robertogreco + california   675

Beware the ethical car - macwright.org
"On Tuesday, Lyft released a dataset for self-driving car development, along with a blog post. Here’s a snippet:
Avoidable collisions, single-occupant commuters, and vehicle emissions are choking our cities, while infrastructure strains under rapid urban growth.

And that translates to an efficient ecosystem of connected transit, bikes, scooters, and shared rides from drivers as well as self-driving cars. Solving the autonomous vehicle challenge is not just an option — it’s a necessity.

And then the CEO’s quote:
Not only can self-driving tech save two lives every single minute, it is essential to combat climate change by allowing people to ditch their cars for shared electric transportation. Lyft is committed to leading this transportation revolution.

Here’s what’s they’re doing: by co-opting the language of climate change, companies are going to try and make cars ethical.

Evidence so far

We should be wary. First, because ridesharing has already claimed to reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and has done the opposite.

See, Lyft claimed in 2015 that their service harmonized with public transit, rather than competed with it. That didn’t work out. Not only have they stolen trips from public transit, they’ve reduced support for transit and replaced walking & biking trips, too. They’ve increased traffic deaths by 2-3%, while increasing the number of cars on the streets.

Improved cars are a suspiciously convenient change agenda

California, eager to top its subsidy of mansions as blindingly regressive policy, decided to subsidize electric cars to the tune of $7,500 each, in the form of a tax credit. Tax credits, of course, are wealth transfer from some taxpayers to others: and in this case, we’re transferring our money to the deserving buyers of $90,000 sports cars.

That isn’t enough: we also allowed electric cars to drive in HOV lanes for years, until too many did so, traffic built up again, and the perk was removed.

While we subsidize the rich, we subsidize public transit less than almost everywhere else and make a grisly show of cracking down on fare evasion.

Space and selfishness

Lyft links to two articles in their blog post - one to a Washington Post ‘brand studio’ (sponsored, ghostwritten) article, and the other to The Atlantic. The Washington Post article is there to substantiate the climate change claim and here’s the crux of its argument:
Fulton’s analysis found little societal or environmental benefit from driverless vehicles unless they are both electric and shared.

Which brings us to the question of self-driving technology: will it be used for shared, communal transit like public transit works today, or will it be a way for rich people to have private luxury rooms?

All current signs point to the worse scenario. Here’s the carpooling, from the Washington Post article:
Carpooling peaked during the 1970s energy crisis, then dropped to 9 percent in 2014 from 20 percent in 1980.

Here’s what Elon Musk thinks of public transit.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

Would Musk encourage people to carpool in their self-driving Teslas? Do serial killers own Teslas? This hasn’t been an issue so far, because Tesla owners can drive by themselves in carpool lanes.

Or consider how people reacted to increasing vehicle efficiency, and were given the choice: save the environment, or bigger cars?
The global S.U.V. boom is a roadblock in the march toward cleaner cars that has been aided by advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles. Compared to smaller cars, S.U.V.s are less efficient, generally by about 30 percent.

*******

Cars are a broken format. We shouldn’t give them a lifeline, or a new coat of paint, and society shouldn’t find a way to assuage the guilt that surrounds them.

Sure, cars should be electric. There are a lot of places in the world where transportation infrastructure isn’t sufficient and cars are the native transportation medium. Maybe they should be self-driving too, if the technology is safer than human drivers. Right now, it isn’t.

But to a large extent this is a zero-sum problem. Ridesharing already has substantially hurt public transit. The blue sky dream of self-driving cars is spawning galaxy-brain reckons like replacing the subway with underground highways, or replacing the subway with tunnels. These dreams are built around selfishness: they always offer private pods flying through space. Hyperloop promotional material portrays it as an alternative to being on the surface, with all those other people.

Avoiding climate catastrophe is obviously necessary, and we should consider all the options. But it’s hard to believe in car-centric solutions that don’t come with a vision of social and cultural change."
cars  carpooling  carsharing  lyft  uber  elonmusk  electriccars  transportation  transit  publictransit  climatechange  technology  technosolutionism  space  selfishness  society  globalwarming  ethics  ridesharing  california  subsidies  policy  highspeedrail  trains  hovlanes  suvs  emissions  hyperloop  tommacwright 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Car Crashes Aren't Always Unavoidable - The Atlantic
"The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives."

...

"Further entrenching automobile supremacy are laws that require landowners who build housing and office space to build housing for cars as well. In large part because of parking quotas, parking lots now cover more than a third of the land area of some U.S. cities; Houston is estimated to have 30 parking spaces for every resident. As the UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup has written, this mismatch flows from legal mandates rather than market demand. Every employee who brings a car to the office essentially doubles the amount of space he takes up at work, and in urban areas his employer may be required by law to build him a $50,000 garage parking space.

For those who didn’t get the message from the sprawling landscape that zoning has created, the tax code sharpened it by lavishing rewards on those who drive and punishing those who don’t. On its own terms, the mortgage-interest tax deduction is neutral as to the type of home financed, but—given the twin constraints of zoning and mortgage lending—the deduction primarily subsidizes large houses in car-centric areas. Those who walk or bike to work receive no commuter tax benefit, while those who drive receive tax-deductible parking. Another provision of the tax code gives car buyers a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when their new vehicles are electric or hybrid; buyers of brand-new Audis, BMWs, and Jaguars can claim the full $7,500 from the American taxpayer. Environmentally, these vehicles offer an improvement over gas-powered cars (but not public or active transit). Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources, which electric and hybrid cars still produce. They also still contribute to traffic, and can still kill or maim the people they hit. Why are we taxing bus riders to pay rich people to buy McMansions and luxury electric SUVs?"

...

"
Tort law is supposed to allow victims to recover for harms caused by others. Yet the standard of liability that applies to car crashes—ordinary negligence—establishes low expectations of how safe a driver must be. Courts have held that a higher standard—strict liability, which forces more careful risk taking—does not apply to driving. Strict liability is reserved for activities that are both “ultrahazardous” and “uncommon”; driving, while ultrahazardous, is among the most common activities in American life. In other words, the very fact that car crashes cause so much social damage makes it hard for those who are injured or killed by reckless drivers to receive justice.

In a similar spirit, criminal law has carved out a lesser category uniquely for vehicular manslaughter. Deep down, all of us who drive are afraid of accidentally killing someone and going to jail; this lesser charge was originally envisioned to persuade juries to convict reckless drivers. Yet this accommodation reflects a pattern. Even when a motorist kills someone and is found to have been violating the law while doing so (for example, by running a red light), criminal charges are rarely brought and judges go light. So often do police officers in New York fail to enforce road-safety rules—and illegally park their own vehicles on sidewalks and bike facilities—that specific Twitter accounts are dedicated to each type of misbehavior. Given New York’s lax enforcement record, the Freakonomics podcast described running over pedestrians there as “the perfect crime.”"

...

"All of these laws can be reversed directly by the legislative bodies responsible for passing them in the first place. However, a growing body of academic research suggests that, even when most people favor less restrictive zoning, local officials will side with wealthy homeowners who favor the status quo. In these cases, state legislators can be called upon to help. Reformers have succeeded in doing so in Oregon and have shown promise in California. Far less attention has been paid, however, at the federal level. Recently, several Democratic candidates for president have released federal plans to prod states and cities to relax their zoning.

Congress could condition a small share (say, 5 percent) of federal funds on the adoption by states of housing-production goals or Vision Zero design standards calibrated for safety. Conditional appropriations, which are how Congress goaded states into raising the drinking age, are already in use for numerous transportation programs.

Litigation for dangerous street design is another promising way to hold public entities accountable. So far, plaintiffs have mostly sought money damages, but they can also seek design changes through injunctive relief, including by class action. This has the potential to move not only laws and budgets but the entire discourse around street safety.

Finally, reformers could seek recognition of the freedom to walk. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act and state and local counterparts, as well as case law recognizing a constitutional right to movement, suggest such a right to mobility.

Americans customarily describe motor-vehicle crashes as accidents. But the harms that come to so many of our loved ones are the predictable output of a broken system of laws. No struggle for justice in America has been successful without changing the law. The struggle against automobile supremacy is no different."
2019  cars  law  zoning  accidents  insurance  policy  government  taxes  publictransit  pedestrians  parking  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  transit  speedlimits  california  us  design  safety  health  risks  tortlaw  negligence  oregon  housing  litigation  gregoryshill 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Spanish has never been a foreign language in the United States - Los Angeles Times
"Video recordings in very different settings caught two incidents of Spanish speakers being harassed or detained as perceived undocumented immigrants this month.

In midtown Manhattan, an attorney, Aaron Schlossberg, berated a restaurant owner after he heard workers speaking in Spanish. He ranted that they should speak English in “his country” and threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A world away in Montana, two American citizens, Ana Suda and Mimi Hernández, recorded as they confronted a U.S. Border Patrol agent about why he asked for their identifications. He responded plainly that he wanted their IDs when he “saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.” He detained them for 40 minutes in a parking lot.

The call to “speak English” in America has a long history that often drowns out our even longer history of diverse language use. Spanish especially is a language with deep roots in the United States.

The Southwest was originally part of Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the U.S.-Mexican War in 1848, it also granted the remaining Mexican settlers citizenship. The treaty did not require that they learn English.

Quite the opposite is true: Over the decades that followed, the federal government permitted local governments in the Southwest to use Spanish in official capacities.

California’s first state Constitution required that “all laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish.” Some California counties received session laws and operated their courts in Spanish.

The use of Spanish in New Mexico was especially widespread. Just five years after taking over the territory, the United States recognized that it needed to pay for translators in the legislative chambers. Federal officials embraced Spanish as a necessary way to fairly govern this new group of citizens.

In some parts of New Mexico, election results, loyalty oaths, session laws, letters to elected officials, speeches by both political parties, court transcripts and many other official documents were written in Spanish. These are merely the recorded uses of Spanish and don’t include its widespread oral use.

Senators visiting New Mexico in 1902 concluded that they could not conduct their official business without an interpreter. They encountered school teachers, judges and a census supervisor who were monolingual Spanish speakers.

When the senators asked a former justice of the peace, José María García, why he continued to use Spanish, he replied: “I like my own language better than any other, the same as I like the United States better than any other country in the world.” For García, there was no contradiction in being both an American and a Spanish speaker.

Spanish remained an official language of politics and government in much of the Southwest throughout the 19th century, but that changed in the first decades of the 20th century. Increasing immigration from Mexico, a push for school segregation and other “Americanization” efforts helped turn the tide. As the historian Paul J. Ramsey has shown, 26 states, including California, had outlawed the teaching of languages other than English in public primary schools by 1921. California outlawed it in private schools that year.

Anti-Mexican sentiment peaked in the early 1930s, coinciding with cruel repatriation campaigns that forced hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens and Mexican Americans over the border into Mexico. Los Angeles County was especially effective at these tactics. Nevertheless, Spanish remained the preferred language in many parts of the Southwest during this period, and more than a thousand civic organizations promoted Spanish in the interest of Pan-Americanism.

Spanish speakers also settled well beyond the Southwest, of course. As early as 1891, the Cuban poet and journalist José Martí, then living in New York City, was writing of “Nuestra América,” or “Our America,” in an effort to unite Spanish speakers across the hemisphere. Tens of thousands more Cubans arrived in the early 20th century, well before the Cuban Revolution.

Congress created many Spanish-speaking Americans when it gave Puerto Ricans their citizenship in 1917 through the Jones Act, which also did not have an English-language provision. By the 1950s, nearly 200,000 Puerto Ricans had moved to New York City. Spanish has now been a part of everyday life in New York for over a century.

Forty-one million native Spanish speakers reside in the U.S. today, and this figure does not include the millions more who have learned Spanish by choice. In fact, the U.S. has the second-largest number of Spanish speakers in the world, outnumbered only by Mexico, according to the Instituto Cervantes.

Not only does the U.S. have no official language, but Spanish is not a fringe language here. It plays a much deeper role in this country than either of this month’s news-making videos suggest. Its use is neither new nor an anomaly. Spanish is an American language.

Lozano is an assistant professor of history at Princeton University and the author of “An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States.”"
rosinalozano  spanish  español  us  2018  language  english  history  newmexico  california  mexico  spain  españa  law 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Jonathan Kozol: Joe Biden Didn’t Just Praise Segregationists. He Also Spent Years Fighting Busing | Democracy Now!
[See also:

"Part 2: Jonathan Kozol on “When Joe Biden Collaborated with Segregationists”"
https://www.democracynow.org/2019/6/26/jonathan_kozol_on_when_joe_biden

and

"When Joe Biden Collaborated With Segregationists: The candidate’s years as an anti-busing crusader cannot be forgotten—or readily forgiven."
https://www.thenation.com/article/joe-biden-education-busing-opposition/

"Unlike Bernie Sanders, who recently proposed a Thurgood Marshall Plan for public education that calls for a renewal and expansion of desegregation plans by means of transportation, Biden still believes his original position was correct and, according to one of his aides, Bill Russo, sees no reason to revise it. No matter how he tries to blur the edges of his past or present beliefs, no matter how he waffles in his language in order to present himself as some kind of born-again progressive, Biden has not shown that he can be trusted to confront our nation’s racist past and one of its most urgent present needs.

As the mainstream media repeatedly reminds us, Biden is a likable man in many ways. Even his critics often speak about his graciousness. But his likability will not help Julia Walker’s grandkids and her great-grandchildren and the children of her neighbors go to schools where they can get an equal shot at a first-rate education and where their young white classmates have a chance to get to know and value them and learn from them, as children do in ordinary ways when we take away the structures that divide them."]
jonathankozol  2019  joebiden  racism  race  elections  2020  education  schools  schooling  busing  segregation  integration  fannielouhamer  thrurgoodmarshall  juneteenth  corybooker  desegregation  amygoodman  newyork  california  illinois  delaware  maryland 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Gnamma #25 - Undoing Los Angeles
"I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, as a place to work a little bit but mostly see friends and re-center myself in my favorite city.

I find myself having to justify an affinity for LA nearly anywhere I go (but especially in the Bay). My parents were confused when I moved, but I think that their understandings were rooted in memories of what LA was portrayed to be through the 1992 race riots and before the Clean Air Act had really kicked into gear—slightly more apocalyptic.

The social world I lived in before the moving West was full of Northeast Ivy League bullshit and otherwise inherited from my parents (cerebral, university-centric). This sphere did not seem to think much of Los Angeles, probably because its cultural production is not seen as high-brow enough to be accepted by Brahmin standards. Or maybe because Los Angeles makes little sense, from an urban planning perspective if your reference points are Boston, New York, DC. Or maybe because LA's legendary vapidity is assumed to create an intellectual wasteland of vice and appearance.

I read Geoff Manaugh's post about Los Angeles [http://bldgblog.com/2007/10/greater-los-angeles/ ] just a couple days before I moved to the city (having never been before), and can't imagine a better tone-setting read. It celebrates how you can find anything in LA if you drive around the right block. In this vein, I've enjoyed collecting quips about what I call "LA Phenomenology" [https://www.are.na/lukas-w/la-phenomenology ]—how can a short paragraph speak to the deep plurality, dynamism, and strangeness of this place?

I found most critiques of LA to be both true and not true, which is one of the reasons I became intellectually attached to the place. LA is incredible at self-narratizing, which leads to a wonderful weave of narrative and reality in the city—where the line between the two becomes irrelevant. Lots of people have opinions about what LA "is" and how LA "feels," and these could seem true or false depending on how far you drive along the freeway. I don't mean to deny that every city has plurality within it; my particular experience of Los Angeles' forced me to reconsider my terms of engagement with a city. LA forced me to slow down to the pace that the freeways permit and meet it on its own terms, closely examining my assumptions about the place versus what was actually going on, in front of my eyes: a highly navigable city full of thoughtful people, deep roots, and fascinating ecology.

(I need to credit at least some people in furthering these thoughts. My friend Tristan has been my primary influence on theorizing Los Angeles. One of my first conversations on the subject was at a cafe in La Jolla with Sascha Pohflepp, who passed away recently. He welcomed me warmly to the bizarreness of Southern California and was the first to tell me about Reyner Banham—I am so thankful that our paths crossed.)

A discussion I've had a few times in the Bay revolves around Northern vs. Southern California water rights. In order to supply drinking water to their populations, San Diego and Los Angeles share an artificial watershed that is 1.5 times the area of the state of California [https://www.are.na/block/1912858 ]. ("Artificial Watershed" here being the combined natural watershed and area that delivers water via hydraulic infrastructure to the place.) They are sucking the Owens Valley and Colorado River dry. Northern California, just by being more rainy but also having more proximity to Sierran snowpack, has much smaller artificial watershed. Northern California views Southern California as parasitic as it pulls precious water down the Aqueduct that otherwise could have stayed where it was, upholding ecological or hydrological process rather than fulfilling urban uses.

Of course, we can't undo Los Angeles. Southern California is fully terraformed, home to millions, and a key cultural player—cutting the water supply would be an extreme human rights abuse. Sustainability in water and otherwise will be some difficult ongoing complex of cultural shifts, technology, policy, and luck. "Sustainable Cities" are both slippery to define and difficult to achieve—is a sustainable Los Angeles one that is affordable? That has enough water? That produces zero waste? That celebrates a diverse population? All of the above and more, of course, I hope, but hard triage decisions are upon us.

I found Los Angeles lovely not because it "works" in the sense of how Monocle magazine thinks a pleasant city should work, but because I reframed its demonstrated dysfunction (celebrity-centric culture, ignored public transit, punishingly walkable streets, landlord-as-investor model) as fertile symptoms of the difficulty of making a city address its own reality and be livable. Perhaps I love Los Angeles because I feel like if LA can make it, anywhere can.

Getting gas at the Arco on Figueroa where the 5 and 110, and Arroyo Seco and LA River, meet,
Lukas"
losangeles  lukaswinklerprins  geoffmanaugh  2019  cities  socal  california  norcal  saschaphflepp  place 
june 2019 by robertogreco
UCI IMCA
“Bringing California-Inspired Art, Research, and Teaching Together. The UCI Institute and Museum for California Art (UCI IMCA) strives to become a global magnet for the exhibition and research of California art and its social and cultural framework. UCI IMCA offers the public, artists, art scholars, and the campus community a focal point for the exploration of California art as vital to the creative evolution of society and aesthetics nationally and internationally. UCI IMCA will consist of a Museum, where the collection of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century California art and special exhibitions will be displayed, and an Institute, which will engage scholars and all of UCI’s academic programs in research on California art.”

[via: "UCI’s Institute and Museum for California Art names first director"
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-et-cam-first-director-institute-museum-california-art-20190618-story.html ]
california  irvine  art  uciimca 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Should California Get Rid of Single-Family Zoning? - The New York Times
“When I recently asked Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles about his stance on S.B. 50, the legislation that would have allowed more apartment construction near transit, he said it wouldn’t be a good fit for the city.

S.B. 50, he told me, would threaten the character of existing neighborhoods. And L.A., the state’s largest city, already builds more than its fair share of new housing compared with other cities in the county, he said.

This week, though, Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui, my colleagues at The Upshot, reported that apartments and townhomes — anything other than detached, single-family houses — are banned from 75 percent of L.A.’s residential land.

All of which raises the question: When you’re dealing with a housing crisis, should a city even have single-family zoning? As Emily and Quoctrung reported, that’s a question cities across the nation are grappling with.

I asked Emily to dive a little deeper into what they learned about California. In L.A., at least, things weren’t always this way, she wrote:

In 1960, about 2.5 million people lived in the city of Los Angeles, but 10 million theoretically could. The city had the zoning capacity for that many residents — developers could legally build enough apartments to house them, neighborhoods were planned to accommodate that much growth.

Then L.A. began to reimagine itself in ways that constrain the city today.

L.A. and many California communities began the steady process of “downzoning”: converting land that allowed courtyard apartments to just fourplexes, fourplexes to duplexes, large-lot single-family homes to even-larger-lot single-family homes.

“It was death by a thousand cuts,” said Greg Morrow, executive director of the Real Estate Development and Design program at Berkeley, who has studied the development history of Los Angeles. “You’re just taking a little bit out each time.”

Within 20 years, according to Mr. Morrow’s research, the city’s zoning capacity had been cut to just under 4 million people. And that number has barely kept pace since with actual population growth.

Today, many families are doubling up or paying far more than they can afford for a place to live.

This history — and the current zoning map that The Times has reproduced — portrays a clearer picture of the housing shortage in California. It’s not just that the state hasn’t built enough housing over the years; California communities have made it illegal to build much of the housing that was once possible.

S.B. 50 would have significantly changed that. But the proposal, from State Senator Scott Wiener, is just one of several from officials across the country who are starting to rethink single-family zoning entirely.

