All posts by kf158925

Paradise by Coldplay

The song begins with a full minute of lyric-less music. It starts with a simple melody with few layers of instruments then at about 0:33 seconds the music dives  into a heavy bass, multi-layered, amplified segment which, I feel, helps amplify the emotions of the listener, and bring the listener into a more dream-like state. This whole minute of introduction is foreshadowing the lyrics and meaning of the song.

When she was just a girl, she expected the world.

 But it flew away from her reach.

So she ran away in her sleep and dreamed of

Para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise

Every time she closed her eyes.

When she was just a girl, she expected the world

But it flew away from her reach and the bullets catch in her teeth

Life goes on, it gets so heavy, the wheel breaks the butterfly,

Every tear a waterfall

In the night, the stormy night she’ll close her eyes

In the night, the stormy night, away she’d fly

And dream of para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise


She’d dream of para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise




And so lying underneath those stormy skies

She’d say, “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I know the sun must set to rise”

This could be para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise

This could be para-para-paradise

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

This could be para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise

This could be para-para-paradise

Oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh, oh

This could be para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise

This could be para-para-paradise

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

I think the song is saying that as a child, even though we were young, we were not afraid to dream big. Being naive gave us the strength to believe in our ability to live the best life. But as we grew up, life becomes more monotonous, routine-like and overwhelming–Life was compared to a heavy wheel that breaks the butterfly. The butterfly that left its cocoon was supposably allowed to fly freely and lightly (like the young girl who thought she would be able to have the world when she grew up), but life is not like as she expected. Adult life is more routine-like and responsibilities become the center of her life. As long as there is force at any one point of the wheel, the wheel will continue to spin. The only way to stop the wheel is to just disregard the wheel totally. There’s a sense of utopia through renunciation here because she gets to her utopia upon leaving reality and entering her imaginations (the possibility of a better future). Later, when she was “lying underneath those stormy skies” she also reminded herself that “the sun must set to rise”. This hinted that she still believes that her misfortune will cease eventually. Through the change of lyrics from “and dream of paradise” to “This COULD be paradise” the song hints that there’s a chance that this misfortune that she was facing now was the one that will bring her to “paradise”. The end of the song sounds like a girl’s humming portraying the innocence and naiveness of a child, prompting the listener to think about their own inner happy child.

To me, the song was also a form or paradise. The repetition of “every time she close her eyes” makes me think about how I would close my eyes and just listen to music. It’s an instant mini-utopia that I can easily go to.

Hope ya’ll enjoy the song!

Kai’s quotes

1) “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms ”

–Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

2) “I know there isn’t no beast — not with claws and all that, I mean– but I know there isn’t no fear, either.”
Piggy Paused.
Ralph moved restlessly.
“Unless what?”
“Unless we get frightened of people”
— Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

3) “If I could put it into a very few words, dear sir, I should say that our prevalent belief is in moderation. We inculcate the virtue of avoiding excesses of all kinds– even including, if you pardon the paradox, excess of virtue itself.

— Lost Horizon, by James Hilton

Recall Cliff (iLand fiction)

Damn, It’s a long way down.

I wonder how Mr. Tamazaki made this cliff; it must have taken him weeks for him to program this. What a genius he is. He has got to be one of the most talented Pixels in the programming field. I wonder if I could ever become as talented a Pixel as he is. I wonder if he learned architectural programming all by himself or he was taught by another Pixel at iLand University. But it’s tough to believe that there’s a Pixel on iLand who would be good enough to teach Tamazaki programming. He’s got every single detail about this cliff just right. The brick-red tint of the stones, the dimensions of the path on this cliff, even the slight humidity feels good. Actually it feels familiar. As if I’ve been to this cliff before. I feel slightly sad about this familiarity, I don’t know why.

“Next!” shouted Ms. Lauren.

Get ready, Kai. It’s your turn to jump.

*                                  *                                  *

A pop-up shows: “Eva Huffington is online now”

“Hey Eva”

“Hey Kai”

“How was Cliff Diving class at Recall Cliff? I saw photos on Facebook the other day! It looked like so much fun!”

