A New American Geography | By: Zak Dinh

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America’s status as the number one nation on Earth is waning. Americans are working harder than ever, yet our prosperity is declining. The idealization of more prosperous past has been growing, its manifestation and most recognizable slogan “Make America Great Again” is largely a glorification of mid-20th century America. A nuanced perspective is that America during that era contained inequality, racism, and environmental degradation: issues that have always underlined American history, and continue to be issues today.

However, ther|e is some truth to the idealization of this time period. The mid-20th century marked major milestones in American history. This was an optimistic era. America had not only survived the Great Depression but also became the de facto world leader at the end of World War II. These events saw the growing strength and consolidation of power at the Federal level. Importantly, trust in America, in the Federal system of government was high.

The mid-20th century was a time where the support for the federal government, and general post-war optimism generated the support for large-scale, government led initiatives aimed to improve the quality of life in America. The New Deal (1933), Federal Housing Administration (1934), Social Security (1935), Federal Aid Highway Act (1956), Environmental Protection Agency (1970), and other federal initiatives were decisive acts that improved the quality of life in America.

A bulk of these programs were focused on the construction of public infrastructure: roads, transit systems, water, power, utility infrastructure, public amenities like national parks, and housing projects. The vision of this era was to build the America of the future. Today’s current landscape, the suburbanized landscape of single-family homes connected by highways is the result of these programs.

Federal programs had monumental influence for the development of the United States and led to the prosperity for a large segment of Americans. However, to make clear, these programs were not at all successful in elevating the lives of all Americans. Today, America is divided, as America always has been. The concentration of poverty in both urban and rural areas of the country is the result of failure in federal policy. The segregation of Americans by race and income is a result of failure in federal policy.

This brief explanation of American history is to introduce several conclusions. First, those who feel nostalgia for a former grand era of America, have some factual basis for their perspective; this being that the primary cause for the success of this era was the large-scale federal spending on programs and infrastructure projects that the American people benefited greatly from. In summary, government investment of this nature leads to positive impacts for the American people.

Today, the Federal government is a shell of its former self and Americans are receiving diminishing gains from the Federal system. The consolidation of power at the Federal level has reached a point where differences in political ideology has stagnated the process of improving prosperity in the America. The Federal government today lacks the vision to invest in the American people and landscape. Increasingly, local, region, and state governments have been forced to tackle issues with diminishing support from the federal government.

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Equity Considerations for Environmental Planning | By: Julia Branco

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This project analyzes selected articles addressing various topics in the environmental planning field. It then provides a critical perspective of the discussed topic through an equity and social justice lens. Given my interest in international planning, my analysis applies the analyzed topics by drawing on international examples, particularly in Latin America. Equity is understood as the just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Given the complexity of environmental planning and the scaling impact its outcomes have, it is important to consider if the processes and benefits of environmental planning are being distributed fairly.

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Marginal Gains in Environmental Planning | By Alaina Lipp

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Challenges facing our society’s relationship with the natural world are myriad and imminent. Environmental planners stand at a crucial juncture between man’s historical impacts, society’s current needs, and the needs of future generations. The environmental planner operates within a series of challenges – imperfect information about the nature of this world, insufficient authority to mandate and enforce, and the limit of historical observance of the actions and impacts of humanity’s development to guide intervention. With all of these things to take account of, it’s difficult but necessary to interrupt the cycle of perpetual analysis and make the leap into ac􀆟 on.

We cannot succeed if we do not risk failure. Now that the consequences of the industrial revolution are being felt we cannot wait until we have the most perfect, affordable, equitable, absolute solutions. We should apply any treatments that have a reasonable chance at success and then learn from that success or failure and try again. It’s difficult not to feel the gravity of this responsibility and become paralyzed into inaction, but the only certainty is that if we do nothing and continue to live and impact our planet as we do now our species will go extinct. If one looks at our current situation as a zero sum game, any action that helps society in the right direction is a good action, even if it isn’t perfect.

This report follows the concepts and material covered in the Fall 2017 offering of Environmental Planning Process at the College of Environmental Design and takes them a step or two further. The goal is to ask questions that will stimulate further investigation and generate thesis topics as well as generate suggestions for actions that can be taken by private individuals, educational institutions teaching landscape architecture, and research and publication topics where more investigation is warranted.

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Environmental Planning & Urban Land Use Planning | By: Kaiyuan Li

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Environmental planning aims at promoting land development with considerations of natural environment, economic, social and political factors to achieve sustainable outcomes. This course draws from theory, history, ecological process, policy and real-life projects to construct a critical analysis of the role of environmental planning, its influences and potential impacts. The final report of this class combines the weekly assignment based on different issues for every week, such as water management and environmental injustice, with a clear stated thesis of urban land use planning which is of personal interest.

