We live, we are so often told, in an information age. It is an era obsessed with space, time and speed, in which social media inculcates virtual lives that run parallel to our “real” lives and in which communications technologies collapse distances around the globe. Many of us struggle with the bombardment of information we receive and experience anxiety as a result of new media, which we feel threaten our relationships and “usual” modes of human interaction.Read More
South Florida is a beautiful, beach rich, year-round summer wonderland, that has a reputation for being occupied by senior citizens who are sixty-five and older. Now, while pursuing a change, local South Florida politicians are aiming to attract America’s young bright minds to the tip of the Floridian peninsula. The rise of the Wynwood Art Scene, Miami’s continuous Manhattanization, and a burgeoning tech-sector makes South Florida the fourth largest urban area in the U.S.
Anyone who Googles “Miami Skyline 2020” sees a cityscape that will soon rival Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco. Miami is already America’s fourth most popular AirBnB market and the Capitol of Latin America. So why does South Florida only see new young faces during spring break, and on the campuses of the University of Miami and Florida International University? Three reasons: jobs, real-estate, and transportation.
No matter how low taxes are or how cool the art scene, South Florida needs better quality jobs if it wants an influx of millennials. The Corporation for Enterprise Development ranks Florida among worst states for low-wage jobs. Furthermore, Indeed.com, U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Forbes Magazine all agree that Miami is one of the hardest cities to find a job and that most available jobs are pretty low quality. MIT has calculated Miami’s real living wage at $10.12 an hour which is notably higher than the current minimum wage of $7.33. Why do South Florida politicians try to attract younger Americans, yet do nothing to change these unappealing characteristics about the Magic City? Millennials are the generation with the largest student loans burden ever, so unless salaries go up millennials will likely take their talents elsewhere, just like LeBron James. Current salaries are only acceptable to begrudging young locals who still live with their parents.
The lack of millennial migration may be to blame for a new South Florida real estate bubble. With a scarcity of millennials who earn enough to make student loan payments and take out a mortgage to buy property, South Florida real estate is finding it more profitable to pitch their listings to wealthy Latin Americans and Northern Snow Birds looking to buy a second home. This is a limited market, meaning the fear of another 2007 real estate crash is in the back of the minds for South Florida realtors. One way to calm the bubble is helping more graduates buy their first home, and not just praying another Latin American country experiences enough civil unrest to scare their rich to the shores of Biscayne Bay.
Finally, the lack of public transportation is coming back to haunt the Miami-Dade County government. Millennials are appealed to cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C not just because of the job market (and each city has a very attractive high-paying job market for millennials) but millennials do not need a car to live there. If South Florida is going to offer low-quality jobs then provide a public transportation system that doesn't require the employed to make car loan payments, insurance payments, and gas payments on top of rent to get to work every day.
To be fair, the creation of the new MiamiCentral Station that will connect the Brightline, Tri-Rail, Metrorail, and Metromover is a huge step toward an interconnected South Florida. Even though applause is well deserved, the new public transit will be nowhere near as comprehensive as Washington or New York, and South Florida will continue to lose talent to these Northern cities.
With that said, the Capitol of Latin America doesn’t want to address the economic elephants in the room. The current South Florida market is very friendly to those living at home or coming from Latin America, but an anti-immigrant Congress threatens to change the demographic composition of the Tri-County area. This is especially true with Florida’s Republic Senator Marco Rubio submitting legislation to silently repeal Wet Foot, Dry Foot, legislation that allow Cubans to easily seek asylum in the U.S. South Florida is in no position to attract new talent, and will retain its title as the Capitol of second homes and senior citizens until something changes. Wynwood is cool and all guys, but so is Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Washington D.C’s Navy Yard.
Miami is America’s refugee city, and a movie showing that side of the 305 can change our national immigration conversation. Hollywood is America’s cultural capital and can easily dictate cultural opinions through pop music and what movies play in theaters. Filmmakers beautifully illustrate every side of Los Angeles and New York, but only focuses on Miami when they want something different.Read More
At dinner parties, when asked the inevitable ‘so what do you do?’, this sentencealways merits the same response. ‘Wow! That must be so challenging’. Now, it’s easy to get very preachy as a teacher. ‘Yes, the hours are long but the pay is poor’ I invariably quip back. A polite laugh is my reward. I tend to stop short of: ‘Yes I know, changing lives every day, at the coalface, the nation’s future really is in my hands’.Read More
Today, I really understood first-hand why International Women's Day is so important; how it can empower us to lift each other up and how it will remain important until equality is achieved for every woman and girl.Read More
Health Ministries of Latin American countries have recommended that women avoid pregnancy until 2018 due to the presumed prenatal consequences of Zika virus. This is despite a lack of sexual education in schools, limited contraceptive access, and strict abortion laws.Read More
Hello. You are no doubt reading this because you are a pig faced, hate inducing person who recoils to the safety of the internet when the fact you are a social leper finally sinks in to your alleged ‘brain’ at the end of a long hard day as an embarrassment and a failure.Read More
I used to love Australia Day. What an idiot.