“Yeah it was amazing. I had such an adrenaline rush when I jumped and also I got to see Mr. Tamazaki’s creation!”

“Isn’t he amazing? I heard he programmed the waters below the cliff too!”

“Yeah, I heard. Everything from that cliff felt so familiar.”

“Wasn’t it your first time there?”

“Yeah, but I felt like I may have been to a similar cliff before… Maybe a long time ago”
“What? Similar? What do you mean similar? Recall Cliff was an original design by Mr. Tamazaki. I wouldn’t think he hacked someone else’s designs. He would never do that.”

“I didn’t mean that. I mean it feels like I’ve been on the same cliff before.”

“What? No Way. I know for a fact that Recall Point is 100% Mr. Tamazaki’s creation. It was featured on The Architectural Programmer’s Journal and named the Top 100 Most Amazing Creations of iLand. Recall Point was definitely a unique design; I don’t think you’ll find the same cliff anywhere else in iLand. “

“No, Eva… Never mind. It’s not important. Hey I’m working on my Python XXII class assignment, catch you later in at Nancy’s Noodles?”

“Okay. Ciao!”

It’s a good thing I had an excuse to leave the conversation. I wonder what would’ve happened if Eva asked further. She would probably bombard me with more questions, and eventually post something on her Facebook wall.  People will start talking about me. The Department of Security and Privacy will definitely suspect something of me. I will probably be sent to the Troubleshoot Center, and be tested. Then, I will probably be charged for Subconscious Dishonesty Level 1.5, and I will probably have to be forced to log off for twenty minutes.

What a nightmare.

A pop-up shows: “Eva has left the conversation”


*                                  *                                  *

Eva was sitting at the corner of the bar with Thierry and Nasri. It seemed like Nasri and Thierry were in a serious discussion. I can’t put together what their discussion was about.

“I don’t think it’s possible. He’s probably working on a new project and wants to be closed away from the public”, Nasri said.

“But Tamazaki has never done that before. I bet it has something to do with the recent news”, argued Thierry.

I walked towards the group, and sat down.

“Hi what would you like to order?” the waiter asked.

“I would like a Chicken Noodle Soup, a Zinc pill, and a Vitamin C pill”

“Anything else?”

“That’s all. How long would it take?”

“I’ll send you your pills in a minute, but 5 minutes for the 3-D printer to make your Chicken Noodle Soup and deliver to your chair”.

“Okay, thank you so much.”

“No problem.”

The waiter walked away. Thierry and Nasri were still in a heated discussion.

“I’ve follow his activities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, AND The iLanders Magazine. He has never gone offline on all those social media platforms for this long”, said Thierry.

“So, what are you guys talking about?

“Kai, did you notice anything when you were at Recall Cliff?”

Oh no. Did Eva tell them about how I said the Recall Cliff looked like “something I’ve seen before”? Did they though that Recall cliff looks familiar too?

“No, not anything in particular. Just that it was really well programmed. Tamazaki’s work is really something”.

“Tamazaki has gone offline for almost 5 months now. His fans are worried and his investors angry. His likes on all of his social media platforms have fallen sharply from 1.3 million to 1.1million within these 5 months, his investors have been losing BitCoins”, Thierry said.

“Also, recently, there’s been a trending conspiracy theory that Tamazaki is offline because he has either became a rogue hacker, or that he has left iLand”, says Eva.

“He could be working on a new project you know”, said Nasri.


The volume on the TV turns up. A journalist reports something on iNews.


“Recall Cliff has totally disappeared, and only an empty land is left. Investigators are suggesting that the disappearance have only occurred two days ago.”


A couple in cliff diving attire is being interviewed by the journalist.


“We came here on vacation and wanted to look at the magnificent Recall Cliff that Mr. Tamazaki created. We thought we were at the wrong place but we checked our GPS and it said we were at the exact co-ordinates. The entire cliff was just not there.”

