Would you climb up to the top of a tall building, crawl out on the roof, look out over the edge and start taking photographs of the city? Would you sit on the edge, dangle your feet off into space and photography the city skyline? Rooftop photography (rooftopping) is another place to consider for urban explorers to enjoy.

How high would you go for a photograph? Give it a try.

The photograph is of Margaret Bourke-White.

What if you had 72 Hours to Transform your City?

I read a blog post entitled “What if you had 72 Hours to Transform your City?” Does that inspire you? I began to get ideas about re-routing buses, moving bars out of the downtown area and putting in something to attract families to the beach (which is also downtown here).

If you could change your town or city in any way and in many ways, what would you do?

72 Hour Urban Action

A hundred designers, 10 urban challenges, very little money, and no sleep. That’s the recipe for 72 Hour Urban Action, a three-day marathon for designers to improve their city. Founder Kerem Halbrecht first debuted the concept at the Bat-Yam Biennale of Landscape Urbanism in Israel in September, where 120 participants working in 10 teams got three days and three nights to solve problems in public spaces.


From Wikipedia: Serendipity is a propensity for making fortuitous discoveries while looking for something unrelated.

Now and then you find a really good word for something you never thought had a good word for it. I like the way this word sounds, like the slippery curved back of a sea serpent snaking up and down along the waves.

Think about looking for something online, reading a few blogs, sites and forums then finding something else that just takes over your full attention, something you never would have found otherwise. This happens to me quite a bit. I find new art forms, new ideas and names for things I had an interest in but never would have guessed others are actually involved in enough to give it a name, like urban exploration, ASCII art.

Write a scene where your character has a chance discovery, a case of serendipity.

Cityscape, Skyline Metropolis?

The suffix of one word can lead to so many other interesting words. In looking into the theme for Doodle Week on U3 this Friday I knew I wanted to draw some kind of city skyline, a cityscape. That led to looking up other kinds of words with ‘scape’ as a suffix. That led me to think of words like metropolis, necropolis and cosmopolis, which I had heard of before. I started to look them up, wondering if they all meant the same thing more or less. They do and yet they don’t. The differences were what made each one unusual.

Metropolis: A city or an urban area regarded as the center of a specific region or activity.
Astropolis: Star-scaled city/industry area; complex space station.
Cosmopolis: A large urban centre with a population of many different cultural backgrounds.
Ecumenopolis: A city that covers an entire planet, usually seen in science fiction.
Megalopolis: Built by merging several cities and their suburbs.
Necropolis: ‘City of the dead’. A graveyard.
Technopolis: City with high-tech industry; room full of computers; the Internet.

    Cityscape: A view of a city, esp. a large urban center.
    Townscape: A scene or view, either pictorial or natural, of a town or city.
    Landscape: A section or expanse of rural scenery, usually extensive, that can be seen from a single viewpoint.
    Seascape: A panoramic view of the sea.

      Skyline: The outline of something, as the buildings of a city, against the sky.

      The drawing of the cityscape/ skyline is for Doodle Week. This week the theme is cityscapes.

      The Zoo of Depressed Animals

      I read The Zoo of Depressed Animals on the Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars blog.

      A site about elephants also has some background about the zoo – “Louise Terry was the owner of Terry-Lou Zoo in Scotch Plains. The 7-acre zoo was established more than 49 years ago. Most of the animals housed at the zoo were castoffs from other zoos. Some of the animals were too old to breed, were deformed or had been injured or maimed by hunters.

      Mrs. Terry and her husband, Franklyn T. Terry, owned the zoo until they sold it in 1993. In 1997, the zoo was closed and the animals were relocated.”

      Jack English has a photo of Frazee Homestead on the zoo land. He wrote about the history of the place, before it became a zoo even.

      So far I can’t find photos of the abandoned zoo itself. I did find an abandoned petting zoo, Benson’s Animal Farm, Hudson, NH.

      What is the point of all this? Not much, mostly a personal interest in rural and urban exploration (abandoned places). But, think of those animals at the now abandoned zoo or petting zoo. What kind of life must they have had before winding up at the bottom of the barrel zoo?

