Green Apple: an Eco-Friendly nyc?

НазваниеGreen Apple: an Eco-Friendly nyc?
Дата конвертации13.02.2013
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Green Apple: an Eco-Friendly NYC?

Advanced Reporting, Spring, 2010

Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

Wednesday, 1:20-5 p.m.

Prof. Thomas Lueck

Course Overview:

Its billionaire mayor has promised “the first environmentally sustainable 21st –century city.” Without any cues from City Hall, many New Yorkers are altering their lives to combat “Global Warming.” Is this real? You will take a hard look, be it on a bicycle in treacherous Manhattan traffic, digging into roof gardens, probing public records of energy consumption or turning a critical eye on any “eco-friendly” venture that peaks your interest. Think globally and act locally, but leave unchecked idealism at the door.

As a principal objective, students will produce a publishable 3,000-word story that beckons readers from beginning to end. Solid reporting and mastering narrative skills will be paramount. You will also produce several stories in audio, video and web formats. The class should appeal to students from varied backgrounds and majors. Politics, economics and business, social psychology, urban planning, architecture and the arts can all be central to the reporting calculus. A background in science would be great, but is not essential. International students are warmly welcomed.

Reading List:

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben (2007, Times Books, 250 pages)

PlaNYC , with updates in 2008 and 2009. This is the 2007 proposal by the Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for the “first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city.” More than 125 initiatives are described. The plan (165 pages) and updates are on line.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (2000, Little Brown, 304 pages)

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan (2008, Penguin, 240 pages)

Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics by Joyce Purnick (2009, PublicAffairs, 272 pages)

Ecocities: Building Cities in Balance with Nature by Richard Register (2001, Berkeley Hills Books)

Cities and the Creative Class by Richard Florida (2005, Routledge)

City: Rediscovering the Center by William H. Whyte (1988, Doubleday, 360 pages)

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and The Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro (1974, Knopf, 1336 pages)

An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore (2006, Rodale Press)


WEEK 1: Introduction, Syllabus, Readings.

What on earth is “sustainability?” Does it have a place in America’s largest, densest and most diverse megacity? We brainstorm ideas for class discussion, outings and hard-nose journalism: roof gardens, “free” bikes, web commerce, eco-fashion, incentive zoning, co-housing, “local” produce, “green” architecture, congestion pricing, rats and bed bugs, flea markets, telecommuting – the list goes on.

Assignment: Find an example of environmental waste on the NYU campus, or nearby. Post photos, video and interviews to the class. Go to magazine racks and search the web for a suitable place (or places) to publish stories and/or your final class project. Readings to come…


Week 2: Some background:

Gandhi to Al Gore. Thoreau to Bono. Global urbanization. The American flight from cities, and a selective renaissance. Urban icons of the Green Movement: the bikes of Portland, the gardens of Havana, the buses of Curitiba.

Work the web: there are reams of data, good, bad and ridiculous. What is a “carbon footprint?”A “sustainability index?” Find sources. How do the US, NYC and NYU fare against the world? Why?

In-class exercise: More brain storming for story ideas. Pick a partner and plan a “NYC eco-adventure.”

Readings: PlaNYC, 2007, with updates in 2008 and 2009. Understand all 127 “green initiatives.” Other readings on the legacy of Robert Moses, and selections from urban analysts William Whyte and Richard Florida.

Due: magazine or web choices, three quick story ideas to be pitched verbally in class.

Outside assignment: join partner on “eco-adventure.” Post photos, video, interviews comment to the class blog.


Week 3: The decline and rebirth of NYC.

The post-industrial “creative economy.” Mass transit, zoning and housing patterns: looking at past mistakes. How do consumer goods get here, and where does your trash actually end up?

Research the web: What happened to PlaNYC? Find successes, failures, remaining barriers and unfulfilled promises. Explain. The collision of politics, economics and culture.

Readings: selected work on NYC government; possibly Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power Politics by Joyce Purnick (2009, PublicAffairs, 272 pages).