             “SEE! Something is awry. Tamazaki must be…”

Thierry, Eva and Nasri continued to discuss about Tamazaki. My food arrived to my seat, and I ate it in silence.


*                                  *                                  *

As I walked back home, I heard more passersbies talking about Tamazaki. It seemed like the news of Tamazaki’s disappearance was spreading, and the news will continue to trend for a while.

I walked past the financial district, and I saw a group of Pixels crowding at the Trading Market Center where a huge screen showed the rise and fall of socialites. Tamazaki’s name was in red with a downward triangle next to his name. It seemed like his ratings are going down by the second. I saw another group of Pixels across the street with banners that read “#FindTamazaki” and “PrayForTamazaki”. They had a booth with iTablets for Pixals to post a prayer on God’s Facebook page or tweet out a prayer on their Twitter accounts. I wonder God’s comment be.

Tamazaki, the missing of Recall Cliff, and the fact that the cliff was missing kept circling in my mind. Why would Tamazaki be offline for that long? Was Tamazaki the one who deleted Recall cliff? What would happen to the trading market if Tamazaki’s ratings continue to fall? Tamazaki’s life long reputation would just go to waste. So many Pixels in iLand tried to build their reputation in order to tap into the trading market. They pursued whatever talents they had in order to become successful; others who did not have any talent at all remained admirers of socialites. Tamazaki was very talented in architectural programming, which was a booming field. But also, he was one of the few who had the personality and charisma to match his talents. And yet, it seems like he is throwing it all away.

A guy on a hover board speed past me, then I realized I had walked past my apartment. Seemed like I was at the border of the city. A holographic board read:

Vivanda – 22 kilopixels ahead

Januvy Bay – 33 kilopixels ahead

Recall Cliff – 36 kilopixels ahead

If I import my hovercraft from my inventory, I can reach Recall Cliff in about 30 minutes.

*                                  *                                  *

I arrived at Recall Cliff after 32 minutes, and I saw nothing. The cliff was gone as reported by iNews. I walked around and examined the bare land. There were no rocks, no waves; just a quiet and still shore. I liked the peacefulness, so I sat there staring at the setting sun. I tried to remember where had I seen the vanished cliff before. I don’t remember any image vividly; I just felt a mild sadness.

As I left what used to be Recall Cliff, I felt something unusual on the ground; a moist patch of sand on the ground. As I examine it, it seems like the data of the ground is disintegrating; the sand quickly turns into mud that pulls my feet slightly. I pull my leg away, but the more I try, the more I am being pulled into the mud. Half of my body is now immersed in the mud, then my chest, my neck, and my eyes.

I see nothing now.

*                                  *                                  *

When I opened my eyes, a group of Pixels was crowding around me. I had never seen any of these Pixels before. There were old, and young, male and female. I looked closely to my far right, and I see a figure approaching me. It is Mr. Tamazaki.

“Don’t panic.” He said.

“We are not here to harm you.”

“Where am I?”

“You’re technically at the bottom of where Recall Cliff was.”

“Why am I here?”

“Because you still remember about where you came from.”
Everyone became silent, and so did I.

Where we ‘came from’ was never a topic that is openly discussed in iLand. Everyone indulged himself or herself with all the perfection that iLand provided us with, and after some time, we became so occupied with what iLand had to offer, that we stopped thinking about where we came from. Most people even forgot where they came from because where they came from was so chaotic that it brought up painful memories. It was just much happier for Pixels to focus on iLand.

“Do you remember about Velcrum”, Tamazaki asked me.

I don’t remember anything about Velcrum, but I felt a slight sense of anger in me. I don’t know why. I shook my head.
“Of course you don’t remember about Velcrum yet. iLand had become such a huge distraction for Pixels that you will need some time to remember your past vividly. But it won’t be difficult because you are some of the few Pixels who still remembered something from your past. That’s why the mud pulled you down. I programmed the ground to detect the motions and sensations of any Pixel who walked above it, and when a Pixel is detected to think/feel about anything other than iLand, the mud pulls the Pixel down.

