Blue: Greenery and the City Grid

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Ever since the beginning of the Arc, Blue keeps asking: Are we controlling the seeds? Or Are the seeds controlling us? Great question.

In an attempt to answer it, we started this week by taking a walk.

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While on our walk, we mapped out the neighborhood by paying close attention to all the greenery along our path. Where are the trees? How about bushes and flowers? Are there weeds? Did someone decide where these things are allowed to be, or did nature decide it?

We wrote all this down. And then, we asked some more questions.

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Like, who decides where the bushes can go? Is this tree in front of a residence or a business? Why are some blocks less beautiful than other blocks? And, why is all this greenery allowed to be next to all the pollution of 280, but not where people can really enjoy being in it?

We came up with more questions than real answers, so we went back to school and began some research.

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When I was in the graduate school, we were asked to read the San Francisco General Plan Urban Design Element. Printed, it’s a 71 page document that defines how San Francisco looks. What the neighborhoods look like. Which streets have how many trees. Where parks go. What the tops of hills look like. Where a skyscraper can go. This is the plan that defines how we live and move in the city and where nature (man-made or not) fits in to that bustling of people.

In an attempt to answer all of our lingering questions about the fate of greenery in the city grid, we split into teams and decoded the document together.

The best part about this week was watching all of this complex information unfold as the Blue Band explained urban design to one another. Live-action drawings emerged on the board. Our Scribe took detailed notes. We dove into many deep conversations about the meaning of design jargon, the politics of preserving elements of certain neighborhoods, and the importance of conservation. I was so engaged by the experience, I had to constantly remind myself to document the process! It was too good!

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Studying seeds is about more than just the biology of seeds, and as we continue to ramp up to the Expression phase of the Arc, this Band surprises me more and more by the breadth, depth, and thoroughness of their inquiries. We jumped from a video about tulips to a week on urban design, and I look forward to seeing and experiencing the next hop into their individual Arc projects!