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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 9

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST

Egyptians love their food, and the center of town offers it in abundance.

There are cheap chains and independent holes-in-the-wall that have been kept in the family for generations.

As millennials and hipsters begin to revive Downtown Cairo with their presence, you’ll also find some gourmet gems.

Monday, January 25, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 8

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST


A stroll through the district takes pedestrians past buildings that meld Islamic and European motifs, neo-classical columns and ornate decorations.

But its elegance and prestige are fading, as the one-way streets and former palaces fall into ruin and shops selling cheap clothes and odds and ends have moved in.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 7

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST

Historically a meeting place for the upper crust and intellectuals, it’s no surprise that there are several spots to have a drink in Downtown Cairo. 

Don’t expect mixology and million-dollar interiors, though. 

The charm of downtown watering holes is the wear and tear on the historic spaces and the no-frills experiences.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

TURKISH AIRLINES: I USED TO RECOMMEND YOUR FLIGHTS TO EVERYONE

YOUR COMPLETE INCOMPETENCE AND REFUSAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE MY  CLEARLY-WRITTEN LETTERS SEEKING COMPENSATION DUE – MEANS I WILL NOW STEER ALL MY ASSOCIATES TO RIVAL CARRIERS

On Saturday March 13, I arrived early at the Cairo airport, 3 hours ahead of the 9:35 a.m. scheduled departure of Turkish Airlines Flight #691.  The scene at check-in, for the boarding pass was chaotic.

The call went out for passengers of Flight TK691 to come to the boarding area. Rumors abounded but there were zero announcements. We ultimately left more than three hours late. There never was a single announcement and there was no gate agent for 90 minutes.

Finally, someone brought water for parched people who had to give up liquids at the boarding area security check. The gate agent, who never used the speaker, but talked to a few people one-on-one before hiding for more than an hour – flat out lied. He said there were across the board 3-hour delays in Istanbul, so even though we would arrive 3 hours late, we would make our connections.

In flight, the crew claimed it had no way of checking in on connections – a claim I do not believe. When we landed in Istanbul, folks learned they had missed about a half dozen connections to North America, as those flights took off on time – proving the gate agent who hid and never made a public announcement was lying. This is the opposite of what I expect from Turkish Airlines. I have told hundreds of friends that TA combines old world Turkish hospitality with modern aircraft and the best connections around the world.

When we arrived – at what is one of the largest airports on earth – there was not a single person to help.  Hundreds of us walked past passport control, connecting international flights area, visa purchase and more.  Some mistakenly exited too soon.  Finally, after almost giving up, I found a Turkish Airlines desk. 

A female in a TA uniform handed out my boarding pass and said to get a visa. Because I have visited Turkey many times in the past few years, I knew about this – but others were confused and given little information.  Once I got my visa, I walked thousands of feet back to the TA desk – only to be told I wasted my time and should have gone through passport control and found the TA hotel desk.

I doubled back, went through the lines, and then exited. There were still dozens of football field sized parts of the concourse to navigate – without a single TA employee to help. Finally, I found an area marked Turkish Airlines. They man took my boarding pass and said to wait. No more information, no sorry, no we’ll take care of you.

Maybe 15 minutes later, I was given my boarding pass and herded into an area to wait for a shuttle. The drive spoke Turkish only and kept complaining to the group for the hour drive. There was no Turkish Air employee on board to tell us where were we going, what kind of hotel we’d be getting, etc.

Finally, we reached a Ramada and were checked in and told dinner was set, not off a menu of choices, at 7 p.m. I was even charged for a simple stomach-settling Sprite when I wanted it in addition to juice and water provided. We were told at the airport that we’d be reimbursed for the $30 USD visa, but no one ever came to the hotel, got on the shuttle back to the airport or was at the gate to help or give us that money. We also never received a text, email or phone call to explain.

When the shuttle arrived at the airport at noon Sunday March 14, I realized my ticket (for Flight TA 77 IST-MIA) was far back in coach. I had paid $109 to upgrade to a legroom seat – but lost all value of that by being seated in the back. By being delayed a day – 100% the fault of TA for leaving Cairo 3+ hours late, my wife, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, had to hire a personal care attendant to watch after her for two shifts on March 14 – at a total cost of $66 USD.

