Being a huge fan of Art, the Art District was my favorite part of the tour. Las Vegas actually as a lot of giant murals and street art throughout. I enjoyed the openness and underdevelopment that framed the large wall murals. The are of town was more unfamiliar for us due to the small hike it took to get there but it was very enjoyable and even a little inspiring.
The STEM Conference of 2015 was held in Las Vegas. The conference brings together leading experts and researchers from around the United States to focus on topics that impact K–12 STEM education. STEM is an an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Discussion of STEM-related programs has become a presidential priority because too few college students are pursuing degrees in these fields. At the conference we were spoiled with information involving green technologies, 3D printing, nutrition, renewable energy, and urban agriculture.
Stephen Ritz, the founder of the Green Bronx Machine gave a presentation showing how he used urban agriculture to change the students and community of the Bronx lives. The Green Bronx Machine believes that healthy students help drive healthy schools, and that healthy schools are at the heart of healthy communities. Their vision is to improve and grow healthy communities where those who are "apart from ""will become "part of"" the new solutions that Stephen believes, benefits 100% of society. We were fortunate enough to share our ideas of introducing a Food Hub in the metropolitan area of Las Vegas, over some nice warm pizza. The conversation was so spectacular that we had left over pizza. Our entire class got to speak with really intelligent professionals including, Daniel Huard of Greenview Global and Javid the Hydroponics Guru.
The liveliness of Fremont Street was contagious, street performers, small shops, art work, weirdos, dancing and packs of people filled the entire street. It was a pedestrian destination lined by shops, restaurants, hotels and casinos in a younger more 'affordable' scene compared to the almighty, Las Vegas Strip. The Fremont Experience was covered by a large screen that played with light and video along with music. Every once in a while there would be a zip-liner flying above. During the later hours, it was not necessarily a family venue compared to during the day but it has potential to improve due to the multiple types of entertainment. We spent most of our free time on Fremont exploring the street performances. The main element of Fremont were the multiple ways to access it. There were endless amounts of doorways through shops and hotels always leading to the street, or off it. It is very accessible as well as profitable with more people coming in and out. The streets are more alive with all the foot traffic and different destinations. This was good to note for our project and compare to the Container Park resulting in a slightly different atmosphere. Closed and contained (lol) meant for a safe more family friendly space, but in scale the Container Park is a much smaller area where as open and accessible meant for heavy foot traffic and a much bigger variety of people and events. Two concepts, two different feels.
After being very concerned for peoples health within the El Cortez, Ken took us out to see what Fremont and the surrounding areas were really about. We started with the Container Park located two blocks away, to get some dinner. The Container Park was so cool! The Downtown Container Park is a family friendly destination for shopping, dinning, and entertainment. It is made out of large shipping containers stacked on one another giving a really unique feel. I have never seen anything like it. It was a complete change from my initial response- I guess you could say it was a breath of fresh air.
Inside of the park, the containers and front security guy boxed in the activity creating a safe environment. In the center of the park was a small fenced in playground for children, their parents could keep an eye on them with little effort due to the location and fenced area. So there it was, boom, an area for children and families, young adults, adults, and of course the elderly. It was a fun environment to be in, especially with the large sculptured praying mantis that randomly SHOOTS FIRE OUT OF ITS HEAD. Ken gave us a heads up on that one as we gathered in front of it to talk about the container park, but we all still screamed and took cover once it went off.
Now that there was space for actual human activity, everyone got excited. We continued our tour to Fremont street, passing crazy Las Vegas signage that lit the street. It finally hit that we were in Las Vegas on a field trip (crazy), and we had already learned so much just by the first few hours walking around. It was awesome to physically be in our site location. As we headed to Fremont, Large palms sparadically lined the streets, different climate: way different plant pallet.
The sidewalks were large, leaving plenty of room for foot traffic but sometimes led straight to a row of trees, causing us to shift out of the way. Bikers had a decent amount of street space, but some of them chose to ride on the sidewalk saying otherwise. It was late but the streets were as bright as day.
After extensive research of food, food hubs, nutrition and Las Vegas itself- it was finally time to make the big trip. I had never been to Las Vegas before so I had no idea what to expect.. We could say that the Hangover movies may of had me a little concerned.. (KIDDING THIS WAS A SCHOOL TRIP). We arrived in the afternoon to the lovely state of Nevada and headed over to the El Cortez, located right on the infamous Fremont Street. Outside of the airport I could see the Las Vegas strip and mountains, it was beautiful. We had a charter take us to the hotel, traveling through large amounts of traffic we noticed all of the huge billboards advertising concerts, clubs, casinos, and hotels. We also got to see a few neighborhoods, which were quite scary. They were scary due to the lack of vegetation and care for the homes. There was a lot of concrete.
Once we arrived to the El Cortez, it was obvious that we were NOT in Iowa anymore. Inside of the Hotel and of course Casino, the air filled with smoke and far too much cologne. It was challenging to get a fresh breath of air within the casino after just a few minutes. It was then I started to look around and see what the guests of the hotel and casino looked to do for fun. Inside there was a bar, endless slot machines, game tables and a variety of people. There were the barely 21 year old adults like us, there were the real adults and then the elderly- who had seemed to have mastered the slot machines. There were absolutely no children, clearly the law permitted them but honestly, I started to really appreciate our clean air act. I noticed the lack of windows within the casino, manipulating the understanding of time. There were nights we would go to bed and wake up to the same exact people gambling. I'm not lucky enough to spend 12 hours gambling.