Posts Tagged ‘For Fun’

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Puerto Rico – A fresh and peaceful place

 

Puerto Rico – A fresh and peaceful place

A fresh new year after Puerto Rico

My husband and I went to Puerto Rico and had a great time there. It had clear blue ocean, fresh air, sunshine… it was paradise.

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San Juan is the oldest and most picturesque city in Puerto Rico. In my opinion, the history gave this city a rustic feeling. Standing on the old Castillo or “El Morro”, as the locals call it, looking at the endless ocean, you can imagine yourself as a Spanish colonist in 1500s. It’s no wonder they wanted to live there and enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean. (pic)

Most business in Old San Juan comes from tourists from cruise ships. It’s an interesting town because everything has a history. There are stores and bars that have interesting history, we heard about a guild tell us the bar used to accept bachelors. Also, you should never forget the Bacardi.

As a planner, I loved the walkable streets. You can walk along the San Juan Gate by the sea for a nice activity, or you can even walk in between houses to get where you need to go. Surprises come often, cats are everywhere, sleeping or yawning. Each building is painted in different colors; visually, you never feel bored.  IMG_7797IMG_7785IMG_7683

I appreciated that the historic sites, such as the Castillo, San Juan Gate, and Cathedral, were so well preserved. However, I think Old San Juan should make the district more walkable. The streets are narrow already and cars can drive through, which makes congestion so bad and makes it uncomfortable as a pedestrian. The streets become even narrow when there is street parking. If I were a planner for San Juan, I would restrict the cars in the area, forcing them to park before they enter the historic district.

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The most awesome thing we saw was the Bio-bay, a bioluminescent bay near San Juan, which we experienced during night kayaking. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we saw the sea water glow. People who swim in the water looks like glowing angels. We all remember the scene in Life of Pi, but now I saw it with my own eyes. (However, we are not able to take photos)

Another breathtaking moment occurred on the plane as we traveled from San Juan to Culebra Island. As you can see in the photo, the water is so clear and you can see the depth of the ocean presented by the different colors of blue.

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Play by the beach

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Waking up early in the morning to see the sunrise.IMG_8064

Oh, and Piña Colada.

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Everything is so peaceful.

By the end of the trip I fell in love with Puerto Rico and wish to go back there soon. This trip gave 2016 a beautiful ending, but also refreshed us to fill us with the energy and courage for 2017. I hope everybody will have a beautiful new year!!!IMG_7679

 

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

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Planners Just Wanna Have Fun

Hi, my name is Christine and I’m a transportation nerd (Hi, Christine). At Nspiregreen we get to work on a variety of different transportation projects from ADA accessibility to streetcars, from bike lanes to bus planning. I see each new project we work on as a creative challenge. At the start of a new project, we like to begin with a little company brainstorming session or workshop. We get inspired by our travels to different countries, our experiences in other areas of the US, things that may not have anything to do with transportation or environmental planning, and sometimes –for me- pop culture.

You should know that Nspiregreen is a workplace that, despite the hard work we put into every project, knows how to have fun. Here you get to know the person behind the planner or engineer. I learned this my first few months with Nspiregreen. We were working on the moveDC plan, thinking of ways to engage people for the final round of meetings and I had an idea. See, I’m a tinkerer. I like to mix and match things in my mind and see what comes out, sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s fashion, sometimes it’s art. But sometimes you’re riding the Metro to work listening to your iPod, inspiration strikes and well, you end up with a parody of Drake’s “Started from The Bottom” about DC’s long range transportation plan. Just a taste, here’s the bridge:

“(WABA’s like..) No new parking, DDOT we don’t need that,
Want more bike lanes and some real cycle-tracks
We don’t like to do too much of driving
Rather have complete streets that are thrivin’

No new parking, DDOT we don’t need that,

Want more bike lanes and some real cycle-tracks

We don’t like to do too much of driving
Rather have our streets be more safe and complete
So we…
Started out with no plan now we’re here,
Started out with no plan now our long range plan is here”

I also tend to have visions of what the video might look like: maybe there’s a faux-ruby encrusted DDOT logo medallion worn by the star of the video. Maybe there are shots of v-shaped Capital Bikeshare formations rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. You deal with the details during planning and production.

This sometimes happens towards the end of other plans too. Take this excerpt from another parody of Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack for the streetcar study we worked on “StreetcarsBack”:

“We’re bringin’ streetcars back (yeah)
Those other cities don’t know how to act (yeah)
Streetcars are special, not just a throwback (yeah)
Un-crowd the buses, we’ll pick up the slack (yeah)

Take ‘em to the Bridge! (in the video you’d show hopscotch bridge)

Trolley babe
You see these tracks down
Oh yes, we share the lane
Yeah you can hop on if you miss your train
It’s just that no mode handles trips this way…”

But these are not all upbeat. Sometimes it’s serious business like Vision Zero, about the District’s plan to improve transportation safety and ways of reducing conflicts between all modes. So I had to slow it down a bit- and here is a bit of “Zero” sung to the tune of “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias:

“Would you dance if there’s a Barnes dance?
Before you merge will you take a look back?
Would you yield if you saw me crossing?
Would you watch for bikes when you turn right?

[…]We can get to zero, baby.
Implement away the pain.
We will keep you safe, forever.
You can play a part in this.

This “talent” isn’t limited to transportation alone. My husband’s company had a company-wide bake off and I was tasked to provide an anthem. What better than Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” translated to “Bake it off?” I offer up the bridge of this one as well:

Hey, hey, hey
Just think while you been getting down and out about your diet
And the dirty dirty carbs of the world
You could have been getting down with this delicious treat

My cake pan baked some sweet oat bran
You’re like like oh my god
This is so delicious
And to the fella over there with the hella bakeware
Won’t you come on over baby we could bake, bake, bake”

I can almost hear the groans now, so I won’t quit my day job as a transportation planner. I may not be the next Kendrick Lamar, ghostwriting lyrics for the big names, but I look forward to having a little fun with each new project we are able to work on.*

*NOTE: No billable hours were harmed in the making of these parodies. See full lyrics below.

Christine E. Mayeur is an urban planner with a unique set of skills and interests. She has been called a “renaissance woman” by her coworkers and is interested in all things creative and challenging. Christine uses her history of working with communities through grass-roots organizations along with her planning skills to help plan transportation systems that meet the needs of all users. 





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