Saturday, January 30, 2010


SPRING 2010 ENVMT 11 CODE: 24505 3 UNITS

Tuesdays: 6:30-9:30pm, 1/26 – 3/23;
Saturdays: 10:00am-4:00pm, 1/30, 2/6, 2/27, 3/20;
Sunday: 10:00am-4:00pm, 3/7
Location: The Environmental Center, Self-Reliant House (SRH), Merritt College Campus. Instructors: Robin Freeman MA,, 510-434-3840, 510-915-1452 cell David Ralston Phd,

Description: This is a nine-week intensive practicum course, meeting once a week with four additional weekend day-long field research sessions. The course will introduce students to current issues and prospects for incorporating sustainability within urban and regional planning. Specific case studies will investigate “Connecting the Dots” in the Oakland/East Bay “Green Corridor” region (e.g., green industry/job-shed; neighborhood centers; open space; watershed; transit; wildlife; cultural art and other points of connection). In the course, students will gain a background in the key concepts, debates, history, legal/regulatory framework, strategic approaches, and terminology associated with the US planning profession.. Students will become familiarized with various skill-sets utilized within the planning profession including geographic-based mapping; site data assessment methods; reading/interpreting maps and General Plans; and strategies for neighborhood-scale bottom up urban planning as a means for achieving sustainability. .

Course requirements: Urban and Regional Planning may be taken for a letter grade or Credit/No Credit . It must be taken for a letter grade for a Certificate or Degree. For Credit, 75% attendance and participation is required. For a letter grade, minimum 75% attendance, class participation, assignments and a Final Project are required. You will evaluate the course and suggest a grade for yourself. This course satisfies requirements in several ENVMT majors.

Primary Text: Sustainable Oakland by Durst ($12, order in class).

Tues January 1/26 – Introductions, Course Overview, Community Meeting Prep; Where Cities Come From/ LINCS Research from the Brower Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies
– Freeman, Ralston
Where cities are headed. Planning in the Public Domain: From Theory to Implementation. Preview of some key efforts – the context for connecting dots. Exercise: Mapping Oakland

[Course Assignments: Read Forward, chapters 1-3 in Durst (Pending arrival of books); Connecting the Dots, Smith; Optional Readings: American City Planning, APA Press; Mumford, The City in History, City Reader. You may choose a classic in the planning literature (see Bibliography) and give a brief synopsis and an annotation for our bibliography.
Neighborhood assets, problems, goals - 1. Make a brief list of what you like about a neighborhood where you live, work, or otherwise use; also list what you like least. 2. Briefly list goals you would envision for that same neighborhood.

Saturday 1/30 10:00 am SRH Community Meeting Green Workforce Development meeting set up at ASMC Conference Room in the R-Building for the 11:00 am meeting with the High School students from the GWD You will help with identifying neighborhood assets and problems in breakout sessions with them, recording them and locating them on maps., lunch, tour campus/city overview, meeting de-brief mapping

Neighborhood Assets/Problems list #1 due.
Read: Durst, Chapter 4

Tuesday 2/2 Meeting Review in class discussion
Critical Sustainability and Planning; Resiliency and the Ecological Footprint
Durst Sustainable Oakland Chapters 5 and 7

Saturday 2/6, Scoping and site visits: Coliseum Redevelopment. area, North Richmond Shoreline
Read: Durst, Appendices
Due: Neighborhood goals list #2

Final project: This is either a written report or a hands-on activity, or both. Choose a project or site from the course and propose how you will either work directly on that area, or how you will research or analyze some aspect of one of the study sites from the point of view of neighborhood scale sustainable planning. In your research assess what will local and global impact be of the project; address issues of inclusiveness; gentrification/displacement, effect on local assets and surrounding neighborhoods, jobs. Set-up your own indicators in assessing the potential of the project. List stakeholders/ agencies/ CBO’s associated with the project (including local residents and a city planner/county planner, elected officials)These are due March 16th, the second to last meeting of the class and are a major part of the course grade. Students will make a presentation to the class on the project at the last class meeting.

