All posts tagged: place-based

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, …

citysumption and the search for urban cool.

As I’ve already told you, I recently got back from a trip to Europe.  As always, the return to Boston was a bit of a shock, as I lamented, “Boston just isn’t cool.”  Barcelona, where I had just been, just had this effortless excitement to it, a laid back sense of style and innovation, sporting incredibly innovative architecture from Gaudi to contemporary, from tapas on the street to dancing in the squares. What does Boston have?  A food-truck inferiority complex and a half-working waterfront park?  Where’s the beach and the outdoor bars til 5am?  And why, oh, why don’t we turn our incredible seafood into conservas for me to nibble while drinking cava in the sun, or in a packed bar of people drinking vermouth and nibbling on salty, briny snacks? So, in order to try to snap myself out of this malaise, I proceeded to do the “cool” things in Boston.  Most notably, I head to the SoWA open market, “Boston’s original art and indie design market.”  If you know where this is going, …

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 …

Experiments in pop-up democracy

You’re probably wondering what I’m up to these days, since it’s certainly not writing on this blog.  Well, a lot actually!  I’m working on a lot of projects for school that build on the topics I write about here, like historic preservation and economic development, informal food economies, public art happenings, and, of course, politics.  Speaking of which, I have started working on a project on experiments in “pop-up democracy,” which takes the artist interventions I admire and imagines how they could be transformed to serve a more direct political purpose such as encouraging voter turnout and educated community input into planning decisions.   You can see my proposal for a pop-up democracy framework on Participedia (which is awesome and you should check out). Next step: making something pop up!  

Neighborhood Retrofitting: Making Place Matter [guest post]

Here is another gem from my dear friend Alex, about her experience in St. Louis.  Enjoy! In my first post I extolled the City Museum, a hyper expression of St. Louis’s past and its potential. The city itself is likewise defined, at least in part, by what it was and what it could be.  Old North St. Louis, an historical neighborhood north of downtown, is steadily overcoming the severe disinvestment it experienced in the past. There, the devoted and competent Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has been orchestrating the transition. I had the opportunity to intern at the Restoration Group this past summer, and I wanted to introduce this impressive CDC and share a few of my thoughts. To set the scene, here are some before and after photos for your ogling pleasure. These photos show Crown Square, the Restoration Group’s stunning, recently completed $35 million rehabilitation of 27 buildings on what was formerly the 14th Street Pedestrian Mall. All of the photos in this post are courtesy of the Restoration Group. You can …