Structure/Detail Highlights – Paris

I just love finding interesting stuff out on the trail.

In a city, someone’s little story. Some conversation with a client. Some engineering trick or challenge. Something done to augment the thing.

Here I found a picture of the making of the train system which goes along the edge of the Seine. I can’t recall the train line but here it was, being built by hand!

This is the ceiling of the Gare du Nord. I though: not super special. But it was functional. Later, I heard that the French regard it as “the absolute worst!”

 

Not just looking up: these were the bags of removed ancient masonry from a church renovation project near Les Halles. I wonder what the equation is of amount of removed stuff per unit replaced, or if there is a curve of amount removed over time…does it get treated like some special type of waste, a controlled substance? Can it be re-used? Does it have vintages in the back lots of materials and waste handles of Grand Paris?…

This is at the Jardin des Plantes. A new part of an old glasshouse.

This is at the top of the Jardin des Plantes. Neat little spot.

Here is a door in Paris at a house where a famous woman philosopher/mathematician, Sofie Germain, died in 1831. She was 55.

Here is a whole bunch of nice doors…

And this was looking straight up at the entrance of a little church. Well, huge in most places but modest in Paris…I love ceilings.

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Vert en Paris

While visiting a beautiful place in June, this time Paris, I can’t help but notice the ebullient and leafy plant denizens accentuating the structure.

I hope you enjoy this photolog!

Grey

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Viola, the accént:

At the entrance to the Jardin des Plantes (like an arboretum) de Paris. Huge oak of some kind flying over the street here.

Big on ivy, a great accent to a tudor-style building. What is “tudor-style” in French? “Style Tudor!” – this is one time I believe an english term has gone to french to describe something about style or architecture.

Okay, so this is heavy on structure especially cast iron components, but still: trees and ivy!

This was the biggest wisteria I had ever seen going up about four-five stories…

It was near mid-day and the sun came through the canopy to find these little ones reaching for the light, just like in any (urban) jungle!

The thing here was the observatory dome, but I also note the pollarding in the upper left and who knows what-else for arboricultural practices elsewhere. Pollarding is hard trimming of a tree so it has a few solid branches and lots of seasonal small growth from the ends that are cut. It’s super common in France (and Europe) but not so much in the States.

This was a great “green wall” that I found along the Rue de Poissoniere (or near there) from the Gare Nord heading to the river. The sign said there were hundreds of species, thousands of plants.

Contrast.

Competition.

Neighbors.

Vert. C’est bon!

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A Day in Caen (w/ the evening too)

Normandie is a delightful part of the earth. I enjoyed getting to know this territory. Especially with my hosts Yoann and Emilie driving me around – always better w/ a guide.

The base of our operations was Caen (pronounced the same exact way as the word “quand”) (like a very curtailed “kon”) (actually pretty simple like the word “en” with a “k” in front) (I somehow had a hard time recircuiting)

Caen is a very cool little city of about 400,000 – a regional center. Very old. William the Conquerer’s castle is here. It’s huge! It has a canal to the sea (La Manche/English Channel) about 10km long. I has tons of churches. Lots of little squares. Perhaps not hipster city but perhaps one of those places you want to get involved with.

I have to admit one of my more entertaining aspects was not photographed, our Saturday night outing to El Camino, but…more on that later.

Here is the album of photos.

We had arrived on a Friday evening late, and then Saturday was mostly Grey & Yoann running around to see some sights (see elsewhere here). Saturday afternoon became a visit to Emilie’s grandfather’s place (another story), and that evening became dinner out on the town. It was like three or four days all together.

So let me share some of the pics from that evening and then the next day, on Sunday, when Yoann and Grey went into the center of this wonderful town and explored the market and the chateau.

Here are my wonderful hosts: Yoann, Emilie & Louise!

That was right after dinner at the creperie in the I think it was la Rue des Vaugeaux.

This is some little cafe I snapped that I thought was cool. There were tons of them.

We took a little drive throughout the town…this is an old abbey or monastery that was lit up for a cancer walk-a-thon that had occurred during the day. Tons of people in fuscia. I mean pink.

 

Then a bit at Emilie’s house where her parent treated us to a big Sunday feast. Very relaxing.

Louise is a total ham (and sweetheart). This was while picking the amazingly abundant cherries at the neighbor’s house there on the little cul-de-sac.

On the Sunday, we went into the market. It was a HUGE market. Thousands of people. Hundreds of vendors of all things imaginable.

