Posts Tagged ‘blog’

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How’s your Mental Health Awareness Month going so far?

Time flies when you’re having fun!  Suddenly it’s almost the end of May. We all know that May is mental health awareness month, what have you done to take care of your mental health?

There can be many elements of daily stresses: traffic congestion, finances, workplace pressure, or other personal challenges. With everything added up, it can wear on our mental health little by little each day.  During rush hour, the traffic in the DMV area can be really horrible and especially if there is an accident on the roads, it can take up to twice the amount of the regular commute time. Even when taking the Metro, there could be many reasons that cause a train delay. The feeling of anxiety is stressful among commuters whom are late for a meeting or something urgent but are stuck in the delayed train. There’s a study that found that commuting also has significant psychological and social costs. It can be a major cause of stress, due to its unpredictability and a sense of loss of control. Commuters can experience boredom, social isolation, anger, and frustration from problems like traffic or delays.

Here are some tips I have that helped me to reduce stress during commute:

  1. Find some distraction.

i.e., listening to music or podcast might help you to get in your own zone and minimize the discomfort from the commute.  There’s nothing you can do while you are in traffic, using your phone checking email can be very distracted when driving. I found time flies when you are doing something that enjoyable. Also, I saw people on the train doing different things to kill time. Some of them reading newspaper or book, some of them watching a TV show.

  1. Try to leave earlier.

It could be challenging sometimes, but usually, you will feel less stressed if reserve more time for your commute. Therefore, you don’t risk running late to a meeting. However, traffic can be very unpredictable, fighting with the unpredictable nature of commuting wastes a lot of mental energy and focus. Acknowledge you are lacking the control in this situation and try to accept the reality.

  1. Teleworking

This will depend on the company’s and your schedule flexibility. Sometimes I need to get to several meeting in a day, each of them might in a different direction. In between those meetings, going back to the office would waste a lot of time especially when the office might in another direction. I would find a coffee shop near the next meeting location and work from there.

If you are interested in smart commute solutions, please see the blog by James Davenport – How’s the Commute. If you have some effective way to relieve the stress in commuting, welcome to share with us.

Above is just a part of our life. Overall, we need to build up strong mental health to be able to tackle any difficulties. May 2019 is coming to an end, but our way to being mentally strong will not end here. Create an opportunity to share your stressful moment with people you trust and listen to their stories, you might find you are not alone at the same time, you can encourage each other with some life hacks or positive thoughts.

Mei Fang, who is an urban planner with a strong passion for urban and landscape design, she also enjoys looking for the variety of culture inside of the city.

 

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Placemaking Needs Updating

Placemaking promotes connections and experiences for everyone by building spaces around the community’s needs. The intimate connection between people and the places is shared by emotion. To continue building these connections, placemaking should be updated more often to accommodate the communities needs beyond seasonal celebrations and festivals.

Planners, designers, and artists have the responsibility to shape the public realm and maximize experience in these spaces. When Projects for Public Space (PPS) surveyed people about what placemaking means to them, we found that it is a crucial and deeply-valued process for those who feel intimately connected to the places in their lives.

Chinese New Year was on February 5, 2019, this year, it’s also called the Lunar New Year! In Chinese Culture, this was the most important festival in the year. Similar to Christmas and the Gregorian calendar New Year’s in American culture, placemaking starts around one month before the actual date.

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Chinese New year Parade

2019 is “The Year of the Pig”. As a tradition, there was an annual parade on February 10th to celebrate. Also, traditional red lanterns and flags were hung in Chinatown to represent welcoming luck and prosperity.

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Chinese New year Parade

I was at Las Vegas during the weekend festivities, and I was impressed by their efforts to welcome Chinese tourists by decorating all of the casinos with red and Spring Festival decor. You will see “pig” decorations throughout the Las Vegas Strip and throughout the city.

