United States Bicycle Route 101


Did you know that the United States has signed bicycle routes? You didn’t? Yeah… don’t feel bad, nobody else seems to know about them, and I only stumbled upon them trying to do this month’s Wikiglean. Obscurity notwithstanding, two bike routes do exist and the legal framework is still around – and right now is just the time to breathe life back into the system and make them serious transit.

Back in the 1970s, after the shock of the Oil Crisis, planners – AASHTO even – had the forward idea of determining and assigning interstate bike routes.  Primarily meant for low-traffic roads or dedicated trails, the routes were to connect cities for touring purposes. However, by 1982, only two routes had ever come into being, and so the system went the way of the DMC-12. But conveniently for Washingtonians, the two existing trails currently run through Virginia and one is poised to benefit the Washington Metropolitan area.

Introducing The Fort Reno Project

This blog exists partially as an outlet for a particular project I have long been thinking about, teased by its difficulty. Fort Reno Park, in Tenleytown, occupies one of the most historically complex sites in the District of Columbia, yet it is also one of the least understood and developed sites. It once was a farmland, a civil war fort, then a black neighborhood, and finally turned into undifferentiated parkland after an abortive attempt to create an extensive system of parks and civic buildings in DC. In the process, most of its history has been swept away, damaging the permeability of the neighborhood and acting as more of a dead zone than an asset. I am doing this primarily as a personal project, something to use for my portfolio.

 I want to explore the way that social media, blogs in particular, can be used by architects to solicit information and, in turn, illuminate process for laypersons. Rather than asking questions wildly, I will present my plans, my theory, and my designs for the site and hope to get constructive criticism through the comments. I expect that the gradual revelation of plans will help locals easily digest the ideas, expose them to healthy strategies of urban design, and ultimately make them feel involved from the start. They may not be going anywhere, but the lack of productive local involvement or even transparency has resulted in sour relations with an often parochial and misinformed locale.

I hope that this develops buzz and becomes a catalyst for neighborhood identity, the explorations of place and history informing the kernel of a new spirit of Tenleytown-Tobago-AU Park. Additionally, I want to show residents the power of architecture and the value of good urban design by giving examples in the real world and relating them to local situations. Most audaciously, I want to energize the area’s community groups to act more productively, giving and getting more from those around them. Changing the values of a population is the surest way to changing lifestyles, something critical to creating a meaningful, sustainable city.

The thought of redesigning the park is nothing new. Tenleytown neighbors have been trying for years, DC Parks has made a little change, and the NPS’s CityParks project aims to make the DC parks better. Nonetheless, I will bring a decidedly different perspective to the concepts of historical preservation, park use, context, place, park design, interpretation, social capital, and management than any of these projects have before. I appreciate any thoughts on the matter. I want to know what people want to see examined or designed, so feel free to request things. I really am open to all reasonable suggestions other than “leave it alone.”

The first post, about the history of geography will be coming tonight, but in general I will post my ideas slowly – I have a job – and this will take a considerable amount of time and dedication, lasting well into the summer. If you are interested and wish to get updates most easily, rather than checking back and getting frustrated, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed.

Preparing for winter: Adjika

Adjika is a traditional Georgian sauce made out of peppers and fresh herbs, like most sauces. But, unlike most spices, this sauce is amazingly delicious, mixing just about every taste (mostly dill) into a dense sauce that can be jarred and kept for long times. It really is meant to be made in the summer, before the beautiful mountain passes of Khvetsuri are covered with their first frost, or something poetic like that. Essentially, like canning, it is meant to get you through the winter with some semblance fresh flavor. But in modern DC, winter isn’t so crushing, but I would like to not have to buy so many fresh greens in the winter, for cost as well as localist reasons. 

Not pictured: many more peppers.
Not pictured: many more peppers, a blender, khmeli-suneli, and saffron.

Don’t see the celery and think this is some pablum. The punch packed is straight to the mouth. It’s definitely as hot as a vindaloo and as robust as a goulash. But it also has some delicate, herby flavors that makes it a lot like pesto. Indeed, it is great on pasta and mixed in with vegetables in a stir fry. I have already tried both. Plus, since it is so potent, you really don’t need to use much at all to really kick a simple meal into something fierce. Since I did not use tomatoes, the texture is very rough, which makes it good with a little oil. It does, however, look sort of funny. 

This will easily last three months.

Now, the recipe calls for a few things that I did not add that cost $7 per ounce, because I felt that if I screwed this up it would be a very pricy mistake. Luckily it came out well, and I hope to share it with a lot of people.