Tuesday 2/9-Planning through History - Ralston
• Legal and Regulatory Basis of Planning in U.S.
• The Cumulative Planned City (De-constructing the layers)
• Structure of Oakland’s Planning Office (Politics and Planning)

Introduction of Connecting the Dots and small scale interventions in the Oakland/East Bay Region – Freeman

Tuesday 2/16 – Background on Planning Practice and Tools - Ralston
Tools for Planners: Land-use Mapping, Site Assessment (Spatial and Place-Based). GIS exercises
Project-Based Planning: CEQA and the EIR process, zoning, design review

Tuesday 2/23–Neighborhood Case Studies: Problems, Solutions, Effectiveness; Planning a discussion panel - Ralston
Neighborhood-Based Planning and the Neighborhood Scale
Invited speakers

Saturday 2/27 Coliseum Redev. area survey, and/or:
Presentation for East Bay Regional Park District planning
APA Panel preparation

Tuesday 3/2 – Current Corridor Case Studies: Problems, Solutions, Effectiveness - Freeman
• Hands on planning in class
Due: Book annotations and brief report in class

Sunday 3/7 TBD APA/City/ Climate action planning/resilience/re-villaging Presentation for East Bay Regional Park District
(Option: Change to a weeday lunch?)

Tuesday 3/9 – Case Studies Comprehensive Neighborhood Based Urban Plans and Policies – Freeman and Ralston

Tuesday 3/16 Utopias, Distopias and Trends; Creating the Future
Final project draft due

Saturday 3/20
APA/City/ Climate action planning/resilience/re-villaging Presentation to EBRPD as arranged by the class

Tues 3/23 – Student Project Presentations – Freeman and Ralston
 Student Presentations (5-10 minutes each)
 Course wrap-up.

Handbook (optional): Blueprint for a Sustainable Bay Area, Urban Ecology Inc., 1966 ($15, 414 13th St. Suite 500, between Franklin and Broadway, Oakland 251-6330)

Suggested Readings:
Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Anything by Louis Mumford – e.g., The City in History
Illich, Ivan. H20 and the waters of Forgetfulness
Hawkins, Paul. The Ecology of Commerce, and other works
Brechin, Gray. Imperial San Francisco
Taylor, Shelley. The Tending Instinct
Urban Habitat publications including Race, Poverty, and the Environment, Pacific Institute Project Reports (both of these organizations are in Oakland)
McHarg, Ian. Design with Nature
Garreau, Joel. Edge City: Life on the New Frontier
Mugerauer. Dwelling, Place and Environment;
Alexander, Pattern language
Buttimer, A. Dynamics of the Lifeworld
Hough, Nature in the City?
Beatley, T. Sustainable Planning


Spring ‘10 SYLLABUS
Environmental Center, Self Reliant House

Recommended texts (not required): The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers. Island Press; and What Color is Your Parachute?, 10 Speed Press

Course Requirements:
Environmental Careers is a required core course for Environmental Studies majors. It may be taken for 1) a letter grade (required of majors or for transfer grade point average), 2) for Credit (no grade, gives transfer elective units), or
3) No Credit (does not affect transcript). For those taking a letter grade, you will participate in grading yourself.

1) Course attendance, 2) a minimum of 4 hours volunteer work for any environment related organization or firm, 3) an Informational Interview or Research Report on an environmental career are required for a letter grade. There will be brief evaluations of the interview and volunteer/intern projects (see due dates). An Environmental Career Portfolio will be developed during the course.

Your volunteer work can be for the Environmental Program at Merritt or at a location of your choosing which willing to have you for a short period of time.
Some organizations would rather have you for at least a full day. Of course, you are welcome to put in more than four hours. You should choose work that is interesting to you and fits into your career development. There will be listings available in class or on line, the Ecology Center on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley and numerous government agencies.

Learning Outcomes: You will be able to research and survey environmental job or entrepreneurial opportunities, prioritize your choices and make and execute a plan to work in that career pathway.

Jan 25, 6:30-9:20 pm - Introduction to the course, Class Introduction Interviews
Feb 1, 6:30-9:20 pm - Preference Profiles, Environ. Careers Slide presentation
Feb 7 - Sunday, 10am – 4pm Bring bag lunch, 5 Year Plan, Strategy A and B,
Resume, History of Work,. To accommodate religious services, you may attend the afternoon only.
Break time for Interviews and Mini-internship
March 1, 6:30-9:20pm Reports on interviews/internships due, discussion/task,
March 8, 6:30-9:20pm Reports continued, discussion, evaluation.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Connecting the Dots: Merritt College Environmental Program Hosts Community Forum for Environmental Activists in Oakland CA.