Every year my friends and I, boom box on our shoulders, would go from house to house dressed in board shorts, singlets and pluggers variously emblazoned in the Australian Flag. We would sing, drink, barbecue, watch fireworks and drink some more. Any excuse to drink far too much with my friends really - and this excuse was delivered with a public holiday, a nationalistic fervour, and ads for lamb. I loved it - blissfully ignorant to why we did it all on January 26th, something to do with when the country started or something - who cares, can you turn the radio up?Read More
I sometimes wonder about the shock value of outrage as I scroll through my social media feeds. How many times a day can we feel outraged? How many times a day must we feel outraged? What is it doing to our human sensibilities?Read More
There is currently a push to encourage young people, girls in particular, to pursue STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. The subjects which, traditionally, are male-dominated, but that women are increasingly pursing and making notable contributions to.Read More
Who can actually be bothered to feign surprise when they hear about another mass shooting in America? We all know the drill. The number of victims will be added to the tens of thousands who have died in gun-related incidents across the United States in the last 12 months.Read More
Today the world is host to 60 million displaced people, more than at any time during World War II. Nearly a quarter of whom are fleeing the Syrian crisis alone.Read More
When the Roman Empire embarked upon its road building frenzy, one has to wonder whether they paid much attention to what the eventual road design would look like? A concern for military efficiency led to the road system being highly functional, full of straight lines, easily constructed and with surfaces that would sustain during severe weather. In those heady days, when roads were built to connect small military camps thirty kilometres (one day’s march) apart, the Romans constructed over 80,000 kilometres of roadway, a staggering achievement.
However, in nearly two millennia, it’s sometimes odd to think how little our road system has developed. The bitumen beneath us is still devoted entirely to function, with little regard to the appearance or aesthetic. Travel interstate in Australia on a red-eye flight and you will hear the difference in road surface before you see it. The kitsch cobblestones of inner-city Melbourne, the UV-cracked and hastily re-tarred arterials of metropolitan Perth, or the gliding sheen of the intense white highway slabs linking the Gold Coast and Brisbane, it seems that each road system has its own unique look, sound and feel.
It’s often the small things about urban design that are overlooked. While town planners and callback radio drone on about traffic interchanges and freeways flyovers, no one ever mentions what the texture of these surfaces might be like. Indeed, the most popular Google search for pavement patterns turns up a whole range of high school geometry problems, as if solving the dilemmas of tessellation were a topic only for fourteen-year-olds, and no one any older or more serious. But drive around and you will see that the road network is, in a very real way, the fabric of our communities. I often motor up towards the national park, where I know the stretch of road is worn thin, and the rattles of my small metal cage pretending to be a car become louder. The music is often overpowered by the vibrations that let you know you’re only a foot away from a surface that would scour your skin to a pulp if you happened to fall out. Motorbike riders know well the difference between sliding on a freshly tarred new road, compared to the cheese grater gravel that many roads eventually become. Safety isn’t just limited to the consequences when falling, however. Equally important is the possibility of aquaplaning across an impermeable new slick, versus dealing with the kick up of pebbles and rocks on a dusty dry unsealed stretch. Come Saturday morning in many parts of this wide brown land, any number of two-wheeled warriors will be pondering that exact question.
But more curious even that the surfaces which kiss the rubber off our tyres is the world beneath our feet in our inner cities. The renaissance of ‘walkable’ cities has led many to consider more fully how exactly two places should be connected – through grass, wooden promenade, concrete or the dreaded AstroTurf. The New York High Line project has shown the world how can work. Blending used railway tracks, thoughtful vegetation and silicon-coated concrete surfaces, the design statement details the care and thought behind this:
First the paving system, built from linear concrete planks with open joints, specially tapered edges and seams that permit intermingling of plant life with harder materials. Less a pathway and more a combed or furrowed landscape, this intermixing creates a textural effect of immersion, strolling within rather than feeling distanced from.
Strolling within rather than feeling distanced from? You can feel the haters mocking the sentiment already. But it is essential that more urban design thinks about the micro as part of their macro planning. Everyone enters a skyscraper from the ground floor after all. On a recent trip to Oxford the cobbles prevailed, a relic from the eighteenth century, or perhaps even earlier. Peering out at bizarre angles, they had been cemented in recently, making permanent the ridiculous road surface that happily destroys tires and suspension, and requires hiking boots simply to cross the road comfortably. The joke writes itself.
There are glimpses of the future every now and then. My coffee cup is a constant reminder of the tingle of progress in this area. When the ‘Solar Freaking Roadways’ craze was at its peak, my housemate looked deep into YouTube and liked what he saw. For only fifty dollars he received a hearty mug, and a non-stop torrent of derision from his mates. Solar roadways promise so much, but the fifty dollars is long gone. It will be years at least before this technology is cheap enough to implement on a wider scale. But perhaps it heralds the beginning of a more thoughtful discussion about what is the best way to cover the earth. If you really want to transform a city, simply look at the amount of asphalt that is devoted to cars and car parking, and try to imagine another substance or another use. Bitumen and concrete trap heat, consume large quantities of carbon in their production and are devastatingly ugly. Combined with the fact that most car parks are empty for at least half the day, surely there is a better way. The innovations of future cities will hopefully not come from building ever higher, but from rethinking the long accepted ideas that have simply been made from a short-term mindset about the cheapest possible option. The world beneath our feet is a good place to start.
Urban redevelopment and renewal seems to be the flavour of the month. Every capital city in Australia is busy remodelling its waterfront, revitalising ex-industrial areas or terraforming outlying residential areas in an effort to house the ever-expanding urban population. But as the nation continually bootstraps its urban design, let’s hope they pause long enough to peer downwards and look at the patterns in the concrete and remember the small things that make up a city.
The First World War (1914-18) broke out in Europe, but its impact was felt across the world.Read More
Seven months ago, when I quit my job, sold my car, gave up the lease on my apartment and took a one-way flight to the other side of the world I knew I wasn’t choosing the safe option. I had a good job. A beautiful apartment. A happy, familiar life.Read More