Friday, October 31, 2008

Drought: California Cutting Supply of Water!

Originally uploaded by freef0cus
I read this article yesterday, from the Associated Press. Read it then come back, it talks about how the DWR is going to cut the supply of water to cities and farms. What that means for us is a hike in domestic water prices. Farms will also not be able to plant as many crops for food. That will also inevitably increase food prices especially considering 85% of America's crops comes from California valleys.

Soon cities in California will be installing separate meters for landscape water so that they can determine how much water each resident is using just on their landscape. The water agencies can then charge you more for "overuse." There is also a new DWR ordinance going out limiting the design of landscapes so that they do not use as much water. See AB 1881

Well, it looks like since people aren't doing it themselves the government is stepping in to do something to conserve water. I know I've said this before but there are regenerative ways to deal with water use and reuse, but we continually ignore those ways. If only people really understood what treatment wetlands can do for our water supply.

So for you home owners. Kill your lawn if you don't use it to for play (or at least replace it with Carex Texensis yes you can mow it). Fix your irrigation so it waters your plants and not your sidewalk. Don't over water, don't use your hose to clean your driveway, take shorter showers, and learn how to capture rainwater (maybe i'll do a blog on that soon).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I.D. THIS! Super Mario Bros. Mushroom

Amanita muscaria (I)
Originally uploaded by .Bambo.
Some of you may recognize this from your younger days, from a variety of sources. Someone in class recently drew the cartoonish version of the mushroom from Super Mario Bros on the chalk board and wrote "ID this!" next to it. Identifying plants is something very familiar to Landscape Architects (and students) so it's often a running joke. But we never ID mushrooms because they're hard to garden with.

Strangely enough, I am actually familiar with this mushroom. It was also featured in "The Smurfs" as the homes where the smurfs live in. In Super Mario Bros this mushroom makes Mario grow when he eats it. It's a power up. There are variations of the color that do different things for Mario. I think that the inspiration for this came from Alice in Wonderland when she ate a piece of a giant mushroom (where the smoking caterpillar sat on top of) from one side it would make her grow and if she ate a piece from the other side it would make her shrink. This particular mushroom is also seen in a lot of mystical art such as faerie art.

What's even stranger is that this mushroom is a very strong hallucinogenic used by Shamans in Siberia for religious purposes. It is also claimed to be the Soma mentioned in the Rig Veda of India as well as a claim of being used by Nordic Vikings. There are also some lesser backed claims about its use by Biblical figures such as Moses, Adam and Eve.

I wouldn't suggest consuming this. It is also considered poisonous and has been proven to induce cold sweats, vomiting and delirium for hours at a time. Maybe that's why only shamans would eat it, no one else wanted to!

Maybe there is some sort of strange connection to this mushroom's hallucinogenic properties and the relation it has with Super Mario Bros and the Smurfs as well as Alice in Wonderland. Or maybe it just looks really interesting and the rest is coincidence. I don't think we'll ever know.

But for whoever was ever curious about the Smurfs or curious about the Mario Bros Mushrooms and for whoever wrote that "ID this!" in class your mushroom has been Identified.

It is Amanita Muscaria also known as Fly Agaric (because it's also a fly poison)

Halfway through the quarter and it's time to push harder

We're halfway through the quarter, that means a lot of things. Midterms, Burnout, Registration for next quarter, and since it's fall and this is my last year that also means applying for grad schools, taking the GRE's, building up my portfolio, Getting a Grad Check done, making sure I have all my classes to graduate.

In case you don't know I'm majoring in Landscape Architecture, with a minor in Regenerative Studies and a minor in Philosophy. I'm a Senator in the student govt. Since the president of the club that I was president of last year is in Italy I have to take over for him for now. I'm also helping to organize our department's student published magazine.

So as you can see I like to keep busy.

with that said, I have some posts up my sleeve so stay tuned.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Economy + Environment: This decade's environmental fad may be more than just that.

Money tree
Originally uploaded by neil-san
The other day I had a chance encounter with Mr. Bob Cordoza at school. Every chance I get I pick his brain because I never fail to realize something from what he says. Mr. Cordoza is one of the senior principals of Nuvis, he is an ASLA Fellow and I interned with his company two summers ago.

