A lot of the issues that she raises bring to mind intersectional themes of planning with social context in my thesis (a forever work-in-progress). Not necessarily central to her talk, but this particular quote (taken from the 14:30 mark) really appealed to me:

“I’ve embraced my inner capitalist… If you haven’t, you need to. I don’t have a problem with developers making money. There’s enough precedent out there to show that a sustainable, community friendly development can still make a fortune… I do have a problem with developments that hyperexploit politically vulnerable communities for profit.”

With only my four green years of academic and work experience with planning at public, private, and non-profit levels, I stand by this 100%

Last week, I decided to write a thesis.

I figured, well, it’s autumn: leaves are changing, birds are chirping  — let’s write a thesis! But in all honesty, as a student with a multidisciplinary major as vague sounding as “Urban Studies,” I figured it would be infinitely invaluable to have a physical document that in a very clear way sums up what these past four years of urban study have been all about. I also appreciate the climatic nature of writing a thesis in the academic narrative that is my four years at Vassar.

Ten million dollar question: What is your thesis about.

Ten dollar ninety-nine cent answer: It’s a process in the making.

At the moment, I plan to look at how current trends in urban planning have reacted, perhaps enacted, the recent migration of concentrated poverty across the American urban landscape in the past decade. Last year, I came across a few NYT articles on the “new suburban poverty” while writing a paper on planning techniques. A few articles cited once booming Cleveland (inner-ring) suburbs, like Warrensville Heights and Parma Heights. In 2000, my family moved to Aurora, a rapidly growing edgeburb in northeast Ohio. Just enough time to see Cleveland’s (sub)urban landscape stable, fall, and — if you care enough to look — get back up on its feet.

Though I find the phrasing somewhat problematic, I appreciate the “suburban poverty” perspective that lends to character (re)building rather than narrowly focused on ruin and desperation. To borrow from the President, it’s all about moving forward and I am behind that one-hundred percent.

So I decided to write a thesis.

A few days ago it dawned on me that this time next time year my time will be, for the first time in a long while, largely unmanaged once I graduate. Conflicting feelings of apprehension and excitement at the idea of that much mental freedom aside, I figured, at the very least, I owe it to myself to weigh my post-grad options. A series of unfortunate clicks led me to this post made on a forum of Indeed.com — a jobs search site unifying disgruntled job seekers nationwide.

Click to read and enlarge

I’ll admit the first time I read this I chuckled. I read it to a friend and even went so far as to tweet it. It needed to be shared! Reading it aloud a second time I found myself wanting to ask Mike from Toronto, “how can you ask the American people to believe in government if government doesn’t believe in itself” (Play pretend John from Cincinnati wrote this instead.)

I’m fully aware that I share the perspective of the would-be “young planner” in this scenario and in that way I’m obviously biased. Yes, there are countless hang-ups in any bureaucracy. More often than not, things may not go down they way they should. And there’s no way of ensuring that your efforts will yield a 100% success rate. But there are entire municipalities betting their tax dollars in your favor, so at the absolute least you owe them all a valiant effort.

Moreover, that Doomsday outlook on life will only get you so far up until the oft prophesized D-day actually comes. What’s more is that the defeatist attitude is not a generational problem but a sign of the times. I have seen it firsthand not only in government offices, but classrooms, workplaces, and the like. So where ever you might be, hoot or holler if you want — all that matters is that you bothered.

 

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement for liberal idealism. Though there’s nothing wrong with idealism in theory, it’s not something anyone needs to walk around with in her back pocket. In the long run, its effects are more damaging than anything breeding cynicism and overtly self-involved self-deprecation. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’ve been living and studying in Bologna, Italy for a little under three months now. In those three months I’ve visited a handful of Italian cities taking in the urbanism, food, and language. All the while formulating topics and posts to research further. Sneak peek at upcoming blog posts: Bologna as a traffic circle, Firenze as a satellite American city, deconstructing the Italian suburb, graffiti/street art as the millennial mouthpiece, original urbanism informed by history and why there’s nothing novel about New Urbanism, and lo sprawl italiano.

Not sure whether it’s the lack of sleep or what, but it seems to require slightly more effort on my part to write long, analytic posts in English. Nevertheless too excited for words – be it in English or Italian – to get this bologna ball rolling.

Film footage of MTA subway traveling from 14th Street to 42nd Street circa 1905

I’ve been using the Poughkeepsie bus twice a week to get to the Dutchess County Planning Dept. It’s really only ~3 miles from campus. If I had a bike, I’d *cycle* over there, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to bring one this semester. Having been born and raised in suburban/exurban Ohio, I’m not particularly well versed in the ways of public mass transit. Add that and the facts that I’m sadly unfamiliar with the Poughkeepsie area and lack any real sense of direction, you can imagine how lost I felt at first. It’s since been two weeks and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

I’ll reserve some time next week to discuss/blog further on the subject.

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