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The Distance Between Reality and Ideality | By: Lulin Zheng

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The distance between reality and ideality always exists in all kinds of environmental planning issues. This report is the result of a semester thought and discussion in LA 237 ‘The Process of Environmental Planning. In this semester, we have got through topics like ‘History of Environmental Planning, ‘Environmental Movements’, ‘City Vs Country: The Urban-Rural Continuum’, ‘Urbanization & Deforestation’, ‘Social & Spatial Justice’, ‘Climate Change & Sound Land Use Planning’, ‘Environmental Considerations in the City of Berkeley & UC Berkeley Campus’, ‘Regional & Inter-state Environmental Planning’, ‘National Environmental Planning System – NEPA’, ‘The Role of the Landscape Architect’, etc. All those topics are relevant to the health and survival of social-ecological system and particularly emphasizes on the problems in reality and how to achieve ideality by solving those problems (Adger, W. N. & Hodbod, J, 2007). Through the discussion, one thought came in to my mind that the distance between reality and ideality always existed in all kinds of environmental planning topics. The inter-state environmental planning is inevitable if we want to solve the environmental conflicts between resource states and effected states. But in reality, the powerless of environmental legal system and scientific evidence impede the inter-state environmental confliction solving process (Hall, N. D., 2008).

Environmental Justice is the ultimate goal of environmental planning.

After we discussed about the topic ‘Social & Spatial Justice’, I realized that according to the definition of social justice (Harvey, D, 2008), most people around the world fighting for environmental protection set the environmental justice as their ultimate goal. For example, the social movement cannot be divorced from the injustice distributional pattern in resources usage and waste production (Doyle, T., 2005). They fight for fair distribution of resource and environmental emission. NEPA and CEQA empower public to challenge the health hazard projects, which boost the fairness of public participation (https://soapboxie. com/social-issues/Nepa-v-Ceqa). All of those environmental protection action aims to environmental justice – equitable distribution of environmental ‘goods’ and harms, fair participation in all levels of environmental planning (Bell, K., 2014)..

Realizing the distance between reality and ideality would help us adjust strategies for future development. Hence, realizing the distance between reality and ideality would help use find the future trends of environmental planning. Since we know that the gap between reality and ideality will be along with us for a long time. We have to find a way to mitigate this gap by knowing what extent we have achieved in environmental justice.

 

Designing “our urban realm” for the Future | Radhika Haridas

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Module (1)

This module takes a look at how cities were formed, the role of industrialization in city formation and how the agglomeration of population in such cities could possibly manage and reduce the harm done to the natural environment. It looks at the history of environmental planning, before industrial revolution and analyses the cities of London, New York and Shanghai in terms of the 3E’s of Sustainability – the social, economic and environmental – as a scale to define the city- before, and after industrialization or Industrial Revolution.

Module (2)

This module looks at the contemporary challenges faced by society with respect to the environment it is part of, such as – social resiliency, urbanization process & deforestation, social justice, climate change & land-use planning, environmental labeling & certification. The module dives into each topic through studying and analysing various case-studies which have been selected as an example of solving the issue of concern, through urban design/management strategies.

Module (3)

This module looks at decision makers at the local, regional and national scale who’s decisions are important in the decision making of whether or not a development should be allowed, depending on the extent of their impact on the environment. This module describes the role of the City of Berkeley and the University of Berkeley as the two main forces of decision making in the local scale. It looks at the tri-state environmental commission of New York-New Jersey-Connecticut on the regional scale and impact assessment tools of NEPA and CEQA at the national scale.

Module (4)

This module is a look at the roles of various people in the field of design and others who are in a position to influence the way we live today. It analyses their professional abilities and the change they can bring to planning for a better, sustainable future. As the last module of this report, this module tries to draw conclusions at who is at power of changing the way people live today, for better.

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Process of Environmental Planning and Water Resources Management | By: Sooyeon Yi

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This project covers the lectures, readings, and other course material in The Process of Environmental Planning course in Fall, 2017. The topics of each week was not limited to the United States, but also looked at different countries, especially in South Korea. Then, as coming from hydrology and water resources management background and growing interest in river restoration topic, the author further explored on each topic from hydrology stand point of view. For each topic, the author reflected on three components: blog post extension, example from South Korea, and stream management perspective. The objectives are to summarize key points from each lecture, reflect on the author’s culture and background, and reevaluate from hydrologist perspective.

I grew up reading cartoons, a lot. I believe comics make an integral part of newspapers that convey messages or express public opinion immaculately. Therefore, the cartoon is a primary feature in this project that provides added message or information that is not provided by the contents. In most cases, the purpose of cartoons in this project is to add humor and sarcasm or commentary on social changes, success, failure, and major contemporary events.

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