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.

On Bullshit

a-burial-at-ornansOne week from the election, disagreement as political argument has taken a very wide arc around the truth:

Why should we remain beholden to facts? They are, as etymology tells us, not some sort of raw material that we simply find, but rather are the sort of thing that must be actively made — or, to use the Latin past participle, factum. Propagandists, whether Jesuit, Bolshevik, or Rovean, are those people who understand that facts, or at least social facts, are the result of human activity, in part the activity of inserting new ways of thinking and talking into the public realm — and that when this is done effectively, the public, sometimes, can come to a new understanding of the truth.
This, again, is not what Trump is doing. He is a mere bullshitter, and what comes out of his mouth has more to do with pathologies of personality than with any real vision of how the world, or America, ought to be brought into line with some super-empirical truth to which he alone has access.

Trumpism is, however, being helped along by master propagandists who understand very well that, by treating facts as something to be actively made, one may eventually change the way truth is understood. (Let us not, here, consider the specter of social constructionism, of whether changing the way truth is understood is the same thing as “creating a new truth.”) The activists of the so-called alt-right have been working for years to change public discourse through a concerted campaign of internet trolling. Their goal has been the creation of “meme magic,” that moment when an idea that they have promoted online makes the leap from virtuality to reality.

Also, ensorcelled. Image: A Burial at Ornans, by Gustave Courbet, 1851

Whining about Obama

barack_obama_2012_decalHe is the glass half-filled, half-empty, trying to do too much, done too little, he’s too different from us, too similar, too cautious, too radical… the President is the ultimate Rorschach. But if you want to take a look at what he’s actually done, there’s a top 50:

1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.

2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.

3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.

The Republicans must try to tear him down – it’s their only chance. Restless progressives and others (I’m endeared of the term ‘totebaggers’ as wielded at BJ and elsewhere) have no excuse other than cynical ennui. Get a hobby, but support the skinny black guy taking names in the toughest job on the list.

Six Less Votes

That’s how many votes the millions Romney spent in Iowa this year (30,015) won him, versus how many he garnered (30,021) in a second place finish in 2008.

Pathetic on many levels, and yet gratifying on some others – the extent to which the Republican candidates cannot move the needle. Again, the inability of the Republican party to put forward a candidate who espouses the tenants of the party AND that people will like/vote for is scandalous. The country needs (at least) two viable governing parties; the Republican party is determined not to be one of them.

When We Ask Not What

Reminiscent of this,

Is this darling little site.

Really, I’m fine with Boehner becoming speaker; it will be infuriating for a while, but he certainly should be able to spout his nonsense from the highest tree, as should Cantor and Pence. They’re complete fools and should be allowed to advertise their ignorance as loudly as possible so they and the pseudo-ideology they represent can more properly be sent packing. If given the opportunity – they’ll do most of the work themselves to convince a supermajority that,

Republican leadership has no future – except for the coming spike in bullet-resistant shoes of all styles.

Happy Halloween

I always think it’s cool that election day so closely follows All Hallow’s. Some kind of convergence that appeals, that I don’t want explained.

In an unrelated development, was recently enjoying this site.

Before Petroleum

One thing that is very difficult to get to, maybe not as difficult as a gushing volcano of oil a mile below the surface of the Gulf, but… just how did we get o this place? With major corporate interests having us all right where they want us, able to create a catastrophe but still leave us unconvinced that we/they should stop the activity that created the situation in the first place. And they are right, in a way, because what would that be? And on top of that, we blame our political leaders for not being able to immediately fix the situation – but not for creating the atmosphere that made the situation possible. See. Difficult. Where do you even start? Maybe 1876?

Johnson’s rocky relations with Congress resulted in an impeachment trial. Johnson survived in office, and was followed by Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant, who was elected in 1868, and reelected in 1872.

The eight years of the Grant administration came to be known for scandal. Financial chicanery, often involving railroad barons, shocked the country. The national economy faced difficult times. And federal troops were still stationed throughout the south in 1876 to enforce Reconstruction.

The Candidates In the Election of 1876

The Republican Party was expected to nominate a popular senator from Maine, James G. Blaine. But when it was revealed that Blaine had some involvement in a railroad scandal, Rutherford B. Hayes, the governor of Ohio, was nominated at a convention that required seven ballots. Acknowledging his role as a compromise candidate, Hayes delivered a letter at the end of the convention indicating he would only serve one term if elected.

On the Democratic side, the nominee was Samuel J. Tilden, the governor of New York. Tilden was known as a reformer, and had attracted considerable attention when, as New York’s attorney general, he prosecuted William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, the famously corrupt political boss of New York City.

The two parties did not have tremendous differences on the issues. And as it was still considered unseemly for presidential candidates to campaign, most of the actual campaigning was done by surrogates. Hayes conducted what was called a “front porch campaign,” in which he talked to supporters and reporters on his porch in Ohio and his comments were transmitted to newspapers.

Waving the Bloody Shirt

The election season degenerated into the opposing sides launching vicious personal attacks on the opposition candidate. Tilden, who had become wealthy as a lawyer in New York City, was accused of participating in fraudulent railroad deals. And the Republicans made much of the fact that Tilden had not served in the Civil War.

Read all about it.


9 a: deficient in training, knowledge, or experience <green recruits> b: deficient in sophistication and savoir faire : c: not fully qualified for or experienced in a particular function

adj. – (of wine) having a flavor that is raw, harsh, and acid, due esp. to a lack of maturity.

Rolling Stone brings the wood. Who Knew?

Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity.