Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Parking Not-So-Public

One of our series of guided tours of surface parking lots focuses on the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago. It's home to the cubs, out-of-control drunk people, and some pretty interesting parking lore (the local towing company angered Steve Goodman enough that he wrote a song about them). Part of our tour focused on the notorious 2008 Chicago Meter Parking Deal, where the city of Chicago leased all of its street parking operations to a private consortium (Chicago Parking Meters, LLC).
"The Deal" was riddled with questionable ethics, covered fantastically by the Expired Meter Blog and the Chicago Reader—Mayor Daley now works for the New York law firm that negotiated the deal between the parking consortium (led by Morgan Stanley). It has recently come back into the news following bills that the parking meter consortium has sent to the city, totaling $27 million. According to the Sun Times:

The $14 million bill stems from parking revenues the meter company says it lost when the city took meters out of service last year because of street repairs, festivals and other city-sponsored activities, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
This is the second time in a year that the company has hit City Hall with a claim for a big parking tab. The Emanuel administration already is in arbitration over a $13.5 million claim over free parking that Chicago Parking Meters says it provided to people displaying disabled-parking placards or license plates in 2010.
That makes the total disputed amount more than $27 million.
This situation is enough to make someone build a giant Jabba the Hut sculpture out of parking machine receipts.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Critical Summer Adventures

Flag of the Riparian City

We just opened our Temporary Embassy to the Riparian City of the Doan Brook Watershed at the Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau at Spaces. If you're in the Cleveland area, stop by Spaces and get your passport stamped, and check out the other fascinating ways to experience Cleveland provided by the Cleveland Urban Design Collective, The Think Tank That Has Yet To Be Named, Alison Pebworth, and Cleveland SGS (along with some other fabulous resources provided by the Spaces staff).

View of the Temporary Embassy

We also have lots of copies of the first guide book in our series Stories in Reserve! If you want to tour North America this summer, forget Disney World, the Grand Canyon and New York City! Wouldn't you rather see dentist offices in Tijuana, a military munitions manufacturing site-turned wilderness preserve in Southern Illinois, and a post-mega-event False Creek in Vancouver???

Stories in Reserve: Volume One

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Right to the Riparian City

Riparian City Emblem

On May 11, we (the Temporary Travel Office) will open our proposal for a Riparian City in Northeast Ohio, focused on the Doan Brook Watershed. The watershed is the land draining into Doan Brook, a creek that runs through the cities of Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Beachwood and Cleveland Heights. Our proposal is to re-imagine the geo-hydrological territory of the watershed as political landscape inhabited by human and non-human citizens. To bring this imaginary territory to life, we will be offering passports from an embassy temporarily staged at SPACES (as part of their Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau) in Cleveland until July 13. We're also soliciting suggested landmarks and points of significance within the watershed via a large scale map and on the web.
We're really interested in the bioregional territory, not as a utopian gesture that promises harmony between humans and the larger ecology, but as a point of entry into the problematics of practicing a political ecology. Our political borders don't become less problematic just because they're delineated by geology.
Some related links:
Doan Brook Watershed Partnership
Mark Whitaker's Toward a Bioregional State blog
Libcom's discussion of stakeholder politics

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DIY Museum Culture in Texas

The New York Times has a great short piece about odd museums in Texas. Not all of them are in homes and garages, but those sound the most interesting to us. It begins with the Devil's Rope Museum, a tribute to barbed wire, but other local collections include:
classic-rock eight-track tapes from the 1970s (the Eight Track Museum in Dallas), their bugs (the Cockroach Hall of Fame Museum in Plano), their cars (the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History in Smithville), their sports (the Texas Basketball Museum in Carmine) and their toilet seats (Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum in San Antonio). The state has numerous established, well-financed museums that are members of the American Association of Museums in Washington — the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas — but there are dozens of others that exist as museums because someone put up a sign saying so.
Image above: Michael Stravato for The New York Times, The Toilet Seat Art Museum of Barney Smith, 90, in his San Antonio home’s garage.