Coming Soon…

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So it’s been over a year and a half since I’ve posted to my blog. Where has the time gone!?

Since January of 2013…

  • hired as a contractor in Charleston, SC (Feb-2013)
  • my contract ended, transferred to Arlington, VA (Oct-2013)
  • changed employers again (Dec-2013)
  • adjusted my lifestyle from a 2-hour commute to 15-minutes (Apr-2014)
  • started a new business, the Roosting Network (Jul-2014)
  • entered the business into a design competition (Aug-2014)

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And here I am! Life has been busy, I have gained a TON of experience, but I am still thinking resiliency, but with a twist. Continue reading

(MPOV) Engaging with Gowanus

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If something between $467 million to $504 million were about to be spent in your back yard, wouldn’t you want to know what those dollars would buy and add your voice to the discussion?

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Map of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Study Area, courtesy EPA

Those dollar amounts reflect the estimated cost for cleaning up the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. The canal, an EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) Superfund site, is an extremely polluted body of water with hazardous materials like coal tar, oil, metals, and other toxins. These contaminants are resting in the sediments at the bottom of the canal. The EPA’s job is to study the area, determine who is responsible for the contamination, create a plan for clean up, and oversee the clean up, which is paid for by the responsible parties. The EPA does this with the objective of removing risk to human and ecological (plant and animal) life in and around the canal.

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January 23rd Carroll Gardens EPA Public Meeting, photo by Ryan A Cunningham

To help them achieve that objective, the EPA has defined a series of 9 criteria for evaluating the alternatives for clean up. Many of these criteria focus on common sense things like smart, efficient, and safe actions; but there is one very key criteria that you should care about, “Community Acceptance”.

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January 23rd Carroll Gardens EPA Public Meeting, photo by Ryan A Cunningham

Community acceptance is what makes this a great time to speak up. Right now the EPA is in the Proposed Plan Comment Period, which is the time when the agency is required by law to take comments on its proposal for how to clean the canal; and they must respond to these comments in documented form.

Why comment? Here are a couple of reasons.

  1. Everyone is listening – Politicians, businesses, and the media are all watching very closely how the various groups involved, including the community, are responding to the plan.
  2. It’s on the record – Community groups, mission driven organizations, and concerned citizens not only can know they are being heard, but will actually see their comments (or similar ones), answered in written form by the EPA.
  3. Now is the time – The public comment period is the primary time that the community has to comment on the proposed plan. It’s open till March 28, and after that, there will be a lot less attention paid to the comments and questions surround the plan.

Continue reading

What’s Next for RyanACunningham.com

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Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about what my next goals should be for my blogging and website. And while I will continue to blog on occasion and will continue to post on my resiliency research and writing at Metropolis, I will be doing so less frequently. Here are my goals for the next 3 months, and I say 3 months because a year is to long a time frame for setting a goal. I also explain in italics how I will measure that progress.

HTML / CSS
I am going to be working once a day on improving my HTML and CSS skills, and will be building a new site from scratch. I’ll keep you all posted on its progress. It’ll likely be called “Resiliency Makers”, and I will know I’m making progress if I launch the site by February 1st.

GIS
I recently started researching the different types of GIS open-source software. GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems and is a software that enables the mapping of information. I already am familiar with ESRI, the paid GIS mapping suite, but as I am not currently employed in a GIS position, I think it better to learn the free open programs. And what better way to learn the new software than by expanding my research on resiliency. I know I will be making progress if I have generated 1 useful map by February 1.

Weight Loss
Last year I spent most of my weight loss journey using the WeightWatchers system, and while I believe in their system, I often found my rebellious and busy lifestyle at odds with the technique. I was to often using the group meetings and techniques as excuses, which was preventing me from making it my own journey. I also can’t afford the $500 a year I was spending on something that wasn’t working. So this year I am focusing on regular calorie counting, primarily during the week, but with a strong focus on daily exercise and eating more wholesome, less processed, foods. I will know I’m making progress if I’ve lost 5 lbs by February 1st.

What are your goals for the next 3 months?

 

Hello 2013

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Welcome to 2013, and January 1st! And some of you know that means I’ve reached my goal of 99 resilient days. Yay!

Yesterday I talked about remembering 2012, and taking the time to remember the good and the bad and what you can learn from it.

So while lots of other bloggers are taking time to discuss new goals, setting new milestones, and trying to help you improve your own life, I’m going to talk about the milestone I just finished and a few lessons I have learned.