View from the big castle looking into town:

While up there, looked down over the wall to see this. Already posted to Instagram, I was very amused. The person on the bench turned out not to be some kind of bum but a little old lady just having a rest from shopping!

Nice gate into the castle:

And this is the new section of town, closer to the train station, and the canal obviously. Only about a ten minute walk from the old tower at the base of the big fort. Seems like a great scale for a city…hmmm…Grey is thinking about Civekos of course…

I look forward to returning to Caen in the future!

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Paris: Structure not Sights

I’m in Paris.

PARIS

It’s beautiful. But Why?

It is kinda old-fashioned-ish…

There are a lot of stories about the architects, the designers, the capacity of a city to command the economic production of a huge territory, the ability to exploit workers globally, and to preserve components in a particular way. That is a lot of stuff to read and write about, which I won’t belabor here.

I was just walking around.

I was taking snapshots with my phone. In a certain way, this city is frozen in time, in the mid-nineteenth century. A pre-industrial setting. At least a pre-modern setting. Components of buildings, infrastructure, the physical plan of the place, are visible. In an almost steampunk way, the guts of the stuff are visible. Maybe not too much, but enough to imagine more.

And ornamentation – perhaps the opposite of structure. Perhaps here, ornamentation that celebrates structure is what I’m noticing. Patterns that give texture to structure.

Texture that is taste-able. Tasteful to someone like me. A gustatory city, certainly.

I like structure. So I will share this huge album of pictures with you, and you can also see a few select shots here.

A classic from a major attraction; this is at the entrance to the Cafe Marley if you can find that.

This is one of the first shots I took in Paris. I was psyched. Did you ever read the book about the talking dogs that create prosthetic hands? Takes place in northern Alberta or something? This reminded me of that.

This is that Haussman stuff (wait, I don’t know that…I made that up…)

When I got to Paris I was able to continue my love affair with ceilings.

In the Jardin Luxembourg is a circular building!

Here we find a little new-meets-old!

Okay, I wanted there to be a basic vista shot of nothing special but tres Paris…

Oh – I spoke too soon. This is the “Tres Paris” pic!

And more of the same. You were supposed to see this one first and guess! Lots of likes on instagram for this puppy!

And here is just a great back-window shot.

Same place, front-window shot.

Walking through the 6th or 7th, I always spot the living things – this was a wild drapery of vine and fern. But then actually, I caught an action shot. Moments before, the women with yellow leggings had kicked the table in some way that everything flew off and crashed on the street. And now, what to do…

The underside of one of the…

Okay, so this is not who it looks like. She led a revolution in medical science…

Just another afternoon in the 6ème…

Oui, numero UN!

This was near St. Michaels fountain. I just liked it.

Another…

C’est ça! Merci!

 

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A Glorious Day on the North Downs Way

Just fantastic. Fabulous. And somewhat furious at the end – running to catch a train!

But all good. Indeed, taking a train to one end of a trail, hiking for 9 hours, and picking up another train was delightful.

More importantly was the company. David has been my friend since we first crossed paths on the stage at the Goodenough College Dramatic Society. I believe it was Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard.

John is a friend of his who I met in October on a hike in Arnside – at David & Liz’s wedding. We managed to not die in the wash there, so it was good to join up for another adventure this time, closer to the Metropolis.

We took a trail that has been traversed for hundreds if not thousands of years, crossing the countryside just south of London, on the ridge of hills known as the North downs. We started in Marstham and wound up in Shoreham, about 21 miles.

Incredible countryside. You could have been hours from London, but here we were – peering through some hedges at the Shard and Gherkin and the rest, in the distance.

Through field and forest, along scramble and along road, we put on the miles and put on the step-totals. And I must say I’m sore on this day after. Last evening was rough going up stairs!

But the day was a fine fine time. Here are some pictures.

We also went through woodsy areas and found some cool artefacts, like this trampoline!

Here was the tail end of a rape crop (canola oil). The plants were about chest-high.

David was having a great time:

What did this mean? Flour. Apparently. Quite curious.

Mystery notwithstanding, we carried on.

Can we get more gorgeous?

Here is maize (corn) in the chalk soil of the area. Very cool to see. This was the only one field of maize we found.

And here a real ruin to decorate the scene…

Fresh in a massive hillside field of wheat. It was dizzying. I was loving it!

We took a break at 1:30 for lunch at Botey or Botsley Hill – a tavern from the 16th century. Once owned by John Gresham a Sheriff of London. Now a trust of 1800 acres and a working farm. Great food and a couple of drinks.

Onward!

