• Melanie Silver: Rio to New York

    Rio de Janeiro

    Posted on November 13, 2012 by Melanie Silver

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    ……….I was fortunate to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with my 700 architecture studio in mid-October at UPenn.. For three days and two nights we stayed in the Favelas (the densely packed Brazilian slums), becoming part of their large family for a small amount of time. We were researching housing options, and the Favelas are a perfect example of high density, small space, and community organization. Most people have a dangerous impression of the Favelas, and I was nervous before we were there, too, but I felt perfectly safe and like an extended part of their family. We ate meals with them, toured their homes, learned to Samba at a pre-Carnival party, and they were so proud to show us their humble communities.

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    New York City

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    Upon returning from Rio to New York City, Hurricane Sandy was there to greet me.The very next day all transport in, out and within New York City was halted, and I became stranded, resolved to wait out the hurricane there, until I could return to Philadelphia. As Sandy peaked on Monday night, I was waiting it out inside, where I could see the wind whipping trees in crazy directions and hear it howl down the street.

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    Where I was staying in Brooklyn was fortunate to have not sustained much harm, but the next day the damage to the rest of the city was evident- millions losing power, and their homes. I was very lucky to be okay, and my only minor problem was being stranded from lack of transportation.

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    Breezy Point, Queens


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    This was the most devastating Hurricane to hit the East Coast, an unusual extreme weather circumstance that the city was not ready for. Large-scale climate change seems inevitable with our society’s current trajectory, and even if global-warming did not cause Sandy, it is an indication of how unprepared our seaboard cities are for the predicted rising tides.

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    Rockaway Peninsula, Queens


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    About the Author: Melanie Silver is studying Architecture in the graduate fine arts program, University of Pennsylvania.