Park(ing) Day 2011 hits the streets of Portland in fine countrified form!
Our office participated in its first Park(ing) Day event. We had an urban farm theme, which attracted many passersby. We fed people lemonade and iced tea and had a jazz band show up during lunch. We had few complaints. More photos are located here. How did you commemorate Park(ing) Day?
Following up on the Nucor Steel project in Louisiana, the latest news out of New Orleans claims the deal is still on although the State was forced to cut 118 public works projects to fund Nucor’s incentive package. This kind of fiscal shuffling is commonplace, especially considering the prolonged economic crisis affecting most of middle America. Sidelined by State lawmakers thirsty for new industry and jobs, these unfunded projects represent many efforts to revitalize New Orleans, a city still incredibly hobbled by flood and storm damage from five years ago.
There is still plenty of work to be done in New Orleans but today the to-do list just keeps getting longer. Projects to increase the self sufficiency of urban New Orleans are desperately needed, but they are secondary to creating jobs – any kind of jobs – even ones that are unlikely to uplift under-served urban residents. The State axed funding to a New Orleans food co-op proposal which was anticipated to increase the variety of fresh food available in the city. The State cut $1.25 million for upgrades to New Orleans’ central open space, City Park, which was severely damaged by levee floods. A quarter million was frozen for a bike and pedestrian trail proposal in Eastern New Orleans, a project which could have improved connections between disparate areas of the city with poor access to critical goods and services. Funding for improvements to a University of New Orleans science building is also on hold.
These projects deserve some attention because they also represent lost work for urban designers, architects, planners and landscape architects such as myself who would jump at the opportunity to help improve public life in New Orleans. While these projects do come at a cost for tax payers, they are not without merit or need. They are not an extravagance as some would claim. They are critical projects geared at boosting self sufficiency that the private sector has either no interest or incentive to promote. They are projects that have been years in the making, and will likely remain on the public’s wish-list long after Nucor gives any souls in Louisiana a job.
Taking a moment to share an article about my stepfather, who passed away Wednesday evening. Thank you to everyone who has phoned or emailed. It means a lot in these times, being on the road away from my family. Thank you to Brad Schmidt of the Oregonian who authored the article. Please click here.
The Beaverton Valley Times published an article on Bruce on April 15. Please click here.
A service is scheduled for April 22 at 3pm at the Western Forestry Center near the Washington Park Zoo.
I took the day off today – no driving, no designated site visits. The break is much deserved, I’d like to think, in view of all the running around I did in New Orleans that last week. I find myself in Lake Fausse Point State Park for the next few days. From this place (today being an exception) I will make several day trips north and southeast to visit sites on my itinerary. The setting here is idyllic. This park is extremely isolated. The only way to get here is to travel on a gravel levee road for at least 15 miles. Once you get past those bumpy 15, you arrive at a series of narrow country roads for another 15 miles. Only then will you encounter a modern highway. In other words, only people who really want to be here manage to arrive here without turning back. And once you arrive here, it is challenging to rouse yourself to leave (I led by example today!).
“If there is such place as a thousand miles from nowhere, Lake Fausse Pointe just may be it.”
I’m staying in a fairly plush cabin for being 30 miles from civilization. I read positive reviews about this place online, but I didn’t really expect to find a cabin with a flat screen plasma television, DirectTV, wireless, and a heating system that really works (much appreciated after the cold temps in New Orleans!). Maybe those are other reasons it was hard to leave the place today? Despite the temptations, I managed to squeeze in a 5 mile walk through the park’s looping trail system. The swamp is still in its winter appearance, so there is little tree foliage – lots of brown out there this time of year. On the other hand, the colder temperatures also mean no dive bombing bugs or mosquito problems. The sparse underbrush also makes viewing wildlife a little easier. All the dead leaves on the ground give audible clues when you are approaching something interesting. I saw all the following today:
- barred owl
- blue heron
- white tail deer
- swamp squirrels
- giant heron
- armadillo (yeah!)
I am a little relieved to report I did not run into any alligators or cottonmouths. They apparently infest this park during the warm months. At the furthest point on the trail near some rustic camping spots, I saw signs that warn of cottonmouths in the underbrush. After reading that, I high-geared it back to the safety of the cabin zone. But no loss – I will see those creatures later on when I’m on Cumberland Island in 7 weeks (plus horses and dolphins!). Although this place reminds me a lot of Bayou Sorrel, the landscape differs here in a couple important ways. A grand levee separates the Atchafalaya River from this particular swamp and the outlying communities, so water levels here are not influenced by the river’s surging spring flows. Instead, the levels remains low, creating small pools and exposing all the cypress knees. Open water is confined to the surrounding lake. Without the spring flows of the Atchafalaya, the swamp here is without an important source of sediment building material that can counteract the natural process of subsidence. In other words, this place is sinking. Tomorrow is busy: I get on the levee road and travel northeast to the Old River Control Structures. It shall be an engineering-heavy site seeing day. Sigh… More wildlife photos available here.
Welcome to my blog. I have set up this page to begin the documentation of my findings and observations over a 2+ month journey through the American South to investigate the intersection of landscape and economic development. This travel begins February 10, 2010 and ends on or about April 18, 2010. For additional information about my proposed travel, please read my travel abstract.
I am traveling thanks to the support of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley as a recipient of the Geraldine Knight Scott Travel Fellowship. This is an award given annually to graduates of the Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning (LAEP) Department at UC Berkeley.