All posts filed under: projects

2015

In 2015 I  became a mother. This is Orion Augustus.  He’s been out in the world with me for 14 weeks now.  I am filled with awe, impatience, and nostalgia at every moment.  He already moves his hands with purpose, laughs when I kiss his belly, and opens his eyes wide in front of books. The past year seems now like it was all devoted to bringing him into the world, but so much else happened. I finished reading and writing my doctorate qualifying exams: on landscape studies, and on craft and work. I was on the teaching team that developed a new Harvard course on Boston’s history and culture.  I lectured on my own work on Haymarket, psychogeography, and oral history (read it here: I live in three different Bostons).  I also oversaw a group of undergraduate research projects, some of the most fulfilling work I have done as a graduate student. I began a series of interviews with artists about their relationship to place and work.  The first two, with potter Judy Motzkin …

Neighborhood Explorers

For the past month or two I’ve been working on curating a shelf for the Uni Project‘s launch in Boston.  The Uni is a mobile reading   room – think of it as a learning institution for public space – that was started by Leslie and Sam Davol in New York in 2012.  The way Leslie explained it to me when they first began was that she hoped to bring the Uni to places where there was a story already unfolding; that bringing books and learning to public spaces would help communities to see their neighborhoods — and themselves — in a new way.  So the Uni popped up in Corona Plaza with the Queens Museum of Art, which has community engagement at the heart of its mission.  The Uni went to Play Streets all over the city, where community groups had invited them to bring books and learning to street level.  In Brooklyn, the Uni partnered with the public library to bring lending books outside the library walls, so that kids and families could make …

What is the story of a place? Thoughts on field research.

A lecture I gave to the Qualitative Research for Urban Planners course at Harvard’s GSD.  The talk was based on my Master’s thesis, which I have just now (finally) published online. * I came across this headline in the Onion yesterday – about a planner who got through his whole urban design before all of a sudden he realized, oh my god, he was recreating a city that already exists, in a totally different place.  This is funny of course because this is what people imagine planners kinda actually do.  So today, I want to talk about how not to be that guy.  How to ensure with your research process that you are intervening in a place on its own terms, based on a good understanding of what is already there,­ and not imagining that DesMoines is Philadelphia. Here’s the guiding question of what I’m going to be talking about: “What is a place’s story?” Questions are important because they’re the basis for entering a research problem with an open mind, and also to focus …

On missing, remembering, and coming home.

Tisha Tanzillo Mulligan is the co-owner (with her sister, Sandy) of Tanzy’s, a breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea spot in Hudson, New York, where she grew up. I interviewed Tisha at Tanzy’s on June 5, 2013, and was struck by the strong sense of intuition that she described throughout the interview. And how vividly she described food. Music: “Ghosts in the Room” by Nasienie, from the Private Loops album. Private Loops (Nasienie) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 This piece was produced in Oral History Summer School‘s “Oral History for Radio” workshop, Hudson, NY, with instructor Michael Garofalo and Director Suzanne Snider.

Adventures in neighborhood podcasting

This week I’ve been participating in MIT CoLab’s Storytelling for Planners course. I must admit that it’s felt since the first moment like it was where I’ve always belonged.  As you know, I’m committed to helping planners, neighbors, kids and grownups learn and get excited about the world in their own backyards, whether it’s history, personal relationships, architecture, or…local wildlife.  So when I started thinking about what the perfect story would be to embody that sense of noticing, of wonder, of finding mystery in the everyday, I naturally thought about my neighborhood turkeys. I’ve written before about these charismatic urbanfauna and how they can be understood by planners as an example of how surprising interventions can facilitate building social capital.  But here, I was thinking about them differently, as local “characters of interest,” subjects of community mythmaking. That’s all I’ll say.  Except: this is my first podcast.  And, I hope, it’s a preview of coming attractions.  Since so much of this blog is about walking, and pretty much all I do as I’m walking around …