Away With the Old, In With The “New Norfolk”

When one thinks of Norfolk, the immediate words that come to mind may be: water, business, university, and elegance.   On the other hand, the words may be more like: traffic, slums, homelessness, and crime.  By the year 2030, the citizens of Norfolk would like to enhance these positive aspects of Norfolk and replace the negative aspects with better ones.  Of course, we want to improve Norfolk, but to take it one step further, let us make a goal to sustain Norfolk.

So, you may be wondering how we should go about this idea of sustaining a new, improved Norfolk.  To begin, let’s start with traffic.  Norfolk pulls in many commuting drivers for business purposes, and the tunnels serve as major bottlenecks that cause most of the traffic that occurs in this city.  Now, for every car that sits for 30+ minutes in traffic means there is 30 more minutes of fossil fuels being consumed and carbon emissions being emitted into our atmosphere.  Now, carpooling is a great idea.  It reduces the amount of cars on the road, which in turn reduces both traffic and carbon emissions.  However, carpooling takes planning, coordination, and sometimes, compromises.  As a result, people bypass the carpooling idea.  Here is the problem: we need to give people a reason to want to carpool by creating a benefit to carpooling.  Now, here is the solution: we will create a new tunnel, which leads directly into the business center in Norfolk and is dedicated to drivers who participate in carpooling.  The idea is very similar to HOV lanes, which have already been deemed a success as shown by their popularity and abundance on many various interstates.

Also, promoting public transportation will also take more cars off the road.  The Tide is innovative, clean, and exciting for the citizens of Norfolk.  So far it has had a great influence on our community.  Why not expand it?   We will build it to run through Old Dominion University’s campus down to the Naval Base.  The students and military make up a fairly significant portion of Norfolk’s population.   Allowing this access to these substantial populations of people will both generate business into the downtown area while taking less cars off of the road.

Moving on from traffic, we will now focus on the more run down (for lack of a better word) parts of Norfolk.  Throughout Norfolk, there are vacated buildings sitting and taking up space without performing any service.  No one would like to buy or rent these shacks, because they are just plain unappealing.  The answer: tear them down.  Tear them down completely, and start again fresh.  You may be thinking, “But won’t it be cheaper to renovate?” Here’s the kicker: start again fresh in a “green” way.

Replace the space that lacks service with green buildings.   These buildings can be customized for both home living and conducting business.  They will have solar panels and small windmills on the exterior (and, also, underwater turbines for waterfront properties), which will generate the electricity to power the building.  Of course, each building will have to have some sort of generator for weather that does not permit the production of electricity by these means.  Large, highly insulated windows and cooling shades will accompany these buildings for natural heating and cooling for the buildings.  Internal gardens will be incorporated by these windows for both decor and internal carbon dioxide uptake and oxygen production.  Appliances, such as sinks, toilets, showers, washing machines, and dishwashers will be generated in ways that dispense less water to promote conservation.  Compact fluorescent light bulbs will be used in replacement of incandescent ones.

The list goes on for how to turn energy inefficient buildings into energy and cost efficient buildings that also help sustain our community.  These are only a few ideas that can help improve and save Norfolk, however, there are many more that can be incorporated into this plan.  These ideas are a feasible answer to some of Norfolk’s big issue areas.  With appropriate funding, this city could take these ideas and turn great things out of them.


“The Shareable Future of Cities”

  • How many people does Steffen estimate we will have living in or near cities by mid-century? 8 billion people
  • Explain how you agree or disagree with Steffen’s point that our energy use is “predestined” rather than “behavioral”.

Realistically, I do believe he has a point.  It is nice to say I’m going to carpool more often and save the Earth from some carbon emissions, but as soon as that other person’s schedule does not correlate with yours, it is way to easy just to hop in your car and go ahead with your plans.  People today want to do things the fastest, easiest way possible, and sometimes the “green” ways to do things aren’t the easiest, fastest way possible.  Therefore, people will continue to use fossil fuels and emit carbon emissions just as long as they get what they need in the end. I know it is a pessimistic way of thinking about it, but I also believe it is a realistic way of thinking about it.

  • What correlation does Steffen make between a city’s density and its climate emissions?  The more dense a city, the less emissions it puts out.
  • What are the “eco districts” that Steffen mentions?  Neighborhoods that make a large commitment to improve their sustainability.   How you see these as feasible or unfeasible in a city like Norfolk? With appropriate funding, Norfolk could become an eco district, but funding would most likely be an issue.  Overall, the people of Ghent and ODU are pretty “green” though, so I think transforming the community to a sustainable one would be successful.
  • Explain how you agree or disagree with the “threshold effect” that Steffen discusses related to transportation. I agree with it.  You can see it first hand in New York.  Once a place becomes populated enough to which everything you need is within walking distance or a cheap cab ride/ public transportation ride away, people will stop using their own cars (especially if it becomes more of a hassle to find a parking spot than it is to walk.)
  • What does Steffen mean by the idea that, “…even space itself is turning into a service…”? Steffen talks about a “service”  as something that makes tasks easier for people, like using a drill to screw a nail in a wall.  More eco friendly houses are being developed, which use resources like sunlight instead of gas to heat homes and makes it easier for people to pay their utility bills.  Renting homes has become more popular, instead of building new properties, which saves space on the Earth, makes those not willing to buy find places to live easier, and helps the owner make some extra money.  Can you provide any examples that you see here in Norfolk or elsewhere? On Hampton Boulevard, there are storage units for rent.  People sharing space to keep their personal belongings is a service that space provides.
  • Describe your understanding of Steffen’s argument that, “…it’s not about the leaves above, but the systems below…”.

