March 13th, 2016
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Trump and the Rule of Law

As an attendee of Trumps aborted political rally in Chicago on March 11, 2016, I experienced firsthand the outrage of political correctness that has disempowered lawmakers throughout Western Europe and the United States in recent months. As a matter of public safety, lawless hordes of protesters, most of them trained political activist groups like Move-On.Org, were allowed to hijack a privately funded political event. Their actions stripped the attendees of their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and speak.

It was a well-organized effort to intimidate law enforcement  to “stand down” in the face of worldwide media coverage sensationalizing the “cult of hate” that Trump has been accused of by his political candidate opponents. And it worked, as Keynesian politicians appeared sensitive to the safety and welfare of the people by “Leading from Behind”.  All while Chicago’s new police commander avoided further investigation by Loretta Lynch and her DOJ.  As Trump said, “everyone is pleased with the decision to cancel the event”.

Well, I’m not pleased and neither are 10,000 other attendees who invested considerable time and expense to attend the event in support of their candidate. The University of Illinois Chicago made money charging $20/car parking, food concessions and rent of the Pavilion. Local media made money with days of network programming milking the “cult of hate” propaganda.  All of which was at our expense without so much as an apology.

But that’s not the real cost. The circumstances of the event proved that in Chicago, we as a people have abandoned our reliance on the “Rule of Law.” Like other Cities in America held hostage by the tyranny of liberal political action groups recently, like St Louis and  Philadelphia, we witness anarchy prevail as police are handcuffed from enforcing the law.  Protestors are allowed to damage private property, disturb the peace, terrorize the populace, all while knowing full well that they’ll face minimal, if any consequences by the courts or by zombie law enforcement. It’s the court of media driven public opinion that “rules” today….not the rule of law.

A lawful society is a principal fundamental to making any country great. Mr. Trump, in the face of today’s blatant and bold corruption of our political leaders, how can we believe that you’ll be any different? Your weak kneed actions in Chicago traded my Constitutional rights for safety when confronted by street thugs. Is that what America has come down to?

Can we really rely on you to prosecute Hillary for her crimes? Can we really make “America Great Again” if you won’t insist that public officials and police enforce the “rule of law” in the face of chaos? 

After 8 years of Obama’s relentless lawlessness, aren’t we long overdue?


December 22nd, 2015
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Focus on the True Meaning of Christmas

This Christmas, we celebrate the true meaning of the holiday season in the birth and life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s pray that our faith in Jesus can make America great again!

As we struggle with global Jihad, systemic banking fraud, political corruption, a corroded rule of  law, moral decay and consumerism run amuck…. our faith in Jesus, our God, is our only hope….not Donald, not Hillary.

Watch Linus as he reminds us of why we celebrate this Joyous Christmas Season throughout the world:

May the joy of experiencing the true meaning of Christmas be yours this holiday season.


December 8th, 2015
Detroit before the Dark Side prevailed

The Force of the Grid

As we prepare to attend the premier of the latest Star Wars extravaganza, The Force Awakens”, I am reminded of how Obi-Wan Kenobi urges Luke to surrender to the power of the Force” in destroying the evil Death Star. It’s a principle that lies at the core of a Jedi’s very being as taught by Yoda in the video below:


The grid is a powerful Force too and exerts its influence in our towns and cities whether we surrender to it or not. This principle revealed itself to me while studying the traboules in Lyon, France.

Traboule….. a pass through a building block connecting one street to another. It is a shortcut pedestrian path, often narrow, beginning in an entrance hallway continuing through one or more buildings or levels connecting one street to another. It can be horizontal connecting a succession of alleys or courtyards or vertical with flights of stairs connecting levels. It is often a hidden, locally known resource of a town’s people.

vieux_lyon_nordLike most hillside towns, Vieux Lyon had been planned with few connecting streets running perpendicular to the river. Long blocks parallel to the River Saône caused people and commerce to travel inconvenient distances to reach the river front. The first examples of traboules are thought to have been built in Lyon during the 4th century. Lacking water up the hillside, the inhabitants moved closer to the banks of the Saône at the foot of the Fourvière hill. The traboules allowed them to get from their homes to the river quickly and allowed the canuts (silk workers) and craftsmen to transport clothes and other textiles through the city while remaining sheltered from inclement weather. Traboules enabled commerce to flow quickly from workshops to awaiting textile merchants at the river front.

 For many inhabitants, being a “true Lyonnais” requires being knowledgeable about the city’s traboules which, as hidden passages, are credited with helping prevent the occupying Germans from taking complete control of Lyon during
World War II.

Today, some traboules are tourist attractions, with the government subsidizing maintenance costs in return for keeping more than 40 of them open to the public. However, most traboules remain on private property , serving as entrances to local apartments and closed to public access while providing convenient mid-block passages for residents of old town Lyon.

The creation of Lyon’s traboules illustrates the significance of providing a grid of circulation  for pedestrians and their flow of goods and services that enable vibrant commercial activity. Traboules have evolved in other cities such as Prague, Salzberg and London for similar reasons.

In larger American cities,  downtown areas almost always follow the pattern of  grids, while the farther you get from the downtown the grid becomes less prevalent and the randomness of suburbia takes over.