Photo by Jennifer Jordan-Wong

Connecting the Dots: Merritt College Environmental Program Hosts Community Forum for Environmental Activists in Oakland CA.
Phoenix Smith Thu, 10 Dec at 5:44pm

Merritt College Ecology Center, home of this cool event
During a time in which Oakland was listed as the third most violent city in the United States, an eclectic blend of goodness gathered at Merritt College last month to create a community of possibilities in Oakland, filled with opportunities for solutions and co-creation. Nestled among the Oaks and Monterey Pine trees at the back of the Merritt College parking lot and overlooking the hills in Oakland, lies an inconspicuous house. As you walk along the path leading to the Self Reliant house you might forget that you are on a college campus. You’ve stepped into a project that is a work in progress. The Self Reliant House home to the David Brower, Ronald Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies and Environmental Management and Technology Program at Merritt College is the meeting place of students and community members and a living lab of green and ecologically sustainable building materials. Oakland is the home of dozens of organizations, non-profits, and governmental entities addressing environmental issues including food justice, climate action, gardening, and water justice. These concerns often compete for publicity, grants, and an audience, and rarely come together to share a big pot of soup, engage in arts and crafts and tell their stories. But on a beautiful day in November, Robin Freeman, Chair of Merritt College Environmental Management and Technology program, City Planner David Ralston and their students hosted a forum bringing some of these groups together to do just that. Connecting the Dots in Oakland was a conversation, between individuals, organizations and communities working to grow and preserve Oakland’s green heritage by sharing their stories and imagining how to initiate greater connection with others to create a community of renewed possibilities in Oakland. Luisah Teish, acclaimed author, griot, and ecospiritualist, set the stage by leading the group in a visualization that connected people to the depths of the earth and to the stars above. Her open visualization reminded us that we, as humans share a destiny with all that exists, the animals, the rocks, the water, the sky and the trees. The intergenerational, culturally diverse forum consisted of youth workers in the Oakland Green Jobs program, environmental students at Merritt College, and a representative from a local neighborhood creek organization, city planners, eco-spiritual activists of Ile Orunmila Oshun, DIG Cooperative, the East Oakland Boxing Association, East Bay Greenway members, and green entrepreneurs. This gathering not only sought to connect organizations and individuals but was also designed to honor the connection between one’s head and one’s heart through shared activities such as planting seeds, making paper and cooking and sharing a meal together. The panelists on the afternoon roundtable included Don Neuwrith of Urban Ecology, Ingrid Severson of DIG and members of East Oakland Boxing Association, Jane Wardani Community Green space planner and youth workers from Oakland Green Jobs, Oakland City Planner David Ralston, Luisah Teish, Eco-Spiritual activist, and Diony Gamoso of Friends of Peralta Creek Don Neuwrith of Urban Ecology shared how listening to the community when planning new projects can lead the work into unexpected directions. “We convened hundreds of community meetings to find out what the community needed in East Oakland to support open space. Parents told us that unlike other neighborhoods in the East Bay their children do not have safe places to be outside.” The lack of safe, green open space in the neighborhood prevented children and community members from spending quality time outdoors. To address the lack of open space, Urban Ecology targeted health issues such as childhood obesity and subsequently received funding to begin the East Bay Greenway. The East Bay Greenway will build multi-use trails connecting neighborhoods, schools and public transit among the region's diverse, low-income communities. These trails will create safe and accessible places to be active as well as address childhood obesity and asthma. DIG and East Oakland Boxing association shared how despite the recent murder of one of their youth workers; they were committed to serving youth from various neighborhoods in East Oakland through boxing, cooking, gardening and water harvesting. David Ralston, Oakland city planner, shared the successes and challenges to creating green and open space for youth in Oakland. Diony Gamoso of Friends of Peralta Creek offered his ten year vision of engaging Ohlone storytellers to illuminate the history of the creeks and the land in his Laurel neighborhood. The synergy of the day inspired many participants to comment that Oakland is such a gem and one participant even pointed out that “This was the first forum I’ve attended where everyone was on the same page of wanting to connect more with each other and to share resources and ideas ”. As folks mingled outside during breaks to create paper, gather herb pots and eat the collective soup of goodness a spark was created rooted in connection to each other and to a shared narrative of hope and new possibilities for Oakland. One flame born from the spark of this meeting and created by two Merritt College students and green entrepreneurs Leslie Cleaver and Nikki Woulk, is Oakland Commons a soon to be launched local online reference and resource guide for all of the great green happenings in Oakland.
The plan is to hold more forums designed in a similar fashion but to extend the invite to artists, spiritual organizations, more neighborhood groups and others interested in continuing the conversation. Freeman and Ralston will continue the discussion in the spring semester with Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning at Merritt’s Environmental program, About Phoenix Smith

Phoenix Smith's blog
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