I tipped the hotel waiter for dinner and breakfast and the maid with Lira left in my room. The total, plus the sprite, is about 60 TRY + 60 TRY I spent at the airport on a bottle of water and pizza – fearing that I better line my stomach in case we would once again be 3 or more hours late taking off and trapped with zero provisions after security (like it was in Cairo).   So that’s the equivalent of about $18.50 USD.

I understand weather and other circumstances delay flights. What I cannot comprehend is how my once-beloved Turkish Airlines dropped the ball so much on customer service – at both Cairo and Istanbul Airports. There were hundreds of TA employees around – why couldn’t dozens of them deployed to keep us informed with honest information (Cairo) and precise directions (Istanbul)?

At a minimum, I am due: $30 for Turkish Visa, $109 for seat upgrade lost when flight forced to next day (Turkish Airlines at fault for delay), $66 for my wife’s care and $18.50 for food, beverage and tip associated with the one-day delay in departure. That is $223.50 for pure reimbursement, calculating in nothing for the time I have spent gathering figures and composing this letter.

To truly be the elite air carrier it claims to be, TA should refund the $223.50 + double that amount in a voucher valid for future travel, once it is safe to fly post pandemic.



 


Friday, January 22, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 6

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST


Downtown is a shared meeting point for Cairenes of every age and socioeconomic background. 

Built in the late 19th century, Downtown Cairo is still home to architectural gems from Egypt’s ‘belle epoque’ and streets designed with pedestrians in mind.

The area has become a lot more crowded, especially among the city’s younger citizens, who head there to eat, shop and visit art spaces and cinemas.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 5

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST


Downtown Cairo is haunted by fading classics such as Café Riche, which opened in 1908 and has been a meeting place for intellectuals and revolutionaries.

Downtown’s cafes witnessed many historically significant events over the 20th century. 

Patrons included the iconic Egyptian Nobel Prize winner and novelist Naguib Mahfouz and the then-future president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 4

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST


Downtown Cairo was once home to the prosperous elite of late 19th and early 20th century.

It is a relic of a bygone era — Egypt's belle epoque and demonstrates the vision for developing Egypt.

Decades of neglect by the neighborhood's landlords and tenants have left the splendor of many its ornate edifices mired in decay.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 3

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST


Discovering Downtown Cairo: Architecture and Stories is a highly-recommended book about the fading glory and hope for the future. 

The guide presents a detailed survey of the plans and typologies of apartment buildings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in downtown Cairo. 

It also maps the changes in use of these spaces over time and shares some of the inhabitants' stories.

https://www.jovis.de/en/books/details/product/discovering-downtown-cairo.html

Monday, January 18, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 2

 DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST

The Radio Cinema was opened in 1948. 

This impressive cinema features a large office block above the entrance and retail spaces on either side. 

One passes beneath a towering original neon-ornamented vertical sign tower and marquee which appears to be partly original and partly a fairly recent Post-Modern Neo-Classical redo. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

DOWNTOWN CAIRO -- 1

DESIGNED TO BE THE PARIS OF THE EAST


Downtown Cairo was designed by prestigious French architects who were commissioned by Khedive Ismail during his visit to Paris.

He wanted to make the Egyptian Kingdom capital better than Paris and to be the jewel of the orient. 

He stressed the importance of European style urban planning in Cairo, to include broad, linear gridded streets, geometric harmony and modern European architectural style

Saturday, January 16, 2021

WHEELS ON CAMPUS

A GUIDE TO WHEELCHAIR-FRIENDLY HIGHER EDUCATION

I am proud to be a major contributor to Wheels on Campus, published by New Mobility Magazine.

I wrote three stories about the top 20 universities for: access, accommodations, housing, extracurricular activities and study abroad.


Supported by United Spinal, the groundbreaking guide ran my profiles of the University of Florida, Auburn University and Texas A&M University.

Read the essential stories at https://www.newmobility.com/wheels-on-campus/



Friday, January 15, 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 37

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

“Planners are the guardians of the future and we have an ethical obligation to go out of our way to make sure voices traditionally not heard have a voice,’ Homewood said. 

“We are the ones who are professionally trained and emotionally prepared to imagine our communities in 5, 10, 20, 100 years. 