“What are you planning to do with all these Pixels?”

“We’re going to rebel against iLand, and save our people.”

“Our people?”

“Yes, our people; people who were our real family and friends; people that we saw with our eyes, talked to with our voices, touched with out hands, listened with our ears.”
“And what or who are we saving them from?”

“Velcrum. Velcrum is the organization that has been abusing our people from our past, and they are responsible for all the chaos that happened. We found out that iLand has been programming for Velcrum’s military machines, devices, tanks, jets, armory, everything. “

“But I don’t know anyone from this “past” that you say. I am here just because of a mere coincidence. I don’t want to be a part of this rebellion. I am just a college student in iLand, nothing else. “ I argued.

Tamazaki stops. He walks closer to where I am, and examines my face.

“When you were at Recall Cliff, you felt like you’ve been there before. That is because you have been somewhere similar to Recall Cliff. I built Recall Cliff based on the cliff back where we came from. It was a way for me to remember about my past.”

He paused, and he looked around the room, and then continued.

“You are here in this room not only because of your own choices, but also every choice made by your real family, your real friends, and the countless generations of people before that. Their lives are the reason for your being. How did you think you ended up here in iLand? You thought you made it here in iLand because of some tests that showed you were a highly qualified Pixel? You did not “make it” here because you were more capable than others who did not pass the iLands Pixel applications. You are here because you were lucky enough to be the one who reaped the benefits of your people’s hardships. Our people gave us an opportunity to leave, and we took it with dignity but not gratitude. Our lives have been changed for the better, and we have had that privilege for more years than we deserved. Now that we’ve found a way to stop Velcrum, we cannot feed our ignorance anymore. “

I can start to recall some images that Tamazaki said; the tanks, the jets, and more importantly, some faint faces of Pixel-looking people.

Tamazaki stared at me, and said, “We are not Pixels; we are humans. And it’s time for us to go back to where we came from. Are you coming with us?”

World War Z

World War Z is a post-apocalyptic dystopian movie about the outburst of rabies-like infection which turns healthy people into “zombies”. The movie starts off with Gerry and his happy family, living their normal life.  Suddenly, the mood of the movie turns immediately from peace to chaos— cars started crashing, people swarming in every direction, and the police trying to get the situation under control.

Gerry and his family fled from the city, and tried to survive while he awaits for help. Turns out, Gerry used to be a UN investigator. He is being called back to help out with the UN’s research on this outburst. The UN Deputy Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni, tries his best to get Gerry and his family into the U.S. Navy base where they could be safe.

When at the U.S. Navy base, Gerry was coerced into joining the investigation team to find a cure for the disease. The rest of the movie showcases Gerry’s multiple missions in various countries, each time trying to survive zombie attacks. Ultimately, Gerry succeeds in finding a temporal cure.

I find that this movie focused a lot on zombie-human wars, providing minimal attention on themes. Nonetheless, there were a few themes.

The first one is government.

After Gerry and his family arrives the U.S Navy base, Thierry asks Gerry to join in the investigation. When Gerry refuses to go because of his family, Thierry says that him and his family would then have to be relocated at a refugee camp in mainland. This is because the U.S. Navy has a policy that any “unessential” group of people will be expelled from the ship and transferred to the mainland refugee camp. Gerry knows that the mainland refugee camp is not safe at all, and being at sea is his family’s safest bet for survival. Having convinced, Gerry agrees to Thierry’s offer.

I find that human’s individual rights is not a priority anymore under this dystopian setting. Gerry was basically threatened/forced to follow the the UN’s orders. And in the movie, Gerry was told “If you don’t go, there’s a lot of people waiting in line to take your spot”. It goes to show that in a dystopia setting, the individual is not seen as an individual anymore; the individual serves the community, and the government.