“If you look back at early attempts to downzone,” Mr. Morrow said, “they really were almost driven by this naïve belief that if you just downzoned, you could stop population growth.”

In L.A., that clearly did not happen.”
california  zoning  losangeles  housing  2019  cities  urban  urbanism  policy  sb50  scottwiener  ericgarcetti  emilybadger  quoctrungbui  jillcowan  downzoning 
june 2019 by robertogreco
California Bird Talk Sampler Audio
“I prepared this special 10-minute California Bird Talk program for the November 2006 meetings of the AAA (American Anthropological Association). The session was titled “A Multispecies Salon” and raised questions about the interactions of many species.

This program is a kind of sampler of California Bird Talk. Most of the material and bird sounds can be heard in one or another of the four California Bird Talk series programs. I tried to pick material that would give a coherent overview of the whole series.

The program begins with a lovely dawn chorus of many birds recorded along the Carmel River. Picking calls and songs out of the chorus, I explain the differences between the two kind of bird communication. After a brief exploration of birds’ vocal range and what they themselves might hear, I slow down a call and a song to approximate what the birds are hearing. Then I introduce the question of how songbirds are able to make the sounds they do. After briefly describing the syrinx, I use slowed down versions of two songs to demonstrate the internal duets some songbirds can sing using independent control of the two branches of their Y-shaped syrinx. I explore song repertoires using a recording of “matched countersinging” (sometimes called a “song duel”) by two marsh wrens. The program concludes with an exploration of the song-like role of the wonderful drumming of male and female woodpeckers and sapsuckers.

Sound Sources

Chris Tenney recorded the Carmel River dawn chorus and bird calls that open the program as well as most of the individual bird songs and calls I slow down in this program. (Tenney recorded most of the bird songs and calls presented in all four California Bird Talk series.)

Other songs and calls in this sampler can be found on the CD collection Bird Songs of California produced by the Cornell Ornithology Lab or on the CD accompanying the Cornell Lab’s textbook Handbook of Bird Biology (including, notably, Joe Brazie’s recording of the California marsh wrens’ “song duel”).

I slowed the calls and songs down by 4 to 16 times using Bias Peak and used Sound Soap to scrub noise from some recordings.”

[See also:
http://www.hogradio.org/CalBirdTalk/

"Learning to Hear the World of Bird Songs and Calls Around Us

The premise of California Bird Talk is that if you know just a bit about how and why birds sing or call out to each other, you’ll have much more fun listening to them, no matter whether you live in a city or out in the country.

Each California Bird Talk program is 2 minutes long and uses lots of sound. Most of the sound, of course, is of the birds themselves. But we also use analogies to musical instruments or the human voice to understand how birds sing.

We ask bird song experts how birds make those wonderful sounds, and why. But mostly we listen to lots of California birds, repeating their songs and calls, or even slowing them down to hear what birds themselves can hear.

California Bird Talk is a public radio project produced and hosted by Rusten Hogness."]
birds  sound  california  animals  nature  audio  rustenhogness  multispecies 
june 2019 by robertogreco
California’s housing bills failed—and so did California’s lawmakers - Curbed LA
"Democrats hold a supermajority—but failed to exercise any of their power to fix the housing crisis"

[See also:

"“I Got Mine”" Like college debt and climate change, the housing affordability crisis is generational warfare."
https://slate.com/business/2019/05/california-housing-crisis-boomer-gerontocracy.html

"California Democrats “Dropped the Ball” on Housing Package"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/politics/california-democrats-dropped-the-ball-on-housing-package/article_04dbccf2-80bd-11e9-b573-9fb7ef8d99d8.html

"America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.: The demise of a California housing measure shows how progressives abandon progressive values in their own backyards."
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/opinion/california-housing-nimby.html

"The revenge of the suburbs: Why California’s effort to build more in single-family-home neighborhoods failed"
https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-sb50-failure-single-family-homes-suburbs-20190522-story.html ]
alissawalker  2019  california  losangeles  sanfrancisco  housing  democrats  politics  economics  fauxgressives  inequality  realestate  propoition13  gavinnewsom  farhadmanjoo  henrygrabar  nimbyism  anthonyportantino  diegoaguilar-canabal  liamdillon  sb50  nimbys  generations  boomers  babyboomers 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Dispelling myths about California’s homeless | PolitiFact California
"Myth #1: California’s homeless are from somewhere else -- and moved here for the mild weather and social services.

Reality: Experts say this is one of the most common and inaccurate assumptions about homeless Californians.



Myth #2: They’re homeless because they’re drug addicts or mentally ill.

Reality: Martin said it’s often the stress and trauma of living without a home that leads to addiction and disease, or makes it worse.



Myth #3: Homelessness is a choice.

Reality: This is another frequent misconception, said Veronica Beaty, policy director at the Sacramento Housing Alliance, which advocates for supportive housing for the homeless."

[via a thrEad doing the same: https://twitter.com/adamconover/status/1135037776309604354

related, on Seattle, from a response to the same thread:
"Homelessness may be down, but more people in King County are living in tents
A fuller report on the annual count shows sizable decreases in the number of young people and military veterans struggling with homelessness."
https://crosscut.com/2019/05/homelessness-may-be-down-more-people-king-county-are-living-tents ]
homeless  homelessness  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  sandiego  sanjose  sacramento  2018 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | Can Californians Still Find a Path to Mobility at the State’s Universities? - The New York Times
"As a counter to staggering inequality, the system needs to be more open to the people who actually live in the Golden State."



"Joan Didion described her alma mater, the University of California, as “California’s highest, most articulate idea of itself, the most coherent — perhaps the only coherent — expression of the California possibility.”

That ethos has endured. The University of California has prevailed as both symbol and engine of opportunity, true to the spirit of the state’s founding constitution, which endorsed an accessible, independent institution of higher learning. From admitting women in 1870 to establishing the nation’s first multi-campus research university, and from its string of world-changing scientific breakthroughs to its embrace of undocumented immigrants, the University of California has reflected and nurtured the state’s core values.

The university plays a critical role at a time when the top 1 percent in California draw almost a quarter of the total income while six in 10 children are covered by Medi-Cal. But to be most effective as a force to counter the staggering inequality, the university needs to reshape campuses so they not only look more like California but also again offer what Carol T. Christ, the chancellor of Berkeley, calls “equity of experience” — equal access to science and technology majors, research opportunities, campus life and study abroad.

Berkeley is one of the university’s nine undergraduate campuses, the top tier of a remarkable tripartite public system that educates a majority of California students. The undergraduate universities consistently rank as the most effective schools in the country as drivers of upward economic mobility. More than 40 percent of their undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college. More than half come from families with annual incomes of less than $80,000 and pay no tuition. Berkeley, which enrolls a smaller share of lower-income Pell grant recipients than any other campus, still educates the lower-income students at almost twice the rate of Ivy League schools — and Pell grant recipients graduate at roughly the same high rates as their wealthier classmates.

What has fractured since Ms. Didion graduated in 1956 is the cohesive community, the assumption of shared experience that bound so many generations of alumni, particularly at Berkeley, the university’s flagship and still its best-known brand. Today, Berkeley has cleaved into disparate worlds divided by class, race and major. In its stratification and struggles, it mirrors a complex nation-state with deep divisions and extremes.

The symbiotic relationship between school and state means that Ms. Christ and her counterparts grapple with the consequences of some of California’s most intractable conditions: a housing crisis that forces many students to commute for hours because they cannot afford to live anywhere near the Bay Area; a poverty rate that means some students skip meals and others send financial aid money home; a volatile state budget dependent on the superwealthy and prone to boom-and-bust cycles; and decades of underfunded primary and secondary public schools that strain to educate a diverse student body.

Although Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the state and a majority of the school-age children, they remain underrepresented across the university system, most of all at Berkeley. Only 5 percent of the Berkeley faculty members are Latino. Latino student enrollment has increased to about 14 percent, still far short of reflecting California over all.

Berkeley, the original campus (hence its nickname, Cal), was central to the agreement that shaped California’s system of higher education. The 1960 master plan established jurisdictions for the University of California (which retained its exclusive right to offer graduate programs), California State University and the community colleges. The master plan guaranteed admission to the four-year schools for top high school seniors and envisioned community colleges as feeders for other students. An era of expansion ensued to meet record demand as California passed New York to become the most populous state.

Then came more complicated decades: the Free Speech Movement, which helped propel Ronald Reagan to the governorship; Proposition 13, which slashed state revenues; Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action; and multiple recessions. During the worst years of the Great Recession, the University of California lost a third of its state support, and tuition, once free, rose to $12,000 from about $8,000 per year, for the first time surpassing state aid in total revenue.

For first-generation students, financial obstacles are only the start, especially at Berkeley, where faculty members have long valued research above teaching and the school has reveled in its sink-or-swim culture. Alejandra Tapia, who graduated in the class of 2019 with a major in molecular and cell biology, is both a success story and a cautionary tale. Raised by a single mother who worked in the fields, Ms. Tapia decided to become a doctor after her mother suffered a stroke. She attended four high schools, all in farmworker communities.

Through grit and intelligence, she won a full scholarship to Berkeley. Many days, she wondered if she had made the right choice. She had expected the intellectual challenges; she did not expect to navigate alien academic and social worlds with no support. Often the only Latina in her labs, she juggled pre-med classes, 15 hours a week of work and worries about her family. She came close to leaving. “It has made me better and stronger than what I thought I could ever be,” she said, triumphant that she had persevered. Thinking about the hardships, she began to cry.

The culture of intellectual Darwinism undermines the goal of equity in an era when so many students arrive without the cultural or financial resources once taken for granted. What is needed is more than just an update to the master plan, still the governing covenant. California needs a master plan for equity, a goal that would take a combination of vision, political will and acumen.

“The Master Plan was designed to provide a broadly traditional education to a broadly traditional student body,” the chancellors of the university and the community college system wrote last year in an agreement to formalize paths among the systems. “What is missing is a systemic reimagination of the ends of education in light of 21st-century conditions.”

The unbridled optimism and growth of the 1950s and early ’60s had downsides but nurtured a system that grew based on ideas, with confidence that resources would follow. Decisions now are too often made the other way around. Out-of-state students pay three times as much in tuition as residents; since the financial crises, their numbers soared to 18 percent of the enrollment.

There are signs of progress. One of every three new students at Berkeley is a junior transfer from a community college. They are more likely to be Latino, first generation, from lower-income families and more likely to concentrate in humanities because they lack the prerequisites for science and technology majors. Transfer students will be key for Chancellor Christ to fulfill her goal to make Berkeley a “Hispanic-Serving Institution,” a designation already achieved by six of the university campuses, which requires that a quarter of the students be Latino.

“The University and the State of California are inseparable,” Ansel Adams wrote in the late 1960s, after he had photographed every aspect of the university for its centennial celebration. “The challenge to the University of California today is nothing less than to help bring forth the civilization of the future.” Fifty years later, the future looks very different, but the challenge of its mission remains."
miriampawel  2019  universityofcalifornia  california  communitycolleges  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  socialmobility  joandidion  access  inequality  funding  tuition  anseladams  society  masterplan  uc 
june 2019 by robertogreco
California Studies | UCHRI
"The University of California California Studies Consortium (UCCSC) supported collaborative research by UC faculty, graduate students, and their colleagues at other institutions as part of a systemwide California Studies research initiative for the humanities, arts and social sciences. UCCSC was governed by a steering committee of faculty representatives from various UC campuses. It offered competitive grants totaling nearly $80,000 annually to support collaborative research projects, campus-community programming, and graduate travel for research.

The initiative sought to bring together the many interesting projects and discussions afoot on most of the UC campuses and to facilitate their development and elaboration in robust and creative ways by providing support for new projects to emerge. This systemwide multicampus approach to California Studies aims to sustain innovative scholarship, teaching and outreach.

UCCSC supported comprehensive critical mappings and re-mappings of California and its cultures. It places California as a site of global intersections and circulations—culturally, economically, and politically. This research initiative supported projects invested in sustained, multidisciplinary, and differently situated notions of intersection, power, history, language, migration and movement. UCCSC supplements a more traditional sense of California Studies by dealing squarely with questions of public pedagogy that address the antagonisms comprising what it means to be a “Californian.”"
california  universityofcalifornia  srg  californiastudies  uc 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Why Is There a Housing Crisis? | Opinion | East Bay Express
"The Bay Area's outrageous housing prices have led to howls of protest. Average rents have shot up by half during the last five years. Rents and house prices are the highest of any metropolitan area in the country and among the most unaffordable in the world. This is not just true of San Francisco but applies to the entire Bay region — now twelve counties and 8.5 million people, according to the US Census.

According to mainstream policy shops and planners, such as Gabriel Metcalf, president and CEO of the pro-urban growth organization SPUR, the housing crisis is caused by activists and neighborhood residents who oppose more market-rate housing development. Their solution is to allow developers to build more freely.

But while it's true that we need to expand the region's housing supply, building more housing cannot solve the problem as long as demand is out of control, as it is today. There is simply no way housing could have been built quickly enough to avoid the price spike of the current boom.

Three basic forces are driving the Bay Area's housing prices upward: growth, affluence, and inequality. Three other things make matters worse: finance, business cycles, and geography. All of these operate on the demand side of the equation, and demand is the key to the runaway housing market.

The prime mover of housing prices is economic growth. The Bay Area has been booming for the last five years, creating more than 500,000 new jobs on a base of 3 million. This is the global capital of tech, the world's most dynamic industry, and all those jobs have drawn in thousands of newcomers looking for housing. Moreover, tech delivers huge profits and pays high salaries and wages, as do other key sectors, like biomedical and finance. The Bay Area's per capita income has long been one of the highest in the country, and high incomes give people the wherewithal to pay top dollar for housing.

On top of this, income distribution is highly unequal, and wealth inequality is even worse, allowing the upper classes to put additional pressure on the market for good housing in favored locations. The Bay Area has one of the highest indexes of income inequality of any region, caused principally by the high salaries of the top 20 percent of earners. As for wealth, the Bay Area has more millionaires per capita than any other US metro and can claim 45 of the 400 richest people in the United States, second only to New York City.

Most people understand these essential drivers of the housing market, if not how extreme they are in the Bay region. But much more lies behind the runaway rents and sale prices of late. We need to think outside the box of simple supply and demand and look further at a trio of conditions shaping demand: credit and capital, boom and bust cycles, and the spatial preferences of the elite.

First, housing is a big-ticket item that normally requires a mortgage, and an excess of credit will exaggerate people's ability to purchase houses. California had the most overheated mortgage markets during the housing bubble of the 2000s, and our financial institutions have not been substantially reformed. Finance is subject to dramatic swings, and the pressure becomes unbearable at the peak of the cycle. Furthermore, footloose capital from around the world has once again been flooding into the Bay Area in search of high returns, whether as venture investments in hot start-ups, stock holdings in tech giants, or purchases of mortgage bonds. All the wealth in tech is not generated locally, nor is all housing demand.

Second, the housing market does not behave like eBay because supply is slow to adjust to demand. It takes a long time to build new units and most people stay in the same residence for years. Hence, only a small percentage of total housing stock comes on the market in any year — normally less than 5 percent — and markets suffer from intense bottlenecks. As expansive demand chases limited supply over the course of a business cycle, prices accelerate ahead of new building. Speculators and landlords intensify the pressure as they buy properties, evict tenants, and displace people in anticipation of even higher rents. The good news is that booms go bust, sooner or later. Construction will overshoot the market, as it always does, and then prices will fall by 10 to 20 percent, as usual.

Third, housing markets are badly distorted by the geography of privilege and power. If the nouveaux riches of the tech world want to live in San Francisco (even if they commute to Silicon Valley), they have the means to outbid working stiffs, families, artists, and the poor; the result, as we've seen, is a city that has become richer and whiter with remarkable speed. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: The greatest distortion to housing markets is the demand by the wealthy for exclusive, leafy, space-eating suburbs from Palo Alto to Orinda. These favored enclaves reduce overall housing supply by using low-density zoning to block the high-rises and apartments that provide moderate priced homes (not to mention low-income public housing).

So is there no recourse? Since the biggest sources of the housing crisis lie in the general conditions of contemporary capitalism — the tech boom, gross inequality, frothy finance, boom and bust cycles, and the power of the elites — local reforms can only do so much. Without a major political upheaval for financial control, higher taxes, equality, and more public spending, we are in for perennial housing crises. The housing market can never heal itself under existing conditions.

But some things can be done locally. Rent control with reasonable annual increases works quite well to dampen overheated markets. Eviction controls are critical, along with other restrictions on speculation. Demands for set-asides for low-income units are another proven strategy, along with development fees. Land trusts have worked well for open space protection in the Bay Area, and could work for housing, but will require major funding. And a real commitment of earmarking money for low-income housing by the federal government — on a scale to match the money going to highways — is a must.

New housing will have to be built, as well. But developers are profit-seekers, so don't expect them to be innocent bearers of what people need. It is absolutely necessary to question developers and city planners over what is to be built, how high, how big, and where. A livable city demands good design, historic preservation, neighborhood protections, mixed use, and social diversity, among other things, and figuring out what those things are should be a collective, democratic and, yes, conflictual process of politics and public debate. Nonetheless, opposing all new building, greater density, and neighborhood change is not a viable policy, and we cannot cling to the idea that our town or neighborhood will remain the same in a dynamic urban system.

Conservative critics, of course, denounce all popular efforts to control runaway housing costs, displacement, speculation, and bad planning as unnatural violations of some "natural law" of perfect markets. No one should be fooled by such fantasies. The real "market distortions" propelling the housing crisis are inequality, speculation, financial bloat, tax havens, and more. The day when the runaway privileges of bankers, builders, speculators, wealthy suburbanites, and the rest are reined in — that's the day the housing crisis will be over.

Richard Walker."
housing  california  richardwalker  2016  speculation  inequality  growth  affluence  geography  economics  bayarea  power  privilege  capitalism  rent  rentcontrol  eviction 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Earthquake Tracker: The latest quakes in California and across the world
"This earthquake map created in The Chronicle’s newsroom highlights quakes that have occurred in the past 30 days and focuses on epicenters in California. The data updates in real time and comes from the U.S. Geological Survey."
maps  mapping  earthquakes  california  2019 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Forget Poppies, Ojai’s Pixie Season Is the California Nature Event to Know - Vogue
"Ojai pixie season is here. Along Main Street, the red banners are strung up between the arches of the shopping arcade. Fruit stands greet you as you drive into town. And wherever you go, the floral, honeyed scent of pixies floats through the air.

Ojai is the only place in the world where pixies are grown. The citrus fruit is native to this region, but is actually the result of science, not nature. Researchers at UC Riverside developed it inside a lab in the 1950s, and released the hybrid crop to the public in 1965. However, due to the fruit’s asymmetrical shape and irregular picking season, experts never thought pixies would hold commercial value.

Boy, were they wrong.

The cult of the pixie took off in the late 1990s, when local growers realized they were sitting on a goldmine. With a bit of clever marketing, the wondrous, elusive fruit from southern California soon became sought after by wholesalers around the world (in Japan, they have a rapt audience). Still, it’s safe to say no one loves the pixies quite like Ojai.

Pixies are a notoriously fussy citrus: they only come out for a few weeks each year. And they depend on a very particular kind of microclimate (hot summers alternating with cool evenings)—exactly the conditions that Ojai provides. For residents, the yearly arrival of the tiny, seedless fruit is cause for city-wide celebration.

During pixie season, which lasts from mid-March through the end of April, the fruit’s star quality is in full force. Chefs in Ojai go wild: Chocolate dipped pixies. Pixie cheesecake. Pixies in a salad. Pixie cocktails. Pixie-flavored frozen yogurt. Pixie kombucha.

At Azu, a Mediterranean bistro on Main Street, it’s normal to sit down to a full meal with pixie in every bite. Chef Noah del Toro has a special this month: pan-seared sea scallops on a bed of grilled pixie-fennel risotto. Dessert is pixie jello layered with smooth panna cotta. The restaurant’s brewery, located four blocks down the road, has a signature white ale. Its flavor? You guessed it, pixie.

But for all its marketability, the path to pixie prosperity hasn’t been easy. At Friend’s Ranch, a family-owned citrus farm that ships giant cases of pixies to homes and businesses all over the country, the work is ongoing. Flood, drought, and rare overnight freezes can turn a citrus grower’s life upside down, and Emily Ayala, the fifth-generation matriarch of the business, has witnessed them all first-hand.