I asked him his thoughts on the economy and asked his advice about my graduate school options. Now we all know that environmentalism is a major trend right now. But, in previous environmentalism fads the "green" movement did not last. Such as in the 60's when it exploded on the scene, the environmentalist movement quickly died down afterwards. While there were still many people lingering around, it was by far a lessened movement. Then there was the hole in the ozone layer that was discovered in 1985 and the movement that followed in the late 80's and early 90's. The reason that didn't last is because everyone thought we fixed the problem, and so "out of sight, out of mind."

This time it is different it's hitting our wallet. While the BIG fad is global warming, there is much more to it this time around. What Mr. Cordoza made clear to me, though the reason was staring me in the face, was that the big difference is that previous trends had little or nothing to do with economic factors. This time the economy is so closely tied with the environment that the "green" push may actually stick around.

Peak oil is effecting nearly everything not just your car and big house like in the movie End of Suburbia. All plastics are made from oil and plastics are in just about EVERY product you own, Fuel and most of the world's energy is from oil, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are from oil. It's not just oil, We are running out of Landfills to throw our trash in, so hauling trash is getting more expensive. Farmers that practice contemporary methods are beginning to feel the pinch of their invasive methods, sterilized soils where nothing grows unless tons of chemicals are pumped into the ground, Monsanto and their legal "ownership of life" as mentioned in The World According to Monsanto

I don't see this environmentalist trend dying down any time soon. Its economic ties are too strong. It will soon force people to practice sustainable methods in their everyday life. I won't be surprised to see more solar panels on homes just for the purpose of saving money. We're already seeing it with people driving more fuel efficient cars. It may take longer for there to be a cost benefit in buying organic food, but food is already becoming more expensive in the regular market, a few things are already cheaper at whole foods and trader joe's.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekend Repost: :Landscape Architecture Needs Fixing (Amenities)

Originally uploaded by aurastra
It's the weekend and it's time for a repost.

Park benches. Trellises. gazebos. hand rails. These are all things that are wrong with Landscape Architecture.

Why does this profession continue to order benches out of catalogs? who actually believes that they look good? Do designers really want the stamp of another company on all of their designs, the same stamp that is on hundreds if not thousands of other designers landscapes?

We are taught to design, why is it so hard to design a simple park bench that has a designers stamp? I visited an award winning dog park in the fall of 2007. It was recently featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine. When I saw the park the first thing that stuck out was the shade structure. The cataloged gazebo. It looked exactly like every other parks shade structure. nothing unique about it. some pillars and a blue metal roof.

If the park could win awards for its uniqueness why couldn't the designers design a shade structure instead of ordering it from a catalog? Are Landscape Architects lazy? A common response is "budget" let's face it, "budget" is a POOR excuse for a lack of creativity and creativity INCLUDES finding solutions on a low budget. not just ordering it from a catalog. I've SEEN these catalogs and I KNOW the costs. I also know how to build them and I know that with some creative thinking it can be done CHEAPER than what can be ordered in a catalog.

It's frustrating to see the laziness of designers in the profession I am going into.

I vow to not order amenities from a catalog. I hope others take this same vow and really push our profession to the respect it should deserve.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oops!: Mistakes in Pomona's Landscape (California Fan Palm vs. Mexican Fan Palm)

One of my first impressions of Pomona, before I moved here, was of this mistake made in the landscape in front of the Pilgrim Congregational Church on Garey near Holt.

This image is more recent with the church undergoing some rehabilitation. It seems like most people don't notice, but considering the field I'm in it's very obvious to me. These trees are all different trees. Let's do this, the shorter and wider trunk tree is the California Fan Palm now referred to as (C), and the Mexican Fan Palm which is much taller and thinner will be (M). So in the picture it's (C)(M)(C)(C)(M)(M)(M)(M). That's 3 California Fan Palms and 5 Mexican Fan Palms all mixed together. Here's another image.

Now, if you are familiar with Pomona there is a row of California Fan Palms in front of the YMCA, which looks consistent and cohesive, and in other areas there are also Mexican Fan Palms (across the street from the church). So it is fairly obvious that it is meant to be one consistent Palm in front of the church. The question is, which one was it supposed to be? Because of the size of the palms you can tell that they've been here for quite a long time, but I hope it was the California Fan Palm since Mexican Fan Palms are invasive in this region.