In the United States, the grid system was widely used in most major cities and their suburbs until the 1960s. However, with the rapid adaption of the automobile, town planners adopted a bias toward inwardly focused “superblocks” that attempted to separate pedestrians from automobiles for safety reasons.  By restricting automobile circulation to the edges of the blocks along arterial roads, residential neighborhoods and commercial areas became isolated and disconnected from the surrounding community. This “Dark Side  of the Superblock” has provided us with a mediocre built environment of wide, multi-lane roadways, seas of parking lots, phony ill scaled building facades, and an inhospitable pedestrianism.

But there is hope for us in the Force. The time honored tradition of the grid, practiced since antiquity, is being recognized and applied to the re-development of failed shopping centers, commercial districts and neighborhoods across the country. And just as Luke surrendered to the power of the force in order to Destroy the Death Star, just maybe, city leaders and planners will learn to utilize the omnipresent power of the Grid to defeat the Dark Side of our planning blindness. Both Yoda and  Obi-Wan Kenobi would be proud!

( I always welcome your town building comments below )

 

 

 

 


November 23rd, 2015
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Is Your Town Picture Worthy?

Classically designed towns have a quality that other towns do not….they are picture worthy. In the old days, society relied upon its architects to exercise the wisdom of the ages in the creation of its towns and villages. The principals reflecting the culmination of that wisdom are illustrated in such classic tomes as Peter Lynches’ “Image of the City” or Christopher Alexanders’ “Pattern Language”.

Historically, cities were considered very important and powerful symbols of a society. Cities and Towns reflected the potential depth and intensity of human experience, in fact, the very humanity of its people.

I cannot say that we reflect much humanity in our towns and cities today. For the most part, we live in a sea of mediocrity, and our towns reflect our preoccupation with convenience, power and money. As a people, we have lost touch with the very notion of building towns that strive toward a greater humanity.

Picture Worthiness is a good reflection of your town’s ability to symbolize its humanity….a way of measuring its attractiveness to its residents and visitors. Smart towns and cities have realized this and are capitalizing on this principal worldwide.

Shanghai Skyline

Shanghai is one of the most picture worthy cities in the world. The city straddles the Huangpu River, with the Bund, an esplanade lined with graceful classical buildings reflecting historical Shanghai, on the western bank of the river facing the highly modern and kitschy skyscrapers of the Pudong district on the east bank of the river. It’s a city planned to produce the perfect photo opportunity reflecting the history, values and culture of Shanghai through the lens of a camera.

You experience the power of the lens during National Day when more than 5 Million visitors flood into Shanghai for the celebration with a camera phone in every hand. The Chinese love Shanghai because it is such a photogenic city and they love their camera phones with more than 574 million smartphone users in 2015. ( see top 25 countries by smartphone users )

smartphoneRankingWith a global population exceeding 7 Billion people, 5.3 Billion mobile phone handsets are used by 4.3 Billion unique users. Yes there are 1.1 Billion people using more than one cellphone besides Hillary Clinton! I can only hope their intent is more noble.

More than 90% of all humans who have ever taken a picture, have only done so on a camera phone, not a stand-alone digital or film-based ‘traditional’ camera.

And according to mass media expert, Tomi Ahonen , “83% of all phones in use are camera phones. That means that 4.4 Billion cameras are used in the world that are also connected to the network and are always carried, rather than the more premium stand-alone cameras that often sit in their cases back home.”

With such a dominant technology being so ubiquitously utilized worldwide, smartphones are quickly shifting the paradigm for consumer media usage and impressing the need for marketers to become more mobile-centric.

Photogenic towns have a natural advantage that aligns with growing mobile camera technologies. But with so few towns enjoying that advantage in our modern world, temporal events and activities are being used as a strategy to create picture worthy moments that attract people and the consumer spending dollars that they bring.

One example is the use of anamorphic art as a public event. An Anamorphic Image is an image that appears normal only when viewed from some particular perspective. The first known examples of anamorphic imagery are in Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks; he was one of the earliest contributors to this geometry of perspective. In the early Renaissance period, European artists began to master perspective, becoming fascinated by the simplest kind of anamorphic art: stretched pictures seen accurately when viewed at a sharp angle. This art form adorns cathedrals throughout Europe.

As people vacated the cathedrals, so too did the artists where the pavement became their canvas.

The Italian Madonnari have been traced to the sixteenth century and named after their customary practice of recreating chalk paintings of the Madonna in the public square.

The origins of modern street painting can be traced to Britain. Pavement artists were found all over the United Kingdom and by 1890 it was estimated that more than 500 artists were making a full-time living from pavement art in London alone.

In the 1980’s Kurt Wenner has combined traditional street painting techniques along with classical training, illusion, and performance to invent an art form all its own. This has come to be known as anamorphic, illusionistic, or 3D street painting.

Today, the anamorphic illusions of artists such as Kurt Wenner and Julian Beever bedazzle pedestrians throughout the world where their chalk painting, pavement and architectural surroundings all become part of a grand illusion that engages both the artist AND visitors as participants. When viewed from a unique perspective location, people passing by can spontaneously participate in the scene and be memorialized by the flash of the always present camera phone.

It’s just one of many clever ways for a town to become picture worthy.

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About
Bruno
Bottarelli

An architect/planner by profession, and town builder by trade, Bruno has developed real estate for 36 years as co-founder and Managing Director of the Marquette Companies. He applies the timeless building principles that have produced our world’s most endearing places while embracing the realities of today’s market. Today, he freely shares what he has learned to those who strive to build better towns.
 
 

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