All posts tagged: education

putting the land in place.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that it started — four years ago! — as a space for me to write and think about the issues I was exploring in cities.  Specifically, how we learn about a city: its history, its people, and its traditions.  I’ve been interested in pop-up urbanism (or as i’ve called it, entropy) since my first post, and other issues like historic preservation, manufacturing and economic development came later, as I got to know neighborhoods and reflect on the stories that they tell about themselves.  I’ve always been thinking not just about cities but about the institutions in them, those third and fourth places where people share and learn memories, ideas, and information.  I got my start in those kinds of places, and think they’re an important part of our cities, whether they’re surrounded by granite and columns to tell us that learning is important, or they pop up in a public square to make it fun and surprising.  The themes have been learning, …

With Taste, Smell, and Imagination

This piece first appeared at History at the Table, as part of the NCPH Working Group on Public History and the Local Food Movement. * I’m standing in the basement of Bondir, the intimate, award-winning Cambridge restaurant, watching Chef Jason Bond dismantle a hindquarter of beef, removing fat from muscle and muscle from bone.  As he drops each chunk into its designated plastic tub, he explains to me what it will be used for.  Every bit of this 200 pounds of meat will be consumed.  The steaks will dry-age for some months; the fat, brightly yellow because the cow was grazing on bright green grass, will be rendered and used for daily cooking; the tough muscles will be stews, cooked with the stock made from the bones.  This one animal will feed hundreds of diners; it’s the only way for high-quality meat like this, Chef tells me, to be economic. But I don’t think it’s just economy that drives Bond’s pursuit of a “snout-to-tail” approach to beef, or his painstaking efforts to remove different kinds …

civic culture begins at dinnertime.

I want to tell you today about my favorite holiday. It’s Passover, and while I’m no longer a practicing Jew (in fact I consider myself a Humanist) I’ve found that having a Seder is still extremely important to me. As an adult living away from my family, and just beginning to build my own, I’ve found that the Seder is a ritual that invites me to think, and rethink, my commitments to friends, to tradition, to food and to meaning.  Every year, it means something different. This year, it’s meant thinking about what it takes to produce meaningful conversations about identity and history.  In part, that’s because I’m working on some non-Passover projects about this myself: I’m finally launching Terroir Studio, a kind of roving collaborative initiative for exploring how we can use food and meals to help us create a sense of community and learn about the places we call home. Another reason why Passover has resonated so much with me this year is that  Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander have released their …

2011 taught us to learn in public.

When I wrote this post back in October about living in public, I had no idea how apt it would be!  In the following weeks, the #Occupy movement made living in public a national issue and a powerful strategy for protest.  Urbanists like the folks at #whOWNSpace made the public space itself an issue, shedding light on the politics of ownership and use.  Saskia Sassen’s summer op-ed on open-source urbanism turned out to be prophetic, using the metaphor of technological open-source practices, where users and creators share, collaborate, and experiment in creating knowledge, to describe how our cities of the future will work.  Occupy looked like a complete manifestation of this practice. And pop-up democracy even started to enter the broader vocabulary, as Occupy gave thinkers the platform to start talking more broadly about the importance of citizen-generated political action and civic discourse in public space.  And with all this civic action, people started teaching and learning in public, too, in all kinds of exciting ways. First, we saw the rise of Occupy libraries, giving …

on austerity, violence, and what it takes to be a citizen.

Today I want to try to bring together a couple of narrative threads that I’ve been picking up and mulling over lately.  I don’t always talk about current events here, but it just seems too important to ignore at this moment.  *NB* this is an edited version, after some comments and suggestions I’ve received.  Thanks for contributing, always, and making me think twice!  That’s my favorite thing about blogs. First of all, I can’t not mention the recent Congressional showdown over the budget ceiling, its lamentable end result, and the subsequent downgrading of the US credit rating and continuing stock market collapse.  You know the details already, and are probably sick of the play-by-play.  But if not, I like this article by Krugman from this morning’s Times, and this analysis by the paper’s Editorial board.  But I think there’s an urban, spatial aspect to this issue that isn’t sufficiently discussed in the analysis.  Okay, maybe it’s just how I always look at things.  But you can’t deny that something more is going on here than …

entropy + institutions = pop-up democracy

I’ve been really excited and pleased by how much attention and conversation my post on the entropic city  has generated.  Since then I’ve found a lot of interesting thinking that folks have been doing, primarily in Europe, about this issue.  There’s this group of papers from a conference in Paris in 2008, this traveling exhibition from Spain, from around the same time, and this series of studies in Germany.  Of course, in America people are thinking about temporality too.  The Festival of Ideas for the New City last weekend in New York, which I regretfully could not attend, included a panel on The Heterogeneous City, for example, and included all kinds of exhibitions, interventions, and celebrations of the unexpected, the in-between, the temporary and the engaging.  The AIA in New York is also showing this exhibition on “Jugaad Urbanism” — resourceful, dynamic, innovative — in India. This is urbanism, but maybe it’s not planning.  There’s something profoundly anti-planning about all of this, in fact: an admission that economies, communities, and narratives cannot be predicted in …

good jobs.

If you follow my twitter feed, you know that I’ve been thinking about jobs lately.  Well, okay, everyone’s thinking about jobs lately.  The president’s talking about it, the media’s dancing around it, my job is all about it, Richard Florida as usual is writing  about it.  But lately I’ve been thinking about not just what we’re saying about jobs, but, more importantly, what kind of jobs we’re talking about. Last semester, I did a design studio project about economic development in Boston’s Innovation District.  I argued that creative and innovation economy strategies, which focus on highly skilled jobs and highly educated workforces, drive a wedge between the rich and the poor, a wedge that is growing faster in New England than anywhere else.  New England, and in particular New England cities, are  one of the most highly educated regions of the country, most equipped to take advantage of the innovation economy.  And that’s what everyone’s talking about…the rise of cities as a hub of economic generation, the emergence of technology as a key for American …