When these plants are young it is easy to confuse the two especially to the untrained eye.

There is another place where the mistake occurs

This is on front of the Pomona Catholic School on Garey and White.

I sometimes wonder if these mistakes are a reflection of the disorganization of the city as a whole. If old street trees like these are hastily put together and gathered without a second thought or any sort of verification, then is the rest of the city put together like that? I hope not. I hope the next leaders of Pomona really put their best foot forward and really pay attention to the city's needs.

There are other places where this mistake occurs, and to be fair it is a common mistake when the trees are very very young. But I wonder if the mistake will ever be fixed, (if they do I hope they replant the removed trees).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Support Your Local Businesses: Lobos Glass in Pomona

Originally uploaded by andrewkanzler
A window pane had recently broken at my home and I had to replace it. Since I had also recently written a blog about Graffiti on Holt and Fillmore. The Graffiti next to a sign for a Glass business on that building.

That glass business is Lobos Glass. I decided I'd give them a visit and order a piece of glass. Though the address is on Holt the entrance is actually on Fillmore. The service was IMPECCABLE, very polite, and the person that cut my glass for me measured three times a side to make sure he cut it the right size.

If I had done the job myself by buying a glass that was a sufficient size and cutting it myself it would have cost me about 28 bucks. This glass from a local mom and pop was a flat 18 bucks, so I tipped the guy two bucks, for a straight twenty. So whoever says mom and pops are more expensive isn't really thinking about specialty shops.

So if you ever need to replace a pane, or a piece of glass from a framed work, I highly recommend Lobos Glass. I also read a review online that gave them high reviews.

Support your local businesses.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get Lost!: A Better Way to Road Trip.

Originally uploaded by rudedog78
Early this summer my girlfriend and I went on a road trip up California. Our plan was to go North on inland roads up to Redding cut across to the coast of Humboldt County and take the coast all the way south back to LA County.

Unfortunately after camping for a few days in the Sequoia National Forest over 1000 (yes one thousand) fires developed across California. Seeing as how we were out in the wilderness without any reliable forms of communication we had no idea what was going on.

Once we left the forest we set on our way. I called my brother to let him know when we'd make it to his home in Humboldt. With that phone call I found out I had to stop immediately and take a detour. Our plans were all completely changed and we had to find alternate routes to get to my brothers house. The ultimate goal was to get to Humboldt so we HAD to find a way to get there.

We had already gone through Sacramento on the 5 but Redding was on fire and the stretch of road between Redding and Humboldt was closed. We stopped dead in our tracks and explored a map for about 15 minutes. We found an old highway by the number of 20 that would cut across to the 101 so that we could get to our destination in Humboldt. (though I didn't take this photo, it is of some of the scenery along hwy 20)

This detour was by far the best detour I've ever taken. The hills were beautiful like the drive from LA to San Fran in Gorman. But it also had the ancient rock formations protruding from the ground like the drive to Sequoia from Tulare. Parts of those hills were freckled with oaks (or black walnuts, it was hard to tell from a distance) This valley was hidden and beautiful with horses roaming and oaks telling their old stories. It started getting dark by the time we got to a city called Clearlake Oaks on a lake that's about 10 miles wide and 5 miles across (the lake is obviously called Clearlake). This lake was also very beautiful, the street front properties lining the edge of the lake reminded me a lot of Malibu. There were a number of quaint towns along this northern edge of the lake, and a number of unlisted campgrounds. I even began to fantasize about settling down here.

By the time we ended our trip along the 20 connecting to the 101, I was excited to have gotten "lost" just to experience this long stretch of road especially being able to see its tranquility at night.

On the way back home we even took a one night detour from the 1 to the 101 using the 20, we were able to see the rest of the stretch of road which was a dense redwood forest. My brother told me of a secret campground around the area which he won't allow me to share with anyone.

Had we not been forced to make this detour I may have never seen this stretch of highway. I could have ended up living my life never knowing this place was there. (who knows you may end up finding a secret camp ground.)

