Why do you blog?
Blogging allows me to blend my academic and professional backgrounds in journalism and urban planning. As a form of civic media, I am drawn to blogging because it’s an outlet for local knowledge and storytelling. I’m a firm believer that there’s never a single story for every place or person. In fact, I see blogs as forums that can provide a unique power to often overshadowed community triumphs. They have the potential to change misperceptions and shift attitudes to reveal possibilities and solutions.
Unlike traditional journalism, blogging isn’t solely about gathering data and reporting as an outsider or spectator. It’s about being an agent (whether as a community member or as a professional) who is personally invested and reflective about the topic at hand. It’s about sharing lessons with similar communities all across the world. Someone recently asked me the following question: “Are you a storyteller or an urban planner?” I responded: “Do I have to choose?” That’s why I blog.
Your interests lie at a unique intersection of art, architecture, media, equity, and of course social justice. Can you describe a favorite project or initiative that embodies all of these components?
That’s a tough one. How about a quick list (in no particular order)? These range from soundmaps and video to locative (location-based) mobile apps and mental mapping/cartography projects.
The posts on CoLab Radio are not always objective. Do you think first person voices and opinions are useful for urban researchers?
Definitely. Planning is a very broad field. It includes urban design, cultural policy, education reform, public health, affordable housing, workforce development, environmental justice, and more. CoLab Radio remains committed to a democratic and social justice vision not regularly found in mainstream media. This is embodied in the following statement about CoLab Radio: “CoLab doesn’t endorse every idea on the site. Rather, it endorses unfettered sharing of ideas and stories.”
Apart from being broad, planning is also about values systems. One person or community may be committed to the benefits of a light rail route, but another might feel that building a park would fulfill his neighborhood’s primary need. I love CoLab Radio because it’s a conduit for generating diverse ideas and solutions for the pressing civic issues that continue to challenge cities and communities of every scale. It invites people from all over the world to teach, learn, and celebrate one another’s perspectives and values. In a field that is often driven by quantitative data, CoLab Radio assists urban researchers in understanding the equally important merits of qualitative information.
Photo by KCET Departures