American History, and a Memorial           October, 2010                                                                                           

When Rob Mier died, in 1995, a good part of the national progressive community, in academia and neighborhoods, felt the loss.   Rob was not simply an academic – professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and head of the Center for Urban Economic Development, a research unit in public policy and community development.    “Not simply” because other teachers, at other schools, could match his academic pedigree.   But Rob was … more.   He was a professional engineer (a piece of his past that he used to great advantage in meetings and negotiations with government planning officials) and had a passion for activism in community development.   Theory, yes, but always balanced with real community action. 

Firemen are firemen, even in China …          Spring, 2011

 

... although they are members of a national service, run out of Beijing, not by local governments.  So that is the reason for the army guys, not the police, doing traffic control when the local fire brigade ran through some training exercises yesterday.   But firemen are, down deep inside, guys, and high school guys at that.   So part of the training is a run, about 100 meters, with hose and connections.  At the end of the run, they have to hook up the hoses and put out a small electrical fire.  The water was already hooked up to a small pump, and came from our on-campus lake.

 

 

 

 

Some of you remember Victoria, from Taizhou   Spring, 2010

Some of you remember Victoria, from Taizhou.   For those of you who don’t, Victoria is- I think the east coast term is wicked- smart, clever, beautiful, and ambitious as all hell.   In other words, a dream.  Last year she put on a show for Scott and his kids and me.   You know that these trips for Scott and me are fun and we learn a lot, but there is an awful lot of showing off and maneuvering behind the scenes of every event.   There is a lot of jockeying to see who sits at the head point of the (round) table, next to the person paying for lunch.  Last year, Scott usually got to sit next to the person paying for lunch, and on the other side was the most senior or most powerful leader (this is where the personal jockeying comes in- sometimes we spent two or three minutes standing around the table, while two people fight out who is going to be the least important.  Sort of Alphonse and Gaston, with every “No, you go first,” a bluff.  First one to call the bluff wins).  

Jazz at the JZ Club                                                    October, 2009

Went with Jonathan Gong Wei, one of the IIT students from four years ago, to the JZ Club, a jazz club on Nanshan Road next to West Lake.  I invited two of my fellow faculty members, Wu De Gang (Dominick) and Zheng Li, to join us.

Nanshan Road is the place to see and be seen in Hangzhou.  It runs adjacent to West Lake, so the views across the river are beautiful.  Think of the view of downtown Chicago from the Fullerton Avenue bridge over the pond at night, or the view of downtown from the Planetarium. Except that the lake here is small enough to see across, and in the distance are hills lit up with lights from houses, and the moon is out, and the city has worked very hard to make this area attractive to the "gold collared workers" that my friend Bob Yovovich talks about.

The Grade School Performance Gap                                                                                                                             

April, 2010

Vicky invited me to the opening ceremonies of the 3rd Annual Hangzhou Reading Festival.   She promised me a visit to the new Hangzhou main library, a gift of books from the No. 1 in Hangzhou, dancing girls, and a chance to be on TV.    Stronger men might have been able to say no, but books and dancing girls were just too much.

The new main library is in the new Central Business District, the new CBD, as everyone here call it.   Predictably wonderful.   New building, of course, with a grand interior atrium and nice blending of marble and wood for accents on walls and detailing on doors.

 Into Clean Air                                       October, 2009 

 

Steven Shen Kanming and his wife and son and I went to Anji, which is in Huzhou, a small city in Zhejiang Province.  A couple of you will like this one, because it is an adventure, not hiking through Afghanistan for sure, but an adventure nevertheless - hidden dragons, many waterfalls, and how face can be made in China (sometimes).

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