My suggestion? The next time you take a road trip, get lost, take detours,and like Robert Frost take the road less traveled (literally).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Motorcycles: The forgotten form of Sustainable Transportation.

Not too long ago, my brother completed his Chopper, this is my brother with his bike. It recently won an award for paint and was also a runner up for best custom chopper. It was also recently featured in "Horse" magazine. My brother is the machine shop foreman at West Coast Choppers so Motorcycles are essentially his life, like Landscape Architecture is mine.

With a closeness to motorcycles in the family and myself being so close to the landscape, I find that motorcycles are almost always looked over and forgotten. It is not uncommon for a motorcycle to get about 50 miles again, often times more than that and sometimes less. There are four types of street motorcycles, the cruiser, The standard, the sport and the touring bike. A chopper is almost always a cruiser your typical Harley (of more artistic), a standard (or naked) bike is a very basic motorcycle usually a throw back to the 70's or 80's, and a sport bike is also known as a crotch rocket (think speed).

If more people rode motorcycles fossil fuel consumption will be reduced and with a higher concentration of motorcycles on the road a heightened awareness of bikes from drivers would develop. Most motorcycle-car collisions are because the drivers of cars are unaware of the motorcycle, they often forget to look carefully when scanning the road.

If public transportation is not a viable option (as it often isn't in the Greater Los Angeles area) a Motorcycle or Scooter is another economical and environmental solution to hasty transportation.

So please, while you're out there, be aware of motorcycles on freeways, and all other roads. While you're at it, be aware of bicyclists as well. SHARE THE ROAD! My brother has already been in at least three motorcycle accidents. I'd hate to lose him because of some negligent driver. Remember, he's helping reduce greenhouse gasses AND keep the cost of gas down, he's your friend and he's my brother.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekend Repost: Building or Landscape (Semantics)

Two months have past. I know but I got too ambitious and found I was too busy to maintain a blog. But not too busy to look at others.

arkhi, chief + tekton, builder

So, I recently filled out a form that asked what my industry was. I looked for Landscape Architecture but it wasn't there and I looked under Architecture and it had two subheadings: Building or Landscape.

Now I find this interesting and I think that this language should be used more often. The next time someone says they are an Architect I will ask "Building or Landscape?" When I refer to what most people call Architects I will call them Building Architects. I plan to make this a normalcy in my vocabulary. After all both Building Architects and Landscape Architects are chief builders of their respective fields of the "Built Environment" A landscapes are often built just as buildings are.

My girlfriend, who is getting her masters in linguistics, always calls me on the use of terms and reminds that words are ever-changing. For example "orientate" was not a word until recently(Got a dictionary over a few years old? Look it up.), the correct term is orient but there is a growing misunderstanding that the root words for ALL words with the suffix -ation usually have the root suffix -ate. Hence Orientation causes Orient to become Orientate. Don't buy it? More examples... Conversation makes Converse become Conversate. Registration makes Register become Registrate. ( I actually expected orientate to have a red underline (indicating a misspell) when i typed this but it didn't causing me to change some terms on my post. (conversate and registrate still have red underlines)

The use of terms also change the way we think. In the past under forms, Hispanics were considered white when marking "white or colored" Asians were also grouped under one heading and even STILL we are often told to "mark only one". The differentiation of races is also a linguistic battle. Because Hispanics were no longer considered white a new minority was developed and it also helped to perpetuate prejudices because they are now "different". On the other hand this helped with the Asian cause because instead of grouping all Asians and assuming that their cultures, languages, and customs are all the same by using semantics on forms to differentiate Asians it is helping people understand that there are major differences (No, I don't speak Asian)

Architect is to Landscape Architect and Building Architect
Asian is to Korean and Chinese

So what I am trying to do is change the way we speak which will thus hopefully change the way we think. Architect and Architecture are the Suffixes, Building and Landscape are the Prefixes. Building Architects can't (or at least shouldn't) do landscapes and Landscape Architects can't (or at least shouldn't) do buildings.

Friday, October 17, 2008

SUBSURFACE Magazine: First meeting for the Second Issue

SUBSURFACE Magazine Cover
Originally uploaded by joshua l
Today we had our first meeting for the second issue of Subsurface Magazine, Cal Poly's Landscape Architectural magazine.