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Unfortunately, Spring Festival is always in winter, where the weather has the chance of being harsh, making it hard to do placemaking or event outdoor. Some community gathered people by hosting events to do some culture traditional such as making dumplings, cutting paper, traditional drawings and singing.

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But placemaking should not be limited to celebrating the festival, it should be updated according to the community’s needs. Some placemaking changed by season, artists change different mural or design from time to time.

For examples:

Melrose Avenue, California:

Same wall but different mural all the times:

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Sources: Pictures from google

Rockefeller Center:

(Different set up by the change of the season)

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Making the user connect to the place, one of the tricks is to update the space by season and festival to refresh the vision and feeling. Planner, designer and artist’s new design to space would give it a different meaning and keep the space energetic and interesting. Think for the users, the culture of the community, demographic, and find the point to make the connection with them.

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What is the Placemaking

Mei Fang, who is an urban planner with a strong passion for urban and landscape design, she also enjoys looking for the variety of culture inside of the city.

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My First Year at TransportationCamp

The Transportation Research Board Conference is one of my favorite times of the year. For me it’s like a big reunion where I get to see everyone who has moved away from DC (we’re so transient) or who I met through various transportation events throughout the years. This year, however, is the first year I attended TransportationCamp (yes, it’s all one word). I had no idea what to expect from this “un-conference”, but as I did expect, I had a great time and was introduced to ideas I had never considered.

One aspect of Transportation Camp that is very different from other conferences I’ve attended is that, after someone from the host organization, Mobility Lab, gave an introductory speech, they went around the room and almost every single one of the 400 attendees said who they were, where they worked, and three words that described why they were at the conference. I was pleasantly surprised that there were attendees of all ages (‘camp’ made me think ‘young’), in all different stages in their career, and from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds. And TransportationCamp had sessions to please all groups, including the planners, engineers, data crunchers, GIS specialists, and more.

TrnspCmpThe first session I attended was my coworker’s Christine Mayeur. I may be biased but it was one of my favorites of the day. Each of the five or so tables were given a Google Map printout and description of a particular area in DC, trace paper, and colored markers. She began by giving a brief presentation about how the widespread switch to autonomous vehicles will open up street space for other uses by reducing the need for parking and allowing for narrower lanes. Each group was then asked to redesign their area for how it could look once this change happened. The ideas were interesting and I can definitely see them happening if there’s enough will for them. For example, blocking off car access on H St NW in between 5th St NW and 7th St NW. Removing car travel lanes and parking would create room for a cycle track, bus lanes, and wider sidewalks, since the area is always crammed with tourists and residents. See the drawing below for all of the ideas for the area!

I also really enjoyed a session that focused on transit videos, not just because I got to watch some wonderful, horrible, bizarre, and hilarious YouTube clips, but because it made me really think about the best way for transit agencies to advertise themselves and provide public service announcements. One video that really stood out for me was an LA Metro PSA about a superhero called “Super Kind”. It would definitely fall under the bizarre category. I can’t really even explain it well – you’ll just have to watch it yourself – but I will say there’s a big furry monster eating Skittles on the train and a superhero girl trying to get him to stop. The first time I saw it I was turned off because of just how weird it is, but after the panel started discussing it I realized I was approaching it wrong. The whole point of the video was to remind people that they can’t eat on the train, and it sure imprinted that on your mind. One of the panelists shared how she showed it to her 4-year-old and ever since then he is adamant about not eating on the train and is upset with other people he sees doing it. I guess it has its audience. Was the production cost worth it, though? Not sure. What do you all think?

The video that was rated the highest, though, and my personal favorite, is from our own WMATA to advertise the opening of the Silver Line. It’s probably because I’m a transportation nerd, but every time I see it I get excited about the work we’re all doing to improve transportation around the country (okay, so it’s definitely because I’m a transportation nerd). But here’s the thing I love about Transportation Camp, TRB, and all of the other conferences I get to go to – we’re all transportation nerds who love getting together to bask in our nerd-iness and our shared passion for creating better transportation systems. I can’t wait for the next one!





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