“This is the first year in eight years that we’ve had a normal rainfall,” she explains gleefully. “It’s like money falling out of the sky.” By all accounts, this is a much happier year than 2018, when her crop suffered from the after-effects of the deadly Thomas fires. That is, what was left of it—following the blaze, Ayala said she lost 15 percent of her acreage in Matilija Canyon. As with any agriculture business, nature remains the ruler.

Ayala, a mother of two, has a warm, focused presence among the clatter of sorting machines and air vents. The entrance to her bright turquoise packing house on Highway 33 doubles as a storefront where visitors can pick up jars of orange blossom honey, or souvenirs like pixie-themed tin lunch boxes. All of the merchandise is laid out on the surface of a rusted flat-bed wagon.

“Every time I get mad at our PVC lines breaking, I think how my grandfather was using that wagon to haul buckets of water to every tree, all summer long,” she says. “It was back-breaking work.”

Drudgery is how citrus farmers would describe it, but the sheer beauty of Ojai helps offset the stress. It’s easy to see why so many choose to live here. A leisurely drive on the backroads of Ojai packs a punch. On the east side of the valley, tranquil Grand Avenue feels plucked right out of southern France. Thick stone walls hem lush citrus fields, and sunlight filters through swaying California pepper trees. You’ll also want to leap out of the car and go frolicking through endless rows of symmetrical pixie and orange trees, but don’t (the groves are closed to visitors).

The abundant pixie groves are particularly striking when you consider that in a few weeks, the fruit will all be gone. Much has been made of Ojai’s spiritual attributes, and places like Krishnamurti Foundation and Meditation Mount shouldn’t be overlooked. But showing up in April for the pixie harvest, it’s hard not to get swept up in the swell of joy that knits this valley together. The pixies are a fleeting pleasure, and that’s exactly what makes them so special."
oranges  fruit  ojai  california  2019 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Dream Interrupted – Boom California
"Kevin Starr at The San Francisco Examiner, 1976-83"



"Yet if the temporal gap in Starr’s series seems mysterious, we need not speculate about his views of that period. In fact, he wrote copiously about those decades—not as a historian, but as a columnist for The San Francisco Examiner. Churning out more than 5,000 words per week between 1976 and 1983, Starr made it perfectly clear where he stood on the issues of the day, especially in San Francisco. Indeed, his articles hint at, but do not definitively establish, his reason for avoiding that period in his series.

Starr’s path to the Examiner was unusual. He grew up in San Francisco, living from age ten to fifteen in the Potrero Hill Housing Project. He attended St. Boniface School in the Tenderloin and, for one year, Saint Ignatius High School. After majoring in English at the University of San Francisco and serving in the U.S. Army, he earned a Ph.D. in English and American Literature at Harvard University, which he recalled as “a magical and nurturing place.”[6] Widener Library’s vast California collection inspired him to write about his native state. “I thought, ‘There’s all kinds of wonderful books on California, but they don’t seem to have the point of view we’re encouraged to look at—the social drama of the imagination,’” he later told the Los Angeles Times.[7] In 1973, Oxford University Press published his critically acclaimed dissertation book, Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915.

Instead of pursuing an academic career, Starr returned to San Francisco, wrote speeches for mayor Joseph Alioto, and was appointed city librarian in 1974. His decision to work for Alioto was consequential. The wealthy Catholic lawyer was a Democrat, but members of the so-called Burton machine—most notably Phillip and John Burton, Willie Brown and George Moscone—considered Alioto a threat to their progressive coalition. When the ILWU, the radical longshoremen’s union, endorsed Alioto’s 1967 mayoral bid, an angry Phil Burton threw his support behind Jack Morrison, Alioto’s opponent. “We’re going to shove Jack Morrison’s bald head up Alioto’s ass,” Burton told an ILWU representative.[8] In fact, Alioto sailed to victory and was reelected in 1971. He ran for governor in 1974, but lost to Jerry Brown in the Democratic Party primary. When Moscone edged out conservative supervisor John Barbagelata in the 1975 mayoral race, the Burton machine finally captured City Hall. By that time, the coalition included gay and environmental activists as well as labor unionists, racial and ethnic minorities, and white progressives.

Shortly after Moscone’s victory, Starr began writing for the Examiner, which had served as the Hearst Corporation’s flagship publication for decades. “The Monarch of the Dailies” was still a political force in the city, but its influence was shrinking along with its market share. In 1965, it signed a joint operating agreement with the more popular San Francisco Chronicle, whose executive editor, Scott Newhall, had regarded the Hearst newspapers as “something evil” designed to stupefy the masses. Newhall wanted to produce a very different kind of publication: “I figured the Chronicle had to be successful, and the city had to have a paper that would amuse, entertain and inform, and save people from the perdition of Hearstian ignorance.”[9] When it came to hard news, however, the Examiner considered itself the scrappy underdog. “We were the No. 2 paper in town with declining circulation,” recalled former editor Steve Cook. “But the spirit on the staff was sort of impressive—we actually thought of ourselves as the better paper in town, we thought we could show our morning rivals how to cover the news.”[10]

Soon Starr was writing six columns per week, including a Saturday article devoted to religion. Most of his columns featured the city’s cultural activities and personages, but Starr also took the opportunity to shape his public profile. He presented himself as a conservative Catholic intellectual, a San Francisco version of William F. Buckley Jr., whom he frequently praised. In one column, he described himself as “a conservative neo-Thomist Roman Catholic with Platonist leanings and occasional temptations towards anarchy.”[11] He also wrote about the challenges of that identity in San Francisco:
It’s not easy to be a conservative. It’s often lonely to be a thinking conservative. And to be a thinking conservative in San Francisco can frequently be an even more difficult and isolated condition…. Here in San Francisco such left-liberal opinions have coalesced into a rigid inquisitorial orthodoxy—an orthodoxy now reinforced by political power—that brooks no opposition whatsoever.[12]


The “political power” Starr had in mind was likely the Burton machine. With Moscone in City Hall, Willie Brown in the Assembly, and the Burton brothers in Congress, that machine was shifting into overdrive. Yet Starr clearly thought that San Francisco was moving in the wrong direction."



"After the failed 1984 campaign, Starr began to refashion himself, California style. Inventing the Dream, the second volume in what his publisher was already billing as a series, appeared in 1985. Four years later, he became a visiting professor at the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Southern California. Five years after that, Republican governor Pete Wilson appointed him California State Librarian, a position he held for a decade. During that time, he encouraged countless projects devoted to California history, including my biography of Carey McWilliams, for which he also wrote a blurb. In 1998, Starr was promoted to University Professor and Professor of History at USC. Over the next twelve years, he produced the final five volumes of his series, a brief history of California, and a short book on the Golden Gate Bridge. Among his many awards was the National Humanities Medal, which President George W. Bush presented to him in 2006.

As Starr’s profile rose, the Examiner columns faded from view. One wonders how he squared that body of work with the dream series. Did his criticisms of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, his sympathy for Dan White, his arguments on behalf of Patricia Hearst, or his role in the Peoples Temple tragedy dissuade him from treating those topics in his books? Perhaps, but the evidence is more suggestive than dispositive. Certainly the tone and temper of his work evolved in concert with his new professional duties. As the dream series unfolded, it began to reflect his sponsorial role at the state library and his emergent academic persona. The result was a new and more expansive authorial self, one that appealed to the state’s aspirations rather than to partisanship or moral reaction. Despite this evolution, or perhaps because of it, Starr declined to revisit the years immediately before, during, and immediately after his stint at the Examiner.

Although Starr didn’t parlay his early journalism into a political career, it groomed him for the work to come, much as his experience at Harvard did. It seasoned him, taught him how to write on deadline for general audiences, and introduced him to public figures and issues he wouldn’t have encountered had he accepted an academic position straight out of graduate school. But there was nothing inevitable about Starr’s achievement. To become California’s foremost historian, he had to overcome setbacks and adapt to changing circumstances. Only by shedding his journalistic persona and adopting a new model of authorship could he become the ardent but politically tempered chronicler of California civilization."
kennethstarr  sanfrancisco  sfexaminer  2019  peterrichardson  1970s  1980s  california  forrestrobinson  violence  iniquity  history  davidtalbot  josephalioto  phillipburton  johnburton  williebrown  georgemoscone  democrats  progressives  politics  journalism  class  identitypolitics  identity  conflict 
march 2019 by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Open Forum: Bring back the ‘missing middle’ housing - SFChronicle.com
"Tucked into neighborhoods throughout Oakland, Berkeley and many other Bay Area cities are small, beautiful duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes. These multifamily residences tend to be more affordable than single-family homes and were a major housing type in U.S. urban areas before World War II. But since the 1960s and ’70s, this type of essential housing has become illegal in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area and nation because it exceeds the density allowed. That’s why it’s now called “missing middle” housing. It’s time we brought it back.

Late this month, the Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal to study the return of the missing middle — specifically, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes — in most areas of the city, except for the fire-prone hills. Councilmembers Lori Droste, Ben Bartlett, Rashi Kesarwani and Rigel Robinson patterned their plan on a groundbreaking law that passed last fall in Minneapolis. In a historic vote, the Minneapolis City Council decided to become the first in the nation to once again allow for new duplexes and triplexes in single-family-home neighborhoods.

In a letter of support for the Berkeley plan, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said it could serve as a model for her city and others. Indeed, it could be a model for all of California.

It would also help right a historic wrong. During the first part of the 20th century, some white, wealthy neighborhoods in Berkeley attached racial covenants to housing deeds — covenants that banned people of color from living there. Then, after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial covenants in 1916 in Buchanan vs. Warley, Berkeley, regrettably, became a national leader of so-called “exclusionary zoning” laws. These laws worked much like racial covenants: They banned apartment buildings in many neighborhoods under the racist reasoning that people of color wouldn’t be able to live in those neighborhoods because they couldn’t afford to buy single-family homes.

In the following decades, “redlining” (a discriminatory practice of refusing to loan or insure in certain neighborhoods) and disinvestment deepened the racial divide in housing, as Richard Rothstein noted in his acclaimed 2017 book, “The Color of Law.” Cities and counties made matters worse in the ’60s and ’70s when they expanded exclusionary zoning, prohibiting missing middle housing in most neighborhoods.

Berkeley deserves credit for green-lighting new multi-unit housing downtown and on some major transit corridors during the past decade. But large swaths of the city are still limited by exclusive R-1 zoning, which only allows for single-family homes. In fact, homeowners in much of the city not only can’t add another home to a large lot but are blocked from subdividing their existing large house into two, three or four units.

Berkeley, of course, is not alone in its embrace of exclusionary zoning. Issi Romem, chief economist for Trulia, estimates that single-family-home neighborhoods represent nearly half of the land mass of the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The consequences of banning the missing middle have also been devastating for low-, moderate- and middle-income families. The median sales price of a home in Berkeley soared 65 percent in five years, from 2013 to 2018, reaching $1.2 million this past December, according to Zillow. And Berkeley rent prices skyrocketed 54 percent during the same period. In the Bay Area, a family currently needs to earn $200,000 a year to afford a median-priced home.

In short, we have a housing emergency. California now ranks 49th in the nation in terms of the number of housing units per capita. It’s no wonder that our homelessness crisis continues to expand.

It’s also an environmental crisis. During the past several decades, suburban sprawl, coupled with little to no new housing in our cities, has fueled gas-guzzling super-commutes. According to a 2018 report by researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the single most important way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint by 2030 — which scientists say is the deadline for avoiding catastrophic climate change — is to build urban infill housing.

We need an “all-of-the-above” approach to address our housing crisis, including Berkeley’s missing middle plan. I’m also heartened that the Berkeley City Council members’ proposal includes important elements to avoid unintended consequences.

For example, it would exempt dangerous fire zones in the Berkeley hills. California’s devastating wildfires during the past few years have proven we must curb new home-building in what’s known as the wildland-urban interface.

The Berkeley missing middle plan also calls for anti-displacement measures to ensure that tenants and low-income residents aren’t kicked out of their homes to make way for new housing.

As Karen Chapple, faculty director of the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley, rightly noted in a letter in support of the missing middle plan, “Zoning reform has the potential not just to address the housing crisis but also to become a form of restorative or even transformative justice. There is no more important issue for planners to tackle today.”

I look forward to the Berkeley City Council approving the missing middle study at its meeting on March 26. And I encourage all Bay Area cities to follow suit."
housing  california  2019  density  apartments  history  race  racism  sanfrancisco  berkeley  oakland  infilling 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Cooperative Economy in the Great Depression | Jonathan Rowe
"Entrepreneurs of cooperation
Before Social Security and the WPA, the Unemployed Exchange Association rebuilt a collapsed economy"



"The mood at kitchen tables in California in the early 1930s was as bleak as it was elsewhere in the United States. Factories were closed. More than a quarter of the breadwinners in the state were out of work. There were no federal or state relief programs, nothing but some local charity—in Los Angeles County, a family of four got about 50 cents a day, and only one in 10 got even that.

Not long before, America had been a farming nation. When times were tough, there was still the land. But the country was becoming increasingly urban. People were dependent on this thing called “the economy” and the financial casino to which it was yoked. When the casino crashed, there was no fallback, just destitution. Except for one thing: The real economy was still there — paralyzed but still there. Farmers still were producing, more than they could sell. Fruit rotted on trees, vegetables in the fields. In January 1933, dairymen poured more than 12,000 gallons of milk into the Los Angeles City sewers every day.

The factories were there too. Machinery was idle. Old trucks were in side lots, needing only a little repair. All that capacity on the one hand, legions of idle men and women on the other. It was the financial casino that had failed, not the workers and machines. On street corners and around bare kitchen tables, people started to put two and two together. More precisely, they thought about new ways of putting twoand two together.

Building a reciprocal economy

In the spring of 1932, in Compton, California, an unemployed World War I veteran walked out to the farms that still ringed Los Angeles. He offered his labor in return for a sack of vegetables, and that evening he returned with more than his family needed. The next day a neighbor went out with him to the fields. Within two months 500 families were members of the Unemployed Cooperative Relief Organization (UCRO).

That group became one of 45 units in an organization that served the needs of some 150,000 people.

It operated a large warehouse, a distribution center, a gas and service station, a refrigeration facility, a sewing shop, a shoe shop, even medical services, all on cooperative principles. Members were expected to work two days a week, and benefits were allocated according to need. A member with a wife and two kids got four times as much food as someone living alone. The organization was run democratically, and social support was as important as material support. Members helped one another resist evictions; sometimes they moved a family back in after a landlord had put them out. Unemployed utility workers turned on gas and electricity for families that had been cut off.

Conventional histories present the Depression as a story of the corporate market, foiled by its own internal flaws, versus the federal government, either savvy mechanic or misguided klutz, depending on your view.The government ascended, in the form of the New Deal; and so was born the polarity of our politics—and the range of our economic possibilities—ever since.

Yet there was another story too. It embodied the trusty American virtues of initiative, responsibility, and self-help, but in a way that was grounded in community and genuine economy. This other story played out all over the U.S., for a brief but suggestive moment in the early 1930s.

The UCRO was just one organization in one city. Groups like it ultimately involved more than 1.3 million people, in more than 30 states. It happened spontaneously, without experts or blueprints. Most of the participants were blue collar workers whose formal schooling had stopped at high school. Some groups evolved a kind of money to create more flexibility in exchange. An example was the Unemployed Exchange Association, or UXA, based in Oakland, California. (The UXA story was told in an excellent article in the weekly East Bay Express in1983, on which the following paragraphs are based.) UXA began in a Hooverville (an encampment of the poor during the Depression, so-called after the president) called “Pipe City,” near the East Bay waterfront. Hundreds of homeless people were living there in sections of large sewer pipe that were never laid because the city ran out of money. Among them was Carl Rhodehamel, a musician and engineer.

Rhodehamel and others started going door to door in Oakland, offering to do home repairs in exchange for unwanted items. They repaired these and circulated them among themselves. Soon they established a commissary and sent scouts around the city and intothe surrounding farms to see what they could scavenge or exchange labor for. Within six months they had 1,500 members, and a thriving sub-economy that included a foundry and machine shop, woodshop, garage,soap factory, print shop, wood lot, ranches, and lumber mills. They rebuilt 18 trucks from scrap. At UXA’s peak it distributed 40 tons of food a week.

It all worked on a time-credit system. Each hour worked earned a hundred points; there was no hierarchyof skills, and all work paid the same. Members could use credits to buy food and other items at the commissary, medical and dental services, haircuts, an dmore. A council of some 45 coordinators met regularly to solve problems and discuss opportunities.

One coordinator might report that a saw needed a new motor. Another knew of a motor but the owner wanted a piano in return. A third member knew of a piano that was available. And on and on. It was an amalgam of enterprise and cooperation—the flexibility and hustle of the market, but without the encoded greed of the corporation or the stifling bureaucracy of the state. The economics texts don’t really have a name for it. The members called it a “reciprocal economy.”

The dream fades

It would seem that a movement that provided livelihood for more than 300,000 people in California alone would merit discussion in the history books. Amidst the floundering of the early 1930s, this was something that actually worked. Yet in most accounts the self-help co-ops get barely a line.

The one exception is Upton Sinclair’s campaign for governor in 1934. Sinclair was a kind of Ralph Nader of his day. He based his campaign on a plan he called End Poverty in California, or EPIC, which was based in turn on the self-help cooperatives, UXA in particular. It would have taken the state’s idle farmland and factories and turned them into worker co-ops.

The idea of a genuine economy shorn of Wall Street contrivance touched a chord. Some 2,000 EPIC clubs sprang up. Sinclair won the Democratic primary, but California’s moneyed establishment mustered $10 million dollars to pummel him. EPIC died with his campaign, and the idea has been associated with quixotic politics ever since.

To say UXA and the other cooperative economies faced challenges is to put it mildly. They were going against the grain of an entire culture. Anti-communist “Red Squads” harassed them, while radicals complained they were too practical and not sufficiently committed to systemic change.

But the main thing that killed the co-ops was the Works Progress Administration and its cash jobs. Those WPA jobs were desperately needed. But someof them were make-work, while the co-op work was genuinely productive.

The co-ops pleaded with FDR’s Administration to include them in the WPA. Local governments were helping with gasoline and oil. But the New Dealers weren’t interested, and the co-ops melted away. For years they were period pieces, like soup lines and Okies.

Or so it seemed.

Today, the signs of financial and ecological collapse are mounting. We are strung out on foreign debt and foreign oil, and riding real estate inflation that won’t last forever. Add the impendingc ollapse of the natural life support system, and the ’30s could seem benign by comparison.

In this setting, the economics of self-help are increasingly relevant. The possibility of creating such an economy, though, might seem remote. In the 1930s, there still were farms on the outskirts of cities—family operations that could make barter deals on the spot. Factories were nearby too. Products were simple and made to last, and so could be scavenged and repaired.

All that has changed. The factories are in China, the farms are owned by corporations, and you can’t walk to them from Los Angeles anymore. Products are made to break; the local repair shop is a distant memory. Hyper-sophisticated technology has put local mechanics out of business, let alone backyard tinkerers.

An idea resurfaces

Yet there are trends on the other side as well. Energy technology is moving back to the local level, by way of solar, wind, biodiesel and the rest. The popularity of organics has given a boost to smaller farms. There’s also the quiet revival of urban agriculture. Community gardens are booming—some 6,000 of them in 38 U.S. cities. In Boston, the Food Project produces over 120,000 pounds of vegetables on just 21 acres.Then consider the unused land in U.S. cities: some 70,000 vacant parcels in Chicago, 31,000 in Philadelphia.

Large swaths of Detroit look like Dresden after the firebombing. A UXA could do a lot with that. I’m not getting gauzy here. Anyone who has been part of a co-op — I once served on the board of one — knows it is not a walk in the park. But it is not hard to see the stirrings of a new form of cooperative economics on the American scene today. You can’t explain Linux, the computer operating system developed community-style on the web, by the tenets of the economics texts. Nor can you so explain Craig’s List, the online bulletin board that people use at no or minimal cost.

The cooperative model seems to defy what economists call “economic law”—that people work only for personal gain and in response to schemes of personal incentive and reward. Yet the Depression co-ops did happen. When the next crash … [more]
cooperation  coopeatives  greatdepression  socialism  history  california  us  1930s  economics  solidarity  jonathanrowe  losangeles  compton  farming  agriculture  labor  work  ucro  oakland  carlrhodehamel  uxa  community  mutualaid  detroit  coops  local  fdr  wpa  communism  uptonsinclair  poverty 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Gradients are everywhere from Facebook to the New York Times - Vox
"Here’s why The Daily, Coachella, and Facebook all use backgrounds that look like a sunset."



"What it is: A digital or print effect where one color fades into another. Typically rendered in soft or pastel tones.