      Write a tribute to one of them, make up the name, the history and decide what kind of an end they came to. Will you write it in a sentimental, sad or practical point of view?

      What I Learned from my Goldfish Today

      What I’ve learned from my goldfish today… You can not underestimate space and camouflage.

      The feral goldfish in my backyard pond have had babies after all. I thought it would be impossible for any fish fry (babies) born out there to survive the adult goldfish, the frogs and toads and the assorted birds and other predators who wander by. But, they are there. Yesterday I was looking at the pond on a quiet day when the water was very clear. I noticed two new goldfish, smaller than the others. I really knew they were new because they are brown/ bronzed coloured. Until now there were only two fish in the pond that colour, now there are four. I don’t know goldfish genetics enough to know if the bronze fish are the lucky parents but it does seem bronze is the right colour for natural selection in a backyard pond.

      Anyway, with enough space to find food and shelter (and the right camouflage) two baby goldfish have survived the Spring and Summer season.  It was really nice to see them. I won’t go so far as to claim they are cute but they are alive and that’s an achievement in itself!

      Write something where camouflage is an essential element to survival. Don’t just think about jungle scenarios. Where does camouflage fit into urban life? How could some element of that be added to an urban story?

      Also, why does camouflage have so many letters? It’s a spelling hazard. The goldfish don’t have an answer for that one.

      CanZine: I Was There

      Originally written: Nov 6, 2006. I haven’t gone back due to moving farther from Toronto. I’d like to make the trip for the next one this October. Is anyone else planning to go?

      Last Sunday, my first weekend new to the city of Toronto, I caught the Queen Street streetcar and attended CanZine. I was far too early. Many of the tables were not set up. But, I made the mistake of thinking it would take longer to get there than it really did. Still, I paid my admission with a bit extra for the subscription to Broken Pencil. BP are the creators of the event (as far as I know) and they have done a lot to promote it.

      I was really happy to meet Liz from Infiltration while I was there. She was interested in seeing my own urban (rural farmhouses) exploration photos. I have yet to email her as the moving chaos continues and I don’t even have my ISP connected yet. Anyway, I bought the Access All Areas book and a few zines. I hoped there would be more geared to the old buildings and architecture as that is what I really like. I’m not very eager to trek into drains and tunnels. I’m not even hugely enthusiastic to pry my way into the old farmhouses, not a great plan when exploring alone wearing open toed shoes. I’m sure it mentions that as a rule in Access All Areas.

      I looked at other zines, writers, cartoonists, illustrators and artsy types. I wish I had seen some of the people there instead of just the notes for their places at the tables. Too bad more weren’t early. Torontoist was there but not there yet. Next time I will not go so foolishly early. Maybe I won’t feel so out of place either if I have met a few others in between now and then. I do feel like a fish out of water in the city. Mostly everyone at CanZine was younger and thinner than I am. I still went and I will go again.

      Next time I won’t be too shy to take a few names, interviews and digital photos either. Good luck to me!

      Elevators and Escalators

      When I commuted to work, back and forth on the buses, trains and subways in Toronto, I remember how annoyed I would feel about people who behave like farm animals, sheep and cattle, following a herd mentality.

      You’ve seen it. Everyone gets off the bus and goes into the train station. At the first door they all stop and each one goes through the same door, following the leader. Why don’t they open the other doors? There can be a whole row of a dozen doors yet they all wait in turn to go through just that one door opened by the leader. I used to walk around the flock and open my own new door. Then I would become the leader and they flowed behind me. It was funny to watch every commuting day.

      We like to write about characters, people who open that new door or do something less predictable. Main characters are usually in the middle of some kind of change, someone who isn’t following the herd. How can you use an ordinary thing from our urban culture to show how a person has looked up from their feet and begun to look around at the world around them, opening new doors? Think of elevators and escalators if you’re stuck for an idea, urban transportation at it’s best.

      Naming Townville on a Stick

      Plan your ideal town to move to and then live in. Is it suburban, rural or urban? Is it focused on having public services or dedicated to the arts? Is it going green? Are there huge industrial parks or huge shopping malls? So many choices and so much to plan for a working town.

      Now, once you’ve planned it out and had fun… what will you name your town? Don’t settle for something easy like your name. Go for the gold.