In terms of climate change, civil unrest, wild fires, pandemics — we are most capable of addressing social and environmental issues and we must ensure we do it in a way that maximizes the health, safety and economic wellbeing of the entire community.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 36

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

Homewood said planners must get past the paternalism of the Great Society and Model Cities movements that whether well-intended or not, added to inequity rather than resolving it. 

He urged planners to get past the “lunacy” of zoning processes that are not inclusive and stand in the way of building communities that are diverse, walkable, bikeable, livable and mixed (incomes and uses).

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 35

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

“Cities planning for highways said (African American communities) were blight, so they were not given anything close to replacement value. 

Their ownership was taken from them and they became renters,” he continued. 

“The one thing we know the greatest source of integrational wealth transfer is homeownership. 

Even in gentrification, if the businesses and houses are owner occupied, everyone reaps the benefits. 

When bad policies took away ownership and made people renters, now a gentrifying neighborhood displaces renters and (deepens the wounds from property takings done generations ago).”

Monday, January 11, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 34

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

George Homewood

George Homewood is the planning director for Norfolk, Va., and served on the task force that created the APA equity policy guide.

“Unfortunately, a legacy that planners have to face up to — one of the key components to the equity policy guide — is the tools of our profession got co-opted and used to divide rather than bring together,” Homewood said. 

“When properties were acquired for highways, African American businesses and houses were taken. 

These were properties folks owned. 

Not only were properties taken, to further compound the crime, they were given a discounted, unfair market value. 

They were not paid what would allow them to replace their business or living conditions."

Sunday, January 10, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 33

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

Andy Mills

“Serving all areas, communities and people to ensure equal access to a healthier, safer and environmentally friendly transportation options are a few of our top priorities. 

Central Ohio is known for the “Columbus Way,” public private partnerships serving the greater good of our communities and providing equal access to all.

We are proud of our work and look forward to the implementation phases of building additional trails. 

It goes without saying, we affirm our commitment to Fair Housing but we are also committed to equality and serving all neighborhoods,” said Andy Mills, 2020 Columbus REALTORS® president. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

KENT STATE: FOUR DEAD IN OHIO

 AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY VIVIDLY TOLD BY MASTER ARTIST/JOURNALIST/STORYTELLER JOHN “DERF” BACKDERF

“Kent State: Four Dead In Ohio,” by northeast Ohio artist John “Derf” Backderf is essential reading for every American and 100% relevant to the times of Black Lives Matter, protest and Trump.

Derf shares the stories of the four students who were killed by the National Guard on Kent’s campus on May 4, 1970, during a protest.

I never thought I’d be much into graphic novels, much less buy one in hardback. But it works and is worth every penny.

I have a close connection to Kent State. It’s where I met my soulmate Heidi, nearly 40 years ago.

She lived in Prentice and her dorm room overlooked the parking lot where four innocent students met their deaths because of right wing idiots such as Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes and moronic gung-ho Ohio National Guard leaders.

I was a journalism student and for four years of my life spent more time at Taylor Hall than my dorm on the other side of campus.

Taylor is at the top of the hill overlooking the commons, where heavily armed/poorly trained guardsman raced towards, taking fire on unarmed students.

It also now is home to the Kent State May 4 Visitor’s Center, housed exactly where the Daily Kent Stater newsroom was located for years, including when I was a staff member.

Derf spent three years studying the archives at Kent State University and other repositories. He interviewed witnesses and victims of the shooting.

Far from a long comic strip about a tragic even in American History, “Kent State: Four Dead In Ohio” is a fine piece of journalism.

I thought I knew everything about the shootings (which took place when I was five and my family lived about 25 miles from Kent.)

I learned all kinds of behind the scenes plus front and center facts from Derf’s book, including the intriguing case of Terry Norman, a narc/gun nut/unstable spy who later served time as a convicted felon for crimes unrelated to the events at Kent.

I laughed at the insider Kent things (live music at J.B.s, townies, black squirrels anyone?) sprinkled through the book.

And even though I was well-aware of the outcome, I wept when the students – so brought to life by Derf – met their bloody deaths at the hands of ruthless National Guard, that never should have had high powered military loaded weapons on a largely peaceful college campus.

I have communicated with Derf – who also penned an amazing graphic novel on his high school classmate Jeffrey Dahmer – to share my praise for his gripping, crucial and essential piece of vivid journalism.