Where it is: Gradients are seemingly everywhere in media and marketing. They are part of a suite of Facebook status backdrops introduced in 2017 and the branding for the New York Times’ popular podcast The Daily, which displays a yellow to blue gradient.

Gradients have taken over Coachella’s app and website (if you watch carefully, the colors shift). Ally’s billboard in A Star Is Born is a full-on gradient, and so was the branding for the Oscars ceremony that recognized Lady Gaga.

On Instagram, they provide a product backdrop for popular Korean beauty brand Glow, and have been embraced by indie magazines Gossamer and Anxy — both designed by Berkeley studio Anagraph.

On the luxury front, Brooklyn wallpaper company Calico has released an entire collection of gradient wallpapers called Aurora. Meanwhile, Spanish fashion house Loewe has introduced a version of their trendy Elephant bag in a spectrum of pink to yellow.

Are gradients drinkable? Heck yes, they are. Seltzer startup Recess has gone all-in on gradients in their branding.

Why you’re seeing it everywhere: Gradients are the confluence of three different trends: Light and Space art, vaporwave, and bisexual lighting.

In the art and design world, Light and Space — developed in the 1960s and ’70s — has been experiencing a revival thanks to its Instagramability. Light and Space pioneer James Turrell has been embraced by celebrities like Beyoncé, Drake, and Kanye West. Drake’s Hotline Bling video was inspired by Turrell’s light-infused rooms called Ganzfelds. The Kardashian-Jenner-West crew posted an Instagram in front of one of Turrell’s works in Los Angeles. (I was yelled at by security for taking a picture there but it’s fine.)

[image]

Most recently, West donated $10 million dollars to the artist.

James Turrell’s works come with a warning because the visitor quickly loses all depth perception. Soft gradients are alluring because they cut through the noise of social media, but they also are disorienting. The Twitter bot soft landscapes operates on a similar principle, but some days the landscape all but disappears.

“It’s nice to see calming things amongst all of the social ramifications of Instagram,” says Rion Harmon of Day Job, the design firm of record for Recess. Harmon compares the Recess branding to a sunset so beautiful you can’t help but stare (or take a picture) however busy you are. Changes to the sky are even more pronounced in Los Angeles, where Harmon’s studio is now based. “The quality of light in LA is something miraculous,” he says. The Light and Space movement was also started in Southern California, and it’s in the DNA of Coachella.

Gradients might be a manifestation of longing for sunshine and surf. But they also belong to the placeless digital citizen. 1980s and ’90s kids may remember messing around in Microsoft Paint and Powerpoint as a child, filling in shapes with these same gradients. It’s no surprise that this design effect is part of the technological nostalgia that fuels the vaporwave movement.

Vaporwave is a musical and aesthetic movement (started in the early 2010s) that spliced ambient music, advertising, and imagery from when the internet started. Gradient artwork shared by the clothing brand Public Space is vaporwave. So is this meme posted by direct-to-consumer health startup Hers.

[image]

When Facebook rolled out gradient status backgrounds in 2017, they knew what they were doing. “They have so much data into how the world works,” says Kerry Flynn, platforms reporter at Digiday. “They had a slow rollout to the color gradients … Obviously they could have pulled the plug anytime.”

Flynn goes on to explain that Facebook realized they had become their own worst enemy. There was so much information on their platform that personal sharing was down and they had to make it novel again. “Facebook wants our personal data, as much as possible. Hence, colorful backgrounds that encourage me to post information about myself and for my friends to ‘Like’ it and comment,” she says.

It’s ironic that in order to do so, Facebook borrowed from a digital texture most millennials associate with a time before Facebook. But it also mimics a current trend in film and television: bisexual lighting.

As Know Your Meme explains, “bisexual lighting is a slang in the queer community for neon lighting with high emphasis on pinks, purples, and blues in film.” These pinks, purples and blues often fade into one another — appearing like a gradient when rendered in two dimensions. Bisexual lighting shows up in the futuristic genre cyberpunk, which imagines an era in which high technology and low technology combine and cities are neon-bathed, landmarkless Gothams. (Overlapping with vaporwave.) Mainstream examples of cyberpunk include Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and Black Mirror (specifically the “San Junipero” episode). Hotline Bling makes the list of examples for bisexual lighting; the gradients come full circle.

Tati Pastukhova, co-founder of interactive art space ARTECHOUSE, says gradients have become more popular as computer display quality increases. She says the appeal of gradients is “the illusion of dimension, and giving 2-D designs 3-D appeal.” ARTECHOUSE is full of light-based digital installations, but visitors naturally gravitate toward what is most photogenic — including, unexpectedly, the soft lighting the space installed along their staircase for safety reasons.

[image]

Before gradients, neon lettering was the Instagram lighting aesthetic du jour. Gradients are wordless — like saying Live Laugh Love with just colors. “There’s an inherent progression in gradients, you are being taken through something. Like that progression of Live Laugh Love. Of starting at one point and ending at another point. Evoking that visually is something people are very drawn to,” says Taylor Lorenz, a staff writer at the Atlantic who covers internet culture.

Gradients are also boundaryless. In 2016, artist Wolfgang Tillmans used gradients in his anti-Brexit poster campaign. Through gradients, designers have found the perfect metaphor for subjectivity in an era when even the word “fact” is up for debate. “Gradients are a visual manifestation of all of these different spectrums that we live on,” including those of politics, gender, and sexuality, says Lorenz. “Before, I think we lived in a binary world. [Gradients are] a very modern representation of the world.”

At the very least, gradients offer an opportunity to self-soothe.

Calico co-founder Nick Cope says the Aurora collection is often used in meditation rooms. He and his wife have installed it across from their bed at home. “The design was created to immerse viewers in waves and washes of tranquil atmospheric color,” Cope says, adding, “Regardless of the weather, we wake up to a sunrise every morning.”"

[See also:
"Is 'bisexual lighting' a new cinematic phenomenon?"
https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-43765856 ]
color  gradients  design  socialmedia  jamesturrell  2019  light  space  perception  neon  desig  graphicdesign  ux  ui  wolfgangtillmans  nickcope  meditation  colors  tatipastukhova  artechouse  computing  bisexuallighting  lighting  queer  knowyourmeme  pink  purple  blue  cyberpunk  future  technology  hightechnology  lowtechnology  vaporwave  bladerunner  ghostintheshell  blackmirror  sanjunipero  hotlinebling  kerryflynn  facebook  microsoftpaint  rionharmon  sunsets  california  socal  losangeles  coachella  depthperception  ganzfelds  drake  kanyewest  beyoncé  anagraph  ladygaga  daisyalioto 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Remapping LA - Guernica
"Before California was West, it was North and it was East: the uppermost periphery of the Mexican Empire, and the arrival point for Chinese immigrants making the perilous journey from Guangdong."



"Open any contemporary map of LA and you can see the exact spot where the Mexican gives way to the American: Hoover Street, just west of downtown, in which angled Mexican streets bend to accommodate the US grid. In a 2010 essay, Waldie described that point as “crossing from one imperial imagination to another.” A shift in power, in place and identity—all marked by a single line.

***

In his map, Ord diligently marked street names, topography, and the families to whom designated agricultural lands belonged. (Many of these names now remain in Los Angeles memory as city streets: Sepulveda, Vignes, and Sanchez.) Ord, however, omitted one crucial feature: the plaza.

The city block that it occupies made it into the map. But the plaza itself went unlabeled. Perhaps it was an oversight, an urban feature that may have seemed inconsequential to a surveyor from the East Coast. The omission, however, marginalized a crucial feature of Los Angeles.

Under Mexican rule, the bare plaza—a photo from 1862 shows a rough square crisscrossed by footpaths—had been of critical importance. It anchored social and civic life in the city: a site of weddings and inaugurations, and, ultimately, the place where United States military commanders parked their troops when they invaded during the Mexican-American War—complete with brass band playing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Even more, the plaza represents an important facet of the mestizo, an urban space that mixes elements of the indigenous and the European. In the early days of colonization, plazas in Spain were small, medieval affairs, tucked into a city’s available spaces. But plazas among Mesoamerican cultures were power centers—larger, more open, more ceremonial, more central, often surrounded by a settlement’s most important buildings. In his engaging 2008 book The Los Angeles Plaza, William David Estrada notes that the vibrant plazas that developed in Latin America, “especially in Mexico, were as much a product of the Indian world—the world of the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec before the conquest—as they were European.”

The Plaza de Los Angeles, therefore, is not simply a random green space. It is the urban embodiment of a non-Anglo, hybrid American space—American, in the sense of belonging to the continent, not simply the US. Of the 44 pobladores who arrived from Sinaloa, Durango, and Jalisco, and who founded the City of Los Angeles in 1781, only two were Spaniards. Most of the people were indigenous, mixed-race, black, or mestizo. The plaza was their shared space—a space that reflected the city’s location, not as a Western outpost, but as a Northern one.

Today, the Plaza de Los Angeles is lined with stately trees and punctuated by a bright bandstand. It is a prominent tourist attraction, part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument that includes nearby Olvera Street, a passageway stuffed with vendors dispensing ceramics, ponchos, and hot churros dipped in sugar and cinnamon. The plaza is no longer the center of civic life in Los Angeles, but it remains an important social space. On weekends, musicians entertain Latino families who attend religious services in the area, then descend on the square to eat and dance.

In the popular imagination, LA is often cast as a Westside yoga girl who’s into colonics and kale. But Los Angeles is more likely to be a little Mexican girl, grooving to a cover of “Juana La Cubana” in the plaza—a space her ancestors helped devise.

***

As important as the plaza has been to Mexican life, it has been critical for other groups, too—in ways both poignant and chilling. That takes me back to the simple map that hangs at the Chinese American Museum.

Shown on the map is a short lane that once ran parallel to Los Angeles Street, just off the plaza. Sometime during the era of Mexican independence, it became known as Calle de Los Negros. As the story goes, one of the alcaldes (mayors) of the era baptized the street after the mixed-race families who lived there, and the name stuck. After California was ceded to the US, Calle de Los Negros was Anglicized to “Negro Alley”—never mind that most the people who lived there by the end of the nineteenth century were Chinese.

Calle de Los Negros, in fact, was the site of a notorious riot known as the Chinese Massacre of 1871. The ruckus started when a white man was accidentally killed in crossfire between two Chinese groups. In the wake of his death, a mob of 500 people “of all nationalities”—including police officers, a city council member, and a reporter—began a brutal assault on any and all Chinese people living in Negro Alley. Some were lynched; others were shot. Bodies were mutilated and dragged. An estimated 17 people died; seven men were ultimately convicted for manslaughter.

It was an episode of vicious anti-Asian sentiment that drew international headlines. It also drew attention to a street whose name was born of racism—racism that carried into Los Angeles map-making. Calle de los Negros was frequently referred to in English as “Nigger Alley.” And in some early twentieth century maps, it is that appalling pejorative that appears as official map nomenclature, including on the historic sheet at the Chinese American Museum.

Today, all that remains of Calle de los Negros are the maps. The lane was later renamed Los Angeles Street. In the 1950s, it was razed and replaced with a freeway on-ramp and a parking lot. Sometimes ugly histories are also erased from the faces of cities and their maps.

In the 1930s, much of old Chinatown was bulldozed to make way for Union Station. The community was relocated a few blocks to the north, to a complex of fanciful buildings that bear the flourishes of Chinese temple architecture. The new Chinatown is less residential and more commercial, cluttered with restaurants and tourist markets and a photogenic statue of Bruce Lee (not to mention a singular Asian-Mexican gas station). Subsequent generations of Chinese immigrants have chosen not to live in this area. Instead, they have moved to communities such as Alhambra and Monterey Park, further east.

But one vestige of the old Chinatown still survives: the Garnier Building, a red brick, Romanesque Revival structure completed in 1890. The Garnier, which appears in the map at the museum, once served as an important hub for Chinese life in Los Angeles. It was here that residents could visit the herb shop, get access to financial services, and support organizations that fought for citizenship rights. (The Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese Americans from applying for citizenship until 1943.)

The Garnier is now the home to the Chinese American Museum, which helps preserve the community’s history. A small courtyard marks the entrance to the museum, where paper lanterns bob in the breeze. It is a touch of Asia in a structure that lies between tilted streets with Spanish names, just steps from the Plaza de Los Angeles.

To look at Los Angeles as West is to see a charming, yet incomplete, picture of Los Angeles. It is one narrative that overwrites many. The Los Angeles of the West is a Los Angeles molded to Anglo preconception. It is a Los Angeles of railroads and Hollywood. It is the end of the line.

The Los Angeles of the North and the East has been here for centuries, and it is everywhere. It has given Los Angeles its name and its grid. It has shaped the city’s architecture and supplied its most distinctive flavors. It is Chicano teens drinking Taiwanese bubble tea on an avenue called Cesar Chavez. It is Latino families flocking to a 1960s American diner that’s been converted into a pan-Asian noodle joint. It is Asian low-riders and Salvadoran sushi chefs. It is the point of entry—the beginning."
carolinamiranda  us  california  losangeles  history  maps  mapping  cartography  2019  china  chinese  mexico  architecture  cities  plazas  power  east  west  orientation  chinatown  canon  djwaldie 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Is Gavin Newsom Right to Slow Down California’s High-Speed Train? | The New Yorker
"There is currently a direct train between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, called the Coast Starlight—the ride takes about twelve hours and costs around a hundred dollars. It is also possible to fly between the two cities, hourly throughout the day; the trip is around fifty minutes in the air, and a ticket can be less than a hundred dollars. In reasonable traffic, a car can expect to make the journey, which is roughly the distance from New York City to Brunswick, Maine, in six hours. There are direct buses, too. An S.F.-to-L.A. trip on the high-speed rail would fit amid these options. It is also supposed to cost around a hundred dollars one way and to take two hours and forty minutes, a comfortable length for people wanting to go from downtown to downtown on a schedule, without detouring through the airport—in other words, for business people travelling between the state’s two growing centers of money and power. The High-Speed Rail Authority has produced varying ridership estimates; the highest, a hundred million a year, matches the usage of the Bay Area’s most sprawling regional rail system, bart, which is busy with people making daily metropolitan commutes to work or to school. It’s easy to imagine a San Franciscan family of four with two small kids preferring, over other possibilities, a three-hour train ride on Friday to visit Grandma in L.A. (Cost: something like seven hundred bucks round-trip, assuming there’s a reduced child fare.) But it’s hard to imagine middle-class families making a commuter habit of such trips, especially given the not horribly longer journey possible for just the cost of a full gas tank. In practice, the S.F.-to-L.A. route would operate chiefly as a business train, for inter-city meeting-makers, executives bouncing between offices, multiple-home owners, and unmoored media types. (Disclosure: I would personally love this train.) It’s an alternative connection for already well-connected people.

Smart advocates of the plan, of which there are many, point to the success of high-speed rail elsewhere: in China, in Europe. It’s worth noting, however, where such admirable trains actually go: on suburban and exurban routes, mostly, not metropolitan ones, the trains doing what air travel cannot. By trimming the high-speed rail of its upscale ends (for now), Newsom focussed the rail plan on the communities most underserved by current transit infrastructure—a narrower-use case, but probably one that is more generous to the inland region. Largely agricultural and truly middle-class, the cities between Merced and Bakersfield make up a part of California that risks losing, rather than gaining, steam, especially as some conditions that support the agricultural economy fall away. A major infrastructure project would bring a fresh wave of middle-class workers to these affordable cities. Being the custodians of the state’s most advanced transit, too, would keep those cities on the map and weave an often-atomized agricultural community together. A high-speed train connected to the prospering coast, in contrast, would bind Valley workers to a thriving ecosystem of jobs and bring coastal industry inland—to what end? In a 2000 survey of the topic, Ted Bradshaw, a now-deceased professor at the University of California, Davis, who studied these inland communities, projected social bifurcation. “Underskilled workers fail to find a place in the new economy and are increasingly bypassed, while workers from the high-technology urban centers are encouraged to relocate to the Valley,” he wrote. “While the potential for development is real and the possible benefits are great, these industries face stiff competition from the coastal regions in California.”

To the extent that California has challenges around inequality (and it does), they have tended to come from élite workers compounding their advantage, attracting similarly élite labor from elsewhere, and building a local economy that crowds out anyone who is not affluent or who has obstacles to opportunity access. Few people would really want Bakersfield or Fresno to be the new frontiers of cost refugees—metropolitan workers who can’t afford the cities or just want more bang for their buck. Even fewer would want these inland destinations themselves to become a true extension of the coast—ever more a zone of wealth and the enduring worm-jar competition of an élite class. Purely upscale cities, we are starting to realize, are tedious and sad.

A high-speed rail tying the Valley to the coast will create a new channel for these business-class powers, and it won’t be cheap. According to an analysis by the World Bank, the per-mile cost of building such a system in California is twice the comparable expense in Europe and three times the cost in China: we are paying top dollar for the privilege of emulation. Neither will it come soon. The rail connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles is expected be finished in 2033. By that point, autonomous vehicles, green in both power source and roadway efficiency, are expected to be in commercial use—not everywhere, one assumes, but almost certainly on the stretch of highway separating the headquarters of Uber, in San Francisco, and Space X, in L.A. Because autonomous cars are more predictable and more controlled—in short, more train-like—there will be another costly push to streamline existing roadways to their habits. (They can use narrower lanes, for instance.) They also have the virtue, especially in spread-out California, of carrying passengers door to door. The United States is overdue for high-speed rail: it represents the standard we are trailing. But in zooming toward the future it’s important to remember whom we’re taking with us and who is being left behind."
highspeedrail  trains  gavinnewsom  nathanheller  2019  transportation  california  bakersfield  merced  centralvalley  losangeles  sanfrancisco  inequality  cities  urban  urbanism  highspeed  rail 
february 2019 by robertogreco
An Interview With Samin Nosrat: ‘I Identify as a Californian’ - The New York Times
"I’m curious about how growing up in California informed your worldview and your work now.

That was all I knew. I really love the beach. The beach has always been a constant in my life. And you asked about how being a Californian has influenced me: Above any other way of identifying, like above race or religion or anything — or nationality — I identify as a Californian. This way that I’ve gotten to spend so much of my life outside, in different landscapes, has absolutely affected me. Agriculture has affected me. The way there are so many different kinds of people from all over the world — I’m so, so grateful for that. I remember being sick of the fact that it was always sunny in San Diego. My dad said to me: “What’s wrong with you? Everyone in the whole rest of the world aspires to live in California.”

I don’t know — I mean, I love Mexican food so much. I could probably go on for a long time about the differences between Northern California and Southern California Mexican food."
saminnosrat  california  food  saltfatacidheat  2019 
january 2019 by robertogreco
How many Bay Area place names have you been mispronouncing? | KALW
"Accent marks are missing all over the Bay Area. Many neighborhoods and streets are named after Spanish explorers. Some of those names once had accent marks. But now, without them, we don’t know if we’re saying them right. Listen to the different ways these residents pronounce the name of their neighborhood in San Francisco.

“The Portola,” said one person who placed the stress on the POR. “I call it Portola district,” said another, who placed the stress on the TO. “Portola,” said another who stressed the POR. “The Portola district,” said another woman who stressed the TO.

This name once had an accent mark. Once it disappeared, the original pronunciation went with it. And so did its history.

“I guess that’s the traditional Italian name?” suggested one resident. “Um, Portola, what's his, I forget his first name?” wondered another. “I didn't know it was named after a person?” mused another resident.

“The people in the 1920s that came to this neighborhood pronounced it Portola,” said Rayna Garibaldi, putting the stress on the POR.

Garibaldi is a San Francisco native, born and raised here. You know the slim history book with the old photo on the cover that you see in a lot of neighborhoods? She wrote it and it’s called, San Francisco’s Portola.

According to the book, immigrants from Italy and Malta and Jews from Europe settled here in the 1920s. Their pronunciation, Portola, with the stress on the POR, caught on. That’s what Garibaldi grew up with. She says that in her lifetime she’s seen the neighborhood change. That pronunciation is now fading away.

“Now people who come here new from other parts of the city or other countries say Portola,” with stress on the TO, she said.

Garibaldi is talking about people like me. I stress the TO in Portola. That’s how I’ve always heard it pronounced. But after talking to Garibaldi, I started to wonder about Portola and how it should be pronounced. To find out, we need to look into our California history.

Don Gaspar de Portola was a Spanish explorer. Historians believe he discovered the San Francisco Bay in the 1700s. He was also the first Governor of Spanish-ruled California, before it was a state. After the miners struck gold and San Francisco rapidly grew, most people living here didn’t know about Portola. And those that did, forgot about him.

“This piece of California history was a little bit obscure. The back pages in the history books, so to speak,” explained local historian John Freeman.

