Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Borders are Funny Things. Tijuana, Mexico

Our class recently took a trip to Tijuana, Mexico.

There is a HUMONGOUS community of squatters in Tijuana. Most of the families are poor and create their homes from whatever materials they can get their hands on.

Some of the uses are somewhat innovative. The use of tires for a retaining wall keeps them out of landfills and is actually structurally sound. This in my opinion doesn't look too bad.
The people of the community are VERY kind, this man invited us into his home and showed us what he had created. He built the wall he is standing next to with stones found in the canyon where he lives. his entire home was built by him as are most of the other homes in this large community.

You can also see the portion of the billboard he used to build his home.
Kids here need to hike up canyon hills in order to get to school.

If you look closely you can see a mother and son walking up the hill. There are steps made out of tires to help make the trek easier.
As a student of Landscape Architecture we came here to see how we could help, but in a sustainable and inexpensive manner. Tires typically don't make the most comfortable steps because they are too fat but, they do make strong retaining walls if used properly. Graffiti is a major issue as well. The people in the community are worried about graffiti but a possible solution to it is to encourage it as an art form and a means of communicating within the community.

Here is an interesting mural done by a tagging group in Tijuana. The level of craftsmanship isn't bad and it isn't tagged over by other taggers. With the use of relevant words and images graffiti could become a useful tool even in traditional graffiti style.

The somewhat newly created community area is already in disarray. It was probably inevitable due to the fact that it was inaccessible by children to use. This community has not yet even had its first community meeting though they plan to do so soon and find out what the community really needs. This building was created by the government as a daycare but it was not what they wanted so they turned it into a community building and health center to provide healthcare to those that cannot afford it.

What bothers me most is that Tijuana is SO CLOSE yet to many people seems SO far away. Think of all the places that you could drive two or three hours to. As close as Santa Barbara, closer than Arizona and Las Vegas. Tijuana neighbors San Diego just like Orange County does. You could see San Diego's downtown from Tijuana. We even share the same climate. But once you cross the border the differences are like night and day. Imagine what it'd be like with no borders.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tent City

I recently visited tent city. A man told me that this upside down American flag is not a sign of disrespect but instead a sign of desparation, it means help.

It doesn't seem right to cage these people in. A new curfew is being set up for them and I even heard a story of a girl who is pregnant. Her boyfriend was forced to leave because he is not a resident of Ontario. Dogs will also no longer be allowed even though all the dogs are tame and friendly

This dog is named Little Buddy. What if some of these people find jobs that don't allow them to get home on time? What if their kids dads are sent away because they aren't Ontario Citizens? This man in particular was able to build a nice shelter out of scrapped wood (it was made in one day). Those aren't allowed inside the fence. His makeshift home will be torn down and he'll have to find a tent. A tent is required for Tent City. A classmate who was with me said she thinks these people are complacent with the handouts and food donations. I think otherwise, I couldn't disagree more.
What amazes me most is that the people that live here trust eachother. One woman let another man borrow her bicycle because hers had a basket to carry food in. People talk to eachother and help eachother. A lot of the people know eachothers names. How many of your neighbors names do you know?
A lesson can be learned from those in desparation. They've developed a community, a REAL community that helps eachother out. someday i hope to live in a real community.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coates Bike Shop in Pomona

So, as brought to attention by my dear friend Goddess of Pomona (who was informed by M-M-M-My Pomona)Coates Bike Shop may become lost to development on the corner of Towne and Foothill. Coates was opened up in the 1930's and has a Forty foot Neon Sign as its trademark. That sign is CLASSIC! I e-mailed the city council including the Mayor and City Manager about my concerns about the loss of this city's important landmark. It is important for there to be a home for a more sustainable transit system. Bicycle riding is gaining in popularity and the loss of Coates would ultimately hinder Pomona's bicycling community. Fortunately I received responses from Paula Lantz, George Hunter, and Raymond Fong. Paula Lantz was very curious as to why this was coming up now (I e-mailed her back with the explanation of the recent knowledge gained and the gain in popularity of bicycle riding. George Hunter stated he'd like to see Coates stay as well, and Raymond Fong was diplomatic but stuck to his guns. I'm glad to see I was taken seriously enough to warrant a response. On April 21st the City will receive a comprehensive plan on this matter. Mr. Fong encouraged me to contact him in regards to this matter. But as time permits I may not be able to speak with him before April 21st.
I Hope Coates gets to keep their sign and their location. Sure it'd be nice if it were redesigned but It'd be nicer if a recognizable landmark stays to contribute to the identity of Pomona