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The Omnibus Roundup – State of the City, Powerless in Brooklyn, Bluebelt Talk, Musical Maps and the Sixth Borough

Give a Minute NYC | via Co.Design [1]

Give a Minute NYC | via Co.Design

Mayor Bloomberg delivered the State of the City [2] address on Wednesday. His focus was on neighborhood specific issues [3], including various changes ranging from livery cab policies [4] to urban technology innovations [5]. “Transformation” — economic, technological, physical, social, and otherwise — and “simplicity” were the words of the day. The Staten Island Navy Homeport, Governors Island, the Narrows at Coney Island, Steeplechase Plaza, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Hunters Point South, Willets Point, Hunts Point Landing and the development of ferry service were some of the large-scale projects that received specific mention. The Simplicity Plan [6] promises to modernize City government by “making it smarter, more efficient and oriented around customers” — an effort that includes the launch of Give A Minute [7] for New York City. You might remember that we interviewed the minds behind Give a Minute [8] in December, learning about the processes of sharing our concerns for a more sustainable urban environment. The New York version of Give A Minute promises to offer a platform to share ideas as well as a connection with various city departments that share your concerns, thus “redefining public participation [8] for the 21st century.” The official program launch is pegged for April or May [9], so start thinking of your ideas!

In a biting essay in the New York Times Complaint Box, Atlantic Yards Report blogger Norman Oder decries the lack of local government and local media [10] in the “non-Manhattan” boroughs. Primarily addressing Brooklyn, Oder asserts that the absence of daily borough-wide newspapers and a concentration of city agencies in Manhattan render the other boroughs powerless, resulting in muted citizen voices. His piece inspired debate and commiseration from Brooklynites and other New Yorkers. If you have something to say on the issue weigh in here [10].

Next Tuesday, January 25th, Dana Gumb will share his Bluebelt model for sustainable urban stormwater management at the Arsenal in Central Park as part of the Freshkills Park Talks [11] series. The long-time leader of the Staten Island Bluebelt project [12] (which you can read about in this recent Omnibus feature [12]), Gumb will discuss how his experience with stormwater management on Staten Island has translated into current DEP projects in Queens and the Bronx and the potential for future open space and water reclamation in the city. The talk is free and open to the public [13].

Regular readers of the Omnibus know that we are big fans of the Newtown Creek Nature Walk [14], so we’re pleased to see plans for an expansion of the project. New city funding is being directed towards a near-doubling of the path, which has been open since October 2007. However, we were not so pleased to hear that George Trakas has not been hired to design the second phase [15], which is instead being planned by the DDC. WTF?

Conductor (In progress demo) [16] from Alexander Chen [17] on Vimeo [18].

Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 subway map design has inspired praise, criticism and now music. Alexander Chen’s “Conductor” [19] transforms the map into a musical instrument with each line as a different string synched to video visualizations. The work is still in progress, and we can’t wait until we can play the map ourselves, but for now these beautiful videos are diversion enough.

Food for Thinkers [20]

Much like cities, the roots of food politics extend into myriad conversations, from history to sustainability to class and to architecture. To reinforce the complexity of conversations about food, Nicola Twilley [21] has been hosting Food For Thinkers [22], “an online festival of food and writing” that invites thinkers, writers and bloggers to write about food from different areas of expertise. The festival continues through the 23rd, and all of the links are being collected at GOOD magazine’s Food hub [22], so tune in to read about edible architecture, the classist geography of restaurant reviews or food as a public space editor — and check out Urban Omnibus’ contribution, our interview with Nevin Cohen of the Five Borough Farm project [23].

Imagined transportation for the sixth borough | Image via One Prize [24]

Imagined transportation for the sixth borough | Image via One Prize

As Bloomberg talks about the state of the City’s five boroughs, the One Prize committee is envisioning a sixth [25]. “Water as the Sixth Borough” is a concept that’s been popping up [26] in a few [27] different contexts lately, and now “architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, economists, artists, students, and individuals” are being asked to envision ways to incorporate New York City’s waterways into the urban structure. Registration is open until April 30 [28] for the annual design and science award, which aims to promote green design in cities, and the full competition brief is available for download on the One Prize website [25]. For anyone interested in entering the competition, BLDGBLOG offers some suggested reading [29] to help imagine such a “liquid neighborhood” for the future.

The Roundup [30] keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about.