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Sarah Goodyear's Posts

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Erasing hate speech from public spaces [VIDEO]

This short video, "The Hate Destroyer," got my day off to a very good start. By filmmakers Vincenzo Caruso and Fabrizio Mario Lussu, it's about Irmela Mensah-Schramm, a 66-year-old woman in Germany who spends her days painting over hateful graffiti and removing stickers that promote neo-Nazism, racism, and homophobia. She describes how one day, she saw a Nazi sticker in a public place on her day to work and was "haunted" by it all day long. When she returned home 10 hours later, she scraped it off with her keys. "It was such a gratification, I can still feel it …

Read more: Cities

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Urban gardens: The harvest is not just food, it's community

Harlem's Carver Community Garden.Photo: Sarah GoodyearI emerged from the subway at 125th St. and Lexington Ave. into the most oppressive kind of urban summer scene. Heat billowed off the asphalt and concrete. Exhaust fumes stung my eyes and throat. Car engines roared. Horns blared. The sun beat down on the thronged sidewalk. It felt like I was being pressed into the pavement. Three blocks and a few minutes later, I was listening to the wind rustle in the leaves of tall trees and watching butterflies sport among squash blossoms in a carefully tended bed of vegetables. A breeze ruffled a …

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Building better cities so people can have better lives

"The city is where we humans create culture." So said Joan Clos i Matheu, executive director of UN-HABITAT, at an all-day Ford Foundation conference on "The Just City" yesterday. The room was packed with people who love cities and passionately believe in them. But the very theme of the day was an acknowledgement that the cities we live in today -- as vibrant and dynamic and creative as they may be -- fail us in many ways. Yes, they are the places where we create culture. But sometimes, that culture is exclusive, oppressive, and destructive, both to the environment and …

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Toronto women's shelter starts bike-sharing program

Photo: #2 Son/John A few years ago, in between journalism jobs, I worked at a domestic violence shelter, helping the women and children there navigate the transition to new and better lives. It was difficult work -- there are no simple solutions for women who find themselves in such shelters -- but every bit of freedom and self-confidence that they could get was a small triumph. When you're broke and scared and used to not being in charge of your own life, regaining autonomy is a step-by-step process. Sometimes it's as simple as being able to cook what you want …

Read more: Biking, Cities, Family

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Aerialist flies high above New York's Williamsburg Bridge [VIDEO]

It's been 37 years since Philippe Petit pulled off his high-wire act between the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan, an act of ethereal daredevilry that inspired the acclaimed documentary Man on Wire, as well as Colum McCann's novel Let the Great World Spin, which won the National Book Award in 2009. The performance that aerialist Seanna Sharpe gave on the Williamsburg Bridge last night is unlikely to achieve the iconic status of Petit's walk. But for 15 minutes, dozens of New Yorkers stood enthralled as she twirled and swooped above them. Sharpe and her accomplice were arrested when she descended, …

Read more: Cities, Infrastructure

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Why do cities drive us crazy?

Could neuroscience someday get to the root of what cities do to our brains -- and our mental health?Photo: Stuart HerbertScientists have been doing studies for years that show you are more likely to suffer from mental illness if you live in a city. What they haven't figured out is why. Now, researchers in Germany have conducted experiments that they believe might begin to get at the neuroscience behind the crazy-making nature of urban areas. Publishing in the journal Nature, a group led by Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the University of Heidelberg's Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, looked …

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Detroit, reborn as Bike City [VIDEO]

Wow. This video by Alex Gallegos about people riding bikes in Detroit is just beautiful. Folks of all ages coming together, building community, staying healthy, connecting with each other, making their city better and enjoying their lives -- all through the power of the bicycle. As one bike-shop owner points out, there aren't a lot of bike lanes in Detroit, but because the city is so underpopulated, there are a lot of car lanes that can be put to better use. My favorite part of the film may be the guy who lost 70 pounds and beat high blood pressure …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Is Los Angeles Metro throwing bus riders under the bus?

Is Los Angeles leaving its transit riders in the dust?Photo: Fred CaminoNo mode of transport in this country gets more disrespect than buses. Also low in the pecking order in this country? Women, immigrants, and domestic workers. So maybe it's no surprise that a Los Angeles bus line primarily used by women immigrant domestic workers is being cut by the city's transportation agency. A New York Times article by Jennifer Medina that ran over the holiday weekend (hardly journalistic prime time) told the story of the people who ride the 305 bus -- and who, come fall, will have to …

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When eyes on the street record what they see

Somebody's watching you.Photo: Rego KorosiThere's been a spate of videos showing New York area transit riders behaving badly lately. In one, two women get into a brawl on the subway after one tells the other to stop eating spaghetti (it's no longer available for viewing, but you can see a screengrab here). Another example making the rounds over the last couple of days shows a woman on a New York City bus berating the driver in very NSFW language for asking her to stop playing music on her cell phone. My favorite, though, is of this woman on a Metro-North …

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Crazy Europeans think people are more important than cars

In Zurich, trams and pedestrians take precedence over cars.Photo: iwouldstayThere's a fascinating piece in today's New York Times about the thinking and methodology behind some of Europe's most progressive transportation policies. It's got kind of an unfortunate headline: "Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Alternatives." (In the print edition, where the story had top billing on the front page, it was "Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy".) But let's put that aside for the moment. The Times piece catalogs the multiple disincentives to driving in European cities, including limits on parking, congestion pricing, restrictions on cars in center cities, …