Monday, March 29, 2010
- Martha Rosler, If You Lived Here
I left our meeting with the People’s Homesteading Group with a sour resentment for city government. While touring through PHG’s developments, I as well as the rest of our group was struck by the quality and luxury of the renovated town homes. The difference between the market-rate and low-income housing was slight, with the former being more spacious and manicured. Logically one would assume that the better quality, higher resnt housing would require more time and financial investment. In a voice of marked exhaustion, our PHG representative pointed out that the low-income home took an additional 4 ½ years and tens of thousands of dollars to develop. This is due to the endless paperwork, stringent regulations, and stop-and-go building process characteristic of state involvement. Needless to say the low-income development was a major blow for PHG’s limited resources. The organization was recently forced to lay off all but two employees, both of whom are receiving limited incomes. This could have been avoided had had the PHG chosen to pursue market-rate housing alone. However this is contrary to the goal of the homesteaders, which focuses on aiding the existing community rather than profiting from incoming residents. I question a city policy that forces affordable housing developers into financial suicide. I would like to believe that the city values healthy, mixed-income urban development. However it is circumstances such as this that lead me to believe government policy supports high-income domination, ultimately leading to gentrification and displacement. Were this not the case, People’s Homesteading Group would be receiving ample support, as hope of a healthy city lies in organizations that favor social resources over profit.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Detroit, The New Frontier
“In Detroit, the incapacity of the government is actually an advantage … There’s not much chance a strong city government could really turn the place around, but it could stop the grass roots revival in its tracks … In many cities where strong city government still functions effectively, citizens are tied down by an array of regulations and permits that are actually enforced in most cases. Much of the South Side of Chicago has Detroit like characteristics, but the techniques of renewal in Detroit won’t work because they are likely against code and would be shut down the minute someone complained … In most cities, municipal government can’t stop drug dealing and violence, but it can keep people with creative ideas out. Not in Detroit … The people in Detroit know that they are on their own, and if they want something done they have to do it themselves. Nobody from the city is coming to help them.”
— Aaron M. Renn, “Detroit: Urban Laboratory and the New American Frontier”
Thursday, March 25, 2010
March 31, 2010
Monuments and Monumentality
Jeremy Kargon, an architect on staff at Morgan State University, presents an illustrated discussion of statuary in the Monumental City, traces the history of these monuments, and relates the monuments to the city’s recognition of American history.
April 7, 2010
Westside-the 10th Anniversary and Beyond
Kathy Robertson, Westside Coordinator of the Baltimore Development Corporation, knows every building and alley on the Westside. She will discuss 10 years of redevelopment progress, upcoming projects, and answer questions about future plans.
Monuments and Monumentality
Westside-the 10th Anniversary and Beyond
April 14, 2010
The Design Challenge of Columbia’s Downtown
Roger Lewis, professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, practicing architect, author of a standard textbook on the practice of architecture, and Washington Post columnist, discusses the myriad design challenges faced by the aging town center of Columbia, Maryland.
April 21, 2010
Laurie Feinberg, chief of Comprehensive Planning for the Baltimore City Planning Department, discusses the mammoth and long-awaited rewrite of the City’s zoning code, and the timetable for release of the draft of the new form-based code.
April 28, 2010
Not in My Neighborhood
Antero Pietila, retired Baltimore Sun editorial writer, discusses what he learned from his long career writing for the Baltimore Sun and how he saw a need to address and create rhetoric focusing on this historically problematic American city. Not in My Neighborhood explains why Baltimore is still suffering the aftereffects of long-term racial segregation and bigotry on both a city and federal level.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
This being said, I am curious as to what the authors are imploring the readers to do- what solutions they are posing. Their critiques of gentrification are obvious: the displacement, the lack of low-income housing, the limited supply blue-collar jobs. I fail to see how these problems can be solved without first addressing the system of capitalism. At the heart of our economy lies the desire to make profit. This is true for blue-collar and white-collar workers, big businesses and small businesses, and even our city governments. Of course, gentrification is not caused by a capitalistic society, but by a capitalistic society that sees to it’s own needs before those of others. The solution lies in valuing people over profits, even people who can make little to no contribution to post-industrial society. At the same time, it is impossible to value “people”, in this case traditional labor forces, without reverting to pre-WWII employment opportunities. Even if human resource and welfare programs were increased and low-income housing developed, that still would change the fact that the “underclass” are blue-collar workers in a white-collar world. To reverse this would be to flip our American society on its head, an action I do not foresee in the near future. Perhaps the call to action now is to simply know one’s context, to deem gentrification a “proper cultural concern” in and out of the art world. I do not know the solution to the problems posed by our authors, nor do I know if there is one, but awareness is the first step to any process of improvement.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Hope you all enjoy check out the rest of the blog there are other interesting and wonderful posts, not allot that has to do with Central Baltimore but is good stuff non the less.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
The second structure of perception is associated with painter and photographer John Sloan. Like Steiglitiz, Sloan values the energy and physical qualities of the city. His emphasis, however, is not placed on structural forms but rather “the human activities and connections for which they provide a stage”. Instead of elevating themselves above the city, the Sloan group plants their feet amidst the human experience. Average, working people populate their subject matter, creating a gritty and real vitality. Instead of history being frozen in place, it becomes an unmistakable component of urban life.
There is something of the Sloan aesthetic that resonates with the work of Sarah Doherty. This is not to say that Doherty and her project, Axis Alley, are an emblem of modernism. They do, however, continue with some of the political themes valued by Sloan and his group. For one, Doherty has not located herself within the metropolitan epicenter, as Steiglitiz did in New York’s Midtown. She instead operates in Station North, what can be argued is an “extended” Village of Baltimore. Like Sloan, she lives amongst working-class urban residents. Perhaps the strongest correlation between Doherty and Sloan is found within their emphasis on ground-level human narratives. The inspiration for Axis Alley springs from a knowledge of people’s interaction the alleyway, both past and present. Doherty portrays the vitality of active public life, perhaps with less realism than Sloan and his compatriots. There is, however, one vital difference found between Doherty’s work and that of modernism: where modernist work aggravates the barriers between downtown and periphery, work and home, and inevitably between people, Doherty succeeds in somewhat breaking these barriers to allow for a more unified urban environment.