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Sunday, February 22, 2009

High schools

As i mentioned below, i don't have strong feelings one way or the other where any new high school in Durham ends up being built. I can see the advantages of putting a school over by the Lakewood shopping center, but i have to say that anyone who thinks that suddenly high schoolers will start walking to the school just because it's located there is dreaming. Especially in the "urban" parts of the city like Lakewood (urban in quotes because the density over there is much more suburban than anything, and Lakewood itself is a strip mall not like anything you're likely to see in a real urban setting), walking remains a pretty uncomfortable if not outright unsafe activity.

But here's a thought for all those people in the rural part of the county who are already organizing against putting a new high school west of the 15/501 bypass.

Wouldn't it be a coup for Durham to have what i think would be the East Coast's first environmental sciences/sustainable agriculture magnet school? The proximity to Duke Forest, the Primate Center, New Hope Creek and other wetlands makes the location very conducive to that kind of study. Partnering with, say, the Nicholas Center is another obvious advantage. Orange and Chatham counties are also centers of sustainable agriculture. Taking the thought a few steps further, the building itself could be designed using best practices, and instead of paving a parking area large enough for the entire faculty, staff, and student body, a la Riverside, parking could be kept to a minimum. Let the staff and faculty bid on who really wants to drive to work the most. Give financial incentives to faculty and staff for riding the bus or biking, and make sure that DATA is on board with providing frequent and reliable service during the morning and evening from a central parking location, perhaps in the inner city or somewhere near Duke.

Just saying there are a lot of options here if people are willing to get creative, and not look for cookie cutter solutions.

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  • Great idea.

    By Blogger Sarah Jessica Farber, at 9:01 PM  

  • That IS a great have you mentioned this to anyone with anything to do with it? Do those people read your blog? I wouldn't know where to begin, but it's too good to stop here.

    By Blogger kimberly, at 12:44 PM  

  • i planted a bug in the ear of a City Council person over the weekend. Kevin and i will probably talk more about this on the radio Thursday and in upcoming weeks.

    btw - if you really think this is a good idea, share it with people. point 'em to the blog and talk it up.

    By Blogger Barry, at 3:36 PM  

  • Barry, great idea. No cars. Period. There has to be a way to get around High Schools as car zones. A lot of it is the parents fault (like me) and a ton of it is the kids fault (like mine). I have trouble with the bus schedule and she doesn't like being a bus rider. So, here I sit in a half a mile long line with other parents dropping their kid off at Jordan. That has to be part of any environmental school. No cars. Period.

    By Blogger Daniel Bradford, at 10:27 AM  

  • I do not think this is a good idea.

    One does not preserve nature by building on it. One does not control sprawl by building further and further outside the city center. Ask yourself, what are the long-term consequences of pursuing such a plan? Which elements are likely to succeed, and which are likely to fail? What will be the end result? The end result would likely be more sprawl, more pollution, more environmental degradation, more bond debt and infrastructure (outfrastructure?) expenses, less access to quality education by urban populations, further dilapidation of inner-city locations, etc.

    It makes more sense to revitalize decrepit sites (e.g. Lakewood Shopping Center and others). That is better for the environment, better for the local economy, and better from a city planning perspective.

    One can bring Green education into the city, emphasizing how to create a Green city, instead of using old ways of thinking, like sprawl, over-development, and destruction of wetlands and natural areas.

    By Blogger Green, at 1:55 PM  

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