Photo Challenge, Week 8: Trees

Trees! So easy! So omnipresent! But guess what? In the deep of February, in the midst of a million straight days of rain, trees are…not that awesome looking. Just a buncha black, severe, dead-looking things hanging out in tree wells across the City. Anyway, here’s what I came up with for week eight (one is kind of NSFW??):

Waiting for the bus

Here’s a chronological set of pictures taken while waiting for the bus in various parts of town—Northside, Fulton, and Downtown. I’m definitely going back to Fulton at some point to get a better shot of that house on the terraced hill. My bus was coming down the hill, and that’s the best I could do!

Thinking about equity in transportation planning…

Mariia Zimmerman, a transit-oriented development expert, writes this two-part introspective about her own journey towards racial equity in transportation planning:

We wrote a lot about the potential economic development impact of [Transit-Oriented Development], and that of streetcars in particular. Not surprisingly, we found that once the idea caught on and development began, much of it was designed for affluent households. TOD was rarely built for those already in the community or who relied upon transit. The processes were never designed to optimize racial equity, but rather to create a market for those not currently living in these communities. Income and race were large factors ignored, undervalued, or devalued. Little attention, if any, was given to historic spatial injustice, redlining and the lack of community leadership in early TOD planning and projects. We are working to correct these oversights in our work today on equitable TOD.

Big, new transit should come with big, new equitable housing policy (assuming you don’t already have it) to keep/create places to live nearby for folks who aren’t making several times the area median income. Richmond attempted to do this by pairing our new BRT with the Pulse Corridor Plan, which upzones some things, discourages surface-level parking, and allows for some density bonuses with the inclusion of affordable housing. But—due to a lot of things, including state laws—I wouldn’t call it “big, new housing policy.” We’ve got a lot of work to do at both the state and city levels to make progress toward equitable development—transit-oriented and otherwise.

But a focus on equity shouldn’t be limited to newly-built rapid transit, either, but should be a priority when making any kind of transit service improvements (or reductions). Earlier this year, frequent, 15-minute service in Richmond’s Fulton neighborhood was cut back to 30-minute service with low ridership cited as the reason. If ever there was a Richmond neighborhood that has consistently been on the losing end of historic spatial injustice and redlining, it’s Fulton. In the face of decades-long injustice, is ridership the only metric we’re willing to look at when deciding an appropriate level of transit service for a neighborhood? How does that conversation change (if at all?) when your transit agency is incredibly strapped for cash and chronically underfunded? I have a lot of questions that I don’t know the answers to, but they are questions worth asking and conversation worth having. I’m grateful we have folks like Zimmerman leading the way.

Slow hobbies

Daniel Warshaw on cooking and family and practicing those things:

So I’m practicing – literally practicing without an occasion – a particular type of cake. Once I’m comfortable with the cake, I’ll work on frosting. I already know how to make decent buttermilk biscuits, but I’d like to get proficient at making Japanese-style milk bread (for sandwiches, dinner rolls, etc.)…Most weeks I’m lucky if I can make something more interesting than a variation on pasta with sauce half the time. But I’m working on it! Little by little I’m finding ways to have fun in the kitchen again, and I’ll take what I can get.

This year, one of my goals is to do fewer hobbies but in deeper ways. This works out great for cooking—especially making or baking simple dishes. I’ve got all the time left allotted to me to figure out how to make great bread or good meatloaf. I can take my time, and that’s nice.

From In an Unequal America, Getting to Work Can Be Hell:

“A lot of these workers in low-wage jobs—they either have to [move] to Prince George’s County, Maryland, or Alexandria, Virginia, and the transportation network has not changed to meet the changing demands,” says Yesim Sayin Taylor, an economist and founding executive director of the DC Policy Center, a think tank focusing on Washington’s economic and social issues. “Even though transportation is costly, it’s less costly than living in the city.”

Sub out Prince George’s and Alexandria for Chesterfield and Henrico and you‘ve got an accurate picture of what’s going on in Central Virginia. Last week, I talked with a woman who lives in the East End and drives for Lyft, and she didn’t flinch at $7 rides (one-way!) to Mechanicsville for groceries and employment. A $14 commute is one heckuva wage reduction.

You wanna let that breathe…

Tonight I had good internet timing. First, I wanted the .gif from Jaws where Chief Brody pours a huge glass of wine, which I couldn’t find. Second, I read this post from Ploaf:

Unless you’re extremely online, you may not know how easy it is to make your own dang bespoke GIFs from video using Giphy. Say you lost your mind laughing when Chidi Anagonye freak-out-shouted, “I SAW THE TIME KNIFE!?” and you want that feeling preserved in low-fi, looping digital amber. If you can find that moment on YouTube, for example, you’re halfway there!

Third, I made the .gif (idk of WordPress will make this gif go, but know that it exists in my gif library):

Photo Challenge, Week 5: Music

I took a ton of photos this week but not a ton of music-related ones, for whatever reason.

I did, somehow, convince my son to begrudgingly hold his saxophone for a quick photo shoot—but he would not fully put the horn together or allow me to put his face in any of the pictures. Fine. The other two photos I took while walking around: An Elvis gnome in the neighborhood and a Toynbee tile found at 2nd & Grace which includes a couple of keys.