Here’s the Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/Kent-State-Four-Dead-Ohio/dp/1419734849/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1610143562&refinements=p_27%3ADerf+Backderf&s=books&sr=1-1



 

 

Friday, January 8, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 32

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

The Columbus Association of REALTORS® (CAR) secured a smart growth grant to match other funding to support a $50,000 study to equitably build out the Central Ohio Greenways Regional Trail Vision. 

The planning effort acknowledges that many Central Ohio low-income and minority neighborhoods have traditionally been underserved and lack access to safe transportation and recreation options. 

With equity for all, benefits would include cleaner environment, health cost savings and support of a transportation mode-shift away from car dependency.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 31

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

Thompson said NAREB continues to encourage pathways to homeownership while combating the horrendous impact of historic redlining.

“Redlining still takes place today, as African Americans are in lending deserts. 

In some communities, they are twice as likely to be turned down for a mortgage as a non-African American,” he said.

We promote democracy in housing. 

Lawmakers need to pay attention to lending patterns and trends. 

Most have no idea what lending rates are, broken down by racial demographics.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 30

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

Another remedy is making sure stakeholders drive the planning process, not just developers.

Thompson said too many cities dedicate most of their millions in infrastructure to mega developments or new neighborhoods, instead of investing in maintaining core neighborhoods.

“Look at the demolition budget vs. housing rehab dollars. Many cities spend 10 to 1 on knocking down houses instead of spending a little to help people on upkeep,” he said. 

“People get written up for code violations. 

It’s hard to get a mortgage or rehab loan, so it drives people to walk away from their homes. 

That makes it a market for speculators who don’t have the same commitment to the neighborhood. 

In minority neighborhoods, we need comprehensive, sustainable community strategies that rehab houses; stabilize mortgages; fix curbs and sidewalks; provide convenient transit; upgrade water and sewer lines; maintain parks and streetscapes; and build arts and cultural facilities.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 29

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

Antoine M. Thompson

Antoine M. Thompson is executive director of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the largest organization of African American real estate professionals in the United States. 

He said planning for equity can be as simple as placing caps over expressways or removing them — to reconnect communities separated by such major transportation projects that almost always were built through African American neighborhoods.

Thompson, who severed as a state legislator in Buffalo, said the planning and zoning departments of most American cities could benefit from having more diverse staffers, noting a staff that lacks diversity may have good intentions, but it’s likely to make paternal, detrimental decisions.

Monday, January 4, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 28

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

“New growth practices need to consider who they are accountable to — rather than focus on financial return to investment and highest and best use of land. 

There is an opportunity to assess the broader impacts to the community — environmental, social, economic, etc.,” she said.

“If we look at the impacts of existing growth policy — often favoring big box, chains, national retailers/hotels/services, and other similar types of development — the costs of supporting infrastructure and long-term sustainability far outweigh the benefits to community.

In order to support mom and pops/local/diverse businesses, it’s imperative that local planning decisions not only prioritize these types of developments, but also support their success.”

Sunday, January 3, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 27

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

Guerra said addressing planning flaws requires that planners understand:

The many ripple effects of racist and inequitable planning practices;

That planning expertise offers important technical knowledge, but it should not outweigh the local, lived expertise of community members; and

Planners must look beyond the built environment as the outcome of design. That it requires engaging in meaningful conversations across disciplines to understand the deep social impacts of inequality and a path forward that centers on both place and community.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Thank you On Common Ground Magazine

For publishing my unflinching look at: 


*Redlining and destroying communities with highways. 

*Perpetually building barriers to people with disabilities.

*Zoning promoting bigotry. 

*Planning for projects, not people. 

*Other ills that planners MUST address.

@nardotrealtor  




Friday, January 1, 2021

EQUITY AND INCLUSION -- Part 26

Planning, Zoning and other Land Use Policy Best Practices to Erase Errors of the Past that Perpetuated Bias and Deepened Inequality

Monica Guerra

Monica Guerra, PhD, a senior planer at Raimi + Associates in Riverside Calif., contributed to the APA’s planning equity guide.

“I’d start by acknowledging that the most egregious impacts, such as that of redlining, have not been done away,” she said, outlining her best practices for equity. 

“The reason such inequalities exist in parks, transit systems, and playgrounds in many communities is because of these impacts.

It’s a mistake to separate the built environment from the social issues present in a community.”