Anger Management Techniques: Relaxation In The Heart Of A Busy City

As part of my job I regularly travel around cities to meet clients and conduct business. This is not only in Birmingham (where my company is based) but also in other British cities including London and increasingly to cities outside Britain. From this personal experience and speaking to clients over the years, I have become all too aware of the personal stresses that cities can cause us as human beings. Even those people who live in major world cities such as London and New York (who we may think are acclimatised to this type of environment), the built up long-term stress from this general day-in day-out background stress can grind us down.

Thinking of this then, it is vital that we have relaxation space in the heart of our cities and major towns. On a recent visit to London during a rather hot and busy Friday, it was such a relief to walk through St James’s Park not far from busy Piccadilly. Even in the heart of a world city with over 7 million people, this green oasis with pleasant plants, trees, lakes and grassed areas had an instantly calming influence. Whilst sadly not having the time to stop and sit on a bench -though these were busy anyway- it was still relaxing just to get away from busy streets and pavements for 10-15 minutes and re-enter the street fully refreshed.

Indeed, studies have shown that the colour green has a calming effect upon us. It has been proven that heart rates and blood pressure slow when we look at and are surrounded by a natural green environment. While there is no scientific explanation for this effect, suggestions have been made that there is something in our psyche going back to the days of the first humans when people foraged and lived off the land – a similar reason why for the majority of us our senses are far more alert in the dark than during daytime.

With this in mind, it is also heartening to see that many new urban parks and seating areas have been or are being planned in our towns and cities – in Britain and overseas. Historic examples such as Central Park in New York (843 acres of land between 59th Street in the south and 110th Street to the north): Hyde Park in London and Flagstaff Park in Melbourne Australia, all have a worldwide reputation and offer invaluable relaxation space for their respective urban dwellers and tourists alike.

Even more heartening is the planning of new parks and recreation areas for relaxation in recent years. While it is true to say that there are also economic benefits to such parks -after all Central Park is a New York tourist attraction in itself and employs a large number of people- there are also major health benefits to be gained. Birmingham has a new City Park planned for its Eastside regeneration area (the first large park in the city for over 100 years) and Chavasse Park in Liverpool completely redeveloped as part of the Liverpool One development, with the car park sitting on land atop a large car park – provides a pleasant green area for the city.

Many cities also have indoor ‘Winter Gardens’ with one of the most recent additions I can think of being the Sheffield Winter Gardens in Yorkshire, completed in 2003 to celebrate the Millennium in the city. While on a slightly smaller scale compared to winter gardens in some other cities, it provides an all-weather seating and events area for the people of Sheffield.

While it is all well and good having one of these facilities on your doorstep, it is pointless if you don’t use it. This is something I have found whilst travelling about. Quite often in the past, I have been in so much of a rush that I have simply used such a place as a shortcut to my destination or looked in but never ventured there – let alone sit down and relax. There must be tens of thousands of people who work near these wonderful places -some with residences of workplaces looking out over them- who don’t use these areas to relax for whatever reason.

My advice is to do just this. Use these areas for what they are designed for – to relax. Even if it is just ten minutes for a quick stroll or sit down during lunch; a green and tranquil environment at the beginning, middle or end of the day can greatly help our personal relaxation and can make all the difference when trying to relieve stress. I know I will certainly be visiting these areas more often in the future!

Revitalization vs Gentrification, Part 1

East Austin IS Changing – But Who’s Gonna Benefit?

I was not born in East Austin, just like many other Black Americans who now call the Greater Austin area home. I have been here some 19 years, and though more Blacks live outside of East Austin than within – by an ever-growing margin, only a fool fails to recognize the major roots of the Austin Black community are in East Austin. It continues to be the focal point of Black politics. Black church life, Black heritage, and Black culture are, to a large degree, based on the east side. What this means (your personal position on Austin’s African-American lifestyle-o-meter notwithstanding), is East Austin’s stability, and virility – it’s positive growth – continues to be important to the health of the African American community at-large.

African Americans settled in parts of East Austin just after the Civil War. Those brave souls weathered hate-filled and oppressive times for many, many decades, but still somehow built a thriving and vibrant community. What a testimony to the strength and resilience of our people! This current generation, however, has witnessed the weakening of the community and, though outside forces have played a part in its downfall, primary responsibility is our own, personally and corporally. Property and lives have caved in to spiritual deterioration, to low self-esteem, and to drug and alcohol addiction. Apathy, fear, and lack of understanding have also been our bedmates.

Though most of her residents have stayed true to right living, have worked hard, and strived to maintain their property, all have been affected by the lack of resources, the dearth of enough true leadership, and the moral failure around them. The very heart of the neighborhood has been tested, and the consequent lack of commercial vitality in the community is but one by-product.

For the past several years, great changes have been taking place on Austin’s east side. Community leaders and neighborhood groups have mounted a diligent campaign to revitalize East Austin and re-empower her. Like the mythical Phoenix, the Eastside seems to be rising from the proverbial ashes, and is beginning to show signs of a new vitality and sophistication.

