Author Archive

Check for sleeping iguanas under your wheel

Offbeat signs in Cayman Islands

I am such a transportation nerd that most of my photos from international travel are transportation-related. Between the Nspiregreen and Greater Greater Washington blogs, I have shared my travels to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Costa Rica, and Panama. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the signs I saw during my honeymoon in the Cayman Islands.

In the United States our signs are generally governed by the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). In its almost 83rd year on November 7th (Happy Early Birthday, MUTCD!!!), it was created to standardize signs, pavement markings, and other roadway features. Therefore, our roadways are predictable as people move between cities and states. Internationally, roadway signs are not governed by MUTCD and can seem offbeat to Americans. I’ve found through my international travels that in some cases, the signs in other countries can make more sense, despite their weirdness.

One of the funnier signs I saw in the Cayman Islands was “Caution Iguanas on the Road”. While in the U.S. iguanas are rare, they are very common in Cayman Islands. There are even signs to check under your car in case there may be sleeping iguanas. My neighborhood could use some of those signs for the feral cats that like to sleep under cars.

I saw four variations of pedestrian signs. One had a person walking. A second had two people walking with a note to walk left since people drive on the left side of the road. A third, had “Elderly People”. The hunched back and cane made me chuckle. There was a fourth sign that had two people running for their lives. Unfortunately, we could not stop the car safely to take a photo, which is probably why the people on the sign were running for their lives.

In the US we have a “Yield” sign which signifies that a person driving should slow or stop to let a person driving on the main road proceed. However, in Cayman Islands the signs say “Give Way”, which I think is easier to understand.

For some additional funny signs from my travels, check out my post on GGW on Offbeat signs in Panama, which include a robot pedestrian and a bodybuilder jogger. My personal favorite of all the signs I’ve seen is the “Ballerina Sign” I took like working on a Community Planning Assistance Team in Belize City, Belize. I was disappointed I didn’t see any ballerinas twirling across the street.

Have you seen any funny signs in your travels?

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.


Imagine a Day Without Water


Imagine a day without water.


Just imagine. Without water, how can you perform the daily routines in your life such as taking a shower, brushing your teeth, using the toilet, cooking, cleaning, drinking, or washing clothes and dishes. What about water usage in communities for public use like restaurants, parks, hospitals, car washes, or in relation to farming and firefighting? Believe me I thought about it, but it’s kind of hard to fathom. The average person uses about 101.5 gallons of water per day. Many Americans tend to take water for granted while many communities around the country have already experienced a day without water.


Water Use 1


Water Use 2Philadelphia Water Department

Clean water is one of the key components to an adequate quality of life. Unfortunately, proper water access is inequitable in terms of geography and cost. There are over 1.6 million people in the United States that are affected by water insecurity with a lack of complete plumbing facilities. That figure does not include the millions of people accessing unsafe tap water despite the benefits of modern plumbing. Imagine being homeless with no access to water, or being part of a family that either can’t afford water bills or has such shoddy water infrastructure, water insecurity would be your daily reality.

We are facing a bigger challenge than most people think or want to admit. When we think of water, we think of this infinite supply that is a gift of nature to mankind. If nearly 70% of the earth’s surface is made up of water then what is the problem? Why is there an on-going push for awareness to conserve water? Well, out of the 70 percent figure just mentioned, less than 1% of that total is actually freshwater suitable for human consumption and usage. When considering the threats to this precious 1 percent of fresh water, such as population growth, climate change (increase in natural disasters, drought, flooding, and wildfire), outdated infrastructure, and pollutants from impervious surfaces, and many other threats not listed here, one can only conclude that this will lead to increased costs for environmental remediation, health hazards, food shortages, and other unforeseen issues.

There is an ongoing nationwide movement by the Value of Water Campaign to spread awareness about threats to clean water and infrastructures. Imagine a Day Without Water takes place on October 10, 2018 for its fourth annual day to raise awareness and educate America about the value of water. Anyone is able to participate! Environmental organizations, water and wastewater providers, public officials, business leaders, labor leaders, community based organizations, schools, engineers, and others are encouraged to be a part of this national education campaign to engage stakeholders, public officials, and the general public.  You can find examples of ways to participate here.

Here are a few tips on how you can conserve water throughout your day:


Brushing your teeth. Don’t keep the faucet running.


Showering. When running the faucet while you’re waiting for the water to warm,  place a container underneath the faucet to collect the cold water. Use the collected water to water your plants and lawn. Also, decrease the duration of your showers. You can purchase a shower timer to encourage shortened showers of 4 to 5 minutes.


