RTC Monthly Symposium: Amy Howard from the University of Richmond’s Bonner Center for Civic Engagement

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F. Gary Gray Q&A: The Hard Life Lessons That Led To ‘Straight Outta Compton’

Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Studio execs who thought of F. Gary Gray as a go-to guy for taut thrillers like The Italian Job, The Negotiator, Law Abiding Citizen and Be Cool already are reassessing as Straight Outta Compton opens tomorrow with rave reviews and strong box office expectations. The film chronicles the fast rise and fall of N.W.A and the birth of streetwise poets who reflected the poverty, gangs, drugs, guns and heavy-handed law enforcement that was part and parcel of living in the Los Angeles ghetto. The film is very personal for Gray, who is around the same age and grew up in South Central Los Angeles just miles from N.W.A members Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella. There is a Social Network atom-splitting depiction of the birth of an important cultural movement in Straight Outta Compton, and an underdog story of the struggle of young men…

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The Roots of New Urbanism: John Nolen’s Garden City Vision for Florida

by Bruce Stephenson

The New Urbanism has invigorated city planning by invoking the tradition of American civic design to solve the conundrum of suburban sprawl. This “Florida-grown movement” originated with Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk’s plan for Seaside; a plan, James Kunstler writes, “straight out of John Nolen.” Nolen, America’s preeminent planner in the early 20th century, is a New Urbanist patron saint. It stands to follow that if the New Urbanism is to fulfill the historic vision it has unearthed, the visionary plans Nolen produced in the “great laboratory of town and city building,” as he called Florida, requires scrutiny.

In 1919, Nolen stood at the apex of his profession. He had edited two books, written two others, published over 50 articles and plans, and presided over the nation’s largest planning firm. Nolen’s success stemmed from a blend of idealism and business acumen, which gave his work an innovative, yet pragmatic bent. Still, the difficulty in implementing plans made him feel more a missionary than planner.

Two years later, Nolen concluded that re-planning the American city was hopeless. The nation’s cities were “cursed,” he wrote, “with nearly insolvable social and political problems.” To complicate matters, planners seemed more intent on drawing up zoning ordinances that secured mediocrity rather than on implementing new models for a nation that had over half its population classified as urban. After this revelation in the 1920 census, Nolen initiated the planning of new towns based on the garden city ideal. In this endeavor Nolen owed much to Englishman Raymond Unwin, the designer of the first Garden City.

From their first meeting in 1911, Nolen and Unwin became fast friends. Close in age and interests, these pioneer planners corresponded regularly for 25 years, exchanging social views, planning expertise, and their visions of a new civilization. Unwin’s plans for Hampstead and Letchworth greatly influenced Nolen’s most lasting presentation of the American Garden City, Mariemont, Ohio.

Read the complete article here.

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Rethinking the Creative Class

This audio documentary examines Urban Rethink, a coworking/cultural hub in Orlando Florida. The documentary was created as the final project in HIS 347: The History of Urban America. The student researcher conducted interviews to understand Urban Rethink’s impact in light of Richard Florida’s Creative Class concept.

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RTC Archive: Sports and the City

This was Julian Chambliss’ introduction to the March 2015 Rethinking the City (RTC) monthly meeting.

“I’m a sportsman.” – Lucky Luciano
What does Salvatore Lucania, Lucky to his friends (and enemies), have to do with our concerns this month? You see Lucky says something about the place of sport in the modern city. Sport, like Lucky is emblematic of the transformative narrative that defines the twentieth century. This mercurial nature is worth reflecting upon. Luciano called himself many things: salesman, sportsman, and chauffeur. 

These labels were for public consumption and help build an attractive public persona. Sport has been called an engine of growth, a tool to boost community identity, and a means to promote external recognition. History condemns Luciano, but contemporary discussion of sport continues to debate benefits and dangers. Who are the winners and who are the losers? Do sport stadiums help the community? Does the entire community benefit from sport teams? Does sport serve the interest of a few and victimize others? In the end, do the costs outweigh the benefits? 

Dr. Rick Eckstein from Villanova University joined us for part of the discussion. Eckstein is an experienced observer of the complex issues surrounding the construction of publicly financed sports stadiums and the surrounding communities.  The results of the discussion are on display above. The video may be “organic,” but the information was great!


About Rethinking the City
Rethinking the City (RTC) is dedicated to building a dialogue within our community and with changemakers around the world about the forces that shape cities and how we can participate in positive change in our own city through arts, engagement, service, and enterprise.

RTC hosts a monthly symposium and produces a radio program dedicated to promoting and understanding the contemporary dialogue around community change. The RTC Symposium is the last Tuesday of every month and features local, national and international changemakers sharing insights and actions. RTC radio airs every Monday afternoon at 4:00pm on WPRK radio 91.5FM in Orlando, Florida (streaming online). Finally, the RTC Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RethinkingTheCity) offers resources and information for the community.

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Walkonomics: What Makes the Best Route?

THE DIRT

User ratings for Park Row, New York, NY / Liz Camuti User ratings for Park Row, New York, NY / Liz Camuti

Most smartphone map apps give you several direct routes to get from Point A to Point B, but the quickest or most convenient path isn’t always the most enjoyable. Those interested in finding the most beautiful, walkable route to their destination can now try Walkonomics. The app, created by United Kingdom programmer Adam Davies, allows users to find more beautiful paths through seven cities across the globe using both open and crowd-sourced city data.

Walkability-related data and apps have existed for a number of years. Websites like Walk Score rate individual addresses based on a number between 0 and 100, telling you how walkable or car-dependent an area is. But according to CityLab, Walk Score has yet to incorporate “more fine-grained and diverse data about the quality of the pedestrian experience.”

Walkonomics attempts to provide just that…

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RTC Archive: Speaking with Patrick Kahn

Rethinking the City speaks with Patrick Kahn about Snap Orlando. The mission of Snap! Orlando is to boldly increase the visibility and appreciation of the photographic medium as a significant cultural art form. Photography plays a critical role in society as a vehicle for cultural documentation and reflection. Snap! seeks to increase exposure
to this highly accessible art form and to broaden the demographic of
engaged art enthusiasts within our community.

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Marvel’s hip-hop inspired variant covers aren’t sitting well with some black nerds

Fusion

This fall, Marvel’s releasing a series of variant covers to a number of its newly re-launched titles like Spider-Man/Deadpool, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and Amazing Spider-Man. You’ll notice that each of the covers is styled after a different hip-hop album from the past 30 years or so.

“For years, Marvel Comics and Hip-Hop culture have been engaged in an ongoing dialog,” Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained in a widely shared press release. “Beginning this October, we will shine a spotlight on the seamless relationship between those two unique forces.”

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While the covers are undoubtedly eye-catching, a number of Marvel’s fan’s felt as if the company’s decision to use hip-hop to promote its new books was tone-deaf considering that none of the writers for its new series appear to actually be black people. Rap and hip-hop, two art forms born out of the black American…

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