On 11th street, state-of-the-art buildings are replacing the hulled-out ruins of a bygone era. Mainstream restaurants and stores infuse Airport Blvd. with new commercial life. New homes and renovations replace ex-crack houses, and small apartment buildings and 4-plexes are being erected on many streets – from Comal on out to Webberville Rd. There are new people, too. Faces never before seen are now present every day. New neighbors bring friends and relatives and restaurants and bars and lifestyles different from the East Austin of old. Certainly, none of this is wrong – in fact there is a certain wonder and a fundamental beauty to much of what is occurring. But all the beauty is not of the innocent variety, and all of the new, pretty things are not necessarily designed to enhance the lives of the current residents.

Revitalization, in its purest form, refers to a process in which there is a “giving life back to”, or “stimulating the life of”, an existing body. As a socio-economic term, and as it relates to East Austin, it has to do more with the building up of the existing neighborhood in order to enrich the lives of the people who currently reside there. It is NOT the improvement of the houses, roads, businesses, and amenities of a region with the intention of making it aesthetically pleasing or financially profitable for others (i.e. new residents, new land owners, and financial speculators). When improvement is made to an economically impoverished area by a wealthier group of outsiders, and the first focus is not to better the lives of the downtrodden or current population, but instead to increase the financial holdings of this outside group, it is not classical revitalization – it is gentrification.

Those “in the know” already recognize East Austin’s advantageous proximity to downtown Austin – a few blocks to only a few miles away. (…and with little to no traffic!) Most do not know East Austin remains, and is now being exploited as, a most cost-effective area for real estate development. Initial cost for land versus profit potential makes the Eastside even most desirable, indeed. Where these and other factors exist, attempts at gentrification are inevitable. We are, after all, a capitalistic society. In Old English society, the gentry would seize the land of peasants or buy it “for cheap”, improve it, and rent it out to tenant farmers, or sell it for a great profit. They were not as rich as the nobles of the land, but they had money and power, and would not hesitate to prey upon those less fortunate, for their own personal gain. It was no concern of theirs if the former residents or owners were displaced or suffered great loss.

East Austin must beware of gentrification operating under the guise of revitalization.

There has been, particularly of late, a great call to action and a gathering of minds. African American committees are collecting data and drawing up proposals to share with city leaders. Town meetings are being held, and those in attendance have been invited to share their insight for inclusion in these proposals. It is a wonderful thing to see.

“Mo” money is coming. Money to improve the overall quality of life for Blacks in Austin. Finances to correct some of the wrongs – to rectify some of our ills. Funds to revitalize East Austin. As these needed dollars pour in; as both the topography and the socio-psychology of East Austin changes, let us pay attention to who is spending money on whom, on what – and why. If we are not diligent, we may find ourselves living in – or being forced to vacate – another man’s East Austin in just a few short years.

May the leaders of the African American East Austin community have the wisdom, the integrity, and the boldness to properly oversee the ongoing revitalization process and well navigate the changing East Austin landscape. If they do not – we all will be somewhat diminished.

Copyright 2005 Brian K Burns All Rights Reserved

Reasons Why Bellevue Apartments Sell

Bellevue is a city in the state of Washington, located in the Eastside region of King County, just across Lake Washington from Seattle. It spans an area of 33.9 square miles and is occupied by 122,363 residents as of 2010. The place used to be a suburb of Seattle until decades of development transformed it into a “boomburb”, or a city that has retained features of a suburban settlement.

Bellevue is a favorite place to move in by people who have the means to do so. Proprietors of Bellevue apartments in particular benefit well from this trend, and for good reasons. Here are the factors that made apartments one of the top-selling real estate commodities in the city:

1. The continuous economic growth attracts settlers.

In spite of the recession that hit America during the past decade, the economy of Bellevue has kept on growing, albeit slowing down but not to a halt. This keeps the city on attracting both local and foreign immigrants and actually keeps up with the growth. Many of these people then move into apartments as owning land to build a house from scratch is a lot more expensive, as land in Bellevue costs $273.00 per square foot.

2. Bellevue apartments are quality residences.

The fact that an apartment is in Bellevue is already a good selling point. This is because Bellevue apartments have a good reputation of offering quality residences, and lives up to it most of the time. Sure they often end up quite expensive, but that’s a trivial trade off compared to the convenience living in the city can offer.

3. Most apartments are conveniently located near amenities and workplaces.

Bellevue houses a great number of businesses both large and small, and this presents an abundance in products, services and employment all over the city. Given the city’s modest size, Bellevue apartments end up being in good proximity to these businesses, which is good news to those who work in one and/or regularly require the products and services that they can offer.

4. Many come to study in Bellevue.

Bellevue is known to host the Bellevue School District which includes several top-ranking academic institutions. It also has schools that offer tertiary education, namely the City College and Bellevue College. Thus, students flock from all over, but not all of them can be catered by school dorms. Many of them therefore rent apartments, which are happy enough to set up dorm-type rooms with dumbed down prices to accommodate this demographic.

5. Bellevue can be easily accessed from other states.

Among the things that drive Bellevue’s economy is its efficient public transportation. The I-405 is central to this, and, incidentally, it also makes the city a lot more accessible to migrants from other states. For those who do not know, the I-405 is an Interstate Highway, a part of the national road network that links states together. The resulting domestic migration brought about by this stretch of spacious road has made Bellevue apartments even more profitable.

In conclusion, there is but one thing that makes real estate property in Bellevue such as apartments sell: migration. This in turn, is made possible by the quality of life, education and economic stability, factors that define this city in the Washington state.