"Where's our magazine? Where's our resource? " Was the question asked by classmates of mine at Cal Poly from the class of 2008. With Landscape Architecture Magazine as "vanilla" as it is, the information we want and the voice of our ideas were minimal at best.

This year we hope to continue the voice and possibly and bring our own take to the magazine. We would like to make it a biannual production instead of an annual publication.

By being our own, without advertisers and being without any sort of organization we are able to be as free as we want. Hopefully our first publication for this school year will by done by the beginning of January. We have large shoes to fill, I forgot to mention it won an ASLA award last year. Thanks class of 2008 for getting this started.

Let us be bold.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Building a Cob Oven: Cobbie The Cob Oven

Today I just finished (well almost) our cob oven at work/school at the Regenerative Studies Center at Cal Poly. I built most of it with Justin and Jill, my coworkers, we named it Cobbie (don't ask). We built it on our outdoor Barbecue next to our Bocce ball court.

A cob oven is a wood fired oven made of Earthen Clay and Sand as well as Hay (or sun dried manure, we used hay). Our cob oven is "sustainable" since we used clay from on site and the rest of the materials we used are not necessarily renewable or regenerative but abundant and thus "sustainable"

What we did first was lay out some bricks for the oven to be on top of and then Mound up some wet sand into a Half Sphere on top of the bricks. We covered the wet sand with plastic and then began the main process.

We mixed clay and sand together 2 parts clay and one part sand.

A sifter is used for the clay to make sure we don't get any rocks into the mix.

The clay acts as a cement, when clay drys it hardens and like mixing cement the sand helps to aggregate it.

The next day we mixed sand, clay and small pieces of hay. The reason for the hay is for the fibers, the fibers hold the mixture together stronger.
The cement brick will serve as a door. The bricks on the bottom were used because bricks retain heat and help keep the oven hot. We also used a Coffee can as the hole for our chimney (that's the only part that isn't finished yet.)

You can see how thick the layers are. The first and last layers are thinner than the middle layer, this mixture is typically 3 parts sand and 1 part clay. Here are Jill and Justin hard at work.

When we were done with the last layer and the oven began to dry we removed all the sand from inside.

But alas! as the oven dries it begins to develop wide cracks, the cracks only go as deep as the layer the cracks occur on (hence one of the reasons for the three layers).

Now that it is fully dried it is a much lighter color and the cracks have finished developing. We also removed the coffee can so we can soon add the chimney. If you notice on the bottom of the oven where it meets the counter the oven is no longer touching the counter. When the cob mixture dries it shrinks, that causes the cracking and also the lifting, The large cracks are about a half inch thick and the bottom of the oven is about a half an inch off the counter now. (it's not floating it's all resting on the bricks, but that's obvious right?)

With the cob oven all dried I made a final mixture of clay and sand to the consistency of a wet plaster, (much like the final layer) and filled in the cracks. This trowel that I'm using is a sponge trowel used to smooth out the final texture of the plaster.

All that remains is the chimney (this photo is before I fixed all the cracks). You can see how thick it is in its thinnest area. If you look carefully you can see the middle layer with pieces of hay.

Here's the near final product. Once it is dry and the chimney is put in we'll fire it up to harden everything even more even though it's already as hard as a rock. Take note of how thick it is in some parts near the brick on the bottom, also note the roof above it, cob ovens shouldn't get wet unless it has a lime coat on it, we don't need one so we won't put one.

I can't wait to cook some pizza in it. Winco in Pomona near Phillips Ranch has some pizza dough in a ball near their dairy section. All of those in Pomona come to the Regenerative Studies Center at Cal Poly and check out our handy work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Authoritarian State?: Pomona, Regen V and the Josh Connole story:

In 2003 Josh Connole a Pomona resident Peace and Environmental Activist living in the Regen Co-ops, was wrongfully arrested for setting fires to hummers in car dealerships in West Covina.

