

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