Archive for December, 2018

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A TASTE OF PARIS: I Walked on Champs-Élysées

Time just flies quickly when you are having fun. The holiday season is upon us as we are ready to ring in the New Year.

As a continuation of the blog about my trip to Europe last summer where I wrote about the transportation system that I experienced in Amsterdam (see here); the second city in this series is Paris France.

Paris is one of my dream places in my bucket list and is well known for its beautiful architecture, streetscape, history, and culture. I have learned so much about the history of Paris and its planning theories. Furthermore, I am working in a city that was originally planned by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the City Planner of Paris. Also, many Hollywood movies were shot in Paris (i.e., Midnight in Paris, Da Vinci Code) which made this city more attractive.

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What I Love About the City:

  • The beautiful architecture:

We stayed in downtown Paris. Most buildings were the typical Middle Age/Renaissance style (they were called “Gallo-Roman Style”) with delicate art sculpture, symmetric roof, and spectacular appearance. Everyone was so astonished by the beauty of the cathedral. Regular residential buildings can be full of art and character.

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Notre-Dame De Paris: I was so excited when I saw this cathedral in front of me! I read the book, Notre-Dame de Paris which played back like a movie in my mind when I touched the brick.

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Eiffel Tower: It was built in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair. Despite its modern construction and architectural style, it blends well with the city and has become the iconic symbol in Paris.

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Basilica of Sacré-Cœur: This is an architecture that stands on a high point in the City of Montmartre. People called it the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the white exterior gets its look due to special travertine stone quarried in Château-Landon (Seine-et-Marne).

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  • Transportation:

As an old city, the subway system is comparably older than Amsterdam. I was amazed that the trains were (at least what I saw) automobile based, and that many passengers get off the train while it is still on moving. Might that be a safety issue?

  • City Planning:

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The roads and buildings make the Paris city pattern so unique and classic. Obliviously, the king and people love squares and circles. This pattern provided great connectivity for the inner city. The most important road – Champs-Élysées serves as the arterial that links the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre Museum, which was the palace for generations of French leaders.

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What I Did Not Like:

Safety:

Although we vacationed in a safe neighborhood, we still encountered people trying to break into an apartment. We were also warned by locals that we needed to guard our personal belongings as pick-pocketing is rampant in the city. Luckily, we didn’t lose anything, however, the unsafe feeling was not very pleasant to deal with.

With the recent bombings in Paris, the security issues are becoming worse and worse. Paris is a beautiful city, it deserves everyone to love it. In my opinion, safety policies must change so we can all continue to enjoy one of the most spectacular global cities.

 

 

 

 

 

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When a Highway Takes a Home

A few years ago, I shared a listing of articles, websites, and critical reads on how transportation has shaped black communities for good and for bad. I provided examples of how transportation was a tool for economic development, and others where it was a tool for destruction. It is one thing to read about the impact building highways had on dividing communities, but what happens when you learn it happened to your family?Slide2

Last month, I was the keynote at the Louisiana Smart Growth Summit hosted by the Center for Planning Excellence. The summit was in Baton Rouge, where my mom was born and raised, so I interviewed her prior to preparing my talk. Specifically, I asked her questions about my great grandmother’s house, which I remember being under the I-10 overpass. My mom answered my questions and shared that her house was taken to build I-10.

Like many transportation projects that start as lines on a map, the 1960 map shows the pSlide3lanned route of the I-10 expressway. I’m sure the planners thought about the connectivity, “economic development” of having an expressway, and traffic impacts. Given this was 1960 and in the Jim Crow era, I’m also sure they knew exactly who they would be impacting. Although the map is hard to read, the areas where people were displaced and the communities divided, were Black communities.

Two of the parcels on the map belonged to my family. The parcel highlighted in yellow was owned by my great grandmother. They didn’t take her house to build the highway, but she did have a pillar in her backyard. Her house and the store on the corner, where the only buildings that remained. Her house stood on that parcel until she moved in with my grandparents when I was a child. My family sold the house to the store and it was eventually demolished.

The parcel highlighted in green was owned by my grandparents. My mom said since the two parcels formed an “L” shape, she would run from the back of my grandparents to my great grandmother’s house. My grandparents moved to make way for the highway. Here’s the photo from google street view that shows the property today.

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Although my grandparents were able to relocate to a nice neighborhood in Baton Rouge, gone where the days when my mom could run to her grandmother’s house. The highway not only changed the social cohesion of the neighborhood, it also changed how my family was able to interact with each other.

Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.

Charitable Giving

Tis the Season to Give… Well Every Season is the Season to Give

Tis the season! It’s that time of year again when some of the biggest holidays in the American culture are celebrated: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. Also known as the giving season. It’s also the end of the year for tax deductions, so in November and December there is increase in charitable giving compared to other months throughout the year.  With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas just a few weeks away, it’s never too late to spread generosity. In fact, you should always think of ways to give back whenever you have the chance. Giving is not about how good it makes you feel but what you can do to lend a hand to those in need. Here are a few ways on how you can give back over the holidays and all year round:

Volunteer at a soup kitchen/feeding. Give a couple of hours of your day to help serve food at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or a feeding event with a local organization or church.

Pack care packages. Buy Ziploc bags and fill them with toiletry products, a water bottle, soft cereal bars, crackers, fruit snacks (or other manageable healthy food products), and a card of encouragement and give them out to the homeless with friends or family members.

 Donate clothes or toys. Find a local clothing or toy drive and donate gently used or new items to organizations. You may be able to find drives in a mall, the lobby of your office or apartment building, or even a nearby Starbucks.

 Adopt a family. Many local organizations can help you sponsor a family in need to shop for over the holiday season.

Donate to a food bank. During your shopping trip to the grocery store, pick out nonperishable food items to take to a food bank or a local bank. You can also see about volunteering at the food bank. Make sure to double check the type of food the food bank accepts.

 Visit a nursing home or hospital. With family or friends visit a local nursing home or hospital by spending quality time with residents or patients. Sing a few Christmas carols, bring personalized cards and decorations, or create activities and play games. Many people are without families. Coming with a warm heart can simply brighten up someone’s day.

 Create your own donation drive. Select a charity for you drive and specify the items that you want to collect. Determine the location and date for your drive. Make fliers and do a social media campaign, contact local business, and advertise by word of the mouth to family members, friends, co-workers, and business owners to donate.

 Donate to a charity. If there is a cause or a specific organization that you are passionate about donate money. You would probably spend that money on your daily coffee, an outfit, a movie ticket, or your monthly streaming service bill.

 Go online. Research local organizations in your community or city. There are plenty of organizations around you that you have no idea exists. Understand what they are about and the cause they are representing. Learn about their volunteering and donating opportunities.

I hope this list was helpful in providing you with many great opportunities to give this holiday season. Over the past several years I have volunteered at the Thanksgiving and Christmas feedings at my church back in my hometown in NY. This year I plan to donate to the toy drive at my local mall for a children’s hospital. Now that I told you my plans, it’s time for you to start thinking about yours if you haven’t done so already. Happy Holidays!

Jazmin Kimble is an Urban Planner and Urban Designer  from Long Island, NY. She has a passion for empowering and planning adequate, equitable communities through the lens of Geodesign, Urban Design, Community Development, Sustainability, Environmental Solutions, and Community Engagement. Jazmin believes the culture and the history of a community is what makes it unique. This approach allows her to design with communities from a holistic viewpoint.

 





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