The fit of urban waterfront interventions: matters of size, money and function. By: Pedro Pinto

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Credit: Kondolf & Yang 2008

A poorly designed riverfront intervention typically fails on several levels: a bad program, with the wrong budget and timing, no concern for local needs or context, results in an unattractive and costly intervention, with reduced to no social or environmental benefit. Urban riverfront interventions may be improved in the future if, when deciding what to do with our urban riverfronts, we learn from past mistakes. This may be as important (or perhaps more) as observing what worked. The successful element in another city may not be repeatable, as the context and opportunity was very specific to that one city. Yet, recognizing what didn’t work elsewhere, the causes for failure, may provide us with the clues we need on how to improve our own projects. Knowing how to avoid oversizing, overspending, inadequately planning, failing to attract diverse publics and uses or fail to provide ecological benefits will, paradoxically, provide us with an excellent framework on how to create a better, successful, intervention. To get it right, we should acknowledge the local context, the morphology of the river valley, the time and budget a set of solutions entail, and select uses and functions that work for a diverse crowd and provide multiple benefits, including good flood management performance and the restoration of the rivers’ natural connectivity.

 

Sabarmati Riverfront Development: An Exercise in ‘High-Modernism’? By: Krishna Balakrishnan

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Source: Presentation by SRFDCL & HCP Design at India Urban Conference 2011

Using the case of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project (SRDP) in Ahmedabad, this paper illustrates how the conceptual category of the ‘riverfront’, as seen in London and Paris in particular, has shaped the imagination of what an urban river ‘should’ be in India. The paper examines the lengths to which the project goes to fit a monsoon fed river-scape into this predefined conceptual category of a ‘riverfront’. The paper argues that the SRDP can be understood as a manifestation of ‘high-modernism’ as discussed by James Scott—both in terms of the visual order it strives to create and in terms of the reliance on simplistic conceptions of the ecology and hydrology of rivers. The paper concludes with a discussion on the need for urban and landscape design professionals to understand specificities of local ecosystems and societies and to use design as a process of going beyond simplistic spatial and conceptual categories.

  

Environmental Planning in a Capitalist Economy: How advertising can be used in nature’s favor | By: Kelsey A. Wilson

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This project is inspired by Ad Busters, a self-proclaimed group of “artists, writers, musicians, designers, poets, philosophers and punks trying to pull off a radical transformation of the current world order”. The group was founded in Canada in 1989 after a large logging corporation ran advertisements in favor of clear cutting old growth forests. The founders of Ad Busters created the concept of the “uncommercial” and attempted to broadcast advertisements that were against the logging industry. Ad Busters began to advocate for changing the way people receive information and created a magazine, “uncommercials”, art and writing that expressed the concepts and ideas of anti-consumerism.

Although not specifically focused on environmental issues, the groups work regarding the economy overlaps with principles in the environmental field. The art work tackles the concepts of greenwashing and corporation’s control over the flow of information to consumers. Non-profits and other groups that advocate for environmental and social justice issues rarely have the time, money or power to have their message heard with the same force as large corporations. Ad Busters attempts to bridge this gap through their poignant, yet powerful messages.

From the readings and discussion in this class, the author has come to the conclusion that two of the major contributing factors to continued environmental degradation is capitalism as economy and the lack of education surrounding environmental issues. Let us not forget that there are other economic systems that could be implemented. It is our job as environmental stewards and people of integrity to demand changes. The status quo cannot be maintained. The continued pressure to create and consume has detrimental effects on the human psyche, the ecological systems and the stability of the human race.

Capitalism is multifaceted and these writings and analysis will focus on the aspect of advertising as a tool of the capitalist economic system. Using the tool of advertising to defeat consumerism; beat it at its own game by using “environmental advertising” as a way to educate people who do not understand the real life implications of consumerism.

For a full copy of the report click here

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.

For a full copy of the report click here

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.

To obtain a copy of the report, click here.

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.

For a full copy of the report click here.

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.

For a full copy of the report click here.

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.