In fact, from this example, I find the theme of ethics come into play too. In the movie, When Gerry was thought to be dead, Gerry’s wife and 2 girls were escorted out of the navy ship and to the refugee camps almost immediately. While it sounds logical to do so, I argue that it is not entirely rational and definitely unethical. First off, they were not 100% sure that Gerry was dead, and secondly, if the family were already on the ship, why not just let them be there? At least for a couple of weeks while they could confirm that Gerry was actually dead. I thought the government was wasting more manpower, and posed more threat to themselves by having to deliver each and every “unessential” persons immediately to the dangerous mainland refugee camp every time an “essential” member was dead.

I find that the movie also displayed themes of science/technology vs. nature.

In the end, Gerry found a solution to the disease. He realized that the zombies only attacked healthy human beings, and when facing sick and old people, they ignore them and just walks away. So, Gerry decided to try a radical solution of injecting oneself with another deadly but curable disease. There was a quote in the movie that summarized how Gerry found out the solution, “Mother nature is like a serial killer, like every serial killer, she wants to get caught… she likes disguising her weaknesses as strengths.” The fact that Gerry was able to come up with this solution,shows that medical technology was advanced enough to overcome flaws of nature. 

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind


Nausicaa is a young princess in the Valley of the Wind. She’s the heroin of the story, where she actively does her best in saving the valley of the wind, and nature in general, from an aggressive kingdom named Tolmekia.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where industrialization has poisoned the soils of the earth to the point where jungles and its creatures (predominantly insects) have mutated. Everyone in this world knows that jungles are poisonous, and actively tries to avoid being in the jungle, and also they FEAR the jungle, especially its largest creatures known as the Ohm (creature with multiple red eyes in the picture)

Biggest Theme: Ecology

Since the environment has become toxic, everyone in the world fears it. Everyone wears a mask that prevents him or her from inhaling toxic air emitted from the jungle. However, this is not the case with Nausicaa and The Valley of the Wind.

Nausicaa is unafraid of the jungle. On the contrary, she is compassionate and caring for the jungle and its creatures. She admires the beauty of the jungle, and regularly visits it. Having these values in her, and being so respected for her compassion and intellect, the citizens of The Valley of the Wind learns from Nausicaa’s values. That is why the people of the valley learn to live in peace with nature.

The Valley of the Wind, naturally having constant flow of wind, is free from the toxic air. But I don’t think that this solely attributes to the valley’s geographical position; it also attributes to the people’s relationship with the jungle and its creatures. In the movie, when the Tolmekians sparked a war with all parties including the Ohms, the Valley of the Wind experiences no wind for the first time.

Later on, when Nausicaa comes back to the valley to save her people, she again uses her kindness to calm the Ohms down. Although she was greatly wounded from the war, the Ohms, having healing powers, chose to heal Nausicaa because of her kindness. Ultimately, the wind returned to the valley.

I feel that Miyazaki, the writer and director of this movie, is trying to convey that we not only have to be kind to human beings, but also nature and all of its beings too. It takes one person to affect an entire village of people, so if we adopted this behavior, we could affect even more people, and soon it will also improve our environment.

Other Notable Themes:

Science and Technology

The entire setting of the movie is based upon human’s irresponsible use of technology. This technological abuse has corroded the soils and mutated nature. I also think that the reason to why technology has destroyed the earth is due to human’s need for instant gratification. This is emphasized in the movie when the Tolmekians tried to revive the same disastrous technology that destroyed the earth – The Great Warrior. However, the attempt for reviving The Great Warrior has backfired during the war, and the Great Warrior died almost instantly upon being summoned.

Relationship between the Sexes.

While romance between male and female characters can be spotted, it is not actively displayed through the movie. The movie, however, showcase women in power and , ultimately, women who save the day. While it does have male characters in it, they are almost all supporting characters to the female leaders. For example, when the Tolmekians caught Nausicaa, she did manage to get free through the help of a male friend named Asbel. However, after that, Nausicaa proceeds to save an entire village of people through her flying skills, her intellect about nature, her compassion for the creatures, and her self-developed technique in taming the creatures.

I really enjoyed this animation, and I would recommend everyone to watch the movie!

