bikes on tehran’s streets

19 02 2010

Tehran’s municipality has established a bicycle venue “in one district of the city as part of an experimental program to help ease traffic congestion, improve air quality and cater to the desires of increasingly health- and fitness-oriented Iranians.” I have always admired similar programs in European cities (e.g., Paris, Barcelona, etc.), but never thought Tehran’s landscape and culture was bike friendly. I was wrong:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2010/02/iran-on-city-streets-another-green-movement-begins-to-roll-out.html





image reflection

29 09 2009

Tehran has been going through many shakes in the last few months following the presidential elections. These shakes, have, of course been non-seismic! This blog is meant to address the critical issues facing Tehran’s infrastructure and vulnerabilities, so it stayed quiet. However, although, during this sensitive time, infrastructure and role of engineers may seem to many of us as un-important or the last item on our list of priorities, it is in fact a fundamental step toward the common goals of all Iranians, regardless of their political agenda or crises.

Tehran remains to be highly divided and the government seems more divided than its subjects. But that is not my concern, as I’m sure many others are working on that. I am actually concerned about that part of us responsible for our own daily actions. I hear that construction projects are more or less dead in Tehran these days but are starting to move forward gradually. In the past few months, we have all been shaken hard by the wave of excitement and tragedies of our fellow Iranians. We all feel like we’ve been hit in the head a few times every day, watching the news or video clips of new stories. It’s draining, I know. But I also know that we always have a tendency to criticize others and not ourselves – the easiest job in the world.

Let me start with myself: I am trying hard to, as we say in Persian, not forget my mirror when I want to criticize others, including my friends, parents, teachers, and leaders. Read the rest of this entry »





power of colors

29 02 2008

[By Shideh]   On our way to Iran from San Francisco, we stopped in Amsterdam to change planes.  Shawhin and I got our coffee and orange juice (I’m the coffee person and he’s the healthy one) and we were on our way to find the gate for the KLM flight to Tehran.  It turned out finding the gate was much easier than expected.  All we had to do was to follow the large number of familiar eyes who spoke Farsi very loudly.  It’s not common to speak loudly among Iranians, but somehow it seemed like we all wanted to make sure others noticed that we are Iranian, kind of like a signal, a way of communicating, a way to make sure other Iranians see us and can come to us if they are lost or need help of any sort.  

I felt the excitement of going home after 8 years; it was amazing being among all those familiar eyes, familiar accents, familiar smiles, or familiar complaints.  I realized in the middle of my excitement, however, that those eyes and accents were not our only guides to the right gate.  It was something much more visual and obvious: the black clothes!  Sadly I must acknowledge the current trend of fashion among my fellow countrymen.  Black, black, black.  All I could see was black, dark blue, dark gray, dark green, basically all sorts of varieties of black with different shades.  I told Shawhin if he noticed that we were the only ones not wearing black at the gate while we were waiting for our flight.  He laughed and nodded.  I saw that his happy eyes transformed to something more like worried happy eyes.  Well, I did not want to ruin this experience for him so I changed the topic.  I was however deeply concerned about the effects of this color on people’s everyday life back home.  Imagine living in a black city where colors are not widely accepted, are thought to be cheap, or are not even allowed in many public places.  I wonder if anyone in Tehran or other big cities in Iran worries about this, but there I was waiting at the gate deeply struggling with these thoughts and emotions.  I was emotional and excited with the thought of landing at the Mehrabad airport, seeing the Azadi tower when the pilot does a turn around it before landing, kissing the ground of my city, the city that really belonged to me.  My fear of black, on the other hand, was constantly on my mind.  I wanted to get the microphone from the flight attendant and ask all the passengers to change their outfits and wear brighter colors and was frustrated with my lack of power to do so. 

sanandaj-girl.jpg

A girl in Sanandaj, Iran, wearing traditional colorful costumes. Photo courtesy of Ddokosic

Read the rest of this entry »





iran’s international conference on integrated natural disaster management – this february

13 01 2008

Today, we received a message from one of the chairs of the 3rd International Conference on Integrated Natural Disaster Management scheduled in Iran for this February (2008).  The main themes for the conference are: earthquakes, floods, droughts, landslides, and hurricanes.  UNICEF, the City of Tehran, IAEM, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Shahid Beheshti University, York University, and Cranfield University are some of the sponsors of this conference. 

The deadline for submitting abstracts and papers is passed but you can still register and attend the conference.  If you have a paper that you’d like to submit, I personally suggest you send it even though the deadline’s past.  For more information: www.indm.org.  The image below is from their flash intro:

  3rd-int-conf-copy.jpg 

Read the rest of this entry »





town carved from rock

21 12 2007

A town famous for its beautiful architecture and energy efficiency.  Interesting video on National Geographic about Kandovan:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/12/071205-village-video-ap.html

  kandovan1.jpg

picture borrowed from: www.Anvari.org





notes from day 2 of the sustainability and public transportation conference

2 08 2007

[By Shawhin]  The second day of the conference was even more interesting than the first for me.  There was a large focus on city planning, land use, and policy.  I’m continuing the same format as the previous post here and getting straight into details by presentation.  And again, if you want more details on anything, just let me know and I can elaborate. Read the rest of this entry »





notes from day 1 of the sustainability and public tranportation conference

30 07 2007

[By Shawhin]

We concluded our first day of the conference a couple hours ago with many interesting issues discussed, ranging from policy to project specific practices to setting international trends in sustainability.  I took about 20 pages of notes!, which I’ve condensed here.  Provided below are first a concise general-picture summary of the discussions followed by a more detailed account by speaker/session:

 General overview:

  • Attendees and speakers included elected officials (congress, mayors, regional agency board members), heads of transit and planning agencies, representatives from private firms, and other planners, lawyers, architects, engineers, and politicians.  A good mix. Read the rest of this entry »