He means it is up to us to develop these “systems” that facilitate sustainability and promote “green” living.  Reducing our carbon emissions and so on will cause less damage to the environment, but he is asking what we can do to actually better the environment.  There are ways for resources to be harvested and used responsibly, and he is asking us to be active in finding and using them.

  • Finally, overall in what way(s) do you see Steffen’s ideas working / not working here in Norfolk? Spend time with this question

I see his ideas working in downtown Norfolk, where the buildings and businesses are closer together.  Systems like the light rail have already been built to promote a greener way of transportation.  With appropriate funding, I think alot of the “green” buildings could be built successfully.  I also think the general population of Norfolk would be willing to work on a sustainable environment.  Funding would be a large issue here though.

Supreme Court Bands the Punishing of Students Over Out of School Social Media Posts


The Surpeme Court ruled that school systems would not be allowed to punish students over their out of school social media posts, even if they were about faculty/the school system.  In short, they ruled it would violate the first amendment.

Abstract 1: Technology Overview and Impact

Brooks, D. 2001.  Facing up to our fears.  Newsweek (22 October): 66-69

This article is focused on the unity of the citizens of the United States.  It was written shortly after September 11, 2001, when the nation was under extreme hysteria over another potential terrorist attack.  After a catastrophe of that magnitude, national unity was essential to pull together and devise a plan to overcome the current issue.  The purpose of this article was to make the public aware of the need for unity during the time of trial.  The problem was that people generally had the “every man to himself” mindset before 9/11.  After all, privacy has always been important to Americans. After 9/11, our nation needed unity, but many were concerned with whether or not Americans could achieve it.  Our nation was built on the idea of individualism, and when many people do not even trust their government because of their secrets, it is hard for the people to pull together.  However, the terrorist attack created fear in our society, and when encountering fear, most people see in a much clearer way.  Shortly after the devastating events, the American people showed support for George W. Bush and his policy over war.  People regained confidence in the United Statesgovernment.  People finally realized that they are all individuals that need each other to pull through tough times.  Newsweek polls showed the fear Americans had over being attacked again, but they were still supportive of the war efforts.  In the end, the citizens of theUnited States stepped up, faced their fears, and showed courage.  It is possible and important for the American citizens to pull together as one nation, and this means, not only for war, but for other current issues, such as innovative thinking to progress society into a new realm of technology.

It is important for a nation to be unified for multiple reasons.  For example, it is important for the citizens of the country to collectively develop positions on issues and vote for the issues that will best benefit the nation as a whole.  Even though this article was focused on unity after the terrorist attack of 9/11, the issue of unity within our nation runs deeper than this one issue.  The American people can pull together as one.  The American people can care about each other.  The issue we face is how to get the American people to realize they need unity and how to get them to want unity.

Technology, My Buddy

So, you want to know how I am connected to technology? Well, I guess the better question to ask is how am I not connected with technology.  In today’s world, technology is in the center of almost everyone’s interests.  People want faster, smaller, smarter phones (including me), or they want bigger, clearer, 3D flat-screens (this, I could actually care less about).  However, technology is more than the special gadgets you have or the entertainment systems in your home.

My relationship with technology is strong.  I rely on technology.  I rely on my cell phone to wake me up in the morning.  I rely on the faucets and shower heads to spit water out, so I can brush my teeth and take a shower.  I rely on the stove to heat the water for my green tea (yes, I promote tea over coffee; it’s healthier for you).  I rely on my laptop to check my email and turn in assignments.  I rely on my iPod to entertain my while I run.  I mean, the list goes on and on!

In the sense of how strong my relationship is when it comes to understanding technology and how it works, you might say we’re not so tight.  I don’t know how to check the pressure in my tires, much less know how to fix the alternator in my car.  I couldn’t tell you exactly how my stove works; I only know its powered by electricity.

Hopefully, through this class, my knowledge in this area will increase.  After all, the world is constantly changing due to new innovative ideas in the technological field.  Furthermore, the medical industry (my career interest) relies on high-tech equipment that has no room to malfunction.  With this said, you could say it is fundamental important to know how these machines work in case of emergency.

"Anesthesia Machine"

This respiratory machine breathes for patients when they are under anesthesia or when they simply cannot breath for themselves.  Say this machine were to malfunction and stop doing its job.  The patient has been incubated, so it will take time to remove the tubing and perform CPR.  Therefore, you could say its vitally important that the respiratory therapist knows how this machine works in order to prevent situations like this from happening.