Thursday, June 26, 2008

Research: Randall Crane

I have no formal training or background in Urban Studies and Planning, Urban Economy, or any kind of social scientific discipline.

What I do have training in is Film, or Cinema-for those Cineastes/Snobs. My 'formal' training in film and video production provided the vehicle for me to cross various sectors/disciplines. With that said, in combination with critical pedagogy and working with "at-risk" youth for a number of years, has provided fertile ground for calculated curiosity.

Oh, and I'm Filipino. Insert Diaspora and other assertions/questions/musings of Home here.

This amalgam permits fluidity in my scholarly searches, however, I'm sure my legitimacy will be in question because I don't have a bunch of letters following my name.

In an effort to combat potential critiques/bashing, I've been cutting my teeth on ground (see Pin@y Education Partnerships, SOMCAN, etc.), and in the books... or in this first example, blogs.

Urban Planning Research is authored by Professor of Urban Planning, Randall Crane, down at the University of California, Los Angeles,.

Although, possibly not the commanding voice, Crane's content diversity and form are more than digestible to outsider and academic alike. Crane's most recent entry is a strong example of very accessible material to a very practical understanding of urban planning conversation.

Crane also features individuals that continually ask the important questions, but also keep the work on the streets, and not just the books.

Crane does a thorough job in citations and links, which supplement the article and both open up more doors for questions, and set up strong cases.

I suppose Blogs aren't a substitute to the thick, voluminous books that line the shelves, but they certainly are changing up how conversations and research questions can be framed succinctly, and in greater frequencies, to encourage discourse.

(I'll be posting other blogs that I often frequent in future postings)

Friday, June 20, 2008

On The Table: San Francisco's Eastern Neighborhood Plan

Image courtesy of - for detailed information peep this:

SOMCAN's current campaign addresses the diversity of the projects in the planning pipeline, and making sure that the Planning Commission tread carefully and responsibly when approving a plan to go before the Board of Supervisors.

The campaign title is ENACT, which stands for Eastern Neighborhoods Action Community Team. They've organized around a platform that responds to residential needs, established on a ground-up approach to topography (as opposed to top-down; looking down at a map) from daily walk-abouts, needs assessments with youth, to census/survey analysis.

ENACT responds to bureaucratic jargon, which is a language that is arguably manipulative, misleading, and uncommitted. If you peep the informational website, things are that suspect are not necessarily the numbers but the qualities of a neighborhood and what determines the 'vitality' of the neighborhood.

Achieving 'Balance' is what the plan calls for, but does such a concept integrate equity? Responsibility? Integration? The vitality the city calls for hopefully aligns with human personality, and not necessarily economic stimulus.

Who I'm Working With: SOMCAN

Located on Mission St., on the 2nd floor of a mixed-use building is a small office overflowing with the markings of movement.

A cross section of SF's grassroots housing and community development history adorn the walls: Posters with minimal and effective design to call for community support and responsible planning in Rincon to candid shots of collaborators from all sectors sit next to one another. The walls weighted with narratives that don't need an interpreter...

Binders clearly marked with campaign names - acronyms that effectively simplify and impact those involved, stacks of paper documenting anything from drafts of informational pamphlets to phone lists add weight to a desk already occupied with computers, and snacks for the next meeting.

The hum of the copier machine accompanies the conversation in the main lobby, green room, what have you - a committee meeting describing next steps in a solid coalition, laughter breaks the air of monotony as a result of the heat and the consistent work that never ends. It's necessary to smile in this work...

Large posters on plywood are painted with earthy tones of red, green, brown - perhaps to illustrate humility, pride, accessibility... the palette revealing careful thought to complement an equally effective typeface that reveals the very real and very basic need that SOMCAN addresses:


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Along the Way

I've been researching, contemplating, sharing... everything but implementing this project within certain parts of the South of Market in San Francisco, popularly known as the SOMA.

It's a contested history rife with drama -- the key players run the gamut from bureaucrats, international business owners, to blue-collar residents, to Community Based Organizations.

The topography is rich in history, most of it layered, hidden, and undocumented. Buildings and homes razed and raised -- it's time to unpeel a lot of that paint, chip away at the asphalt, and whatever appropriate urban metaphor you can think up.

This blog will be the forum to explore that history, and research questions regarding city planning, and community development.

The players here will not be exclusive. I'll invite other non-profits, CBOs, residents (youth, immigrant, the gentry, transients) to contribute, to share.

Thanks for reading.