Elements of your Section 5 Post

This closing Section 5 will be presented in class as a PowerPoint presentation.  Each group will be allotted 20 minutes – we will have 3 groups present on Monday May 1 and 3 groups present on Wednesday May 3.  I would like each person in your group to present part of this.  Spend about 15 minutes making your presentation, so that we have about 5 minutes for Q&A.  This is how a typical conference presentation works.

Your final presentation should have a few parts:

(1) You will briefly summarize your postings from Sections 1 through 4.  You may use one or two slides for each past Section.

(2) Then key in on the final part, what I’ve been calling Section 5, “The [Object] Puzzle”.  It should include elements from two parts of a typical Chapter 9 through 17 in our textbook:  (a) the closing “The [Object] Puzzle” section and (b) the “The puzzle of [object]” part that concludes each “A Short History of [Object]” section.  Look at these in those chapters for ideas and format.  Present this in an appropriate number of slides.

(3) I want you to provide up to 5 key “Future Reading” citations for your audience to go find if they are interested in your object.  These can be things you have already cited in your Section 1-4 postings, and can be from any type of source.  This could be your concluding slide.

Visuals are important, which I’ve overloaded you with this semester.  Photos, graphs, whatever that can help you make your argument.

In the end, you want your audience (your fellow students and me) to *care about* your object as an environment-society relation.   As part of your “The [Object] Puzzle”, provide some take-away points to make us care.  Raise questions that probably can’t be answered now but will make us think about the future of the object.

Remember that what you present should be more than the rhetoric we often see from those constructing some way of thinking for us – it should be based well-grounded reasoning with regard to the importance of environment and society.



Reclaiming our streets, reducing emissions, & rediscovering places: Why we should never stop walking and where it will take us

“Today we begin to see that the improvement of cities
is no matter for small one-sided reforms:
the task of city design involves the vaster task of rebuilding our civilization.”

In the Culture of Cities, early urbanist, Lewis Mumford, wrote of urban planning and its relations with problems in society. A poorly designed city is assumed to be detrimental to the quality of man and civilization itself. He critiques sprawl and argues that the planning of cities are more successful when an organic relationship is adopted between people and their living spaces. Although his statements may be bold, it has everything to do with the issues we face today. The role of walkability in a world that cannot stop driving is that it can solve some today’s most pressing issues. Throughout this blog, it has been known that if a city gets walkability right, the rest will follow; get people walking and the city will start to see improvements in the quality of its health, wealth, and sustainability.

Reclaiming Our Streets
Formative to the planning of the current American city, the automobile has additionally brought a wealth of independence; mobility increased convenience and people were at the leisure of personal cars. What came next was sprawl, which has severely blemished the American landscape; urban populations dwindled as more people made the decision to move further out, segregation grew as neighborhoods amassed people of similar socio-economic households, and obesity has threatened the health of many as walking has become a rarity.
At what point did the pedestrian become forgotten? It was around the 1970’s that Portland began to deviate from the rest of the country. While Portland was investing in roads in favor of non-motorized transport, every other city in America was investing in infrastructure for personal cars. It was then that Portland established an urban growth boundary that prevented what the rest of the country was experiencing, which is sprawl. It is about time that we reclaim our downtowns and the patchwork of streets that connect networks of people. Containing sprawl and centralizing the places we live and thrive in can finally mean that we are ready to reintroduce walkability into our lives. Only then can we truly have a chance at reclaiming our streets and ultimately resolving problems our society is confronted with today.

Reducing Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions threaten the health of people and the earth. In order to mitigate its effects on global climate change, it is crucial to understand the implications human activity has on the earth. Global greenhouse gas emissions are divided into three main sectors – energy, transport, and manufacturing & construction. The mapping of carbon tons per household shows heated areas over suburban regions and cooler areas over urban cities. According to a UC Berkeley study in 2014, the average carbon footprint of urban households is fifty percent below the national average, while suburban households make up twice the national average. Part of this can be attributed to denser housing and investments made in infrastructure for cleaner transportation. What makes an urban system operable is the way people move and go about their daily routines. The cleanest way of moving is by walking. Thus, by relying less on motorized transport, walkable cities become the most health and environmentally conscious cities.

