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For millenials, protest must be pragmatic. Yes, many of us rail for or against one cause or another but really, what’s the point of all the yelling and screaming if nothing comes of it? Also, does yelling and screaming ever convert anyone to your cause? Past generations of protestors have answered that question with a resounding No. So how do we protest? We plant a garden.

Robyn Waxman, a graduate student of design at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco,

“became fascinated with the next generation of designers’ role when it came to protest and civil disobedience, a place designers and artists have been focusing their efforts for centuries. Studying millennials, who are generally considered to be a group of participatory, positive, technologically-savvy 18- to 30-year-olds, revealed some interesting insights: This was a generation that had solid respect for the law and was reluctant to publicly criticize the status quo. “[They] are really concerned about defying authority,” says Waxman, who is 39. “They are looking out for their future.” As her thesis, Waxman proposed an intervention that helped redefine protest for the rising creative group–a form of engagement that would help educate and inspire them in how to take action.

“She realized if confrontational behavior was not in their nature, then she would have to introduce a form of more perpetual protest. Waxman sought to have a group of students physically reclaim a strip of public land bordering the school’s street, which CCA shares with homeless residents as well as day laborers. Waxman believed they could intervene agriculturally on the block–which was littered with hypodermic needles–by growing enough food for the neighbors.”


Urban farming is a growing trend and as a form of protest it is one that many millenials, including myself, can get behind. It’s a productive cause and its effects are tangible. There is something subversive about growing ones own food in the heart of a city; the collision of lifestyles highlights the disconnectedness of city living while also bringing one back to a “simpler time” that many of us never experienced. Urban farming is the most basic protest against the everyday complexities of modern life.

“Protest doesn’t have to be something that people hate,’ says Waxman. ‘That’s what makes it so enticing for this generation.”


Looks like the kids are alright, afterall


(via Fast Company)

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The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn cleared a major legal hurdle today. This is bad news all-around for anyone concerned with city planning or community development. Forest City Ratner, a major development company, will build a billion-dollar arena for the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets to move into and residential towers with 6430 units. Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn had aimed to halt construction on the grounds that the states use of eminent domain is in violation of the Constitution.

I’ve written about it before to a degree but eminent domain is only to be used when the public good will be served by the seizure of the property in question. How can anyone justify that this arena will be good for the community? It will provide temporary construction jobs, sure, but in the long run the project is ill-suited to bring anything but low-wage service industry jobs to the area while knocking out independent business in the area. Also, the infrastructural and logistical nightmare that is sure to ensue is going to make worse an already bad situation for pedestrians. Anyone who has ever walked at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues would agree that crossing from the street in that area is terrifying, there’s so much traffic coming from every direction: add in traffic from suburbanites driving in to see the Nets play a game and the situation becomes hellish.

I fail to see any real benefit to the community. Local business will be either swallowed up or choked out by construction. The jobs that the arena provides, aside from the temporary (approximately 28 months) construction jobs, will be serving peanuts or being a doorman at the luxury residences. On top of all that, the increased auto traffic will make it even more difficult to navigate these streets. While the Atlantic Ave. subway stop is right below the proposed-arena, the NYC subway is already overcrowded so assuming that the MTA will provide adequate service to arena-goers is laughable.

The Atlantic Yards project has been a mess from the beginning and the people that will pay the most for its folly is local residents.

If you’re interested in joining opposition to this project visit the Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn website

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News of out of NYC today: 7 acres of land in Coney Island has been purchased by the City of New York. Back in 2005 Sitt Development bought the land and threatened to develop it into a Las Vegas-style amusement park. This idea terrified me, mainly because it was so antithetical to the character of Coney Island. Coney Island is the “people’s playground” and if a developer were to turn it into a Las Vegas-style mall/housing complex/amusement park it would have driven everyone but the rich out. Now, thankfully, the City has bought the land and, while they have no concrete plans yet as to redevelopment, we can at least be assured that Coney Island will not turn into a playground only for the rich. Hopefully, the Bloomberg administration takes it’s slim electoral victory to heart and starts listening to what ALL citizens of New York City want.

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GOOD Magazine is currently conducting  Ideas For Cities, a brainstorming feature that lets readers contribute ideas for improving their cities. Once submitted, the GOOD staff chooses the best idea of the day and posts it on their website. Of course, as an avid urbanist I felt compelled to submit my own idea.

My idea: digitally integrate Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with web 2.0. My inspiration is drawn from Farmville, a Facebook application that lets users plant and monitor crops and livestock. If you are a Facebook user you likely know someone who uses this app and shares the results of that weeks crop with you. This idea should be extended to real-life CSAs and involve both the farmers and crop recipients.

Basically, a CSA farmer would have a network interface that CSA members could join. The farmer would have a list of crops that he/she grows and each CSA member would check off which crops they have signed up to receive. Weekly the farmer would send out progress updates on the crops (ie. “Beets are medium size and are looking extra red. This years crop is going to be tasty!”). Each user would then only receive updates on the crops they have checked off.

The purpose of this is to engage CSA members, who are largely urban dwellers, even more in the growing process of their food. Many CSA members join a CSA because the idea of local, fresh food is appealing. They may also join because they want to move away from the culture of corporate farming and imported food. By posting updates and status reports the farmer allows crop recipients to be even closer to the food than before. Suddenly, farming becomes very tangible.

The status update that CSA members receive would also be embedded with an RSS feed and a link, thus making it easy for members to spread the word on their crops. The network provides local farmers a chance at earned media and free press, just simply by providing members with accurate updates.

In reality, this idea has endless opportunities for growth and could help CSAs organize better, connect closer with their members and possibly even attract new members. Localism is a burgeoning way of living but its success depends on a critical mass of people adopting it. In the twenty-first century, the internet is the best way to reach many people at once and with a little personal touch and a word-of-mouth strategy, CSAs and localism may become widespread practice.

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Not only is shopping locally a good way to maintain local cultural quirks and idiosyncrasies, it also makes good economic sense. The more money in the community, the stronger, financially (at the very least) the community will be.

(image via PSFK via Local First)

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