Monday, October 30, 2006

42nd Street Makeover

Urban planners are pushing to transform 42nd Street into a pedestrian mall, complete with its own street-level rail line.

The transformation, which advocates say would turn the clogged streets into a narrower version of an Italian piazza, would boost business on the strip by up to $500 million a year while cutting crosstown travel time in half.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Color is a Communication Tool

The connection between urban space and communication occurs on many levels. Industrial designer Ruth Lande Shuman founded Publicor, which has the following mission:

Publicolor is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1996. Our mission is to catalyze change in inner-city schools and neighborhood facilities though the power of color and collaboration. We not only transform the space but the people who use them as well. We do this through our Paint Club and COLOR Club programs which train at-risk students the marketable skill of commercial painting.

We transform public spaces in neglected schools and neighborhood facilities through the powers of vibrant color and organized collaboration. Our thoughtful designs with color create visual order in often chaotic spaces energizing the people and bringing a sense of calm through this visual landscape.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Surveillance Cameras on Every Block

Mayor Daley is willing to bet that by 2016 Chicago will have a surveillance camera on every block in the city. This technology transforms expectations of trust, power, and the social uses of space. Late night bars, clubs, and convenience stores might be required to adopt systems that can identiy individuals. Cities have always been formed of contested spaces where some people are welcomed and others are shut out. Digital traces transform this contest of inclusion and exclusion, improving the comfort and security for some residents, diminishing the vitality and energy of other areas.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Interactive Social Asset Mapping

I'm originally from the Calumet Region, which stretches along the shoreline of Lake Michigan from the southside of Chicago to Michigan City, Indiana. The region has the greatest concentration of natural diversity in the United States, and some of the worst pollution. It has produced great economic wealth, but also suffers a high level of poverty. These contradictions can help to be reconciled with the right kind of communication resources. The Field Museum in Chicago helped to coordinate an innovative, participatory research program that combined the efforts of community residents, academics, and GIS and visual ethnography to create a social asset map of the region.