Freeman said that in 1909, San Francisco quickly rebuilt itself after the big earthquake and fires. It wanted to throw a 5-day carnival to relaunch the city as a destination for business and tourism.

“They were searching around for a theme, a set of colors, and something to hang their festival on,” he said. They settled on the 140th anniversary of Portola’s discovery of the San Francisco Bay and called it the Portola Festival.

Suddenly, San Francisco was enamored with Portola. In postcards advertising the event, he looked rugged, with wavy hair spilling out from under a plumed hat, a sash over his shoulder and a long sword by his side. But as talk of the festival spread, a vexing question emerged. According to Freeman, the chair of the festival committee was giving a speech when he pronounced Portola three different ways.

“One of the principals of this particular meeting says, `excuse me sir, how do we pronounce the name?’” Freeman said, “`We need to officially decide how we should pronounce the name.’”

The organizers began an extensive search for Portola’s signature. Dispatches were sent to Spain and Mexico. They wanted to know if, and where, he put the accent mark in his name, so they could pronounce it right. In the meantime, how to say Portola went viral, in a 1909 way. Letters poured into the The San Francisco Call. One of them suggested that the pronunciation be decided by a game of dice. Another newspaper joked that it should be pronounced “Porthole.” Then there was the verse, like this excerpt from Lost Accent, published in the San Francisco Chronicle:
For my nerves were racked to pieces

and I felt an awful jar

When I heard the Mispronouncer

Say my name was Portola.

Oh, but there was more. Like this selection from What’s In a Name?
We’ll sing his blows ‘gainst craven foes,

His parry, thrust and sortie;

And when we come to speak his name,

Oh, well — let’s call him Porty!

Only days before the festival was to officially open, a Stanford academic discovered a cache of Portola’s letters in Mexico City. He said, I have looked at the documents, there is an accent on the end of his name, it should be pronounced Portolà.

Finally, how he would have pronounced it. The long, lost accent! Portolahhh. But just as quickly as it was discovered, it was gone. Newspapers couldn’t print the accent mark.

“You would sometimes see it accented. A lot of it had to do with the printer and the type of font they were using. Having a font with the "a" accented was a rarity in anybody's print box,” said Freeman.

In a short time, the correct pronunciation of Portolà disappeared. Today, in the Bay Area, there’s no accent mark on any of the signs that bear his name. Not on neighborhoods, streets, schools or even the city named after him, Portola Valley.

Today’s young explorers can speak their names into voice recorders. But unlike Portolà, they will never have official papers to show where their accent marks should be. So, if we can learn anything from Portolà, it’s to put your accent mark wherever you can. You just don’t know if you’ll wind up in the history books.

A note on the accent on Portolà: Gaspar de Portolà was Catalan, so we are using the Catalan closed accent, not the Spanish accent grave."
names  naming  california  sanfrancisco  accents  pronunciation  spanish  español  portola  neighborhoods  italian  accentmarks  history 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The Fight Over Football’s Future Is Now a Battle for California’s Soul - The Ringer
"So what will happen next? It’s possible that flag football will eventually displace tackle football among youth, and the numbers will go back up as we come to terms with the risks involved for those in high school and beyond; in fact, the case for youth flag football is increasingly being made by coaches and NFL veterans like John Madden and Drew Brees, who has said he won’t allow his own children to play tackle football until middle school. But without knowing how science might advance, or whether equipment might evolve, it’s also possible to imagine football becoming an increasingly regional sport that’s centered even more in the Southeast and is slowly de-emphasized on the West Coast. Within the past three years, Georgia has nearly overtaken California as the third-largest college football recruiting state in the country.

It’s easy to imagine football being played primarily by wealthy private schools or well-subsidized public schools that can afford to invest in the most expensive safety measures (and weather the changes in the insurance market), or by athletes from underprivileged communities who are seeking a way out. A school like Lowell, for instance, doesn’t need football to survive.

On the practice field, Danny Chan tells me that one of his best players sat out most of the year while in concussion protocol, citing this as proof that things aren’t the same as they used to be when all those 1960s and ’70s-era NFL players—whose brains wound up at Boston University—were in their prime. When that parent of his star running back pulled her child from football in 2017, Chan questioned why she didn’t lobby the city’s public schools to ban the sport altogether. Or do you only care about your own kid? he asked her.

This is the crux of the philosophical disagreement, one that bleeds into our modern political debate about paternalistic government overreach and the perceived existence of the “nanny state.” During my conversation with Archie, she points to car seats for children as an example of how our safety standards have evolved over time. And during my conversation with Rafter, he brings up car seats as a way of pointing out that we’ve adapted to modern standards without outlawing driving altogether. So whose responsibility is it to mitigate that risk, and how far should we go in mandating these safety measures? And what do we lose in making these choices?

“Football, in particular, offers communities things of value,” Rafter says. “It’s hard to measure, except through stories and testimonials. I can’t put it in a medical or scientific document. Nobody’s allowing us to have that conversation. But that’s a piece that would be a huge loss, in the worst-case scenario, in the state of California.”

The question, then, is whether you believe that those stories and testimonials depend on the existence of football, or that you feel they’re merely an echo of the communities themselves. Maybe football will someday reinvent itself in a progressive manner, the way it did at the turn of the 20th century. Maybe our cultural and scientific progress as a society means that we should eventually leave it behind. All those years ago, when Stanford and Cal dropped football in favor of rugby, Roberta J. Park wrote that the school’s presidents presumed they were promoting a safer game. But Park also made another, more curious observation: The games we play don’t really influence our morality. They just reflect who we are."
california  sports  football  americanfootball  2019  children  youth  teens  brain  health  rugby  history  athletics  parenting  activism  sanfrancisco  georgia  texas  florida 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Calisphere: Fresno jackrabbit harvest 1893 California
"Jackrabbits often ravaged orchards and vineyards. Fresno settlers soon saw their profits decreasing and organized a campaign to deal with the problem. This photo shows a method borrowed from the Indians. A fence is created in the shape of a V. The wings of this V would extend about 2 miles. Citizens would line up far above the open end of the V and drive the rabbits. The rabbits would run into the V and when they got into the bottle neck they were corralled and beaten with clubs. Firearms were not allowed because of the safety of the people. Between 1888 and 1897 there were 217 public drives alone in California accounting for approximately 500,000 dead rabbits."
rabbits  animals  nature  humans  california  1893  photography  traps  extermination  fresno  multispecies 
january 2019 by robertogreco
California Needs Frank Capra to Rewrite Its Story | Connecting California | Zócalo Public Square
"The Legendary Film Director Knew That the Golden State Isn’t About Rich Moguls, but About the Struggles and Triumphs of Ordinary People"
california  frankcapra  2018  joematthews 
december 2018 by robertogreco
CoolClimate Network: Carbon Footprint Planning Tools and Scenarios
"Consumption-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories have emerged to describe full life cycle contributions of households to climate change at country, state and increasingly city scales. Using this approach, how much carbon footprint abatement potential is within the control of local governments, and which policies hold the most potential to reduce emissions? This study quantifies the potential of local policies and programs to meet aggressive GHG reduction targets using a consumption-based, high geospatial resolution planning model for the state of California. We find that roughly 35% of all carbon footprint abatement potential statewide is from activities at least partially within the control of local governments. The study shows large variation in the size and composition of carbon footprints and abatement opportunities by ~23,000 Census block groups (i.e., neighborhood-scale within cities), 717 cities and 58 counties across the state. These data and companion online tools can help cities better understand priorities to reduce GHGs from a comprehensive, consumption-based perspective, with potential application to the full United States and internationally.

Jones, C., Wheeler, S., & Kammen, D. (2018). Carbon Footprint Planning: Quantifying Local and State Mitigation Opportunities for 700 California Cities. Urban Planning, 3(2), 35-51. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v3i2.1218

Resources

1) Try the Interactive Policy Tool!: GHG reduction potential for every California block group, zip code, city, county and the state overall
https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/ca-scenarios/index.html

2) Interactive Online Map
https://coolclimate.org/maps-2050

3) California Local Government Climate Policy Tool (Excel Version, 11 Mb)
https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/files2/Jones-Wheeler-Kammen-2018-Results-CA.xlsx

4) Open Access Version of the Paper (external site)
https://www.cogitatiopress.com/urbanplanning/article/view/1218

5) CoolClimate Calculator: Calculate and compare your carbon footprint to similar households and create a personalized climate action plan.
https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator "
california  climatechange  policy  governance  government  carbonfootprint  sustainability  local 
december 2018 by robertogreco
An Official Welcome - The New York Times [California Today]
"I’m a California native — born at U.C.L.A. Medical Center. But when I was 2, my dad got a good job in Kansas City, so my parents packed up and left the place where they grew up for the Midwest.

Now, I understand it for the smart career move that it was. For the 10 years we lived outside the Golden State, though, I only ever wanted to go back.

Whenever we’d fly into LAX to visit my grandparents and my cousins, it felt like coming home for reasons I couldn’t really articulate.

Part of it was that in Kansas, I never quite forgot that I looked different from my tawny-headed classmates, who sometimes asked if I was Chinese. That was hurtful only because it underscored that I’d never be like them at an age when I just wanted to fit in.

My mom is Japanese-American and my dad is of Russian Jewish descent. And in California, I felt like I could be just another face in the crowd — whether we were at an udon restaurant with my mom’s parents in Gardena or the West Hollywood comedy club where my paternal grandmother worked.

I share this because it captures the peculiar magic of California for me.

[image: "Out on one of my favorite assignments: Squid fishing off the Orange County coast in 2013. [photo by] Don Leach"]

We eventually moved back, to the Mission Viejo area. Then I went to college at U.C. Berkeley and worked in Bakersfield, Orange County and Los Angeles as a reporter. During that time, I learned California is a place that’s impossible to explain, to encapsulate in any one way.

But it’s a place where almost anyone can feel at home.

And that’s what I want California Today to help you feel. I want you to look forward to opening the newsletter every morning, knowing that you’ll start the day understanding your state a little better, even if it’s boundless.

To achieve this, we’ll be rethinking the newsletter from greeting to kicker. You’ll notice us trying different formats and features."
california  multiculturalism  identity  kansas  orangecounty  californiatoday  2018  jillcowan  missionviejo  experience  home  place  ethnicity  inclusivity  acceptance 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Could California's Camp Fire Have Been Avoided? - The Atlantic
[originally here: https://tinyletter.com/vruba/letters/6-90-sauce ]

"Disasters are never natural in the ordinary sense because they always could have been avoided or mitigated by human choices. In this way of thinking, everything that we call a disaster started as a hazard, and hazards themselves are only risks, not harms. If and how hazards become disasters is shaped by governmental, infrastructural, and economic choices, conscious or unconscious."



"Disasters are never natural in the ordinary sense because they always could have been avoided or mitigated by human choices. In this way of thinking, everything that we call a disaster started as a hazard, and hazards themselves are only risks, not harms. If and how hazards become disasters is shaped by governmental, infrastructural, and economic choices, conscious or unconscious.

If this sounds like I’m saying we should blame the government for disasters, like medieval peasants who believe that a flood means the king has lost the mandate of heaven and must lack virtue, I’m not. Nor am I saying that the government (or the economic system, or whatever) is strictly to blame for every bad thing. I’m saying that if we set up an institution to control floods, and rightly give it credit when it does well, it’s equally to blame when it does poorly. This isn’t subtle; it’s what we mean by responsibility. And there are historians now who read the old idea of the mandate of heaven and “moral meteorology” not only as a farmers’ superstition but also as an oblique way to say things like: The king didn’t use the massive hydrological infrastructure at his disposal to mitigate the effects of what could have been merely unusually heavy rain. He’s a bad administrator. Or, if you prefer, heaven finds him lacking in virtue.

California and the United States are, of course, strikingly well-governed in some ways and strikingly badly governed in others. Our disasters follow. The air quality in the Bay Area right now is a hazard; a society that can’t manage to distribute good air filters to everyone who needs to be outside, and allows everyone else to stay inside, is a disaster. The poorest suffer the most. This is so true that it’s almost redundant. Poverty in any useful sense isn’t net worth in dollars. It’s more like a high ratio of personal disasters to personal hazards. Will a toothache, a hazard, turn into an untreated infection, a disaster? Will being caught jaywalking, a hazard, turn into a felony record, a disaster? Will getting sick turn into losing your job? When we point out that homeless people suffer particularly badly from the smoke, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t some kind of sad coincidence—wow, homeless and at risk from the air!—it’s why we care about homelessness in the first place. A house is one of many machines for mitigating hazards.

The Black Saturday fires destroyed entire towns and killed 180 people near metropolitan Melbourne, Australia, not quite a decade ago. The comparisons are easy. Survivors talked about the speed of the fire there too—how you could be preparing to evacuate one minute and surrounded by flames the next. Many people in those hills died defending their houses, with garden hoses and buckets, against unsurvivable heat. I expect that happened here too. After the Black Saturday fires, a lot of experts were exasperated by survivors rebuilding what had been destroyed, most famously the little town of Marysville. Don’t people realize the fires will be back? The experts are right about the fires but wrong about the people. Everything we make is temporary, and some will choose to live under trees even knowing they’ll burn. The rest of us can roll our eyes, but we do it from places where we know there will be another hurricane, another earthquake, another heat wave, mass shooting, death in custody, cancer. Everyone spends a lifetime doing things that will end."



"The closest thing we have to infinity is sustainability, a word secretly disliked by many people who use it most. Sustainability for Californian forests is a fairly clear concept, because it’s been tried for 10,000 years. Fire is hard to govern. A serious program of controlled wildland fires in California would surely collapse the first time one got out of control—and one would, because fire does—and burned down someone’s property. It asks a lot of anyone to see a house’s destruction in a fire set by someone wearing a uniform as really necessary.

We can’t switch over to some perfectly sustainable, traditional ecological knowledge–based fire-management regime tomorrow. We have already built houses among trees. The forest we know today is different from the forest that was sustained. It’s been changed by policies of fire suppression and intense logging. It will have to slowly become something sustainable, and only then could that future forest, which none of us has ever seen, be sustained.

And, of course, the climate is changing. Summer is hotter and drier now. What worked well for the entire Holocene epoch may not work at all in the Anthropocene. And the ideal forest strategy in 2018’s climate will not be ideal in 2068’s, at least the way we’re going. So it comes back to taking carbon out of the air. We all knew that already. I think this must be one reason California’s fires are especially fearsome to many Americans: because the idea of California is often subtly an idea of the future.

I hear people say with disgust that these smoky days are the new normal. But the forests burned every year, in vast areas, though in cooler, slower, individually smaller fires, up until the genocides of European settlements. The nearly smokeless summers that my parents’ generation can talk about weren’t the system at equilibrium; they were already an effect of unsustainable imbalance. The oldest Californians living can’t remember the kind of forest we’ll need for the future. If we don’t want the kind of fire we have today—the kind that kills whole families—and if we don’t want to cut down all the plants and be done with the unpredictability of nonhuman life, we’ll still be left with fires. Safer fires, but smoky fires.

So there will be some ash-tasting days in the happiest future I can imagine for California. The air will be chemically fairly similar to today’s, but it will smell different. For now, here in Oakland we’re breathing the consequences of the 20th century, and trying not to forget that this kind of air is ordinary for millions upon millions of people who live around coal power plants."
charlieloyd  2018  california  fires  risk  hazards  climatechange  wilfdires  disasters  anthropocene  forests  forestmanagement  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Complicated Legacy of Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog” | The New Yorker
"Brand now describes himself as “post-libertarian,” a shift he attributes to a brief stint working with Jerry Brown, during his first term as California’s governor, in the nineteen-seventies, and to books like Michael Lewis’s “The Fifth Risk,” which describes the Trump Administration’s damage to vital federal agencies. “ ‘Whole Earth Catalog’ was very libertarian, but that’s because it was about people in their twenties, and everybody then was reading Robert Heinlein and asserting themselves and all that stuff,” Brand said. “We didn’t know what government did. The whole government apparatus is quite wonderful, and quite crucial. [It] makes me frantic, that it’s being taken away.” A few weeks after our conversation, Brand spoke at a conference, in Prague, hosted by the Ethereum Foundation, which supports an eponymous, open-source, blockchain-based computing platform and cryptocurrency. In his address, he apologized for over-valorizing hackers. “Frankly,” he said, “most of the real engineering was done by people with narrow ties who worked nine to five, often with federal money.”

Brand is nonetheless impressed by the new tech billionaires, and he described two startup founders as “unicorns” who “deserve every penny.” “One of the things I hear from the young innovators in the Bay Area these days is ‘How do you stay creative?’ ” Brand said. “The new crowd has this, in some ways, much more interesting problem of how you be creative, and feel good about the world, and collaborate, and all that stuff, when you have wads of money.” He is excited by their philanthropic efforts. “That never used to happen,” he said. “Philanthropy was something you did when you were retired, and you were working on your legacy, so the money went to the college or opera.”

Brand himself has been the beneficiary of tech’s new philanthropists. His main concern, the Long Now Foundation, a nonprofit focussed on “long-term thinking,” counts Peter Thiel and Pierre Omidyar among its funders. The organization hosts a lecture series, operates a steampunk bar in San Francisco’s Fort Mason, and runs the Revive & Restore project, which aims to make species like the woolly mammoth and the passenger pigeon “de-extinct.” The Long Now Foundation is also in the process of erecting a gigantic monument to long-term thought, in Western Texas—a clock that will tick, once a year, for a hundred centuries. Jeff Bezos has donated forty-two million dollars to the construction project and owns the land on which the clock is being built. When I first heard about the ten-thousand-year clock, as it is known, it struck me as embodying the contemporary crisis of masculinity. I was not thinking about death.

Although Brand is in good health and is a dedicated CrossFit practitioner, working on long-term projects has offered him useful perspective. “You’re relaxed about your own death, because it’s a blip on the scale you’re talking about,” he said, then quoted Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms,” saying, “Much was decided before you were born.” Brand is concerned about climate change but bullish on the potential of nuclear energy, urbanization, and genetic modification. “I think whatever happens, most of life will keep going,” he said. “The degree to which it’s a nuisance—the degree to which it is an absolutely horrifying, unrelenting problem is what’s being negotiated.” A newfound interest in history has helped to inform this relaxed approach to the future. “It’s been a long hard slog for women. It’s been a long hard slog for people of color. There’s a long way to go,” he said. “And yet you can be surprised by successes. Gay marriage was unthinkable, and then it was the norm. In-vitro fertilization was unthinkable, and then a week later it was the norm. Part of the comfort of the Long Now perspective, and Steven Pinker has done a good job of spelling this out, is how far we’ve come. Aggregate success rate is astonishing.”

As I sat on the couch in my apartment, overheating in the late-afternoon sun, I felt a growing unease that this vision for the future, however soothing, was largely fantasy. For weeks, all I had been able to feel for the future was grief. I pictured woolly mammoths roaming the charred landscape of Northern California and future archeologists discovering the remains of the ten-thousand-year clock in a swamp of nuclear waste. While antagonism between millennials and boomers is a Freudian trope, Brand’s generation will leave behind a frightening, if unintentional, inheritance. My generation, and those after us, are staring down a ravaged environment, eviscerated institutions, and the increasing erosion of democracy. In this context, the long-term view is as seductive as the apolitical, inward turn of the communards from the nineteen-sixties. What a luxury it is to be released from politics––to picture it all panning out."
stewartband  wholeearthcatalog  technosolutionism  technology  libertarianism  2018  annawiener  babyboomers  boomers  millennials  generations  longnow  longnowfoundation  siliconvalley  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  politics  economics  government  time  apathy  apolitical  californianideology  stevenpinker  jennyholzer  change  handwashing  peterthiel  pierreomidyar  bayarea  donaldtrump  michaellewis  jerrybrown  california  us  technolibertarianism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Revisiting Mike Davis' case for letting Malibu burn - Los Angeles Times
"During fire season, I always think about Mike Davis, author of one of the most — pardon the pun — incendiary essays in the annals of SoCal letters: “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn.” I return to this chapter from his book “Ecology of Fear” any time that the Santa Ana winds howl and thousands flee raging infernos — a ritual that used to happen every couple of years but now seems to happen every couple of months.

“The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” is a powerhouse of history, science, Marxist analysis — and a certain amount of trolling. Its main point is that Southern Californians will never accept that fire is not only common here, but part of our ecology going back centuries. To spend millions saving homes in areas never meant for neighborhoods and power lines is not just folly, but a waste of public resources.

