March 9, 2007

Questioning perceived goods

Knolls. Engaging streetscapes. Sustainability. Despite generally good public opinion about these ideas, challenges to and misgivings about these goods have been reported in recent local news. For example, today's Berkeley Daily Planet features two articles; one, problematizing the lack of public oversight for Sustainable Berkeley, a local collaborative of public and private individuals and organizations whose mission is to ameliorate the effects of global warming. The second mocks Rebar's proposed installation at the old UC printing plant. The Rebar projects are described as "in the aesthetic ether somewhere between Hollywood 'high concept' and sixties-era Happenings" (Richard Brenneman, 3). Through its interventions, the Rebar group hopes to "alter the self-awareness of people passing by" the printing plant (Whelan, 3). Even nature - or what has been considered natural - has been challenged. Oakland's deputy planning director, Gary Patton, defended changes to the Oak Knoll subdivision development plan, by arguing that the knoll on which 32 homes will be sited is unnnatural: "the ridge is actually above that property. That dirt was mounded there when they built Keller [Avenue]" (Oakland Tribune, 28 February 2007).

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