Friday, May 15, 2015

Latin American library expansion

I've added a couple of books to my Latin American library. Generalissimo el Busho is not technically a Latin American book, but relating W to an Ibero-American caudillo in this left-slanted satirical book warranted a comical inclusion to my library. I'm getting into the other one, The Aztec Treasure House, in a similar adventurer vein to Amazonian explorer books I've read, and Cradle of Gold, about Hiram Bingham and the discovery of Machu Picchu.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New Development in San Clemente - Plaza

Across the bridge from where I live a huge development project is underway. Shopping outlets are going up, a walking path has already been opened with conservation areas and parks, and residential buildings will shortly fill in the development. I've been curious about this development because of its fascinating architectural design. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Diversity of the San Clemente Built Environment

San Clemente has lots of styles of architecture. Throughout this project I want to capture the huge diversity of eras, functionalities, and styles throughout the city. One thing that interests me is the blend of not just styles, but cultures, and socioeconomic groups. These are representative of different histories, lifestyles, and ultimately expectations placed on the building.

Construction of New Affordable Housing in San Clemente

I've been fascinated by many of the things I've seen while living in San Clemente. I've seen several things that I wanted to snap pictures of, and being a minimalist with the model of my phone, never did. Cutting the procrastination, I've decided to start a new project, and see where I can take it. The project is to take pictures and research this oceanside city I live in. The following is my first entry, capturing the new affordable housing on Serra St.

I found from the city's housing services website that:

  • Affordable Housing Program- This program provides funds for non-profit agencies to acquire and rehabilitate older apartment buildings or construct new apartments for long term affordable housing for very low income households (persons earning less than 50% of median income). Proposals from Non-profit developers are accepted year-round pending available funds and priorities are met.
  • Inclusionary Housing Program- This program requires developers building 6 housing units or more to provide 15% of the total number of units for very low income households, on-site, off-site, or pay an in-lieu fee, donation of land or a combination recommended by the Community Development Director. The in-lieu fees are provided as a no interest or low interest loan to non-profit agencies for a minimum of 55 years to acquire or build affordable housing.
Besides the Serra affordable housing, San Clemente has other affordable housing options. The different options vary according to demographics and necessity. There are two senior accommodations, three family, and one single "sober living" house. The waiting list for seniors is longest, 2-3 years, with family accommodations ranging from between 4 months and four years depending on income. The median average home price in San Clemente between roughly $900,000, and $1.5 million, and average rental prices average at around $3,200. This makes affordable housing an important concern for many in the city.

This new facility is going to be beautiful!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Community Building for Gentrification

(photo: Sean R. Watson)

Gentrification has destabilized and upended many communities across the world, creating conflict with preexisting populations, and raising land values and costs of living. Longtime residents find it difficult to remain in their beloved neighborhoods, and as neighborhoods morph, they are faced with the decision of whether to stay or leave. These residents may harbor resentment towards new residents, and communities many times unravel. 

Chipping Norton, a market town in West Oxfordshire, England, is faced with this same problem. It’s a special case for two reasons though: the town has an effective longstanding community newspaper that voices public concerns, activities, and achievements, and the town has melded with gentrification, rather than divide. The town can add some insights to create solidarity not just in towns, but neighborhoods in cities.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

8 Visionary Cities from the Past

I think it is fun to suppose the technologies that will  transform the cities we live in. Within a short span of time tools from science fiction works have become realities, and cities have reached unprecedented densities. I thought it would be curious to revisit the visionary cities of the past to see what we think of our progress.

These visionary images depict tall and interconnected buildings, and whilst current thought in urban planning and strategy favors walking cities, they are mostly mobile cities through ground and air transportation. Some of these vehicles are communal, and others are manned by individuals. No matter the variations, visionaries of the past predicted increased technologies, and complex urban planning.

Century of Progress Expo, 1933

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Technology's Ability to Empower Top and Bottom Students

In an ideal educational model the student to teacher ratio would be as close to 1:1 as possible. Ancient universities like Cambridge and Oxford still use a one-to-one tutorial system to develop student criticality, and many parents similarly hire tutors to help their children excel in advanced classes. In an imperfect model, tutoring can be used to account for the model’s shortcomings. With standardized tests stratifying student results, portions of the population are identified as candidates for federally subsidized private tutoring. While this one-on-one instruction is valuable, current technologies can perhaps offer more far reaching, accessible, and interactive instruction. This in turn has the ability to break-down grade levels, raising bottom students as much as top ones. A practical understanding of these concepts comes from personal experiences as a private tutor, as detailed further.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cheat Sheet to Creating a Strategy

For  thousands of years strategies have been used to achieve defined aims. Whilst Sun Tzu applied strategy to military operations in sixth century BC, Machiavelli detailed political strategies at the heart of the Italian Renaissance. These are probably the most widely recognized strategists in history, but each individual can count themselves strategists also as they apply their resources and influence to achieve their objectives. In his book, Alanbrooke, David Fraser defined strategy for military application. Whilst effective for military use, it  also provides opportunity for application elsewhere. Whether strategizing a business move, beating a rival basketball team, or determining balance between work, family, and leisure, the procedure of his definition can add insight to accomplish aims. He writes:

'the art of strategy is to determine the aim, which is or should be political: to derive from that aim a series of military objectives to be achieved: to assess these objectives as to the military requirements they create, and the preconditions which the achievement of each is likely to necessitate: to measure available and potential resources against the requirements and to chart from this process a coherent pattern of priorities and a rational course of action (1982, 215).'

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

PDF - Great Habits for Students' Online Use

Google For Education has tweeted several interesting things the past few days. They tweeted a PDF this morning I thought important as I encourage my students to use the internet for educational purposes. After they finish our program, they receive a tablet. These tips provide great guidelines to aid their online habits.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The USA: Lacking a Comprehensive Narrative for Cohesion

In response to events in Ferguson, Missouri, Cornel West detailed the class war and racial war against black and brown youth in the United States (Mr News Center 2014). Whilst these racial groups have lower average annual incomes (Perlberg 2013), and at times undoubtedly encounter racial profiling and prejudice, they also experience the greatest capability for democratic participation, and are the most represented in all levels of government in history. Current discussions on racial equality hover over mainstream prejudices, unfair treatment by law enforcement, and income gaps. I argue that the US’s nation-state narrative excludes portions of the country’s population, black and brown Americans included, but concepts from Latin America’s history, specifically Brazil, can provide insights for improved dialogue.