Archives for category: Coffee Break Chatters
The three Fallen Fruit artists -- David Burns, left, Matias Viegener and Austin Young -- plant a young peach tree at Del Aire Park. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / January 5, 2013)

The three Fallen Fruit artists — David Burns, left, Matias Viegener and Austin Young — plant a young peach tree at Del Aire Park. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / January 5, 2013)

Traditional theories of public parks say NO, definitely not, but a new approach to fruit trees and bushes available to the public is pushing the boundaries of conventional open space wisdom.  In the community of Del Aire, an unincorporated bit of LA County, artists and the community have come together to plant public orchards in their local park.  While having fruit trees in public parks has brought about concerns of rotting fallen fruit and a public that ignores its existence, with the right signage, community awareness, and display of the fruit trees, Del Aire has high hopes for the success of this civic art/public orchard.  See the full article from the LA Times here.

It seems to me that edible landscaping is much easier done on a small scale on space where the ownership is clearly defined, like in your own backyard or window box.  Easier doesn’t always mean better, though, and a community can greatly benefit from growing and enjoying food together.   Community gardens serve a variety of purposes- in some any member can eat the food grown, in many the food is sold at farmers markets, and in others its like individual backyard gardens for those who don’t have one at home.  Putting fruit trees in an open space, one that actively displays that its produce are for everyone to share, is a great communal idea, but one that can possibly become abused.  Can people move beyond the Tragedy of the Commons, where a shared resource is abused by individuals focused on their own wants, and retain a resource that the public can share fairly?  On the reverse side, will enough people take the fruit that it doesn’t create a decomposing mess?  I suppose these are the issues that kept cities from planting fruit trees in public parks in the past, but I hope that with the community involvement displayed in Del Aire, this public orchard will be a success and others will follow suit.



Check it out- its 6 of 2012’s most interesting maps, according to The GIS Lounge.  Based on what caught the attention of the general public over the last 12 months, this list is short but pretty sweet.

No matter what you celebrate in the winter season, you’ve probably got some occasion where you need to shop for others.  If you’ve got an urban planner/topophiliac/urbanophile/city nerd/etc on your list, heres some ideas.  At least, I think they’re pretty neat.  Happy shopping!

Wear You Live T-Shirts

city shirt

Featuring Boston, Chicago, LA, Manhattan, SF, and DC, this is the perfect shirt for anyone who knows what a figure ground is.

City Fabric Store

CityFabric  Logo

Good gracious, buy them anything from here.  Beyond the shirts mentioned above, there are FGs on canvases, tote bags…oh boy.

Ork Posters

brooklyn nieghborhood poster

I can’t even begin to describe how cool these are.  I received one of my very own, and its such a treat to have on the wall.  A unique display of neighborhoods available for many cities, plus the brain and the heart!

Latitude/Longitude Jewelry

Custom Latitude / Longitude Pendant

Location, location, location.  Planners think about it.  A lot.

Where I’ve Been Map

Maybe this is more for the adventurous traveler than a given for any planner, but generally we’re people interested in places, and this is map you can update yourself with all those spots you’ve been.

Design Like You Give a Damn 2 (Book)

Even if they have the original book, this edition, which came out in May of this year, is a good one.  A real keeper for the ole’ bookshelf.  I could list many, many books, but time is short and you have Amazon.

Custom Map Wine Charms and Cuff links


Sweet, gender neutral (ish), customizable, and they involve maps.  This shop also sells cuff links with the same idea.


City Bird Shop


You really can’t say no to all of the Say Yes to Michigan gifts just waiting to be purchased at City Bird.  Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of living in or visiting the Great Lakes region, the stuff they’ve got on their Etsy site and in store is great for everyone.


Lego Public Transit Set


So maybe its a little juvenile, but most people who like designing things like public transportation systems in real life would have fun doing it on a smaller scale, too.




If  you’ve looking for something classier and more high end, check out designer Frederik Roije’s Metrobowl.  Not cheap (can be purchased on his website), but very chique.


Image from Hantz Farms Detroit; link to their site within linked article

While many of us grow the occasional tomato or strawberry in our yards or window boxes, a movement that has taken rise over the past few years called urban farming, taking domesticated food sourcing to a whole new level.  Also referred to as urban agriculture, its the practice of cultivating food and vegetation (on a larger scale than previously described) in urban areas.

When the trend first started, it primarily took place in spots that had been abandoned and were often already headed back towards a natural state- at least it appeared that way to those who chose to start farming there.  But as the practice grew in scale and popularity, concern of both the positive and negative sprung up:  Could this be the answer to the re-use of under-utilized land?  Will this increase produce availability in “food deserts”?  Will more trees in the city have a large impact on pollution?  Is contamination a factor?  What about land ownership, particularly in cases of abandonment like we’ve seen in areas like Detroit?

For many, this isn’t new territory- its a topic that has been gone over so many times it feels like old hat.  But when new government decisions come in to play, it becomes more than a way to casually reuse the old lot next door and opens the door to economic reinvestment.  In the new decision in Detroit, controversy has broken out over the selling of 140 acres to the Hantz Woodlands project.  In this case, the outcome isn’t food for the local community, but a commercial tree farm.  How does that change the stakes, the impact on the locals?  In a city constantly struggling with ways to deal with the over-expansion of the 40’s and 50’s, tough decisions like this can make or break a community, and the trust in the local government.

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times) June 13, 2012

So I realize I’m more of a mapping nerd than most.  In fact, my sister, who just returned from South Africa, gave me a set on envelopes made from maps there, and I can’t wait to frame them and put them up.  I’m also a HUGE fan of Ork Posters of neighborhoods, and own the one of LA.  But I think this is something that even those of you less nerdy than me can enjoy:

Eric Brightwell of Silverlake is doing something pretty spiffy.  Originally a small-town guy, he’s taken his experience with living in the vast city of LA to explore its many nooks and crannies.  This exploration has led to the creation of a series of over 100 hand drawn maps of the different areas of LA, showcasing their unique attributes from the perspective of someone who’s  really been there.  He’s already inspired a surge of LA pride and an interest in his hand-drawn maps, much to his surprise.  If you’re interested in something, go for it whole hog and you  never know what might come of it.  Ask yourself what parts of your city YOU love, or hate, or feel like expressing, and maybe you’ll be an inspiration, too.

Read the full article on it here.