Here’s the Titsey Farm surrounding the pub:

We met a few sheep along the way.

More of the territory: barley on the right, pasture on the left. Probably not currently grazed but that was the history of the slope I’m sure.

And close-up of the barley. Amazingly beautiful:

Here’s some wheat. It was the most common crop we saw.

It was getting on, and David had made some calculations. We would need to speed up. Maybe take a shortcut along a road. The ladies, and the babies, were waiting. So we picked up the pace!

Here are the lads at the end of the day. Almost didn’t get this shot in – David’s phone was saying we were .3 miles and 7 minutes from the train station. Bottoms up! And we ran onward.

We did make it. Caught the convenient conveyance back to the city. Whew!

I never tire of the British countryside. Thank you!

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Dossier Complete!

Woah, that’s a large screenshot from my phone!

But the news is news: all my materials are in. Nothing is stopping me from enrolling starting in July.

LSE was the final piece of paper on the stack – they were able to dig up my old transcript and put it on a steamer straight to New England. There has been a lot of construction over there on Aldwych at the School, so I’m feeling good that they were able to find the file. Thank you LSE.

While I’m thinking of it, I will note that I’m a little bit sad that I’m not going to become a “Double Beaver” (that would be an LSE Beaver (already) and an MIT Beaver (but maybe I’ll take a class there at the CRE).

I guess I can be happy being a Crimson Beaver!

Woo Hoo!

This sure is a nice thing to hear. Makes all the traffic on the WhatsApp a little more tolerable. But that is another story!

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Getting to South Kinsman (the short way!)

Not being the best of days for a hike, but being an important step in the season: the FIRST HIKE!

Yay to Shawn, Laur and Ryan for being up for it!

Here is the album of photos, and here are some prime shots. This was about a 12-14mi hike which might be about 6h in the summer, but was more like 8-8.5h due to the trail conditions…Really a great loop. Even stopped at Lonesome Lake on the way back which is always enjoyable.

We went up from The Basin, along I-93 just past the Franconia Notch visitor center. It’s a small lot on the east side of the highway, with an underpass for hikers to get to the Kinsman side. There must be, but I’m not sure, of a trail from the lot up to the Lafayette Ridge…

We hiked the Cascade Trail – along this great flow of water, for about the first hour and a half. Very cool to check out the flow. Really a great feature to hike along past. I really enjoyed finding a new trail, one so enjoyable. It would eventually come to the south end of the Kinsman Pond. Over some crazy snow causeways.

But first some more cascades. Seriously neat stuff!

Aww, how cute!

But wait, there was something else going on: the Post Holing. Look at this deep one!

Shawn was pretty annoyed by the dramatic crashing-through of the causeway hiking. So he took matters into his own hands and MacGyvered some snowshoes out of pine (spruce) boughs and his micro-spikes. They worked for a little while…

And with perseverance, we arrived at the wonderful Kinsman Pond. What a beautiful spot. We had lunch on a rock on the water. It was so cute and cozy, all four of us piled up on the edge. Thank you to Ryan for the flasked provisions. Perfect after the frustration of post-hole dynamics.

Just above the Pond, about a 45m trek right up, is the near-summit of North Kinsman – this is the outcropping of view. So good. I’ve been here a few times. It is a real classic. There’s the pond in the lower right. Do you recognize it?

Then onward the next 45min or so to South Kinsman. What a lovely spot.

You may have seen my “Mountaintop Boogie” gif – here is a still. Really enjoyed this summit. Met a nice guy who had come up 9 miles from the other side, from Lost River. That’s where you can get a nice day hike to Moosilauke to the south, or a crazy long hike to here, South Kinsman, with another three hours/6 miles to Lonesome Lake and down…Great to see. He cruised past us on Fishin Jimmy (the AT) later in the day.

Meanwhile, I was still reveling in attaining South Kinsman after getting to North Kinsman three or four times prior. South has a much nicer summit. Really, a smooth mini-Moosilauke. Would love to be there in the summer – maybe from that southern approach sometime!

And here, looking out into the Pemi, on the far side of Haystack (or is it Flume?)

And there in the distance to the northeast, like an old friend, on the far side of Lafayette, It looks like Adams, peeking out on the north flank of the Prezzies. Love this territory for some good hiking!

See you next time!

Oh, here’s the Basin after all. I like these amazing geological phenomena.

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New Admit Day at Harvard Kennedy School

I just had one of the best days of my life. My heart was singing.