I'll let you read some links

LA Times

LA City Beat


This is one of the reasons I'm uncomfortable with Checkpoints, I had just been stopped at one on Saturday evening, I was asked for my I.D. it was checked and I was waved through. I understand that DUI checkpoints serve a benefit in many ways, there's no denying that. But I can see it becoming a sort of soft surveillance. I am an environmentalist and I am against war, I also live in Pomona like Josh Connole, I have friends and acquaintances that live in the Regen V co-ops currently the same home that the FBI and ATF raided. I don't do anything illegal and I would rather not be afraid of my actions especially when I do nothing wrong.

On the other hand, I could use that $100,000 that the FBI gave Mr. Connole when they admitted they were in the wrong.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dinner in Pomona: Pho VI

That's Pho Six for those of you that are Roman Numerically challenged. On sunday night my girlfriend and I went to Pho VI for the first time. It was pretty tasty and it felt good to spend money in Pomona.

I found this photo on yelp that has a mix of reviews which I can fully understand. The place is located on Third Street in Downtown Pomona.

I ordered the most expensive dish on the Broken Rice Dishes portion at 8 bucks, it was sliced steak and actually VERY good, the Steak was marinated nicely VERY tender and tasted great, it came with a salad and rice, and I was barely able to finish it. The amount of meat was proportioned well with the amount of rice. Both my girlfriend and I were VERY impressed with this dish.

My girlfriend ordered Pho and the meat was sliced very thin. I normally don't like soups but this tasted quite nice to me. She on the other was was somewhat unimpressed. It wasn't bad to her but it wasn't great. It DID come with the bean sprouts and Basil leaves before the Pho bowl came out. So we had no problem with that.

The service wasn't the best but it wasn't horrible. We asked a question about a dish and I'm not sure of the waiter didn't understand the question but he just said "i don't know" in his broken English and we never got an answer. But besides that he was fairly attentive and filled our water when it was low.

It is designed in a typical asian-american restaurant style fashion. Nothing extraordinary about the decor, but it does have a nice little "euro" patio one could dine on.

I also saw Calwatch from M-M-M-My Pomona at the restaurant. He was coming in just as we were finishing and we just waved a friendly hello at each other and finished up.

I would definitely come back for that Diced Steak dish (which BTW came in a boat) I'd like to try some other dishes as well. But there's more to see and try in Pomona and we only eat out once a week.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weekend Repost: Tent City

It's the Weekend and that means it's time to repost an old post. 4-19-08

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.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Movin' on up!: Internships

I recently received an e-mail from Pomona's Redevelopment Agency in which they stated I would not be hired as their intern for the year. Though they said I was one of the six finalists of Ninety applicants I didn't make the cut.

BUT, the Inland Empire Utilities Agency DID make me an offer as an intern and I accepted, and if you aren't familiar with them that is the location of the Chino Creek Wetlands Educational Park that I'm fairly excited about.

(My new office? I could only wish)
Looking forward to working for the IEUA, I hope I'll be doing some planting designs for the "Garden in Every School" program.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Graffiti on my Sidewalk and Bamboo (not the good kind)

Ever since I turned on the flood light towards my driveway allowing light to splash onto the sidewalk there has been more graffiti on the pavement. Interestingly the light was turned on in order to deter hooligans, but instead it has made the area easier to see and thus easier to tag on.

Maybe instead of trying to beat them I'll join them like I did with the graffiti on my home's bamboo.





Me vs. Them

This is the bad Graffiti, not the artistic graffiti like in my previous post about the art on Fillmore and Holt

The Shoppes in Chino Hills: Planning Almost Done Right

Originally uploaded by andrewkanzler
So close, so so close. The planners for the Shoppes in Chino Hills have almost gotten it right. This is a photo of the master plan of area on the corner of Peyton and Grand (North is to the left). Only in the past few months has it opened. I've visited it a number of times and though I think what they did was very progressive they've still been confined to adhere to an old style of massive land-waste in parking lots.

What I consider to be the main corridor of the shopping center runs east to west with the entrance on Peyton and the foci being on the bookstore. The street dead ends on the strip to the bookstore allowing pedestrian access only. The North-South Corridor like the East-West one are narrow two-lane pedestrian friendly streets with pay street parking. In a previous entry I mention that stores with entrances on the street are good for business and walkability.