For a full copy of the report click here

The Sustainability Debate

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The Blues are mainstream free-marketers. Such people have a positive bias toward the future based on technological optimism and the strength of the economy. They are armed with a strong statistical case, based on the vigorous and dynamic economies of Western and (until1998) Asian nations. Their approach is deeply rooted in conventional economics, and their number-crunching reveals a world vastly improved and rapidly ascending. Blues believe that reliance on innovation, investment, and individual freedom will ensure a shining future for humankind, and a level of material well-being that has strong appeal to virtually everyone in the world. Their optimism also extends to the environment, believing that in most cases, markets will send strong and appropriate price signals that will elicit timely responses, mitigating environmental damage or causing technological breakthroughs

The Reds represent the sundry forms of socialism. Although one might expect them to have been discredited by the downfall of the Soviet Union, their worldview is very much alive. They find validation in the chaotic and horrific economic conditions that the rise of bandit capitalism has brought to contemporary Russia, a country whose economic machinery now benefits a minority at the expense of a materially and socially disadvantaged majority. The growing and worldwide gap between rich and poor confirms the Reds’ analyses, which are as accurate about poverty and suffering as the Blues’ observations are accurate about growth and change. While Blues focus on the promise of growth and technology, Reds focus on its shadow and try to discern its root causes. They view labor—one aspect of human capital—as the principal source of wealth and see its exploitation as the basis of injustice, impoverishment, and ignorance. The Reds generally have little to say about the environment, seeing it as a distraction from fundamentally important social issues.

The Greens see the world primarily in terms of ecosystems, and thus concentrate on depletion, damage, pollution, and population growth. They focus on carrying capacity and want to bring about better under- standing of how large the economy can grow before it outstrips its host. Their policy focuses on how many and how much, the number of people, and the amount of impact each person can have upon the environment. Greens are not usually technophobes; most see technology as an important tool to reduce human impact. More recently, some have become interested in free-market mechanisms, and want externalities presently borne by society to be fully integrated into producer costs and consumer prices so that markets become, in David Korten’s phrase, “mindful.” The Greens, and to some extent the Reds, host bigger tents in that they hold a bolder and broader diversity of views. But this also keeps them splintered and self-canceling, as Greens tend to unite their enemies and divide their friends, a good formula for political failure. They are often portrayed as caring less for people than animals, more about halogenated compounds than waterborne diseases.

The Whites are the synthesists, and do not entirely oppose or agree with any of the three other views. With an optimistic view of humankind, they believe that process will win the day, that people who tell others what is right lead society astray. Since Blues, Reds, and Greens all fall into that category, Whites reject them all, preferring a middle way of integration, reform, respect, and reliance. They reject ideologies whether based on markets, class, or nature, and trust that informed people can solve their own problems. On the environmental level, they argue that all issues are local. On business, they say the fabled level playing field never existed because of market imperfections, lobbying, subsidies, and capital concentration. On social problems, they argue that solutions will naturally arise from place and culture rather than from ideology. Leadership in the White world is reminiscent of the Taoist reminder that good rulers make their subjects feel as if they succeeded by themselves. Environmental and social solutions can emerge only when local people are empowered and honored.


According to your assessment of the “Pink Lake Development Plan” and based on the debate discussion in class. Summarize, in half a page, the main point of strength in the group you presented and the main point of weaknesses in one of the other groups that you fundamentally disagree with.    

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Climate Change & Sound Land Use Planning

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Gondo (2013) presented several controversial ideas about climate adaptation using the Ethiopian model. At times, pp 88, he frames Ethiopia as a leading developing country in recognizing the importance of green infrastructure, and in other times, pp 91, he argues that urban planning authorities are less prepared to boost the resilience and adaptive capabilities of their cities. From the overall reading, in one page, discuss your own views on the importance inter-governmental cooperation and interdisciplinary approach to deal with climate change in urban & land use planning. In half a page /one paragraph, and according to Bohannon (2010), articulate the main challenges the Nile Delta is facing and suggest main three guiding principles to deal with challenges.

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