I was surrounded by hundreds of people who were recently selected to participate in some form of public service training at the Harvard Kennedy School.

I am excited to continue my work to improve the sustainability of the built environment, and with that, participate in increasing justice and peace in the world. I know I have a bit of a “save the planet” theme, but I have matured to know there is more to it – the world is not out there to be saved, and the people who are the world are the larger part of the thing I care about. It is complex, but it is also simple: if we all were more gentle, things would be better. How can we do that? Well, I think adjusting the way buildings happen could be a part of the change. And I enjoy working in the space of buildings and real estate.

I look forward to continue my growth as a practitioner and leader to facilitate change for the better. I feel lucky, blessed and destined to be tapped by Harvard to join their ranks and become better at what I do. I feel a tremendous responsibility to work hard this coming year to become a more powerful change agent.

It was delightful to be surrounded by so many others who must feel something similar to what I feel.

And we were called to public service repeatedly by the speakers on the day.

So I wanted to share a few of the photos I took and I will be keeping you all up to date on my academic journey.

Thank you!

Grey

 

It was a fine Friday morning as I walked from my house, the Cambicoop, across Harvard Square to the Kennedy School. A breakfast was awaiting at the Charles Hotel Ballroom where we would first convene.

On the way, at Brattle Square, my eye caught a little lucky penny on the bricks. Super lucky as it was a copper from 1944. What facilitated this penny arriving on my path on this morning?

Here’s the Charles Hotel. One of my favorite mixed-use projects from the 1980’s. It was the site of the old MBTA (well, it was MTA at the time) trolley yard. When the Red Line expanded to Alewife, it became a developable lot – this and the Kennedy School came out of the shuffle. I would like to learn more about this project. I have met the developer, Richard Friedman, at an industry event. He seems like a nice guy.

The Ballroom on the top floor was full of the different types of students. Most pertained to the two-year MPP or MPA for people who were “of traditional Master’s degree age” – like 25 as I had been for my first Master’s at LSE. Lots of very energetic people. I am not calling them kids!

I had a yellow namebadge as I am part of the Mid-Career cohort. Many of the international students were there. It was fun to hear about what and how they became interested in the program. Most (like 9 our of 10) of the US students I met were from DC. I wonder how many made the sprint from Nov 9th to Dec 1 to get all their application materials in!

Mary Beaulieu of the Office of Career Advancement asked “what is the difference you want t make in the world? People here care about solving public problems. Keep that purpose at the front of your minds.”

Tim McCarthy was a fabulous keynote speaker – he is a professor and part of the Carr Ctr for Human Rights Policy.

“You are not a mistake” was his central theme. Forget the “imposter syndrome” he exhorted us. We are here because we were intentionally, specifically, and arduously selected to be part of the Kennedy School. And while it is quite a brand, this Harvard thing, it is a tremendous opportunity. And with that opportunity, comes great responsibility.

He shared his story as a student and then academic. A telling tale of time in Alabama meeting a community and sitting with an elderly woman in a church. Taking various directions and efforts through personal and professional duress. Explaining that the answer to how he “got there” was: “through the mess.”

One of the things that he left me with, as an impression was, to come to the Kennedy School because you care about the big issues, but be here in order to discover new parts of yourself. To breathe. To take time to explore and to think outside the box. Education is an opportunity to help us live a life of meaning.

He noted one of the things we want to gain is moral courage – the skills and the network to take risks that matter. He noted the quote of Paul Tillich: “Power is the means by which love can achieve justice.” He was absolutely inspirational and I’ll need to spend some time with him.

He also encouraged us to take our professors to lunch!

We broke out for various sessions – as MC/MPAs we left the hotel and went over to some of the HKS buildings. We had a seminar on diversity and thinking from different angles. Prof. Livingston (I believe) shared a story of social networks and one about a collaborative project – using the Old Mutual Building in Zimbabwe as the example – this is where the built it to emulate a termite mound’s natural air-cooling. Perfect example for me. #MoreGreenBuildings!

Great group of people. We had an exercise to identify a famous person, and then to see if we could be a certain degree of distance from them. Some of the colleagues worked in journalism in Geneva, or for the Chief of Staff of some entity – so all the celebrities, the Pope, Vladimir Putin, Aung San Suu Ki, you name it – were literally one or two steps away. It was fun to hear and think about.

The buildings are in the middle of some major renovations and expansion. I’ll have to read up on it. I know it’ll be GREEN!

One of the sessions outlined the year. It is only one year. Woah.