A Crystal Age by W.H. Hudson

How it all began…

This utopian novel was about a man named Smith who woke up on a pile of stones from an unknown accident (although Smith believes that he had fell on to the pile of stones). He wakes up, wanders around and stumbles upon a society in The House. The people in The House were in the middle of a funeral service. Although Smith tried to remain unnoticed, his ‘unusual’ dressing, compared to the people, gave him away. The people then took him in, and that’s how Smith started to learn about this utopian society.

Important characteristics of the society

This society practices an entirely different set of cultures and common sense.

To start off, this society worships nature. They’re entire lifestyle surrounds understanding, admiring, and learning from nature. The citizens of The House believe that nature is how God communicates with them. Although the word “God” was not formally used, words like “the Builder of the world” and “the Father of the world shows that they believe in God. Understanding and learning from nature is their priority above anything else. Therefore, even though people in this community have their own tasks and jobs, their main responsibility as citizens of The House is to learn from and admire nature.

They don’t know about any other societies or places, like England or India, and they’ve never heard of people like Alexander the Great, Confucius, or Shakespeare. Logically, they don’t practice our common language, and law. In terms of language, these people do understand English but not in the written word. In fact, they don’t know English as “English”, but rather, the “language of human beings”. They adopt a Hebrew-like writing system, which sounds exactly like English when read. However, they do not understand the figures of speech that Smith uses. In terms of law, the people are punished for indecent behavior like lying, and minute mistakes in performed tasks. They also punish people when they fall ill because falling ill shows that one is not taking care of himself/herself well. All punishments are usually solitary confinement in varied length of time.

In The House, there is no such thing as money. The prime medium of trade is labor or requests. When Smith wanted to have clothes that the people were wearing, his payment was in the form of a 1-year labor contract. On another occasion, when the Father of The House wanted the special ink pen that Smith has, in exchange, The Father granted his daughter, Yoletta, as Smith’s guide/teacher.

As everyone in this world lives a long life, everyone looks younger than his or her biological age. Hence, this is precisely the reason why there aren’t many children around as there is no need for sexual reproduction. It works well for the society too, since everyone regarded each other as only brothers or sisters, there’s no possibility for a “romantic” relationship to develop. However, the only exceptions to this rule are The Father and The Mother of the house. In addition to being The Father and Mother to everyone in The House, they also have their very own biological children.

The driver of the story, and how it ends.

A Crystal Age, and Smith’s new life, is hugely driven by the character “Yoletta”, who is the most beautiful person to Smith, and Smith falls quickly and deeply in love with her. However, in this society, romantic love does not exist; the only kind of love that exists is sisterly/brotherly love, which extends to all inhabitants of this utopian society. Everyone regards each other as a brother/sister.

Throughout the story, Smith tries to understand the “passionless” nature of this society. He eagerly tries to explain to Yoletta how much he loves her, and that his love is not the love that Yoletta shares with everyone else, but a love that he only reserves for Yoletta. Yoletta, unexposed to Smith’s notion of love, struggles to understand how can anyone love one person in a different way that one would love brothers and sisters.

Being Smith’s teacher, Yoletta spends more and more time with Smith. As time passes, her love for Smith grows, but still not as what Smith has hoped for – a romantic love between them. Smith is incredibly troubled by the passionless nature of this society, and he struggles o find out why. His obsession with this thought drained his soul, and he became less joyful than he originally was. Knowing that Yoletta will never be able to love him the way he wants her to, he thought he might as well learn to be “passionless”.

He stumbles upon a potion in a library that reads “When time and disease oppress, and the sun grows cold in heaven, and there is no longer any joy on the earth, and the fire of love grows cold in the heart, drink of me, and for the old life there shall be new life”. He thought that this potion would help him become “passionless”, and after some deliberation, he drank the potion. As he reads the book by the potion, he slowly feels his bodily sensation fade away. It turns out that the potion was actually poison.

The story ends with Yoletta coming by his side, and the hint that Yoletta and Smith were the appointed new Mother and Father of The House.

