The professor’s main comment on the paper was that the paper “was extremely difficult to read because it was poorly written.” When I read those words, I began to wonder how could he say such a thing, and I wonder what have I done to make him say such harsh words. In fact, let me state to you what he has done this past semester that led to such result: he has given us a semester-long essay work, in which we chose a topic that we wanted to discuss in class. Sounds fair, right? Wait until I tell you what consisted of the essay that really made me concerned: the project was three-fold, meaning one needs to be submitted before the presentation and a follow-up and revised essay before the final, plus we will need to present the topic to the class. The essay consisted of two parts:
- Part 1 is a “synopsis”, summarizing what the project, case study, or topic is all about and what makes the student interested in pursuing the project. Included in part 1 is an annotated bibliography wherein we needed to cite nine different sources, with his “requirement” to minimize newspaper sources and maximize scholarly research. Five pages’ worth of synopsis, five pages’ worth of bibliography: something’s wrong in this picture (you tell me).
- Part 2 is the main essay itself, discussing the aforementioned topic mentioned above. He demanded a lot on the essay, including combining all the lessons we’ve learned, plus our honest opinion on the matter and what the future would be like when all is said and done, and he wanted us to check our structure and grammar, as if the paper was to be presented at a City Planning Commission meeting. Ten to fifteen pages’ worth of essay, not including bibliography, relevant maps, and tables.
The third part, a presentation, is required for all groups, in which the groups can take the whole class period to discuss the topic they want to present, and my professor was very strict on using related imagery and tables to present the topic details, as well as showing the current situation versus future scenarios.
- Reducing the carbon footprint by both counties by giving a new transportation choice for commuters living in both counties instead of driving
- Increasing transit ridership by taking the train to and from home, work, school, and play
- Improve the overall “mode-split” (commute trip type choices) for commuters that will allow county planners to reduce sprawl in both Marin and Sonoma Counties
- Open up more business and residential opportunities that will bring in more people to work and live in both counties
Along with those, I discussed how land use can affect the current layout of the areas that will have train stations, particularly at Downtown San Rafael, Hamilton (South Novato), and Atherton (North Novato), in which when the train stations are fully built, development for new residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use will eventually spread out from the stations, bringing in more development to the cities of San Rafael and Novato. More importantly, it will then expand the effects of sprawl as more open land will eventually be consumed to accommodate a new wave of transit-oriented development which will eventually bring in more commuters to take the train instead of crowding Highway 101, the main artery connecting both Sonoma and Marin Counties. Interestingly, the construction of the SMART train is two-fold: it will be a “rail and trail” service, wherein people can use the trail next to the rail track (also of similar length to the rail corridor) to walk, bike, or hike between cities and communities in both counties, which will encourage people to get out, exercise, and enjoy the views.
Tomorrow, I will discuss more on how the essay impacted me, as well as describing what I’ve done to combat the very poor result I got, and I will describe how I view my teacher (plus other comments about him).