Earlier in the day, I took a break to meet with Rand Wentworth. He was on the selection committee and is the Senior Fellow for the Bacon Environmental Leadership Program at the Center for Public Leadership. He is the former and emeritus President of the Land Trust Alliance, having lived in DC for a long time. He is now in Cambridge and serves to coordinate the Bacon Fellows. I was a finalist, but not an awardee, of the program. He wrote to me asking if he could meet with me and connect. I had a nice chat with him over a coffee in his office at the CPL. He encouraged me to connect with some of their other programs. We talked about leadership training, trial by fire, and hiking. Maybe we’ll set up a winter hike for “intensity training” this January or February. He was talking about how environmental topics and sustainability could be more high-profile and more coordinated at Harvard. There isn’t a College of Sustainability or such a thing as of now, though there are a lot of Centers for teaching and research related to environment. I also talked a little about cooperative housing – wouldn’t that be a great way for future environmental leaders to learn from each other and develop intersectionality? I know I’m going to do some cool stuff with Rand!

More of the project. I don’t think it will be done by July…

We had the first of what I expect will be many receptions, called Quorum Call, which happens each Friday at about 4:15pm. Students gather for a self-designed presentation, and somehow someone comes up with some beer or wine. It is totally something I’m looking forward to.

At this one, I noticed an older, but not old, gentleman, who seemed somewhat out of place. Possibly a professor? Well, I introduced myself and asked him what he was doing at HKS. He responded that he is John Keenan (and a light went off in my head), MA State Senator from Quincy, doing the two-year MC/MPA that elected officials can do with us. Such a cool program. I think we will have some good times coming up.

Then, I continued to do my “networking” thing. I met some people from Brasilia, Singapore, Boston, Delhi, and Tel Aviv. Also a fellow from Armenia but living in Lexington, MA. The super surprise of the day was meeting Sayaka Takahishi (below) who I had met over 25 years ago! She mentioned she was from Tokyo, I mentioned I was from around here. She asked where. I said Weston. She said she knew Weston. I asked how. Well, her parents were living in Weston in the late 80s and she graduated from Weston High, class of 1990! She had been quiet and not super proficient in English at the time, but she knew some of the kids I’d known through theater – what a small world!

More panels and presentations. I’d gone to one with current students talking about the MC/MPA program, one about student activities, and then one presenting alumni to share “what they wish they’d known when they were coming in” – which was pretty funny. My new friend, friend of my old buddy Doug Levine (HKS ’08), Amy Davies is the senior director of the alumni relations office. She was one of the facilitators. It was nice to see her throughout the day. I had first met her at one of Doug’s parties in Wayland a few years ago and it is great to have a familiar face (and email address) at my “next big thing” – thanks Amy!

Even after a full 10h day of filling our brains with new info and orientation materials, everyone was still quite animated and ready to socialize. I was just beaming and thrilled the whole time. Just very excited to be surrounded by what is so delightful to me – sharp people talking about big subjects, eager to get to work, to connect and help each other, and to grow our capacity to make a difference!

And the receptions continued. Here I am with Keesha Ram – a woman who was also a UVM Student Government President (she in 2008 and me in 1996). So cool. I know we are going to have some good stuff to talk about. She’s on the board of the Institute for Whole Communities (in VT) and also at Trustee for UVM.

Then, as the reception ran out of beer, we started wondering, where to next? I was happy to step in as a deputized tour director and suggest the one place that you could actually see from the reception, Charlie’s Kitchen.

So a bunch of us eventually made our way there. I started out with a guy from North Carolina who sells hot sauce, and ended up with the crew here which included an NYC cop, a ballerina from Montreal, a journalist from Geneva and an officer in the US Army Missile Command…what an amazing mix and I know many good adventures to come!

Watch out, HKS, and watch out WORLD!

 

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A Building Tech Forum

…with Grey Lee on the mic!

It was a great event.

Here is a link to a couple of photos.

Here is me on the stage:

It was a great panel. More about the event is on the USGBC MA blog here. There are even more photos there. And a couple on this short blog as well.

I really enjoyed the evening, and feeling at the “top of my game” for the organization. Definitely a subject worth following, going forward.

Thank you to all who participated and came out for the good times and good learning experience.

 

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The Jays of Waumbek!

Fun critters, the Gray Jays of Waumbek. Was a great quick day trip up with Ben and Corey. I had never encountered these friendly northern denizens.

Talk about denizens of the north country:

I had crunched up some cookie, and then held it out. Ben got really close!

Too much snow!

More pics here. Enjoy!

 

 

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