Jessica M. Coleman

Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

A Mini Conference @ NJIT

In Field Research on November 19, 2008 at 12:04 am

A student presenting at NJIT

A student presenting at NJIT

A little over a week ago, my class along traveled to NJIT to discuss the policy and urban planning issues that face Newark. Milano focused on policy, Pratt researched the waterfront, NJIT focused on infrastructure, and Harvard students paid attention to the environmental damage that Newark has suffered.

This program was moderated by Toni Griffin, the current city planner of Newark. After the end of the corrupt Sharpe James administration, Cory Booker was forced to pick up the pieces of what was the planning department. Currently the master plan has not been updated in 60 years! Zoning enforcement was nearly non-existent with  heavy manufacturing in adjacent to residential areas. Along with spatial planning, there are many brownfields that exist and  lack of green space with the exception of a few parks.But not all is lost.

There seems to be many groups that want Newark to get better, but do not know how. There needs to be a steamling of public and non-profit groups in order to work together and get things done.

As for the retail group, the lack of retail in is not about numbers. Through my mapping exercises, it seems to be the distribution of retail. It is uneven and is basically situated on Broad and Market Street, while underserving the rest of the city. That is why I am also mapping Jersey City and Patterson to see if Newark can learning some succesful strategies from their NJ couterparts.


A Historical Week, A Historic Election

In History on November 9, 2008 at 11:18 pm

This week the US elected President-Elect Barack Obama. I have been voting since the 2000 presidential election and being from Ohio, made me especially nervous about this election. When I was at BGSU as a senior, I received an infamous “provisional ballot” because my name was not on the rolls. This was weird especially since I had voted in local elections on campus before the presidential election. It took about four years to realize that my vote did not count along with my family who voted in Cleveland.

My parents, along with thousands in Ohio’s urban centers, stood in the rain for 4-8 hours in an attempt to cast their vote.Approximately 126,000 became discouraged and did not vote. Bush won Ohio by a slim margin, which helped him the presidency.


Apollo Theatre Marquee in Harlem

On Tueday Nov 4th, I felt truly vindicated when Barack won Ohio with a sizable margin. No republican has ever won without Ohio. And so it remains. This week I volunteered and called voters in Florida to make sure that are southern cousins also went blue.

“Generation Y” is young. But we still have memories. Born in 1982, the Reganomics were in full effect. I remember wearing a bright green “Just Say No” T-shirt. Bush senior was claming that there would be no new taxes and the first Iraq War began. Prosperity flourished when I was a teenager during the Clinton years. Panic struck when I was a freshman in college and we all saw the World Trade Center collapse and I had just enrolled in the AirForce ROTC program while anti-war demostrations raged on.

The media said that young people would not show up, but we did in big numbers. I could not sleep. I went to the polls at 5am and by 6am the line was around the block. It felt like Christmas Eve. I felt like I was giving a gift to my children that I will have in the future. History was rewritten that day.

I hope that architectural profession will do the same. I did not grow up knowing any architects of color until my junior year of college. I know architecutral history well, but in order to find out MY Black architectural history, I had to do that on my own. The contributions of Norma Sharlek and Paul Williams make me going on despite the racism and bigotry that I face in architecture. Because if they made it, then so can I. Yes we can.