  1. Routine – if you want to make a goal happen, it has to be a part of your routine. In my opinion daily routine is best, with the end goal not to distant in the future. 
  2. Measurable – I was able to count my way through my 99 resilient day challenge, and knew that with every post, I was one step closer to my goal and could easily look back and see how far I had gone.
  3. Flexibility – I had pretty simple ground rules, as rules help you see the value in what you are doing. But I also had a lot of flexibility (could post late, so long as I posted something), this enabled me to keep up with my goal. No one is perfect, and there are days when you just can’t do what you set out to do, but the next day you have to get back on the horse.
  4. Smart – I found that if I was on a roll, I would let myself go. I could write 2-3 blog posts in a row some times, and that was great, because it would give me a couple of days break, or have drafts waiting for days I was busy.
  5. Resiliency – The whole idea was for me to spend 99 days thinking and writing about resiliency and what it means to me as an individual and to the world around me. This has given me a new perspective on risk, a new understanding of prevention and mitigation of risk, and has deeply inspired me, now that I have seen the resiliency of our society, of people, and of our lives. Understand the risks to your actions, and you understand your chances of success.
  6. Sustainability – I often talk about sustainability hand-in-hand with resiliency, and feel that it not only is a prerequisite to resiliency, but I also understand that you can’t learn one without the other. Understand the system of interactions, and you understand the most efficient way to achieve your goal in a finite existence.
  7. Community – We are all in this together, you and me, your friends, family, neighbors, co workers; we’re all a part of the great big planet we live on, and if we are to survive as a society, we not only need to learn about how our actions are changing the environment and risks of living here, but also how to change the rules of the game with technology, ideas, discovery, and growth. Understand your place in society, how you fit into the needs of the people around you and the world as a whole, and you can not only find purpose, but also find meaning.

 

 

 

Goodbye 2012

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As we say goodbye to another year, I invite you to join me in thinking through the last year of your life.

This December 31st, I’m taking the time to remember all that has happened to me in the last year, both the good and the bad.

Good

  • I started a new job at Metropolis
  • I started working with the Gowanus CAG
  • I celebrated my 27th birthday
  • I explored the beaches of Maryland
  • I explored hills of Pennsylvania
  • One of my best friends got married
  • I was able to see and spend time with my family
  • I ran the Utica Boilermaker 15K
  • Obama was re-elected
  • I purchased my first iPad
  • I bought a new television
  • I made progress on my debt
  • I have commuted this entire year by public transit
  • And I have written a great many pieces for both my own blog and Metropolis (well over 100)

Bad-ish

  • I didn’t start a career in my passion, urban planning
  • I didn’t have any major relationships
  • I quit WeightWatchers
  • I survived, but was heavily impacted by a devastating Hurricane Sandy
  • I was greatly saddened by the Sandy Hook tragedy
  • I was violently ill for Christmas
  • Made less money this year then I did in 2008-2009, the last year when I worked full-time

And if you look, I am remembering more good things then bad, and while it may seem pessimistic that I’m remembering anything negative, you’ll notice only a few of these things were outside of my control. So that means I can learn from them.

So for today, review the last year, and see what you can remember. You obviously won’t remember everything, and sitting down and seeing what you can remember can be quite challenging, but remember 2012, so that you can make 2013 an even more memorable year.

 

Diversity in Business

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Yesterday’s blog post was about the importance of diversity, and I specifically referred to biodiversity, and survival of the fittest.

Today, I want to talk about the importance of diversity in business, and I’m going to provide a few examples of where it is not only considered good practice, but important for our economy’s overall health.

  • Diverse Workforce – This is one of the more relevant points in conversations about diversity in business, but I’m not entirely sure if people understand why it’s important. In the great words of Martin Luther King “We cannot walk alone.” He realized, as many do, that it is when we work together, that not only does business benefit, but our entire economy benefits. A diverse workforce, with people who speak different languages, have different values, different backgrounds, and alternate perspectives ensures that our business not only serves the full spectrum of our society, it also helps us as individuals. We can not segregate others because we all want to be there to help each other. We all want to realize our common goals of life, liberty, and happiness.
  • Diverse Work – The sectors of the economy are broken down into primary, second, and tertiary forms of work. Primary is resource collection and production, like growing food, or harvesting minerals. Secondary is the processing of those resources, like turning cotton into a shirt, or wood into furniture. Tertiary is often referred to as services, doing work to support those other businesses. All three of these sectors must exist in an economy, and if any one of these services doesn’t exist in enough quantity, then economies weaken. Often the greatest example of this is the loss of local industrial and manufacturing jobs in the US to foreign countries, where globalized markets enabled greater business opportunities. This had the negative side effect of weakening the local economies of many cities across the country, cities like Detroit and other Rust Belt cities.  Continue reading

Survival of the fittest

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Earlier this week at Metropolis, we posted a blog that talked about the survival of the fittest, and the advantages that come to us, and our kin, from being the fittest.

This post got me thinking about how survival of the fittest as a concept can be used to understand how to improve the resiliency of our society.

Resiliency is about understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a system so that disaster can be prevented. The system, in this case human society and its environment, has resulted in humanity improving over time because of our intellectual prowess. We are smarter than other species, so we are more apt to survive. This is very single-minded, and is probably a thought people have about themselves within the larger context of humanity.

So how do we resolve this almost self-righteous, selfish mentality, with our theoretical understand of resiliency?

The answer to this question doesn’t lie with the individual, but with the group as a whole. Survival of the fittest assumes that there is a select type of living thing, whether animal, plant, or human, that has traits and characteristics that enable it to succeed more than others. This can be cross species, or within its own species.

But one of the challenges that humanity has to learn to address, both for ourselves and for the other living things on our planet, is that our climate is changing due to global warming. The situations and environments that once existed, no longer do, and things are continuing to change at an even more rapid pace.

This is problematic for two reasons:

  1. The rate of change is so fast, that living things are dying off faster than they can evolve. This is often understood as the loss of biodiversity on our planet.
  2. And the loss of biodiversity, the loss of the unique characteristics of the species across the planet, means the system is less able to ensure the survival of life.

Continue reading