The Omnibus Roundup – deforestation, smart MetroCards, public art and the Street View car

This week on the Omnibus, Vanessa Keith made some thought-provoking connections between tropical deforestation and sustainable urban retrofitting. Here’s another way to think about deforestation in urban terms – this time in the context of the world’s great urban parks, from architect and artist Maya Lin (embedded above). Watch all the way to the end (via kottke).

Earlier this week we were paid a visit from an Omni-friend and advisor who has spent the better part of the past year and a half hopping, skipping and jumping around the globe. When he pulled out his farecards from half a dozen metro systems around the world, something about his good old New York Subway metrocard stood out: it’s the only one of the bunch still on a swipe system instead of an RFID system. The plans announced at the beginning of last summer to overhaul MetroCards and replace them with multimodal smartcards seem actually to be getting going; yesterday the MTA hired a smart card czar. In case you missed it, in August Second Avenue Sagas posted a great four-part piece on the future of MetroCards that gives a good overview.

SeeClickFix is at the forefront of public involvement in infrastructure maintenance, as evidenced in co-founder Ben Berkowitz’s response to Jeff Maki’s Omnibus feature on District Steam Service. SeeClickFix is also, apparently, rapidly becoming a tool local newspapers can use to source stories based on demonstrated public interest. Can a web 2.0 strategy to fix potholes also save the newspaper industry?

And while we still wait for Red Hook to become the most bicycle-friendly neighborhood in New York, it is now the first (that we know of) to host a solar-powered car charging station. Nice.

Planetizen recently alerted us to the work of the artist collective Public Ad Campaign, a group “on a mission to blot out advertising in public space, covering it over with their art projects.” The Indypendent interviewed founder Jordan Seiler about public space, advertising vs. art, and their latest project, National Bestseller.

Speaking of street art, a new edition of Norman Mailer and Jon Naar’s 1973 The Faith of Grafitti, which chronicles in words and images New York’s graffiti scene before it went mainstream, has just been released.

But why limit your art interventions to the streets when you can also take your inner art guerrilla to Google Street View? According to Regine at We Make Money Not Art, “With the complicity of both the inhabitants of Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh and Google Street View, artists Ben Kinsley and Robin Hewlett staged collective performances and actions that took place just as the Google Car was driving through the neighbourhood.” Check out this video of one of the performances:

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.