Due: Your concentration. Pitch two focused ideas for final project.


Week 4: The politics of Green.

Overlapping city, state and regional bureaucracies make NYC one of the most complicated urban constructs on earth. How does this affect the urban environment?

Assignment: Check Associated Press “Daybook” each morning for a public meeting of your choice, preferably related to “Green.” Attend, write “hard news” story.

Reading: The Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibben (2007, Times Books, 250 pages)

Due: Media and web research report on your two final project ideas.


Week 5: The economics of Green.

A hard look at consumer habits, government subsidies and the high price of “sustainability.” Gaps by neighborhood and income level: big box vs. bodegas, renters vs. owners, proximity to mass transit.

Assignment: With a partner, go to a green market, flea market or urban garden (rooftop or street level). Interview vendors and participants. Post photos, video and report to web.

Reading: The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell (2000, Little Brown, 304 pages.).


Week 6: The culture of Green.

Deeply embedded conflicts in the NYC cultural landscape. Why do suburbanites resist “congestion pricing?” That’s easy. What’s wrong with planting mollusks in scour pollution in Jamaica Bay? (A hint – people eat mollusks.)


Week 7: Health.

A look at NYC’s aggressive public health regulation, from bans on smoking and trans-fat cooking to the public display of “calorie counts.” How do you regulate indoor noise levels? (They are trying! Watch out party goers!)


Week 8: So, why not?

We consider the reaction of civil libertarians, small business people and advocates of free speech. As journalists, this is critical. “Keep out of my kitchen, and get that stupid Pedicab away from my SUV!”

Readings: to come.


Week 9: The Media.

A hard look at how environmental issues, large and small, are covered. PlaNYC got huge play when it was announced in 2007: what about since then? Is this science news, urban affairs or better suited for light features? TV vs. Print vs. The Web – who gets it best?

Reading: In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollan (2008, Penguin, 240 pages)


Week 10: Food.

A call to arms of the Green Movement. What is actually in those cans and packages? Where does it come from? And why does it matter? Does it make sense – environmentally, economically, socially – to seek out “locally produced” food in NYC?

Assignment: Visit a city green market, record sights and sounds, interview vendors and customers, post to web. Where exactly was that produce grown? And how much gas did that truck burn to get it here? Compare prices at these markets to 1) a major food chain, and 2) a small “Mom and Pop.”


Week 9: The Air.

Carbon emissions and other air pollution are critical urban problems. But technology -- catalytic converters, smoke stack scrubbers, etc. – have made a major dent, so why worry? A look at the fallout, and what is being done now.

*************************************************************************************Week 10: The Street.

Traffic control, of vehicles and pedestrians, are critical to NYC. The role of congestion fees, bike lanes and pedestrian malls. London’s experiment. The prevalence of bikes and scooters across Europe and Asia, and their mini-invasion of NYC. Safety vs. Green.

Readings: more from the urban analysts, including Whyte, Florida. Research from Regional Plan Association, Municipal Arts Society, etc.


Week 11: What we build, and where.

NYC and its suburbs (17 million people and growing) are a vast incubator for urban planning and architecture, good, bad and simply nonexistent. We take a quick look, past and present. The flight to distant suburbs. The “hub and spoke” principle of public transit and housing. Green architecture and zoning. White roofs, etc.


Week 12: Trash.

This is huge. Where does it go? How do we produce less, and does anybody really care? NYC has 1) ion voracious consumers 2) highrise architecture, where trash disposal is no a simple matter 3) no landfills (they closed the last one). Rats love it (forget those plastic garbage bags).


Weeks 13 and 14: Your ideas.

These two weeks will be given over to subjects that each member of the class will, at some earlier point in the semester, propose. Based on your own experience, reading and reporting, each will lead a discussion. No subject related to urban ecology is off limits. But think critically: every issue – like every worthwhile piece of journalism -- has more than one dimension.


Week 15: That’s all, folks.

Final story due. Final exam.


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