The semester has kicked into high gear and I am drowning in a sea of reading, written assignments,map-making, and special projects. Once in a while, I manage to emerge and dock (I know, enough of the nautical metaphors) at a lecture – or as in the last couple of weeks – at aconference. It is great to stepout of academia once in a while and hear what is going on in the realworld. I had the opportunity to attend two conferences over the past month. One of them – The City from Below Conference – I attended this weekend when I returned home to Baltimore for spring break.
The United States has been reborn. The election of Barack Obama has put – or reintroduced – the United States to the world stage as a beacon of hope for all people. We have proven that we believe and embody the ideals of equality and equal opportunity and that these ideals are the right of every citizen and not just a few. More importantly, this election is a ray of hope for our nation. We advanced the fight against racism to elect the first black president of the United States. Barack Obama’s election also gives hope to Americans as we witness and feel the stinging affects of the economic and housing crises, the energy crisis and two wars.
One of the most interesting things that I have learned in school thus far is the history of the urban renewal program. As a budding urban planner, I have often used the term “urban renewal” interchangeably with “urban revitalization” to describe the process of neighborhood improvement via economic and housing development. Regardless of the term I used, I was very clear that revitalization – or renewal – was a catch-22. The implementation of business and housing developments would jumpstart a neighborhood deemed blighted and consequently, only affluent residents could afford to enjoy the amenities of the revitalized neighborhood.
This week will be my first full week of classes at MIT; however, I have actually been here for three. I arrived into Cambridge at the end of August to attend the weeklong department orientation, which was as orientations are – full of very important yet-easy-to-forget information. Alone, the pressure of learning nearly 65 names can induce periodic episodes of amnesia.