This time around, as California burned from the north to the south, I checked in via email with Davis, now professor emeritus at UC Riverside. He’s best known for his literary double whammy against Los Angeles exceptionalism: 1990’s “City of Quartz” and 1998’s “Ecology of Fear.” Those books made the Los Angeles of “Chinatown” seem as sinister as Mayberry. Davis’ tales of racism, poverty, corruption and other sins — backed by copious footnotes — inspired a generation of radical historians and writers, including yours truly. He also riled an army of detractors who so hated his apocalyptic warnings that they ridiculed everything from his scholarship to his marriages to the fact that he was born in Fontana.

But as the years go on, Davis’ bleak words read more like revelations than rants. Just as he argued, we build deeper into canyons and foothills, daring Mother Nature to give us her best shot — and then are shocked when she does.

The Woolsey fire has already scorched more than 96,000 acres in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, destroying 435 structures in Malibu and other cities. It’s yet another “fire of the century” for the beach city.

“Maybe 10 or 20 years ago, you stayed in your homes when there was a fire and you were able to protect them,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said during a news conference this weekend. “We’re entering a new normal. Things are not the way they were 10 years ago.”

In other words, we now live in Mike Davis’ world. He has ascended to the pantheon of Golden State visionary authors like Helen Hunt Jackson, Upton Sinclair and Carey McWilliams who held up a mirror to us that we have ignored at our own peril.

“The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” depicted Malibu and other wealthy cities built in the boonies as created not for “love of the great outdoors or frontier rusticity,” but rather as “thickets of privacy” against L.A.’s working classes and people of color.

We enable this white flight into the mountains, he argued, by not just allowing development where there shouldn’t be any, but also subsidizing those affected by the inevitable wildfire in the form of cheap fire insurance and squadrons of first responders deployed around the clock at the hint of an ember.

He went through a litany of Malibu blazes over the last century, concluding with the Old Topanga blaze of 1993 — which consumed about 18,000 acres but destroyed 323 structures. Throw in climate change, Davis noted in a version of his essay that appeared in the L.A. Weekly, and the catastrophe “marked a qualitative escalation in fire danger, if not the actual emergence of a new, post-suburban fire regime.”

And, almost exactly 25 years later, here we are again.

Davis’ work on Malibu’s flames has aged far better than the criticism of it. Chapman University urban studies fellow Joel Kotkin, for instance, said of “Ecology of Fear” back in the 1990s that it “basically mugs Los Angeles” and is “truly nauseating stuff.” Yet by 2007, Kotkin told the Economist, in an article about the fires that fall that wreaked havoc from San Diego to Santa Barbara, that “nature still has a lot of power” in the once-unspoiled areas where we build homes — which is what Davis contended all along.

Then there’s former Malibu real estate agent Brady Westwater, who refashioned himself as a downtown L.A. booster. You couldn’t write about “Ecology of Fear” for years without mentioning Westwater, who hounded reporters with screeds and stats about Davis’ real and alleged errors until the press finally began to cite him as a legitimate critic.

In his own 1998 essay (whose titled described Davis as a “purposefully misleading liar”), Westwater predicted that “fire damage will decrease over the years” in Malibu because of better infrastructure and better-built homes. Of the Old Topanga disaster, he plainly declared: “That kind of fire can never happen again.”

And yet here we are again.

Davis remains persona non grata in Malibu, from Neptune’s Net to Pepperdine University. Malibuites took “The Case…” as a direct attack on their beliefs and ways of life.

Davis takes no satisfaction in seeing his analysis come true all over again. But the author, who’s recovering from cancer, stands by what he wrote.

“I’m infamous for suggesting that the broader public should not have to pay a cent to protect or rebuild mansions on sites that will inevitably burn every 20 or 25 years,” he told me. “My opinion hasn’t changed.”"
mikedavis  2018  malibu  losangeles  california  fires  whiteflight  suburbs  nature  wildfires  socal  class  race  racism  development  1990s  1993  1998  bradywestwater  helenhuntjackson  uptonsinclair  careymcwilliams  joelkotkin  inequality 
november 2018 by robertogreco
By The Bay
[See also: https://www.ballot.fyi/ ]

"Take a break from the national chaos, and dip into the fascinatingly bizarre world of local elections. We explain California, San Francisco, and San Jose propositions & races so you'll laugh, cry, and vote on Election Day, November 6th.

We also made this neat tool so you can save your votes and talk about local issues with your friends.

Okay, let's do this civic duty dance and show how Democracy is done, shall we?



ABOUT US (REALLY)

By The Bay is led by Jimmy Chion and Yvonne Leow, two San Franciscans, who love almost all things Californian.

Our mission is to transform residents into citizens. We think local issues like housing, homelessness, and public transit affect us everyday, but it's hard to know how to participate. By The Bay is our way of changing that, starting with elections.

WE'RE NONPARTISAN, BUT NOT BORING
We try to convey all relevant arguments as fairly and factually as possible. We are human though – so please email us at hi@bythebay.cool if you see anything that needs some TLC.

WE MADE A THING BEFORE
In 2016, we built ballot.fyi to explain all of the confusing CA propositions. To our surprise, it reached ~1M people in one month. This year, we're covering local elections again. Hopefully making you a little smarter and our community a little better.

WE'RE FUNDED BY THE KNIGHT FOUNDATION
In 2017, we received a $75K grant from the Knight Foundation to continue ballot.fyi. The Knight Foundation is a nonpartisan non-profit that supports local journalism initiatives across the country. BTB is a for-profit organization, but fiscally sponsored by the non-profit Asian American Journalists Association.

WHO WE ARE (AS PEOPLE)

JIMMY CHION was a designer and engineer at IDEO, an instructor at California College of Arts, and an Artist-in-Residence at Autodesk. He has two degrees from Stanford, neither of which have anything to do with politics. He created ballot.fyi, and now leads design and development at BTB. Send him a punny message at jimmy@bythebay.cool

Yvonne Leow
YVONNE LEOW is a digital journalist by trade. She has worked at Vox.com, Digital First Media, and the AP. She is currently the president of the AAJA and was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford. Yvonne leads editorial and partnerships at BTB. Send her a haiku at yvonne@bythebay.cool."
bayarea  sanfrancisco  sanjose  elections  votersguide  voting  politics  srg  edg  glvo  california  propositions 
november 2018 by robertogreco
California State Propositions – a nonpartisan guide [updates every election]
"nonpartisan
We're tired of fliers telling us how to vote. ballot.fyi doesn't tell you what to do, instead we give you the facts and arguments about each proposition so you can come to your own conclusion. We cite all of our sources (try clicking this little circle
) and try to represent all relevant perspectives – that's what we mean by nonpartisan. But, we're human, and we don't know everything, so if you know something we didn't cover, email us at fax@ballot.fyi (with sources cited)

concise
We've read the full text of the propositions, the official arguments of both sides, and many, many opinion articles so we can give you concise but comprehensive digests of what's on the ballot. These are real issues that affect real animals, and we hope these summaries get you interested in what's happening in CA and make you feel ready to vote.

a tool
We want you to feel good – amazing even – on Election Day, and we also hope that you'll want your friends to feel fantastic, because this site's only purpose is to get more folks voting. So do us a solid and tell your friends they get to vote on Daylight Saving Time this November.

About Amir & Erica
Amir & Erica (you know, like "America") was created by Jimmy Chion (a designer and engineer) and Yvonne Leow (a journalist) with the help and balance of many friends, left and right. We first made ballot.fyi in 2016. It reached a million people in one month, and in 2017, we received a $75K grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to continue ballot.fyi into 2018. The Knight Foundation promotes informed and engaged communities through funding in journalism, arts, and technology.

If you live in San Francisco or San Jose, we created By The Bay to cover those local propositions. [https://www.bythebay.cool/ ]"
votersguide  voting  california  propositions  politics  srg  edg  glvo  sanfrancisco  sanjose  bayarea  elections 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Bay Area Census
"Selected Census data from the San Francisco Bay Area -- provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Featuring Census data from 1860-2010.

Spanning from the wine country to Silicon Valley, the Bay Area has a population of over 7 million people in nine counties and 101 cities."
bayarea  sanfrancisco  california  oakland  census  data  population  demographics 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Michael T Spooky 🎃 on Twitter: "1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA. 2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California… htt
"[RE: @Automotive_News Why aren't California emissions dropping? http://dlvr.it/QhXxzs ]

1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA.

2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California

because coastal Californians conceptualize environmentalism as a consumer identity and individual virtue, they are blind to how blocking more people from living near the coast is the root cause of their long-term environmental calamity.

They will happily blame a construction worker priced out of San Francisco who has to drive 2 hours from Stockton every morning for ruining the air quality in the Central Valley, when the worker has no way to opt-out of those circumstances and suffers the worst consequences

Meanwhile, the wealthy who would just simply rather not permit more people to live near them enjoy the cool and clean air from the Pacific and wonder why on Earth these irresponsible middle class people in Fresno don't just buy $80k Teslas"

[See also:

"Bay Area far from progressive on housing"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/San-Francisco-Bay-Area-is-not-progressive-on-13319525.php ]
housing  emissionss  california  sanfrancisco  bayarea  2018  environment  environmentalism  density  airquality  transportation  publictransit  stockton  centralvalley  class  society  sprawl  virtue  externalization 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Black Twitter: American Twitter gets its new terms from Black Twitter — Quartz
"African American English may be America’s greatest source of linguistic creativity.

A new study, led by Jack Grieve, a professor of corpus linguistics at the University of Birmingham in the UK, analyzed nearly 1 billion tweets to find out how new terms emerge on the platform. By looking at words that go from total obscurity to mainstream usage on Twitter in a short period of time, the research can begin to answer questions like: Is one part of the country more linguistically creative than the others? And do new words spread from a geographical origin outward, or does the internet allow them to emerge everywhere, simultaneously?

To some extent, the answer to both questions is “yes,” as I have written previously. But the study points out the particular importance of one community on Twitter in particular, concluding, “African American English is the main source of lexical innovation on American Twitter.”

To get to that result, the authors extracted billions of words from tweets by users in the United States. They then identified the words that were very uncommon around October 2013, but had become widely used by November 2014. After getting rid of proper nouns and variations of the same term, they settled on 54 “emerging words,” including famo, tfw, yaas, and rekt.

Identifying those terms allowed the researchers to analyze out how new words spread. That pointed to five “common regional patterns” of lexical creation: the West Coast, centered around California; the Deep South, around Atlanta; the Northwest and New York; the Mid-Atlantic and DC; and the Gulf Coast, centered on New Orleans.

Of those five, the Deep South is exceptional in the way it brings about new terms. Usually, a term starts in a densely populated urban area, then spreads to urban areas in other parts of the country. In the case of the West Coast, for example, terms tend to start in Los Angeles and San Francisco, then make their way to Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

That doesn’t happen as much in the Deep South. There, the spread of creative new words appears to be driven more by culture than population density. Atlanta, the authors point out, is small relative to urban powerhouses like LA and New York. And terms that originate in the South do not spread by jumping to other cities; instead, they spread via areas with large black populations.

The map below shows the different regions the study uncovered; each county in the US is colored based on the pattern of spread it is most closely associated with. As you can see, the West Coast map shows several red hotspots well beyond California, popping up as far away as Seattle, Florida, and the Northeast. Several other maps look like that, too—the Northeast pattern has green splotches in Louisiana, the South, and Southern California; the Mid-Atlantic map shows deep purple in Chicago, Texas, and elsewhere. The Deep South, on the other hand, spreads straight out from the area around Atlanta, with only a very faint blue on top of San Francisco.

[maps]

That alone wouldn’t be enough to say that African American English is the “main source” of new terms on American Twitter. But the paper adds that three of the five patterns above seem to be “primarily associated with African American English.” That is to say, these patterns reflect the distribution of the black population in the US. Often, the study finds, the percentage of a county that is black appears to be more important than just the number of people living there in fueling linguistic creativity. In Georgia and North Carolina, for example, linguistically innovative areas “are not necessarily more populous but do generally contain higher percentages of African Americans.” This, they conclude, shows “the inordinate influence of African American English on Twitter.”

Many of the Black Twitter terms identified in the study will be familiar to any frequent Twitter user. Among the ones most associated with the Deep South region are famo (family and friends), fleek (on point), and baeless (single). But the fastest-emerging terms come from other places and cultures, too. Waifu, for example, a Japanese borrowing of the English word “wife,” is associated with the West Coast and anime."
blacktwitter  language  english  communication  invention  culture  2018  2013  nikhilsonnad  jackgrieve  linguistics  deepsouth  sandiego  portland  oregon  seattle  lasvegas  phoenix  westcoast  losangeles  sanfrancisco  california  atlanta  nyc  washingtondc  nola  neworleans  chicago 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Paper Road, by Nicole Lavelle
"PAPER ROAD is a book. It is a research narrative capturing my process of re-orienting myself to an important home-place. A heart-place.



This book is the final document of a year-long research project conducted while I was a Graduate Fellow at the Headlands Center for the Arts from July 2016 to July 2017.

What is PAPER ROAD about? See a weird concept framework I made for this project.

The research process and story both begin at my family's summer cabin in Lagunitas, California. I have spent a lot of time in this place. I use houses as vessels for situating my own located experience within broader California cultural contexts and land use histories. The book is a non-linear narrative of fragments, recontextualized image and text collected from private and public archives and collections. The content I assembled from research materials is annotated in first-person narrative, explaining the wild connections that emerged between everything.

The book contains 450 pages of annotated narrative, an introductory essay, a conversation with archivist and independent scholar Rick Prelinger, a non-functional (but poetic!) index, and a bibliography."
nicolelavelle  books  place  lagunitas  archives  rickprelinger  bibliographies  indices  culture  classideas  projectideas  lcproject  openstudioproject  experience  california  collections  curation  research  storytelling  identity  2016  2017 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Endangered Island Foxes Break Record for Fast Recovery | The Nature Conservancy - California
"Thanks to scientific strategy, the world’s smallest fox has rebounded from sure extinction in just a decade."
foxes  channelislands  california  2018  animals  wildlife  nature  multispecies 
july 2018 by robertogreco
How to look at Los Angeles: A conversation with D.J. Waldie, Lynell George and Josh Kun
"Arriving at a not-quite-real place, falling in love after a sometimes brutal wooing, and love's disillusionment, is the briefest and truest history of California." —D.J. aldie



"I actually think most stereotypes about L.A. are true, and that's not only OK, it's part of what it means to live here." —Josh Kun



"for me, as the child of South American immigrants, California was never the West; it was the North. And it was never the last stop. It was the first. It was the beginning." —Carolina Miranda



"That is ultimately the key. To let go of these expectations of what L.A. is supposed to be, supposed to fix, supposed to cure — all of the projections we've lived in and around for decades." —Lynell George

[quote selections via: http://cmonstah.tumblr.com/post/125092712185/talking-with-josh-kun-dj-waldie-and-lynell ]
losangeles  djwaldie  lynellgeorge  joshkun  2015  california  cities  experience  immigration  immigrants  expectations 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Where Did All the Jacaranda Trees in Los Angeles Come From?
"When you look up at a vibrant purple jacaranda tree—or a bush of bougainvillea, sprout of birds of paradise, or fragrant patch of jasmine, for that matter—you can thank Kate Sessions, a pioneering female horticulturalist who helped make over the natural environment of Southern California.

Sessions was born in Barbary Coast-era San Francisco, amongst the gold speculators and vigilantes. Early in her childhood her family moved near Lake Merritt, which, in 1870, would be designated as the country’s first official wildlife refuge. She went on to be among the small cohort of women to attend U.C. Berkeley in the initial years after the Board of Regents opened admission to female students, and, in 1881, received her degree in natural science.

After graduation, Sessions went on to enroll in business school in San Francisco, but was lured south by an offer of a job as a school teacher in San Diego.

Plants had always been her passion, but once she arrived in Southern California, that passion exploded. Her job as a teacher lasted only one school year, but she quickly purchased a nursery and flower shop and established flower cultivating fields in Coronado, Pacific Beach, and Mission Hills.

She was fascinated with plants growing in exotic parts of the world, and was experimenting with bringing seeds and plants from Europe, Mexico, and South America, as well as cultivating native California plants. She became the most sought-after landscape designer for fashionable homeowners and residential developers in the fast-growing city.

In 1892, she made the deal that would change California’s landscape forever. Sessions leased 32 acres of land owned by the city of San Diego which was then known as City Park. The field was barren, pest-ridden, and lacked any formal landscaping. Sessions agreed to amend the situation by planting 100 new trees per year in the park and 300 trees per year elsewhere on public lands around the city. In exchange, she could use the property as a kind of laboratory and growing field. That property was filled with cypress, eucalyptus, palms, and jacaranda—and, along the way, was re-dubbed Balboa Park.

A bronze statue of Sessions was placed in the park in 1998, and it’s still the only statue of a historical woman anywhere in San Diego. In 2006 the Women’s Museum of California inducted her into their Women’s Hall of Fame and produced a short video about her contributions to the city.

[video embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JmBhL_R-e0 ]

Word of San Diego’s transformation into a colorful and lush environment quickly spread up the coast, as did the popularity of the exotic plants that Sessions demonstrated could flourish here. Jacarandas, with their beautiful blossoms in a distinctive purple color, were an easy sell, and in the 1920s and ’30s they were planted extensively in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

Sessions died in 1940, but her legacy continued as Los Angeles grew and jacarandas became one of the most recognizable trees in the region.

Most of the jacarandas seen in L.A. are Jacaranda mimosifolia, one of the 49 different types of flowering jacaranda trees. One specimen in Santa Ana is on the official registry of Big Trees, measuring 58 feet high, 98 inches around the trunk, and more than 73 feet across the spread of the branches."
katesessions  jacarandas  california  losangeles  trees  plants  2018  sandiego 
july 2018 by robertogreco
The Essential Guide to Eating California - Eater
"In the American imagination, California has always been viewed through a haze of fantasy. Early on, it was dreams of fist-sized gold nuggets lying in wait. Then a generation of Okies schlepped West, to eventually populate the pages of Steinbeck and the photos of Dorothea Lange, looking for a utopian land of plenty. More recently, it’s reveries of glamour and fame. Of in-ground pools. Of cheap avocados and convertible road trips to Coachella. Of picnics beside granite waterfalls. Of another gold rush, but made out of code. Of palm trees and beaches and children riding surf boards to school.

This is all mostly the stuff of California’s well-marketed mythology: There are swaying palm trees, but no public guacamole fountains. There are uncannily good-looking people and overnight millionaires, but few top-down joyrides (hello traffic). And then there’s the food. The beautiful idea that pretty much anything you can put in your mouth is better in California? That part, it turns out, isn’t a fantasy.

Obscenely wonderful produce is abundant year-round, but there are also peerless sushi bars and Sichuan restaurants and kebab shops and beach burger shacks and prix fixe palaces and pho specialists and bread bakeries and chaat shops and French bistros and tacos — lo, the tacos! This is where even toast sparked a national obsession.

In the course of putting together Eater’s first-ever guide to the entire state of California, we shipped our national critic out West for two months, recruited more than a dozen local experts, ate hundreds of meals, and drove just about every imaginable strip of highway to help you live our favorite version of the California dream. From the definitive list of the state’s 38 essential restaurants to a Central Valley taco crawl to an artist’s statewide search for a Beijing specialty, here’s Eater’s entirely true guide to the totally fantastical state of California — palm trees optional."
food  restaurants  california  centralvalley  centralcoast  sanfrancisco  losangeles  bayarea  socalnorcal  eating  littlesaigon  sangabrielvalley  marin  sonoma  sandiego  orangecounty 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Maintenance — Cultural Anthropology
"Designed worlds are produced and maintained by human labor. As such, maintenance labor is a key site through which ethnographers might rethink the design of our own research.

* * *

Living in Ladera Heights
The black Beverly Hills
Domesticated paradise
Palm trees and pools
The water’s blue
Swallow a pill
Keepin’ it surreal

—Frank Ocean

In “Sweet Life,” the artist Frank Ocean sings of the affluent Los Angeles black enclave of Ladera Heights. He describes life for the city’s young middle-class black inhabitants as insulated and undisturbed: the sweet life.

A meter shift in Ocean’s vocals and music encroaches on the fiction of this “domesticated paradise.” The veneer of an unblemished pool and of svelte skirted Mexican palms is undone by the song’s chorus: “You’ve had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born.” Ocean’s analysis of a black middle-class subject works to make visible immigrant maintenance labor.

In Ramiro Gomez’s acclaimed series of artworks Happy Hills, the serenity of affluent West Los Angeles is similarly recast by making visible the unmarked labor of Latina and Latino immigrant laborers. Gomez, who worked as a nanny, plants life-sized cardboard cutouts of gardeners on the sidewalk hedges of Beverly Hills mansions and inserts domestic workers into the immaculate kitchens shown in the pages of magazines like Better Homes and Gardens.