What's interesting is that this just seems to be plopped right in the middle of a massive parking lot. Surrounding all four corners of the shopping center are a LOT of parking spaces. There are sporadic restaurants to help disguise parking lot, but really it is too much.

Though the planners made an attempt to be progressive, by plopping it in the middle of a huge parking lot it defeats its own purpose. The streets that run through the intersection of The Shoppes seem out of place as one enters this parking lot paradise, it turns out those streets are little more than a facade serving very little actual purpose. At the very least they could have expanded The Shoppes and instead of a parking lot built a parking structure so that the footprint of parking spaces could be much smaller.

I do like the fact they they've included residences, offices including public offices as well as continuing some of their faux streets all the way through. This does push their progressive planning with the mixed use planning. They do however fall short with the massive parking footprint and their streets do seem a little too "Disneyland"

I hope this same mistake is NOT done in downtown Pomona, keep their parking lots small (in fact get rid of some) and allow for businesses to have street front properties.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Traveling: Can ASLA help?

Garrett JUly 046
Originally uploaded by unbound003
Last year my classmates and I traveled to Arizona for a few days. Just before the trip I contacted the presidents of the Student Chapter of ASLA at ASU. Once we got into town I called them and asked them about places to visit, unfortunately they were unable to come out with us, but they were able to point us in the direction of some interesting projects to check out.

While my classmates are in Italy, and ASLA is in Philly right now, these thoughts become fresh again.

This connection we all have through ASLA or through IFLA or USGBC or any other organization should really be used in times of travel. How often have you been to a new city and had no idea where to go? Couldn't find any projects to check out or anything of the sort. I went to Chicago not long after that, but I tried to find projects without contacting anyone. It was VERY difficult, I DID find some places to visit through some heavy internet researching, but if i felt comfortable enough to contact an ASLA member in Chicago I definitely would have. I know absolutely no one out there and had difficulty finding interesting work to check out.

ASU was very helpful on my trip out to Arizona, They pointed us towards Cosmo Dog Park and that was Nine months before ASLA published an article about it.

Why not develop a travel network through ASLA or some other organizations. We can have some people volunteer to point out projects of interest even as they are being built. Even when we're in a strange city, we could have someone to meet based on that common bond of Landscape Architecture.

Why Not? If any Landscape Architects or Students of, are in Southern California (LA IE or OC) PLEASE feel free to contact me. I will point out projects to check out and I'd be glad to meet them over lunch or a beer. (I of course would imagine it'd be taboo to ask for a job, so that'd be off limits)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Landscape Architecture: Demeaned by Building Architects once again.

Originally uploaded by Jo3L_C.
Cassius Pealer Had this to say about Landscape Architects, "Civil engineers do one thing, [building] architects do another, and interior designers and landscape architects can do some subset of those things."

Really? A Subset? I don't think so. For someone who is so educated this fellow seems to know very little about what it is Landscape Architects do. I hate to sound like a whiny landscape architecture student. But seriously, must architects continue to demean our profession? I'm sure that it has to do with our profession being SO broad that people outside of the profession never really fully wrap their heads around it, but I would think a fellow with a Law degree a Masters and a Bachelors in Architecture and a double major in Philosophy would be close enough to our profession and knowledgeable about it to make any sort of accurate comment about it.

This is often where I am troubled about the secrecy of our profession. If people do NOT know about us, then they may never fully understand what it is we do. They will continue to think we are just landscape designers or landscapers. It is so much more than that. Here are some of the things I responded with.

"A good Landscape Architect understands cyclical systems especially those of landscape ecology. There are of course bad landscape architects as there are bad building architects who may bot have this understanding. Landscape architects must have at least a basic understanding of horticultural principles including plant capability and the sciences of soil. I’m sure a building architect couldn’t tell me the difference between both kinds capillary action in loamy, sandy or clay soil and what happens when those soils are partly mixed.

I understand the confusion because landscape architect[ure] is extremely broad and so for those that do not understand what landscape architects do they tend to stick with a stereotype or a deconstruction of the term landscape architecture rather than a hybrid of the two words. It is not the same as landscape designing and it is not the same as building architecture. Sure a building architect can explore the possibilities of buildings and most people can design a landscape, but not anyone can be a landscape architect."

