The Omnibus Roundup – Gowanus photos and video, cars, and urban farms in SF

We swear we will stop talking about the Gowanus for a while after this week (maybe). But you have to admit, it’s pretty darn interesting. The political and environmental intricacy of the the Superfund debate, encapsulated in our Goo Gone event earlier this week, is only part of the fascination. The canal is also something to behold. And we are not the only ones to think so. This week the New York Times lens blog shared some of Jose Gaytan‘s photographs of the canal, which capture its haunting beauty.

While pondering the canal’s peculiar charm, check out The Quavers performing an impromptu live rendition of “Submarine” in a canoe.

One of the themes that came up repeatedly in the Superfund discussion was the need for vigilant community involvement. Are there new, technologically enabled ways for citizens to make their voices, concerns and complaints heard? You betcha. Gawker, however, is skeptical.

If, in the midst of all of our talk about ride sharing, infrastructure, pedestrian streets, and other urban transit options, you still find yourself asking “but what about my car?  She’s so pretty, and I named her Zippy.” Then check out Design Observer’s slideshow of photographs by Andrew Bush from his upcoming book Drive. Adam Harrison Levy writes: “These photographs remind us of just how closely connected we have become to these machines, how they have become extensions of our very sense of self (a feeling of identity that the advertising industry has been exploring for years).”

Remember how we learned that the urban agriculture movement in East New York began with a diverse coalition of local residents, housing advocates and area non-profits suing to prove that farming was not a temporary use of land? Well, taking a top-down approach to a typically grass-roots issue has become par for the course for San Francisco’s hottie mayor, Gavin Newsom. He has just ordered an audit of unused land to see if some of it can’t be used for community farming.


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

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.


Christopher July 14, 2009

Well, taking a top-down approach to a typically grass-roots issue has become par for the course for San Francisco’s hottie mayor, Gavin Newsom.

That makes it sound like a bad thing. One of things that Newsom has been able to do is recognize that there are great ideas out there and that if cities are going to innovate, they need to figure out to implement them at least on a trial basis. Waiting for things to bubble up — the very kind of thing that we complain about our leaders not leading are doing — is perhaps a sign of a dysfunctional and afraid government.

So influenced by the SF-based design community, he’s brought agile development and quick prototyping into government. Seems like a good thing to me and a counter to the wait-until the NIMBYs get pissed and organized, obstructionist way typical in the U.S.

Jean July 21, 2009

This sounds interesting… can you be more specific? Examples of agile development and quick prototyping in SF government?