Gomez and Ocean make palpable the relationship across Los Angeles’s suburbs between affluent and working-class, leisured and laboring subjects. In their works, disparate social and material worlds overlap by making explicit the maintenance labor performed by workers who are themselves alienated from the very places they enrich.

* * *

How is maintenance work, which is to say life-creating and time-freeing labor (such as the domestic and gardening labor of Latina and Latino immigrant workers), a site from which to theorize ethnography and design?

Maintenance, as Ocean and Gomez highlight, is the work of fiction. It is the repeated labor that creates a neat story about the way things naturally appear to be. Ethnography—as the practice of approaching material reality—is itself a practice of repetition, from repeated travels to the field and reconsulting with field notes to the writing and rewriting of a supposed reality. Maintenance labor, like ethnographic narratives, produce an image of the way things supposedly are by erasing the trace of its constant reworking; that is to say, it makes invisible the labor necessary for its construction. In the case of maintenance work, as Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (2014) argues, labor is made invisible through its gendering and racialization. In the case of ethnography, on the other hand, the author works to remove their labor from the frame so as to represent an unvarnished texture of cultural difference. Or, as Kamala Visweswaran (1994, 1) puts it, the supposed division between fiction and ethnography “breaks down if we consider that ethnography, like fiction, constructs existing or possible worlds, all the while retaining the idea of an alternate ‘made’ world.”

Maintenance, for gardeners and domestic workers, involves the constant reworking of a lawn or the repeated wiping down of a kitchen counter—week after week, sometimes day after day. Conceiving of maintenance as the material accumulation of labor, resulting in well-fed plants or well-fed children, echoes what Keith Murphy and George Marcus (2013, 258) identify as “the complex processes” that designers and ethnographers undertake, which are “almost entirely obscured by the form of their products.” For maintenance, as for design and ethnography, the final products “receive most of the attention from those who consume them” (Murphy and Marcus 2013, 258). Yet there is a surplus contained in the seemingly invisible labor of maintenance.

For Latina and Latino immigrant gardeners, maintenance also means mantenimiento, a practice of organizing days into routes (rutas) and labor sites into divisions of labor shaped by differences in legal status, ethnicity, age, and ability between gardening company owners and their ayudantes or peónes (hired helpers). Mantenimiento reveals a practice of working around the designs of affluent gated neighborhoods, congested Southern California highways, imperatives of state exclusion, and the demands of homeowners and their plants. Mantenimiento challenges the naturalization of racialized and gendered labor, which forecloses the possibility of certain subjects being represented and casts laborers’ repeated reworkings as exacting and skilled labor.

Maintenance is the constant repetition of life-creating labor. As Kalindi Vora (2015) notes, reproductive and affective labor also contains traces of workers’ life activity that, although alienated from the laborers’ social world in order to enrich the lives of others, may retain a collection of stories and affective connections that happen in the service of others’ needs and that, for gardeners and domestic workers, occur in homes designed for others. Sometimes laborers take in excess of the demands of their labor, whether this occurs in the form of a gardener taking a botón of a succulent to reshape the landscape of their own or a domestic worker building a bond with an employer’s child; mantenimiento is attuned to the life that occurs in places where it is said not to exist.

* * *

My interest in maintenance as a concept that raises questions about ethnography and design arises from my experiences as a gardener and longtime manager of a small gardening company in Orange County. As a researcher, the parallels between my own repeated practices of maintenance labor and the repeated practices I employ in representing gardening laborers’ sociality are tethered to laborers’ careful design of their labor and lives."
maintenance  salvadorzárate  ethnography  design  anthropology  2018  via:shannon_mattern  labor  work  domesticworkers  gardening  gardeners  latinos  us  california  frankocean  laderaheights  losangeles  beverlyhills  westlosangeles  fiction  spanish  español  kalindivora  kamalavisweswaran  keithmurphy  georgemarcus  pierrettehondahneu-sotelo  socal 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Harvest of Empire – Harvest of Empire
[Available on YouTube, for now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyncOYTZfHE ]

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_of_Empire:_A_History_of_Latinos_in_America ]

"The Untold Story of Latinos in America

“We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies 
are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.”
Juan González, Harvest of Empire

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Onyx Films is proud to present Harvest of Empire, a feature-length documentary that reveals the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S.

As Juan González says at the beginning of the film “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.”

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists María Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada."
film  documentary  us  history  immigration  latinamerica  puertorico  mexico  guatemala  honduras  juangonzález  cuba  nicaragua  elsalvador  rigobertamenchú  jessejackson  anthonyromero  junotdíaz  lorenzomeyer  maríahinojosa  geraldorivera  2011  martínespada  luisenrique  dominicanrepublic  latinos  imperialism  politics  policy  foreignpolicy  braceros  wwii  ww2  civilrights  race  racism  migration  communism  redscare  centralamerica  caribbean  colonialism  socialism  capitalism  fidelcastro  rafaeltrujillo  spanish-americanwar  inequality  exploitation  sugar  cotton  revolution  resistance  fulgenciobatista  dictatorships  oppression  deportation  texas  california  newmexico  arizona  mexican-americanwar  nevada  colorado  florida  nyc  óscarromero  harrytruman  democracy  jacoboárbenz  unitedfruitcompany  eisenhower  cia  intervention  maya  ethniccleansing  land  ownership  civilwar  iran-contraaffair  ronaldreagan  sandinistas  contras  war  bayofpigs  refugees  marielboatlift  1980  jimmycarter  language  spanish  español  miami  joaquínbalaguer  hectortruji 
july 2018 by robertogreco
ER bills: A baby was treated with a nap. His parents got an $18,000 bill. - Vox
"An ER patient can be charged thousands of dollars in “trauma fees” — even if they weren’t treated for trauma."



"Patients face steep bills — and questionable charges — when trauma teams “activate”"



"An ibuprofen, two medical staples — and a $26,998 bill"
us  healthcare  medicine  money  2018  policy  hospitals  california 
june 2018 by robertogreco
For Housing Affordability, California Must Amend its Constitution - Opinion | Political News | thebaycitybeacon.com
"This fall, California voters may have the opportunity to amend Proposition 13, one of the most regressive tax laws in the country. The 1978 initiative essentially freezes the assessed value of real estate at the time of sale—inevitably establishing and perpetuating wild inequities between the young and old, renters and landlords, immigrants and incumbents. How can California’s political “third rail” be reformed, albeit incrementally, with lasting, sustainable progress? There are several ways.

Evolve California is currently gathering signatures to place a measure on the 2018 ballot to allow re-assessments of commercial aka business properties—a move that could generate ~$10 billion a year for health care, education and other badly need investments in California society.

Another significant contributor to inequality, segregation, and the housing crisis stands unchallenged in 2018.

Article 34 of the California Constitution, enacted by voters in 1950, states that no cities, towns or counties may ”develop, construct or acquire” any “low-rent” housing “unless approved by a majority of qualified electors of the city, town or county” at the ballot box. Practically, this means our local governments and representatives are prevented from directly providing the homes struggling Californians need so direly today.

Article 34’s proponents intended to control the development of large, federally-funded public housing tower projects. The law also restricts local governments from efficiently building even mid-rise public housing or subsidizing low-income housing. A mid-century, single-story city building, or even a vacant lot, could become a five-story building with affordable rents and public services on the ground floor. Alas, we can’t really have that without an expensive ballot referendum and subsequent approval by a majority (or supermajority) of voters.

Moreover, the referendum process makes the provision of publicly-owned housing intractably slow. In California, prudent politicians tend refrain from placing affordable housing bonds on the ballot until they absolutely know the measure can win a supermajority of voters. When municipal coffers fill up with tax revenue or development fees, cities cannot use it to invest in modern mid-rise public housing directly, absent an expensive and risky Article 34-triggered election.

The crux of the issue is this: California’s landowners have become vastly more wealthy and powerful, by government fiat, at the expense of renters. This inequality is unsustainable. Homeowners receive exponentially more in public subsidies, and Proposition 13 tax rates disproportionately reward greater wealth and “incumbency” of property owners, but renters ultimately foot their landlords’ property tax bill. Not only do renters get little to no relief from this regressive system—because of Article 34, they are essentially forced to beg localized pockets of voters for the direct public provision of badly-needed affordable housing. Property owners, on the other hand, do not have to ask for their Mortgage Interest Deduction through a popular referendum every time they claim it.

Say it with me: public housing already exists. It exists largely not as shelter for the neediest, but as vestiges of historic inequality that abstractly, disproportionately rewards legacy homebuyers with secure asset wealth.

There have been concerted efforts to overturn this unfair system for almost as long as we’ve had it. Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown led two unsuccessful efforts to repeal Article 34 in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The most recent effort, in 1992, was defeated before an entire generation of eligible voters was born, so the current electorate may feel differently about our status quo.

Perhaps its time has finally come.

Since 1950, California courts have whittled down Article 34’s power, and some cities work around the law by delegating the job of affordable housing construction to privately-run nonprofits. But given the severity and depth of our affordable housing shortage, California cannot afford more roadblocks to directly providing publicly-owned affordable housing.

To state the obvious, Article 34 also maintains racial and economic segregation. Requiring voter approval for the development of publicly-funded affordable rental housing means that racially and economically homogenous communities can effectively veto integration. The electorates of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have consistently voted to approve low-income housing placed on the ballot at regular intervals. Compare the generosity of those voters to, say, communities in Marin County or Palo Alto—I can guarantee that the results will not surprise you.

Governing by popular referendum may sound ideal, but California’s experience with direct governance over the last 107 years has demonstrated that local pluralities of voters can sometimes succumb to fear, uncertainty, and outright animus towards marginalized groups.

If you think this is all ancient history, think again: in 1994, nearly 59% of California voters approved of Proposition 187, designed to bar undocumented people from accessing public services like health care and education, prior to it being ruled unconstitutional by the courts. More recently, California voters repudiated marriage equality by approving Proposition 8 in 2008, only for it also to be overturned by jurists. In 2016, California voters brought back the death penalty.

Occasionally, the state’s voters have been unwise enough to approve unconstitutional legislation, and federal courts have found such laws especially offensive when they discriminate against political minorities in the exercise of civil rights or use of public programs, as was the case with Prop 187. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court found no such violation by Article 34 of equal protection under the 14th Amendment in James v. Valtierra (1971).

Renters from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties sought to have Article 34 invalidated on the basis of racial and wealth discrimination. Instead, Justice Hugo Black, writing for the 6-3 majority found such mandatory referendums on low-rent and public housing to indicate a “devotion to democracy, not to bias, discrimination, or prejudice.” (If only!)

Article 34 of the California Constitution, much like the general political aversion to subsidized housing, is explicitly rooted in prejudice against poor people, people of color, and immigrants writ large. The history is stark and ugly, and it is high time for California to face it head-on. That history, as it unfolded in Oakland, will be the subject of Part 2 in this series."
housing  california  policy  racism  class  2018  1950  article34  inequality  segregation  race  proposition13  sanfrancisco  oakland  bayarea  publichousing  affordability  taxes  williebrown  berkeley 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Explore the Era (Map) » Pacific Standard Time at the Getty
"Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists."
socal  california  art  losangeles  artschools  pacificstandardtime  maps  mapping  midcentury  1950s  1960s  1970s 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Which City Has The Most Unpredictable Weather? | FiveThirtyEight
"You can easily make out the path of the Rocky Mountains in this map. Cities just to the east of them — like Denver and Great Falls, Montana — have much more unpredictable temperatures than almost any place to the west of them.

Cities just to the east of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico have the most predictable temperatures. San Diego’s temperatures are the most predictable of anywhere in the continental United States (Honolulu’s are the most predictable overall). Seattle and San Francisco have highly predictable temperatures, as does the Florida peninsula."
weather  predictions  2018  statistics  climate  california  visualization  honolulu  sandiego  hawaii  losangeles  sanfrancisco  fresno  phoenix  westcoast  classideas  foreden 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Lynell George Sings Los Angeles – Boom California
"Rooted in personal experience, George catalogs the changing landscape, delving deeply into the city’s shifting districts and ever-evolving zeitgeist coming to rise because of these shifts. A lifetime of covering her hometown is distilled into eleven meticulous essays complemented perfectly by her own poignant, original photography. One of the key themes of this collection, as she states in the text, is that there are “‘many’ Los Angeleses swarming, each with stories that [tend to]) remain in the margins, territories that could only be accessed by someone familiar with its history and layout.” Another key idea she hammers home is that the Los Angeles depicted “on television or in the movies didn’t jibe with what [she] encountered daily, no matter where [she] lived.”

Quite simply, George knows Los Angeles better than almost anyone. City of Quartz author Mike Davis stated to me in an email late April that “L.A.’s written image has always been a predictable mixture of hyperbole, cliché and outsider ignorance, with boosterism and fear as two sides of the same coin. Lynell George comes from a different place entirely. With subtle love she explores the everyday to discover the extraordinary: the creative and rebellious spirits of the neighborhoods, the schools, and the true (not fake) bohemias. She truly sings Los Angeles.”

Mike Sonksen

In the last few years, dozens of articles and think-pieces composed by cultural critics and urban pundits have discussed rising rents across Los Angeles accompanied by the transforming local landscape and built environment. Many of these pieces approach the city from a distant, more theoretical standpoint. The native Angeleno journalist Lynell George provides a much more personal and an even deeper perspective on shifts across Los Angeles because she’s been covering the terrain longer than just about anybody. Her new book of essays and photographs from Angel City Press, After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame,[1] examines and explicates Los Angeles in search of place and belonging with an uncanny verisimilitude.

Rooted in personal experience, George catalogs the changing landscape, delving deeply into the city’s shifting districts and ever-evolving zeitgeist coming to rise because of these shifts. A lifetime of covering her hometown is distilled into eleven meticulous essays complemented perfectly by her own poignant, original photography. One of the key themes of this collection, as she states in the text, is that there are “‘many’ Los Angeleses swarming, each with stories that [tend to]) remain in the margins, territories that could only be accessed by someone familiar with its history and layout.” Another key idea she hammers home is that the Los Angeles depicted “on television or in the movies didn’t jibe with what [she] encountered daily, no matter where [she] lived.”

Quite simply, George knows Los Angeles better than almost anyone. City of Quartz author Mike Davis stated to me in an email late April that “L.A.’s written image has always been a predictable mixture of hyperbole, cliché and outsider ignorance, with boosterism and fear as two sides of the same coin. Lynell George comes from a different place entirely. With subtle love she explores the everyday to discover the extraordinary: the creative and rebellious spirits of the neighborhoods, the schools, and the true (not fake) bohemias. She truly sings Los Angeles.”

IMG_1438


The Many Los Angeleses

As Davis notes, George’s forte is revealing the many Los Angeleses and she’s been doing this for over three decades. A former staff writer at both the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly, her writing has won many awards over the years, even a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes for writing the liner notes, “The Stomp Comes to the Strip,” for the six-CD set, Otis Redding Live at the Whisky A Go Go. In 2017, George also won the Alan Jutzi Fellowship from the Huntington Library for her work with the Octavia E. Butler archive.

Her first book, No Crystal Stair, published by Verso in 1992 peeled back the false facades of South Central Los Angeles to reveal the faces of the city: the mothers, fathers, extended families, the churches, the schools, and legions of teachers and social workers in the district that walked the walk. Her behind the scenes portraits of community pillars like community organizer and youth advocate Levi Kingston, jazz musician John Carter, filmmaker Charles Burnett, the Marcus Garvey School, and the Ward AME Church showed the real South Central Los Angeles, not the exaggerated misrepresentation that mass media promoted in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Her early essays are meticulously reported and stand the test of time. This new collection carries this spirit even further, matching her poetic prose with her equally skilled photography. There’s an organic unity in After/Image that radiates from every page.

Lynell George was born in Hollywood, raised in the Crenshaw District, and then moved to Culver City just before adolescence. Her parents were both teachers around inner-city Los Angeles and her father eventually became a principal. Both of her parents migrated to Los Angeles for opportunity during the early 1950s, the last wave of the Great Migration. Her father was from Pennsylvania and her mother, Louisiana.

After/Image revisits her formative years to paint an in-depth portrait of not only Black L.A.’s transformation, but the city at large. “The black L.A. where I grew up in the ’70s,” she writes, “was a territory built of dreams and defeats. A work-in-progress that was still being shaped by the unrest of the ’60s and the outsized dreams of our forebears.” After/Image maps these territories, “both physical and of the mind.”

After graduating from Culver City High School, she attended Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and studied with the great Los Angeles novelist Carolyn See. See praised her work right from the beginning. “Carolyn was a Mentor,” George tells me. “She was the first to suggest in college that I send one of the pieces I wrote for her class to either the Weekly or the L.A. Reader. Ten years later, that piece (or part of that piece), ended up being part of an essay in the Pantheon collection, Sex, Death and God in L.A.,[2] and entirely by chance, Carolyn had an essay in the same volume as well.”

After graduating from LMU, George went to graduate school for Creative Writing at San Francisco State. While in San Francisco, she met the novelist, essayist and professor Leonard Michaels. Michaels helped her sort out if she should continue in the Masters’ Creative Writing Program or take the leap of leaving grad school. “He gave me advice about what a writer should do: ‘Read. Write. Find someone who you trust to read and critique your work,’” she recalled. “He encouraged me to stay open to the world.” George ended up staying in San Francisco for only a year when a summer internship back home at the LA Weekly became a job opportunity. She listened to Michaels’ advice and sooner than later, she was doing cover stories for the Weekly.

A Pioneer of Los Angeles Journalism

For about seven years George was a staff writer at the Weekly and eventually went on to become a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times for fifteen years. George was one of the first writers in the city to cover the rise of Leimert Park as an artistic enclave in the late 1980s and the first writer to spotlight the district in the LA Weekly. She also pioneered coverage for important topics like the Black and Korean Alliances before the 1992 uprisings happened and dozens of other issues that are now more widely discussed like public versus private schools, Black filmmakers, and gentrification.

These were the glory days of the LA Weekly and George was printed along with important L.A. voices like Wanda Coleman, Ruben Martinez, and Mike Davis, all of whom she became close confidantes with. She met Coleman sometime in the late 1980s and they remained in touch all the way until 2013 when the legendary poet and writer passed. Coleman even introduced Lynell to her brother George Evans and the artist Michael Massenberg, both of whom George has had fruitful collaborations with in recent years. “Wanda was a special force in my life,” George confides. “She was a solid sounding board and sat down with me to make sure that I paid attention to whom and what was around me. She always alerted me to good stories, good people I needed to know or have around me.”

Though Coleman was nearly two decades older than George, they shared many commonalities like both being African American women writers from South Los Angeles with parents who came to Los Angeles during the Great Migration, though Coleman’s parents were in the first wave and George’s at the end. “[Wanda] was a letter writer,” George remembers, “and I still have those notes, postcards and double-spaced typewritten letters she’d drop in the mail.” Their last meeting, shortly before Coleman passed “was a ‘lunch’ that went for seven hours. It was more than a lunch, it was a seminar—in research, history, writing, life, and of course Los Angeles. I’ll never forget it.”

Like Wanda Coleman, George has lived almost her entire life in Los Angeles County. In her adulthood, George lived in Echo Park and Pasadena. Though some of After/Image is autobiographical, it is a larger meditation on the rapid changes sweeping Southern California in the last few decades.

Throughout the text, George converses with a variety of local experts like Lila Higgins from the Natural History Museum who muses on the once-ample green space across the city now developed. The chapter with Higgins, “Urban Wild,” explains how Southern California is “a hotspot of biodiversity,” and what we need to do to preserve local ecosystems and restore the Los Angeles River… [more]
lynellgeorge  losangeles  history  california  2018  mikedavis  race  racism  1970s  books  toread  photography  crenshaw  culvercity  jamesrojas  nancyuyemura  evelynyoshimura  wandacoleman  pasadena  echopark  socal  laweekly  leonardmichaels  leimertpark  rubenmartinez  greatmigration 
june 2018 by robertogreco
A new U.S.-Mexico border? At the Venice Biennale, imagining a binational region called MEXUS
"As part of their research into watersheds, Cruz and Forman have created an inventory of public lands in Los Laureles that can serve multiple purposes — as green space, environmental education center and natural buffers to mitigate flows of waste. And they are working to see how they can create a mechanism to invest in those spaces so that they might be preserved.

“Instead of the investing in the wall,” says Cruz, “can we invest to get the poor settlement to regulate the flow of waste? Can we get the poor residents to take care of the rich estuary?’

The subjects are tricky, but in these types of projects, Zeiger says she sees plenty of optimism.

