Urban Conditional (23)

Goodbye Paul’s, hello fufu?

The last $5 lobster roll has been sold in Portland. That is because Paul’s Food Center is closing. The loss will be felt hardest among nearby residents, many of whom are low income and face mobility challenges. But filling the void left by Paul’s may not be as difficult as one might think. In addition to Fresh Approach and the food aisle at Reny’s, there are already several grocery stores within walking distance of Paul’s.…

Un-Mainers: How do you define a resident?

Bob Spear fished lobsters on Peaks Island. It took him only 15 years to warm up to my dad, a summer person and a New York Jew. One year my dad arrived late — sometime in mid-June — after taking an ancestor trip to Eastern Europe. “Where have you been?” old Bob asked. “I was in Belarus,” said my dad. “Former Soviet Union,” he added by way of clarification. “Well, why’d you wanna go there?…

The nature of nature

For some time now, nature and culture have been considered, in one way or another, diametrically opposed. And by “for some time” I mean quite some time. Consider, for instance, Adam and Eve's little blunder in the garden and subsequent exile. Consult Plato and his notion that the natural, physical world is a degradation of forms. Think, too, of Locke, Rousseau and Hobbes, and how, in one way or another, for better or worse, civil…

Urban Conditional: Planning that drives run-off

Just when I thought that I couldn’t hate sprawl any more ...Urban sprawl —strip development, subdivisions and highways — has long been seen as an anti-urban mode of planning which slowly subsumes a larger and larger radius in more and more concrete and asphalt. The more we drive, the more asphalt, the more emissions are sent into the air affecting climate change.

Urban Conditional: Room for a view?

It would be a pretty boring election season if not for Question 2. The referendum, put forth by the Save the Soul of Portland group, asks voters to preserve sightlines, particularly those from a short stretch of eastern Fore Street overlooking the harbor. Fore Street sits above the Portland Co., an old industrial complex slated for development by CPB2.

Urban Conditional: Pedaling ironies in a familiar bicycle battle

You wouldn’t think passions could get so high over how and where to ride a bicycle. But among cycling advocates the argument between those that want bike lanes (the “infrastructuralists”) and those that don’t (the “educationalists”) grinds like a squeaky chain.Roads are contentious places and road rage must be among the most under-treated psychological conditions. The conflict of philosophies among cyclists has filtered into social media (where else?) and has created a schism in which…

Urban Conditional: Fixing USM is very complicated, but it is also very simple

The problems at the University of Southern Maine are so deep and complex that defining them often gets in the way of finding a solution. But current crises aside, the solution is contained in four simple words: University of Maine, Portland.Not that this is a new idea.USM has a convoluted history that correlates with changes in perception and demographics of cities. In 1957, “Portland University” merged with “Portland Junior College” to form the “University of…

Urban conditional: Vacation modes for the smaller footprint

Most practical solutions are generally dismissed as being impractical. But imagine, if you will, a city where people live in dwelling units of 350 square feet or less but share common facilities like gyms, pools, dining rooms, lounges, studios, and game rooms. Where large single family houses are purposed to house multiple — or extended — families and where housing is centrally located and within easy walking distance of shops, restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, entertainment…

Urban Conditional: Munjoy Hill on a Madawaska Budget

Whether you love gentrification or hate it, no one wants more crime, more abandonment, and more divestment in their neighborhood. So if you live or own in a neighborhood that is at all marginal, you may be in fear that a senior housing complex is right around the corner; or that the neighborhood is just a few broken windows away from the next median strip mendicant — can a squeegee man be long to follow?
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