Friday, August 31, 2007

There's a Problem with my Community

Problem: My local community does not get along. The fire department, police department, and rescue station turn their heads when the others come. The town manager left before term about 2 years ago due to town politics. There are no family groups, playgrounds, or parks to promote residential interactions. It’s like residents stay in their homes and hide instead of coming out to communicate.

How am I going to solve this problem? My first response is I really don’t know. As I think deeper about the situation, I think I need to start with the problem: the community. I need to find out why people are not communicating. Why the separate departments are disconnected. I think I might send out surveys to residents to see how distant the town really is. I am not sure if I will get very far since the residents are not really talking. We’ll see.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What am I Thinking?

I have never taken a Theory class so all this deep thinking is really new to me. I have to admit that I am curious about this aspect of architecture and how theory relates to it. I love watching people much like every other person in the world. But I like to go further with people watching and try to understand how they react in these spaces. I don’t want to just watch people because it is entertainment, I want to see their hand gestures, their facial expressions, and their body language. I find it very fascinating the psychology of people while occupying space. I know this really has nothing to do with the recent articles we have been reading but it has been brought up once or twice.

The article by Karsten Harries talks about mobile homes and dwellings. It makes sense that if a building is not grounded, than it is mobile. I understand that concept it’s just that I really didn’t think of it like that. This then turns my attention to the article written by Herb about place in life. Who ever thought a simple word like place can have such a diverse meaning. I was shocked to know there were only 2 other classmates that are presently living in their home towns. Staying close to our roots is a similar characteristic of Maine residents. I can only think of one person, although I know there are a couple more, which presently lives in Maine but didn’t grow up there. I know a lot of people that have moved out of state for a couple years but eventually find their way back to Maine. So, place in life, my community, and my home is very important to me. It gives stability that I want to help provide for my child. When children move from place to place they become socially mature but it seems to me that children are stronger if have only one root. I don’t think I would be as grounded if I moved from city to city as a child. I would lose my sense of place in this world, community, and home. It might have something to do with the support my family provided.

So I read these articles although they might not literally relate to me but they help me think of a different level of which I really like. Is this more psychology, architecture, or both? I understand when Herb says he automatically knew he didn’t want to be an architect. It’s ok to want to study people at this depth and still design buildings. Wanting to study people is definitely going to make me a better, stronger designer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bickford vs Duncan

Even though these two articles were close in context, I felt Duncan’s article was much more interesting. I was able to understand it more because my community relates more to a physical segregation like described in Duncan’s article. You know the residents are of a higher class because they maintain their lawns to a specific detail. Yet, in Maine, both alpha and beta classes will mingle with each other because of Maine’s absence of multiple schools, organizations, and backgrounds.

Both articles were about segregation just in different forms. It doesn’t matter which group a family belongs to, they are labeled by society just from location. Both groups use different means of segregation with same results in society.

I felt Bickford was talking about a mental type of segregation. It is more of each person’s comfort zone in today’s society. People are attracted to areas with people of similar ethics, personalities, and finances. Ghettos attract the uneducated and the poor. CID’s attract the wealthier families. We all want to be comfortable and be around people that have the same interests as ourselves.

Duncan’s article is separating society by more of a physical mean. The alpha community is using a landscape motif to describe their place in society which they consider is a higher class. They would be categorized into the professional class or maybe the capital class. Their kids go to an upper class school but will they really get a better education? IVY leaguers can come out of any high school.

The beta group will focus on public image by their financial standings rather than heritage, as the alpha group does. They didn’t think much of the landscape motif so they considered themselves in a separate societal class. Who’s to judge which class is the higher achiever?

Herb was talking about this in his latest entry about how society separates themselves into a particular class. Maine does not function like this because we are limited by our industrial economics. I would consider Maine to have two classes: working or a non working class. It’s not likely to recognize a Maine resident to be in the capital class, more likely the professional class, but most would be considered in the labor class.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Constructing Inequality

In the essay by Susan Bickford, it is in my opinion that an attempt was made to reconnect political theory to the study of cities by probing the link between built environment, public life, and democratic politics. This essay also brought to the surface how inequalities in communities and differences in opinions regarding diversity has ultimately come to affect the communities in which we live.

Throughout reading this essay, I was constantly questioning what this essay was theorizing. Is Susan Bickford talking about segregation or CID’s in general. In my opinion, CID’s are a form of conscious segregation. People purposely desire communities with other people who have the same common interests, ambitions, and goals. People in the CID’s as a community wish to keep certain individuals and certain circumstances out of their community. CID’s represent a comfort zone to the people of their community which provides a sense of security. It is easier for residents to trust the other residents in CID’s.

I live in a very small town of less than 3200 where there may be a stretch of seven houses grouped together. There is no ‘ghetto’ or what people may address as ‘bad neighborhood’. Invisible gates are the only gates that exist in my town. A lot of people I know don’t lock their houses or vehicles at night or when they go to work. People leave containers for money when selling a product if they are not going to be around instructing people to leave the money in the container. For my community, this works.

Opinions are very strong and non-diverse in the community in which I live, especially with the older generations. My uncles are very opinionated when it comes to opposite races. There is a lack of diversity in regards to different origins in my community. The majority of my community are caucasian have lived in San Fran where your best friend is of a different nationality. In Monmouth, you will be lucky to see somebody other than caucasian. However, in other heavily populated areas of Maine, minorities are becoming more prevalent. My husband and I are teaching our daughter to accept all individuals regardless of their race.

CID’s tend to attract higher class individuals who can afford this type of lifestyle. Residents in CIDs pay to belong to the CID along with municipals taxes of every home owner. The residents pay extra for the gated community which includes security, common interests, and sometimes health facilities. Not only CID’s govern their own community, they also have to abide their town ordinances.

The question I ask is this: Are CID’s walling people in or out? Are the walls being formed segregation walls or are they walls that are formed with only the hopes to keep their environment filtered.

I am not sure I agree with the ghetto being the opposite of middle class CID. I believe the opposite of the ghetto would be the wealthy community. It is my belief that the main differences between these two groups are financial availability. Ghettos primarily consist of the poor and uneducated. Wealthy communities consist of higher education people and have financial means to attain most anything they desire.

Monday, August 6, 2007

This is a test to my first blog. I am very excited to meet everyone in Boston.