I could go on and on about it, but it may never end...

I encourage all you Landscape Architects and students to leave the nice man a friendly comment or two.

I went and visited his article once again today and found both my lengthy comments had been removed. I wonder why? I was very cordial

Friday, October 3, 2008

Graffiti in the Landscape

As I was riding my bike home from work over the summer, I ran into a group of graffiti artists painting their work up on the side of a building at Fillmore and Holt in Pomona. I was interested in their work and their medium so I began talking to them. The first person I spoke with was working on this piece. I like his composition, his color combination and the contrasting highlights he uses to make his name pop out.

If you are graffiti illiterate it says his name "Redoe." He spoke a little about the difference between his art and kids just messing around causing trouble, he said (I'm paraphrasing) "We get a bad reputation because of some people who write on windows and sidewalks."
I think the big difference here is the difference between graffiti and graffiti art. Graffiti art got its start in the 70's of New York on subway trains. The trains traveled all city and were a mobile form of communication. It was a precursor to buses that now have advertisements covering the entire vehicle, including windows. When it moved to the west coast, there were no subways but there were a lot of roads and parking lots instead of the art becoming mobile the art was mostly stationary and the people moved. Not to say that train graffiti doesn't happen in the west, It is still practiced even by this group of artists. In fact "Worm" told me RustOleums are the best for metal surfaces. This is "Worm" he uses bright and vivid colors with a very traditional style of lettering.

Interestingly enough the style of Graffiti exists on the same building as a sign for the business that the building conducts. This sign had been there for some time before the writers decided to do this wall.

This leads me to my question. Does Graffiti art have a place in the landscape? Is there a way to incorporated their style, their method, how they affect the landscape into what we do? There are those who battle Graffiti often by planting vines up walls etc... but can we utilize them? Like the Glass business that utilized their style for a sign for their business, and how advertising companies now run buses with advertisements along the entire stretch of bus. Can this be done with landscape architecture as well?

I know Landscape Architects don't often put physicalwords into their landscapes but if they did, what words would they choose? would it be more cryptic like "Redoe's" style or easy to read like "Worm's" Even just the style. It does not have to be a word or phrase, the style of graffiti is trying to express a three dimensional form on a flat surface. Landscape Architects have access to a medium that allows three dimensional forms. The shapes that they use may be too radical for some, but it doesn't mean it cannot be done in the landscape effectively.

Whether or not we incorporate what they are trying to do with what we are trying to do we can at least learn from them. Graffiti art will always be a part of the landscape because there are a lot of dedicated artists. To learn more about the start of modern day Graffiti art here's a documentary called "Style Wars" made in 1982. Here's a link to a world famous graffiti artist who also incidentally does land art installations Banksy.
To see the rest of the graffiti art go to Holt and Fillmore in Pomona. Or see this.
There are some closeups on my flickr account at Flickr

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fighting the Enemy: Ants

Originally uploaded by sbfisher
At work and at home we have ants. Argentine ants. a LOT of them. THEY BITE!
I despise these little critters. Some days when I work I'll pick something up and within seconds I'll be COVERED in ants.
At home I left some meat out on the counter and went to the bathroom, when i came back the plate was crawling with ants. I couldn't even see the meat anymore it was a blanket of Argentine ants.
The worst day was when I woke up in the middle of the night and I was covered in ants, ants all over my sheets. I couldn't find where they were coming from!

I found an Organic and Safe solution to those out there battling ants like me in Pomona. Though In the kitchen I had to seal the holes where they were coming in with latex sealants. This may not work in the bathroom where the window is almost always open. I don't want to seal my window up! So what I did was use Cayenne pepper powder. It won't kill the ants but the ants don't like it at all. Within an hour the ants were all gone. Ants hate any spicy powder, so Garlic powder, Cayenne Pepper powder, Chili Powder, anything spicy. You may have to use a bit though, create a thick layer of the stuff. After a few days the powder will settle and the ants will just make a trail over it. All you have to do is disturb the powder every once in a while to keep the ants out. You could create a perimeter around wherever you want to keep ants out of.

I hope I never wake up covered in ants again. I'm going to sleep with a bottle of Cayenne Pepper powder next to me from now on.