Rediscovering Places
Danish urbanist, Jan Gehl, has been studying the psychology of cities for nearly fifty years. He argues that although we do evolve as a civilization, we all remain as homo sapiens. No matter how much we adapt, we still have the same aspirations. That is why cities such as Rome and Venice have worked and are still working. They were cities established before the birth of the automobile; they were established for people. Try making your way through Venice with a car and see how far that will take you until you hit water. Walkability is nothing new – it is a means of transport that has stood the test of time. Learning from cites such as Venice, we are able to understand how people use cities, streets, and public spaces. Do the same for cities back in the states – see how people use and move through cities. So much of our cities are waiting to be unraveled. Remember the people and the memory of the place will come after.

Why Walkability
Writings on the American city were covered through the work of Jane Jacobs. Her philosophy was pivotal in changing how urban planners viewed their role in an age of massive sprawl. Fast forward a couple of decades where we are met by Jeff Speck. Going a step further than Jacobs, Speck challenges urban planners to alter the way the rest of the country views their role in an age where we are continuing to sprawl. At this point, we do not need to rethink the way we move. Many of us have never given up on the idea of walkability; it is in our nature. There is agency in walkability and it is as ripe of a time as any that we see that there be changes to be made. People have always been the biggest supporters of cities; get enough of us involved and the politicians will start to reciprocate.

Brammer, Mikki. “Q&A: Jan Gehl on Making Cities Healthier and the Real Meaning of Architecture.” Metropolis Magazine, 11 Aug. 2015.
Chapter 4: Sustainable Urban Transport. Shanghai Manual – A Guide for Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century. United Nations.
Robert Sanders. “Suburban Sprawl Cancels Carbon-footprint Savings of Dense Urban Cores.” Berkeley News. University of California Berkeley, 09 July 2015.
Song, Lily. “Jan Gehl on the Politics of Transforming Cities.” Planetizen, 28 Sept. 2016.

Closing: A Commitment we Need to Make to the World, Now!

Just to recap my previous blog posts, I mainly spoke about the biggest problem most African countries have been facing when it comes to the availability of clean water. It was also very important to see the diseases related to a lack of clean water. These included diarrhea and cholera just to name a few. We also got the opportunity to learn more about the importance of sanitation and hygiene. Providing clean water own its own won’t break the cycle of people being contaminated when drinking polluted water. They also have to be educated about hygiene and sanitation. In this blog post, I want to leave you with the idea of becoming more concerned about others that are being affected by something that isn’t necessarily affecting you. We need to realize that providing clean water and sanitation isn’t only an African problem, it’s a global problem.


It is very clear that the main solution to this problem is finding funds to provide clean water and also educating the people living in that community on hygiene. The main problem is that many financial donors want quick results. This is possible when providing clean water, but when it comes to sanitation, it requires separating human waste from drinking water, as well from the environment as well. “In Africa alone, universal access to water and sanitation would bring an estimated annual economic benefit of $22 billion, and African women particularly benefit from such increased access.” Reducing the distance to a water source, women are also given the opportunity to be self-empowered, especially when it comes to young girls who spend over 4 hours travelling to fetch water. “Studies have shown that with clean water and accessible toilet facilities, girl school enrollment rates would increase by over 15%.” This would be a huge step for African countries and as the continent as a whole, because that would mean more people could work towards improving their countries economy and also provide for their families. Currently, hundreds of millions of people are still living without safe drinking water, but I am hopeful that we will find a solution. It might not be something that will happen in the blink of an eye, but it will depend on people coming together and choosing to invest in projects like building latrines, toilets, providing soap and also building taps.

Thus, it is also important to remember that the person who wrote this blog is from African, but that doesn’t mean we are the only ones having this problem. There are so many other countries around the world going through the exact same problem, or perhaps even worse problems. For example in India over 626 million Indian citizens defecate outdoors, which leads to them currently having the highest number of deaths of children under the age of five. So it is important to work together to help those that cant help themselves. Governments need to step in and investors should not be ashamed of investing their money in toilets and latrines.

I want to close my blog post with one of my favorite quotes: “We have the ability to provide clean water for every man, woman and child on the Earth. What has been lacking is the collective will to accomplish this. What are we waiting for? This is the commitment we need to make to the world, now.” – Jean-Michel Cousteau


Photo Source: https://freegankolektiva.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/water-is-not-a-product-it-is-a-basic-good/

Text Source: http://inweh.unu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Hygiene-Sanitation-and-Water-What-needs-to-be-done.pdf