All posts tagged: moments

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 …

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 …

what turkeys can tell us (about social capital)

I’ve been wanting to write for a long time about the turkeys in my neighborhood. Turkeys? In Cambridge, you say? Yes. Here they are, in the front yard of a neighboring apartment building, the first morning I saw them.  In the late morning, on my way to a meeting, about a week before Thanksgiving. Yes, a week before Thanksgiving. Temporal coincidences aside, the first time I noticed them, I snapped this photo, sent it to my husband (who was at work) via iPhone, and continued along my way, chuckling.  I noticed some hours later that the Cambridge Chronicle had shared a tweet with its followers about a resident who had also seen turkeys.  I wasn’t crazy, I now knew, wasn’t fostering some kind of weird pre-holiday illusion about festive charismatic fauna in my neighborhood. I tweeted back. So the next morning, when I saw a couple of people gathered around the front yard of a different neighbor’s house, I knew it had to be the turkeys.  They were talking animatedly to each other, curious about …

from the archives – rome, 2005.

Four and a half years ago I had just graduated from college and was heading off on two great adventures — the rest of my life, and a stint as a researcher-writer for Let’s Go: Italy in Rome.  While the jury is still out on the rest of my life, Rome was incredible.  Well, it was the kind of wild ride you can only have when you’re 21: meeting boys and new best friends by chatting with strangers on the street or in a hostel, breaking up with my college boyfriend, racking up a massive cell phone bill by calling my family to discuss the aforementioned, staying up partying all night and missing a once-a-day bus the next day, and still managing to write beautiful copy.  But Rome itself…incredible.  And it was that summer of 2005 that I developed my flâneuserie habit: wandering city streets and taking in the unique, humble moments at the same time as I wrote about the long history and culture of the great city of Rome. These photos are a …

my city. expect the unexpected.

I thought this photo would be the perfect introduction to this blog.  Here is a man selling colorful Sunday hats in a public space at Central Square, Cambridge, MA.  There are so many reasons why I had to snap this photo.  First, I am fascinated by informal economies and enjoyed seeing this unique example.  Second, this small plaza on Central Square is always host to interesting happenings: last week some folks were dishing out free food and giving away organic veggies, and often people congregate in this area to chat and pass the time.  But what I love most is the visual juxtaposition of the bright hats and the drab brick plaza, which is often dirty and littered.  To me, a city is about all three of these aspects of the photo: it is a place of informal economies and casual relationships that cannot be quantified; it is a place of unexpected gathering and a constantly changing fabric of uses and happenings; it is a colorful, surprising, world of opposites.  In a word, what I …