“In architecture, if we don’t allow ourselves to visualize a condition that is different than the current condition, then we really cut off how we will impact the future,” she says.

For Forman, that consists of fomenting a new type of border culture.

“Citizenship,” she says, “is not an identity card. It’s about coexisting and building a city together.”"
teddycruz  fonnaforman  carolinamiranda  border  borders  us  california  mexico  sandiego  tijuana  texas  arizona  newmexico  2018  venicebiennale  architecture  citizenship  politicalequator  geography  geopolitics  mimizeiger  annlui  afrofuturism  architects  mexus  walls  nature  watersheds  land  maps  mapping  territory  ybca 
may 2018 by robertogreco
In Los Angeles, mansions get bigger as homeless get closer
"The capital of America's second Gilded Age is Los Angeles, where homes worth tens of millions of dollars look out over a city in which the middle class struggles to afford shelter and the number of homeless increases."
us  california  inequality  cities  losangeles  rickhampson  2018  economics  disparity  homes  housing  middleclass  homeless  homelessness 
may 2018 by robertogreco
California birthrate plunges to lowest level in a century - San Francisco Chronicle
"The birthrate in California has plunged yet again, to its lowest level in a century, according to the latest U.S. statistics, as young adults continue to postpone having or not have families.

Fewer than 12 children were born per 1,000 California residents in 2017, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With a population of 39.5 million, there were 471,552 babies born in California last year, for a birthrate of 11.9 per 1,000 people. That’s about half what it was in 1990.

Nationwide, 3.8 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2017, a decline of 2 percent from 2016. That was the lowest number in 30 years, the CDCsaid.

Birthrates nationwide declined for women under 40 but rose slightly for women in their early 40s.

Causes of the decline, according to population experts, included young people deciding to put off parenthood for financial or personal reasons, along with increasing availability of birth control and the state of the U.S. economy.

Women, said UC Berkeley demography professor Josh Goldstein, have more control over their decisions biologically but perhaps less control over their decisions economically.

Goldstein said birthrates fluctuate as the percentage of women of childbearing years varies within the population. He said the latest decline was “not something to worry about.”

Nationwide, the fertility rate declined 3 percent from 2016, to 60.2 births per 1,000 U.S. women ages 15 to 44."
california  birthrate  population  us  2018  demographics 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Mapping Who Lives in Border Patrol's '100-Mile Zone' - CityLab
"All of Michigan, D.C., and a large chunk of Pennsylvania are part of the area where Border Patrol has expanded search and seizure rights. Here's what it means to live or travel there."
border  borders  us  mexico  2018  tanvimisra  checkpoints  civilrights  lawenforcement  policing  military  militarization  borderpatrol  california 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The University of California: 150 years of being boldly Californian - YouTube
"What does it mean to be boldly Californian? For 150 years, the University of California has embodied an imaginative, audacious and pioneering spirit. And our 10 campuses, 5 medical centers and 3 national labs continue to lead the country towards a bright future - for everyone.

Explore our interactive timeline capturing UC's vast history and commemorating its astounding accomplishments, distinguished academics, artists and athletes: https://150.universityofcalifornia.edu "

[See also: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/what-it-means-be-boldly-californian ]
uc  universityofcalifornia  california  2018  history  science  research  highered  highereducation  marketing  art  athletics  sports  academics  timelines 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on Skipping High School and California Culture | Literary Hub
"Paul Holdengraber: I had the pleasure, a bittersweet pleasure, of speaking with John Berger two years ago (about two months before he died) and I was so amazed by his extraordinary freedom of thinking. I was wondering, though I was never able to ask him, how much of it came to him from not having been forced into a certain school, or not having gone to all the schools people feel they need to go to in order to think.

It strikes me that you have that same appetite, that same appetite that comes from not having had to follow a certain regime, but rather following what really interests you, what really fills you with passion. I wonder how much of that is true, and how much of that is true to the place you’ve committed yourself to live in.

Rebecca Solnit: I didn’t go to high school and I feel that was one of the great strategic victories of my life. In the 1970s everything was very nebulous and wide open, and I just managed by going to an alternative junior high school through tenth grade, which was a very kind place compared to the place I went to for seventh and eighth grade. Then I took the GED test and started college at 16, to avoid high school altogether.

I remember thinking the GED—which is supposed to test you on everything you’re supposed to know when you graduate from high school—and thinking, “I’ve basically goofed off for two years. I’m 15 and I’m apparently able to acquire all the knowledge you need to get out of high school—what are you doing for those other three or four years?” I’ve always felt that a lot of what people are taught to do is conform and obey a set of instructions about hierarchy. It’s really destructive of the people who succeed in that system, as well as the ones who fail. I know you didn’t grow up in this country—

PH: I’m not sure I grew up. I’m still trying.

RS: Well that too. There’s the people who feel damaged by being unpopular in high school, but there’s a different kind of tragedy of people who were so popular in high school—the homecoming queens, the football captains—who feel as though they’ve arrived at the end of the journey without ever having set out for it, who feel like now they can rest on the laurels, which aren’t the laurels that will matter for the next 50 or 60 years.

It’s a very destructive system of values. You look at schools in other countries and they don’t have proms and homecoming queens and team spirit—this kind of elaborate sports culture that is very heteronormative as well as hierarchical. It also creates monsters out of the boys who are able to get away with bullying and sexual assault because they’re good at sports.

PH: You were mentioning my own upbringing. I grew up, in part, in many different countries in Europe, but one of the countries I lived was Belgium. In the mid-70s they introduced something they called Le Test Américain, “the American test.” You know what that was: multiple choice. I was terrible at it because I always felt ambivalent. I always felt, if you look at it from this perspective, that would be the answer; but if you look at it from that perspective, this would be the answer. And of course that didn’t bode well for school.

I know now that teaching has become so much that—so much about getting the supposed right answer to a question, which really means the right answer to a question if you look at it only from one vantage point. Which is exactly the contrary of what literature teaches, or for that matter, what life teaches us to think and do.

RS: When I was young, in the 80s, I read a wonderful report on why we should teach art in schools, and one of the arguments was that there is no right answer in art. There might be good ways to do things, but there’s no simple one right answer. Two plus two might be four, but the way a bird flies can be represented in innumerable ways.

PH: I wonder also, in your escape from high school, how much California and your interest in California has had to do with the way you think.

RS: One of the things about being deinstitutionalized—because not only did I not go to high school, I did sort of sprint through college and then get a journalism degree that was training to be a writer in a practical sense rather than becoming an academic—was the freedom to be synthetic, to move through what’s considered to be many fields. In fact in Wanderlust, early on, I said that if the fields of study could be considered real fields, then the the history of walking trespasses through many of them on its trajectory. And my life has been kind of like that. There’s a curious thing in academia in which authority is demonstrated by specialization and that you have to color within the lines and stick within the lines of your discipline, which I know a lot of people feel fretful about.

California wasn’t inherently an interest in mine. It was just where my father was born and where I grew up and have lived most of my life. When I was young and working at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and going to the journalism school at UC Berkeley, I did my thesis on the artist Wallace Berman and I began the process of writing the history that wasn’t available to me to read. When I was growing up in California we were regarded, almost universally, as almost a barbarian hinterland that had gone, as I often say, from wilderness to shopping mall in a single bound. And there was a lot of sneering on the East Coast about us as a place without culture, as a place of yahoos and bimbos and babes and surfer dudes, as lacking the high seriousness.

I have a friend whose East Coast cousin once said to him, “people in California don’t read.” And it was just amazing having someone dismiss the state with the UC system and Stanford and some remarkable intellectuals, from Angela Davis to Garry Snyder.

So I really didn’t grow up here with it being treated as an interesting place, though I loved the landscape, wondered about the Native history, and actually went to Europe because of that yearning for a sense of deep past and time in history. And then came back and had to find a way to locate it in this landscape.

Of course a lot of things have changed. A lot of California history has been written by Mike Davis and many other people since then. But it really was treated as a blank and trivial place when I was younger. There were some California historians, but the public mainstream attitude was very dismissive.

PH: I remember a conversation I had with Werner Herzog who said that in New York they consume culture, and in Los Angeles they actually make it. And it struck me as very interesting because there is such an assumption in New York that everything emanates from here.

RS: I’ve noticed.

PH: That’s a fantastic response, Rebecca. We’ll leave it at that for now."
rebeccasolnit  unschooling  deschooling  2018  interviews  education  california  history  culture  nyc  johnberger  paulholdengraber  values  hierarchy  teaching  art  arteducation  pedagogy  mikedavis  journalism  wallaceberman  eastcoast  angeladavis  garysnyder  conformity 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Inland surfing // Booming economy // Best O.C. restaurants
"15. State of many Humboldts

In California, a county, a bay, a university, and a state park all bear the name of Alexander von Humboldt, the Prussian naturalist whose fame was once regarded as second only to Napoleon.

“Yet Humboldt,” writes Andrea Wulf, a Humboldt biographer, “is almost forgotten in the English-speaking world.”

Born to wealth in 1769, Humboldt walked away from his aristocratic life in Berlin to embark on a five-year exploration of Latin America. His goal, he wrote, was to discover “the unity of nature.” He navigated the Orinoco River and walked thousands of miles through the Andes, climbing Chimborazo along the way — regarded incorrectly at the time as the world’s tallest peak.

Everywhere Humboldt went, he took measurements. He sketched hieroglyphs, transcribed indigenous vocabularies, gauged the blueness of the sky, and collected 60,000 botanical specimens. 

Upon his return, he settled in Paris and published international best-sellers advancing the theory that all organisms were woven together in a “net-like intricate fabric.” He argued that the “insatiable avarice” of Spanish colonialists had caused incalculable harm to native cultures and stately forests.

His admirers included figures as diverse as Thomas Jefferson, Simón Bolívar, and Charles Darwin, who said that Humboldt’s writings inspired him to board the Beagle.

Over time, Humboldt’s namesakes became legion. Among them was a squid, a penguin, a glacier, an ocean current, and a lily. He never visited California. Even so, a pair of mariners exploring the north coast in 1850 named a bay after him. Humboldt County and Humboldt State Normal College, later renamed Humboldt State University, followed. 

It was on this week in 1859, that Humboldt died at the age of 89. Yet even as American newspapers eulogized him as the “most remarkable man ever born,” he soon faded in the popular imagination. 

About nine years after Humboldt’s death, the Scottish-American wanderer John Muir arrived in California, his head filled with the ideas of the great Prussian polymath. "How intensely I desire to be a Humboldt!" Muir wrote to a friend. Muir’s writings about the sanctity of the natural world later made him a giant of the environmental movement. 

According to Wulf, many of Muir’s more famous lines — along with those of Henry David Thoreau and George Perkins Marsh — were derived from their reading of Alexander von Humboldt."
alexandervonhumboldt  classideas  andreawulf  histoy  california  nature  science  naturalists  interconnected  interdependence  ecology  johnmuir  interconnectivity 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Maps | Kenneth D. Madsen
"U.S. Border Barriers

California .jpg .pdf
– Kelly San Diego waiver 8/2/17 .jpg .pdf
– Duke Calexico waiver 9/12/17 .jpg .pdf

Arizona .jpg .pdf

New Mexico & West Texas [coming soon]
– Nielsen Santa Teresa waiver 1/22/18 .jpg (map only) .pdf (w/ photos & waiver text) [updated 2/6/18]

Texas [coming soon]

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Waivers

Comparison of all eight legal waivers to-date .jpg .pdf [updated 2/8/18]

Note that mileage calculated from maps created prior to Dec. 2017 (i.e. CA & AZ maps above and summary handout below) over-estimate actual distances due to a projection error. Percentages are still largely correct, however. Corrected maps are forthcoming.

summary handout 8.5″ x 11″ .pdf"
kennethmadsen  borders  border  california  mexico  us  texas  arizona  newmexico  sandiego  calexico  geopolitics 
april 2018 by robertogreco
The Feminist on Cellblock Y
"A convicted felon builds a feminist movement from behind bars at an all-male prison in Soledad, California. Streaming on CNNgo starting April 18th."
feminism  2018  patriarchy  prisons  incarceration  activism  soledad  california  masculinity 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | The Democrats’ Gentrification Problem - The New York Times
"Research that focuses on the way city neighborhoods are changing by income, race and ethnicity, while not specifically addressed to political consequences, helps us see the potential for conflict within the Democratic coalition.

Robert J. Sampson, a sociologist at Harvard, published a detailed study in 2015 for the St. Louis Federal Reserve of the economic composition of neighborhoods. Overall, he found, “middle-income neighborhoods are tenuous,” while neighborhoods at the top and bottom of the economic ladder have remained strikingly stable."



"Upscale liberal whites “who consider themselves committed to racial justice” tend to be “NIMBYists when it comes to their neighborhoods,” Cain wrote, “not living up to their affordable housing commitments and resisting apartment density around mass transportation stops.”"



"As intraparty economic and racial divisions have increased within the Democratic coalition, the political power of the well-to-do has grown at the expense of racial and ethnic minorities."



"The maneuvers in California are a reflection of a larger problem for Democrats: their inability to reconcile the conflicts inherent in the party’s economic and racial bifurcation."



"Democratic politicians should respond by imposing higher taxes on the wealthy and spending the proceeds on the less well off."



"The progressivity of income taxes has decreased, reliance on regressive consumption taxes has increased, and the taxation of capital has followed a global race to the bottom. Instead of boosting infrastructure investment, governments have pursued austerity policies that are particularly harmful to low-skill workers. Big banks and corporations have been bailed out, but households have not. In the United States, the minimum wage has not been adjusted sufficiently, allowing it to erode in real terms."



Rodrik cites the work of the French economist Thomas Piketty, who argues that political parties on the left have been taken over, here and in Europe, “by the well-educated elite” — what Piketty calls the “Brahmin Left.” The Brahmin Left, writes Rodrik,
is not friendly to redistribution, because it believes in meritocracy — a world in which effort gets rewarded and low incomes are more likely to be the result of insufficient effort than poor luck.
"



"The Democrats will become the party of urban cosmopolitan business liberalism, and the Republicans will become the party of suburban and rural nationalist populism."



"The force that had historically pushed policy to the economic left — organized labor — has for the most part been marginalized. African-American and Hispanic voters have shown little willingness to join Democratic reform movements led by upper middle class whites, as shown in their lack of enthusiasm for Bill Bradley running against Al Gore in 2000 or Sanders running against Clinton in 2016.

The hurdle facing those seeking to democratize elite domination of the Democratic Party is finding voters and donors who have a sustained interest in redistributive policies — and the minimum wage is only a small piece of this. Achieving that goal requires an economically coherent center-left political coalition. It also requires the ability to overcome the seemingly insuperable political divisions between the white working class and the African-American and Hispanic working classes — that elusive but essential multiracial — and now multiethnic — majority. Establishing that majority in a coherent political coalition is the only way in which the economic interests of those in the bottom half of the income distribution will be effectively addressed."
inequality  us  politics  democrats  meritocracy  2018  democracy  taxes  capitalism  capital  gentrification  cities  urban  urbanism  nimbyism  california  policy  progressives  wealth  unions  labor  thomaspiketty  michaellind  danirodrik  elitism  liberalism  neoliberalism  republicans  donaldtrump  race  racism  class  classism  segregation  thomasedsall  nimbys 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering | Literary Hub
"In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

The United States’s public libraries sometimes seem to me the last refuges of a democratic vision of equality, places in which everyone is welcome, which serve the goal of an informed public, offering services far beyond the already heady gift of free books you can take home, everything from voter registration to computer access. I’ve joked for a long time that if you walked up to people in the street and asked them whether we could own our greatest treasures collectively and trust people to walk away with them and bring them back, a lot of people would say that’s impossibly idealistic and some would say it’s socialist, but libraries have been making books free for all for a very long time. They are temples of books, fountains of narrative pleasure, and toolboxes of crucial information. My own writing has depended on public libraries and then university libraries and archives and does to this day. I last used a public library the day before yesterday."



"So let’s begin by recognizing that all this was—and in many moral ways still is—Coast Miwok land, before the Spanish came, before Spanish claims became Mexican claims, before this was considered to be part of Mexico, before it was part of the United States."



"Browsing, woolgathering, meandering, wandering, drifting, that state when exploring, when looking to find what it might be possible to find rather than seeking one particular goal, is the means of locomotion. I often think that hunter-gatherers must move a lot like this, seeking game or plant foods, flexible about what might show up on any given day. I was lucky that children were weeds, not hothouse flowers, in those days, left to our own devices, and my own devices led in two directions: north to the hills and the horses, south to the library."



"These linked paths and roads form a circuit of about six miles that I began hiking ten years ago to walk off my angst during a difficult year. I kept coming back to this route for respite from my work and for my work too, because thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals. After all those years of walking to work out other things, it made sense to come back to work close to home, in Thoreau’s sense, and to think about walking.

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."



"Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations."



"Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go…"



"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone."



"Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao Tsu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens into another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds. All readers are Wu Daozi; all imaginative, engrossing books are landscapes into which readers vanish."
rebeccasolnit  2017  children  unschooling  deschooling  parenting  education  libraries  wandering  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  forests  childhood  novato  california  learning  canon  publicgood  us  egalitarianism  democracy  socialism  thoreau  walking  cv  unknowing  uncertainty  woods  writing  howwewrite  books  literature  stories  storytelling  listening  reading  sanctuary  vanishing  nature  plants  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Atlas by Terisa Siagatonu | Poetry Magazine
"If you open up any atlas
and take a look at a map of the world,
almost every single one of them
slices the Pacific Ocean in half.
To the human eye,
every map centers all the land masses on Earth
creating the illusion
that water can handle the butchering
and be pushed to the edges
of the world.
As if the Pacific Ocean isn’t the largest body
living today, beating the loudest heart,
the reason why land has a pulse in the first place.

The audacity one must have to create a visual so
violent as to assume that no one comes
from water so no one will care
what you do with it
and yet,
people came from land,
are still coming from land,
and look what was done to them.

When people ask me where I’m from,
they don’t believe me when I say water.
So instead, I tell them that home is a machete
and that I belong to places
that don’t belong to themselves anymore,
broken and butchered places that have made me
a hyphen of a woman:
a Samoan-American that carries the weight of both
colonizer and colonized,
both blade and blood.

California stolen.
Samoa sliced in half stolen.
California, nestled on the western coast of the most powerful
country on this planet.
Samoa, an island so microscopic on a map, it’s no wonder
people doubt its existence.
California, a state of emergency away from having the drought
rid it of all its water.
Samoa, a state of emergency away from becoming a saltwater cemetery
if the sea level doesn’t stop rising.
When people ask me where I’m from,
what they want is to hear me speak of land,
what they want is to know where I go once I leave here,
the privilege that comes with assuming that home
is just a destination, and not the panic.
Not the constant migration that the panic gives birth to.
What is it like? To know that home is something
that’s waiting for you to return to it?
What does it mean to belong to something that isn’t sinking?
What does it mean to belong to what is causing the flood?

So many of us come from water
but when you come from water
no one believes you.
Colonization keeps laughing.
Global warming is grinning
at all your grief.
How you mourn the loss of a home
that isn’t even gone yet.
That no one believes you’re from.

How everyone is beginning
to hear more about your island
but only in the context of
vacations and honeymoons,
football and military life,
exotic women exotic fruit exotic beaches
but never asks about the rest of its body.
The water.
The islands breathing in it.
The reason why they’re sinking.
No one visualizes islands in the Pacific
as actually being there.
You explain and explain and clarify
and correct their incorrect pronunciation
and explain

until they remember just how vast your ocean is,
how microscopic your islands look in it,
how easy it is to miss when looking
on a map of the world.

Excuses people make
for why they didn’t see it
before."
poems  poetry  maps  mapping  terisasiagatonu  2018  california  samoa  pacificocean  oceans  colonization  water  globalwarming  islands  migration 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Earthquake Early Warning Mobile App - Early Warning Labs
"The next big US earthquake is overdue. What if you could know about a quake before it strikes? Now you can. Early Warning Labs will soon release the beta update to QuakeAlert, a 100% free app that gives a warning up to 60 seconds before a dangerous quake."

[See also: "Angelenos might have an earthquake early warning app by the end of 2018: For a 5.3 quake near the Channel Islands today, beta-testers in Downtown LA had advance notice"
https://la.curbed.com/2018/1/16/16885874/earthquake-early-warning-app-northridge

"Earthquake Early Warning Systems Save Lives. So Why Don't We Have One?" (2014)
https://gizmodo.com/earthquake-early-warning-systems-save-lives-so-why-don-1573781046

more in this thread:
https://twitter.com/awalkerinLA/status/981979278618247173 ]
applications  earthquakes  us  california 
april 2018 by robertogreco
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