Summer is a great time to think – specifically in Oregon where August and September are typically the prime season and weather for outdoor activity, as well as conducive to the more cerebral… so what have I been doing? Well primarily watching the Beijing Olympics, working too much and too long, finishing a Fellowship application that (knock on wood) will lead to a good amount of travel related to green walls, preparing for a class that I am co-teaching in the fall at Portland State University – and generally enjoying summer. Thus a little lull in blogging. I have been keeping up with the other blogs entries – which seem to slow as well during summer (with some exceptions) – and will pick up again soon (or in September, post-Labor Day vacation) with some catchup!
:: Early Version of Olympic Forest Park – image via Garden Visit
The end of summer has also offered the opportunity for the less cerebral – going to some perennial favorite late summer activities – namely that of the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby. Half hipster hangout – half excuse to drink PBR in the park – it’s one of those anti-corporate Portland events that makes the city so unique and fun (read: the anti-flugtag) Below is not a shot from ’08, but a favorite from a few years back below – guess you can never escape the office:
:: Office Cubicle – image via Portland Ground
Another diversion this week was a trip up to Auburn, Washington (in the vicinity of Seattle) to go see the Radiohead show in support of the fabulous album In Rainbows. The verdict: show=amazing; venue=so/so; parking and traffic=hellish. We were back in the lawn and rain and it was still amazing – but the photos were a bit abstract – so I found a nice one of something up front – that showed the band and the eco-friendly LED lighting:
:: image via Flickr – atease
While Radiohead attempts to present tours with a green agenda, the location of the White River Amphitheater was dubious in many regards… namely being pretty much car only access. We parked in the free lot – and upon finishing the show at 11:30ish, didn’t actually leave the venue until 1:30 – so imagine if you will conservatively 5000 cars idling and creeping around in a concentrated space for about 2 hours – lets imagine . No wonder people were getting a little testy. Here’s the scene in a more serene photo.
:: image via Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce
The experience of collectively Flugtag, Soapbox Derby, and Radiohead made me start to think about the viability of large-events – both from a social and environmental perspective. I’m definitely a fan of live-music, but there is definitely as scale issue regarding what is acceptable to appreciate a concert or venue. A small bar is great – but how many of your favorite (undiscovered) bands will be found there? So in the age of mega-concerts, festivals with 100k people in attendance, or even a large-scale event in downtown (obama visit?, flugtag?) is it realistic within the fabric of our cities and outlying areas to accomodate – in a meaningful way. Throw in security issues – such as those faced in Beijing or upcoming in 2012 in London – in multiple venues in an international spotlight – and the logisitics become mind-boggling.
While the grand-scale issues of traffic can’t be solved simply at a venue like the White River Amphitheatre, the small-scale designs of parking, traffic, and overflow parking were abyssmal. This led to gridlock that was totally unnecessary and avoidable. As we inhabit, temporarily, these spaces for events – what role does design play in these processes… definitely something that fits into the transportation dynamics and evolutionary adaptation necessary from a Landscape Urbanist perspective… thoughts?