Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The City Today and Our Lives as Flâneurs

The title of this post for most of you might be a bit confusing, so let me start out with a definition and explanation.

Flâneur - an idler or lounger, or for purposes of my Green Communities class the word means to be an engaged observer or diagnostician.

Our cities today are the product of years and years of "planning" and refined "best practices" that resulted in massive sprawl and freeways spider webbing throughout the country. In other words we have set rules and guidelines for how to deconstruct your cities, towns, and green spaces while you do your best to make them work.

I used the phrase "make them work" on purpose, as I thought it a great transition into today's topic.

For the longest time we citizens have, for the most part, been silent observers of the chaos happening or rather being planned around us. We haven't had incredible influence into the plans of our cities. If we are the ones using our cities and have little to no say in how they are created, then how will they ever become a place we would love to live?

nothing about us
My professor (Stephen Goldsmith), can often be heard in our lectures saying: "Nothing about us without us is for us." Reread it, and let it sink in: "Nothing about us without us is for us." If anything that has something to do with you is planned without you, how can it ever be for you?

That leads me to the point of the post, I have been observing the path I take in my every day life. I have tried to break every building, road, design, and type of transportation down to its roots to see if there could be a better way to do it; one that is designed for us, with us actually in mind.

U of U Marriott Library
On my way home from school I broke down some of the specific buildings that helped structure my path home. The first being the Marriott Library, as that is where my class was located. I thought it interesting that the only exit points from the library are one on the north east and a second on the north west of the building. From a birds eye view they are seemingly close together, and there is no exit to the south. In addition to this when exiting the building on the east there are cigarette dispensers sitting 30 feet outside of the main doors to the library, which always gives the pleasant aroma of death as soon as you leave the building, because that 30 foot barrier doesn't account for wind.

UTA Trax
As I continued my trek towards the Stadium Trax Station I found myself walking along the raised walkway on the back side of the field house staring at a white wall, and the Trax cables with a backdrop of the stadium's fence. This pathway, as well as many others, weren't designed with people in mind.

So much more could be done with these spaces, and it is our job as the future residents of our cities and towns to rethink every detail and design them in a way that is for us. I challenge each of us to not only evaluate those areas that we just try and make work, but also voice your opinion on them. Take part in your community and let us as a community make it better!

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I just wanted to take a moment to send a personal message out to all those in the fields of Landscape Architecture, Gardening, Horticulture, and Urban Planning/Urban Ecology. I created Landscape Connections for the purpose to share my love and passion for Landscape Architecture and Design, and Urban Ecology. I was a Landscape Architecture Major at Utah State University and currently study Urban Ecology at the University of Utah. I am working to compile as much information in the four previously mentioned fields as possible. If you have any further information, or would like to either add information or see information posted to landscape connections please let me know.