Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Full Circle - Manhattan to Ljubljana and back again!

New York has kept me wildly busy, more busy than I could have ever imagined. I wear many different hats working with many different organizations, but one of the jobs I recently took on is as contributing Blogger for Slovenian - American startup Zemanta. Last week posted my first piece; it is an interview I did with my boss, Tin Dizdarevic. Incidentally, Tin, who was born and grew up in Slovenia and Serbia until he was a teenager, first met me when he was visiting family in Slovenia last year, and the reason he knew of me is because of this very blog. Full circle, huh?

Click the pic above to read the interview!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why don't more people live in liveable cities?

Great piece from a blog "about the liberal arts 2.0"..

I brought up a similar point in a piece I wrote last year.

image by Andreja Brulc

Why Don't More People Live in Livable Cities?

Those lists of most liveable cities...why don't any of the vibrant big cities of the world ever make the list? Because the lists don't take into account many important reasons why people choose to live in a certain place.

I spoke to Joel Kotkin, a professor of urban development, and asked him about these surveys. "I've been to Copenhagen," (Monocle's Number 2) he tells me "and it's cute. But frankly, on the second day, I was wondering what to do." So, if the results aren't to his liking, what does he suggest? "We need to ask, what makes a city great? If your idea of a great city is restful, orderly, clean, then that's fine. You can go live in a gated community. These kinds of cities are what is called 'productive resorts'. Descartes, writing about 17th-century Amsterdam, said that a great city should be 'an inventory of the possible'. I like that description."

Joel Garreau, the US urban academic and author, agrees. "These lists are journalistic catnip. Fun to read and look at the pictures but I find the liveable cities lists intellectually on a par with People magazine's 'sexiest people' lists."

Ricky Burdett, who founded the London School of Economics' Cities Programme, says: "These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don't know everyone and you don't always know what's going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd.

"We also have to acknowledge that these cities that come top of the polls also don't have any poor people," he adds. And that, it seems to me, touches on the big issue. Richard G Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's hugely influential book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better (2009) seems to present an obvious truth -- that places where the differential in income between the wealthiest and the poorest is smallest tend to engender a sense of satisfaction and well-being. But while it may be socially desirable, that kind of comfort doesn't necessarily make for vibrancy or dynamism. If everybody is where they want to be, no one is going anywhere.

(via stellar and many emails)

Update: That Decartes quote above? He never said it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Brainy, Bigmouthed, and the Brooklyn Bridge

Church of St. Cyril - 62 St. Marks Place, New York, NY
St. Cyril Slovenian church in NYC's East Village

Noticing a lag in this blog, the Powers That Be have elected to send me on long-term assignment to perhaps the most exciting city in the world -- NYC. I will try to keep you posted as to any of my experiences, things I read about, and goings-on that pertain to race, culture, Slovenians and/or other Slavs here, at home, and abroad.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meanwhile elsewhere in Slavland...#3

a view on the way to Prague Castle - 2009

While you're waiting for this blog to maybe one day come back to life, I strongly suggest you turn your attention to my fellow African-American sister in Slavland, Ms. Tinu a.k.a. Black Girl in Prague, who has just done something I've been DYING to do for ages...she started a podcast! Her first interview is with Prague-based American expat jazz singer Lee Davison and is sharp, smart, and funny. Just like her*!

Don't just sit there, click over!

*She's also a gorgeous girl, so y'all gotta start sending around the petition for her to add a v-cast component ;)