Squamish Nation not squeamish on blending indigeneity and urban design

Clunky title, but this story on the re-development of one of Canada’s smallest First Nations reserves mixes boldness with vision for Vancouver that is easy to romanticize but more nearly resembles a living model for cities going forward.

Few First Nations reserves in Canada are found so centrally in urban areas, and this unique location has given the Squamish Nation a chance to explode local city-building norms. Construction begins in 2021, and at more than 500 units per acre, Senakw’s density will reach Hong Kong levels – a fact that is only allowed because Senakw exists not on city land, but on reserve land, which is technically federal.

Another striking feature is that only 10% of apartments will include parking, unlike the city’s rules that mandate one parking space per unit. The buildings will also forgo the podium-and-tower design that’s become a hallmark of “Vancouverism” in favour of slender high-rises maximising public space. The buildings could be up to 56 storeys tall, towering above the low-rise neighbourhoods nearby.

But beyond even the serious density considerations, there is the language slight of hand that gets at something far more pernicious:

“In the early history of Vancouver, and colonial cities generally, there is this opposition assumed between the civilization cities are imagined to represent, and the imagined savageness of Indigenous people,” [Stanger-Ross] says. 

The ways that the terms ‘urban areas’, ‘cities’, and even abstractions like ‘density’ have been co-opted as code words for racist politicking is maybe coming full-circle. Hopeful, I know. But good work, First Nations folk. Right racists depend on decent people being too nice, too squeamish, plus the ever-present lack of temerity to call out, punch back, or in this case, build up. Re-take the words, then re-make the savage cities with civilizing force of architecture.

U.S.A., Inc

The corporatization of American politics continues unabated, of course, except it has achieved hyperspace warp speed from the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Enter Romney, who I guess is supposed to be the lobbyists’ dream candidate. But do they really want to succeed raising the barriers to entry and eliminate their competition? Eliminate corporate taxes and regulations? Do they believe that’s going to create a healthy economy where their companies will flourish? Wait – they don’t care about those things? What do they care about?

The ever-expanding role of lobbyists in politics is a major victory for corporate America. Overwhelmingly, the companies and trade associations that dominate top-dollar lobbyists’ clientele are seeking to protect their own legislated competitive advantages, including special tax breaks, favorable procurement rules and government regulations that prevent new challengers from entering the marketplace.

Republicans should be acutely aware of the dangers posed by the lobbying community. When insurgents led by Newt Gingrich took over the House after the 1994 election, they were determined to open markets, allow free enterprise to flourish and rid the legal and regulatory system of competitive favoritism.

In practice, just the opposite took place. Gingrich, and especially Tom DeLay, ceded enormous power to Washington lobbyists in what they called the K Street Project. Loyal lobbyists were rewarded with earmarks, leadership support for special amendments and the delegated authority to write legislative provisions.

Shortly before he became House whip in 1995, DeLay created Project Relief, a legislated moratorium on new regulations. He appointed Bruce Gates, a lobbyist for the National-American Wholesale Grocers’ Association, to run the project and Gordon Gooch, a petrochemical lobbyist, to write the first draft of the bill. The bill was then modified by Paul C. Smith, an automobile industry lobbyist, and by Peter Molinaro, a lobbyist for Union Carbide.

That was a remains a real question.

Communist Boob Trays and Bike Racks

Okay maybe not the trays, I just happen to like those, personally. But no bikes – they’re part of an evil plot.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”

“This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”

Exactly. Now back in your car, ma’am. I realized a while back that this whole green thing was a sucker’s game. But I didn’t know you could also play it from the other side. What we want you to think is that everything is out to get you, that if you don’t become deeply suspicious on your own, we’ll have to force you to do so.

But they’re going to ruin this, too; because when everything becomes Communist, of course nothing will be. Really.

Elections spending

Any elections, any year. But… 1$ billion? This year?

A leading expert in political advertising says $1 billion was spent on political ads this year, with the vast majority of that coming from issue advocacy groups.

The health care debate fueled much of the spending this year, according to Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence. But, ironically, the stepped up pace of political advertising may not continue through to next year’s midterm election In an interview with Media Life magazineyesterday, Tracey said economic factors could keep candidates next year from passing 2006’s midterm election record of $3.4 billion in ad spending.

We elect to spend on elections so that we may influence how elections will influence how we spend, or something like that. Why elections are so important is being eclipsed by the importance of spending so much money to influence them. There’s an easy answer to this, shareholders crazyans citizens:

Replace the word election and simply begin calling it a spending contest or, if you prefer, a contest to see how much money a candidate can spend in order to win the office of ______. Being cynical is holding onto the tendency to refer to the contests as elections.