Final thought

It seems like Hudson, the author, is trying to convey that romance and sex are sources of unhappiness. In addition to the fact that Smith has died precisely because of his passion, the fact The Mother was also allowed to be the only one in The House to be “unhappy” tells me so too. The Mother, supposedly being the one who has ultimate happiness, is also the only one who is NOT punished for falling sick because childbirth is a natural source of suffering. While one may think that the suffering of childbirth is a temporary one, the only two Mothers (the current one and the preceding one) mentioned in the story were both suffering one way or the other.

The Ahwahnee Principles and New Urbanism

Urbanism means the lifestyle of city dwellers. New Urbanism, is a movement for urban planning and design that hopes to increase the sense of community within a any city dweller’s lifestyle.

The concern for the lack of sense of community started after World War II. Since the 1950s, the development of streetcar and affordable rapid transit has caused cities to spread out, which in turn creates “streetcar suburbs”. Later, during the automobile industry boom, cities became less centralized, causing societies to isolate themselves within urban sprawls.

Urban sprawls describe the expansion of communities away from central urban areas. This structure is both the creation and the promoter of heavy automobile usage.

To bring back more communal spaces, New Urbanism was slowly in development. There are a few main qualities that New Urbanism pushes for. According to the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), they are:

  1. The creation of more walkable, human-scaled neighborhoods.
  2. Bring destination within reach and allow for frequent encounters between citizens. A key measure is the accessibility of these spaces to people with a range of physical abilities and financial resources.
  3. Increasing the amount of shared spaces. E.g. plazas, park, squares, cafes, etc.
  4. Sustainability through Green Designs. This pushes the use of walking, bicycles, and transit use.
  5. Reuse and renew old, damaged regions. E.g. transforming a damaged housing area into habitable mixed-income neighborhoods

New Urbanism only became prominent after the establishment of The Ahwahnee Principles.

In 1991, Peter Katz, a staff-member of the Local Government Commision and author of The New Urbanism, brought together various architects to develop a set of rules to new urban spaces and communities. They met at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, and hence the name “The Ahwahnee Principles”. The group of architects was asked to find the common characteristics between various urban planning movements, namely, “Neotraditional Planning”, “Sustainable development”, “Transit-oriented Design”, “New Urbanism”, and “Livable” Communities.  Then, from the common set of community principles, they were asked to develop regional principles.

Here’s the official list of Community Principles, Regional Principles and Implementation Principles.

Many cities in the U.S has started to incorporate The Ahwahnee Principles in their urban planning. Most of these cities are on the east coast; cities like Pasedena, San Jose, Sacremento, Santabarbara, San Diego, and Walnut Creek. An example of a simple implementation some of these cities, is by building new shopping malls in near transit rather than off freeways.

Although New Urbanism seems like it is fostering better, more “liveable” spaces, there is also a criticism that argues against New Urbanism. Peter Gordon, a professor of Urban Planning from University of Southern California, spoke in favor of suburbanization because he thinks that New Urbanism ignores the consumer’s preference for the free market; people moved towards car-oriented development  that is what people want.

My presentation:

Of Slaves in Utopia: From Thomas More’s Utopia

They do not make slaves of prisoners of war, except those that are taken in battle; nor of the sons of their slaves, nor of those of other nations: the slaves among them are only such as are condemned to that state of life for the commission of some crime, or, which is more common, such as their merchants find condemned to die in those parts to which they trade, whom they sometimes redeem at low rates; and in other places have them for nothing.

Throughout the text, Thomas More’s Utopia consistently placed emphasis on the need for people to stringently follow rules, regulations and ‘Utopian’ values/lifestyle in order to maintain the Utopian way of life. However, I feel like it is exactly these extreme moral codes which promote an “unforgiving” society that they’ve also created an underlying dystopia for those who’ve made mistakes, who ultimately are condemned into eternal slavery. I feel that giving people the room to right their wrongs means giving them a chance to help better society as a whole.

From Thomas More’s Utopia