Flushing the toilet. With every flush, older toilets can use from 3 to 7 gallons of water. Newer toilets reduced this amount to 1.6 gallons of water. Place a water bottle in the tank to reduce the amount of water needed to fill it. There’s also a tool called the Tank Bank which clips onto the side of the tank and displaces about 0.8 gallons of water with every flush.


Shaving. Fill the bottom of the sink with minimal water and use the water to clean your razor.


Cooking. Don’t let your faucet run while you’re cooking. Wash vegetables and fruits in a large bowl filled with water instead of using the faucet. Boil food in as a little water as possible.


Washing dishes/clothes. Wait for a full load to wash your dishes in the dish washer or your clothes in the washer machine. Consider a front-end loader washing machine to not only reduce water consumption, but water utility bills. The upfront higher costs will pay for itself after a few short months.


Your efforts can go beyond Imagine a Day Without Water. We should strive to become more conscious of our water consumption and become advocates for this precious supply that is essential to life. If we continue with our current trends then eventually there will be far more than 1.6 million people that won’t be imagining a day without water but living days without water.


Jazmin Kimble is an Urban Planner, Urban Designer, and Architectural 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.


Was this Land Really Made for You and Me?

The relationship between D.C. public housing residents and the D.C. government has not been on the greatest terms in the past.  So much so, that the residents have become weary of trusting the government any time it wants to make changes to their homes and communities.  A recent instance of community mistrust has arisen surrounding the changes being made to the Barry Farm public housing project in Southeast near the Anacostia metro station.

blogmap                                                                             Google Maps  


The land the Barry Farm community sits on was acquired in 1801 by James Barry who was one of the incorporators of the Washington Canal Company.  In 1876 the Freedman’s Bureau, a government agency established to aid freed slaves and their families, bought the James Barry farm and divided it into lots to be sold to freed slaves. By 1869, 266 families occupied the land. Today, the land is home to over 100 families in a 432-unit public housing project managed by the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA).

The mistrust mentioned earlier stems from the majority Black population, living on land that has been historically occupied by Black families, coming up against threats of displacement.  As a part of the New Communities Initiative, the DCHA has partnered with Baltimore based developer, A & R Development Corp. and nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc.  The residents of Barry Farm, supported by local advocacy groups, have opened up a class action lawsuit against the DCHA in opposition to their redevelopment plan.  The plan is proposing 1,400 mixed-income housing units and 58,730 sqft of retail.  344 out of the 432 units are planned to be replaced while 100 will be moved off site.  The plan lacks units large enough for families of four or more and is predicted to displace 150 families or over 500 residents in the low-income Southeast neighborhood.  

The DCHA has made accommodations for the current residents to be temporarily housed elsewhere while the demolition and construction of the new Barry Farm community takes place, with the right to return once construction is completed.  However, the Barry Farm residents are not trusting of this model and are urging the DCHA to follow the “build first” concept so that they are not displaced indefinitely without a home to return to due to unforeseen challenges. The skeptical residents have good reason to be distrustful based upon a similar situation that has left hundreds displaced from the Temple Courts public housing project that used to be in Northeast.

The current Barry Farm residents feel that the D.C. government is trying to intimidate them into leaving before their new homes are built.  They believe this is to blame for the lack of upkeep that has befallen the community ranging from leaky ceilings, holes in the floor,  to appliances that do not work.  Residents spoke of signage with warnings about construction beginning soon as well as bulldozers being present.  The housing that has already been abandoned by families who were convinced to leave are becoming a health hazard for the people who remain.  Those units have become breeding grounds for rodents and vermin which is another issue not being managed by the D.C. government.

The residents are not being treated equitably in matters of their quality of public health as well as housing. The Barry Farm community feels that it is being slighted and pushed aside from the complex that was built in 1943 on land historically significant to freed slaves after the Civil War. The unfortunate story of Barry Farm leaves its residents in a state of uncertainty and serves as another example of how low-income Black families are discriminated against in the United States by government entities.   

Barry Farm is not giving up the fight for being treated justly in their rights to quality housing.  For more information on the status of the case, follow the links below to stay up to date on the ongoing matter.

Greg Grant is an Urban Planner from Houston, TX who is interested in planning equitable transportation and environmental solutions for communities.  In his spare time he enjoys cooking and DJing, but not at the same time.



We would love to help you with your sustainability goals.