When I started as a blogger at The Grid, I was packing to go back to my home country of Morocco. I had spent two years in the United States as a Fulbright scholar at the graduate urban planning program of Ball State University. However, I also knew that shortly after my arrival to Morocco, I would need to start preparing for the next move to my current hometown of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. It was both a busy and emotional transitional period.
Writing for The Grid was a way for me to share my newly formed perspectives on urban environments, reconnect with old ones, and create a retrospective memory for others. Moreover, I was looking forward to sharing insights from places that were dear to my heart and much unknown to outsiders.
Muncie, was the subject of my first articles. Little known university town, Muncie is however representative of many small American cities, boasting a great level of community engagement and the longest bike trail in Indiana. Once in Morocco, I was eager to introduce different aspects of my multifaceted home country where historic preservation issues are addressed along with other structural issues such as housing and pollution. Being in Amsterdam was the occasion to explore my new neighborhood and discover a long urban planning tradition in action in one of the smartest cities.
My articles at The Grid were a strong motivation for me to stay up-to-date with respect to current urban issues, read and research about different topics, and keep my eyes and mind open. They were also a strong motive to go out, interact with people, and get in touch with community stakeholders.
A little more than a month ago, I started working for an urban design firm in Amsterdam. I wish to continue practicing urban planning for many upcoming years, continuing my quest to understand urban environments and their issues and challenges, and especially understanding people and their motivations to build and occupy spaces.
My journey at The Grid was one of sharing and discovery that I embarked on just at the right time. I would like to thank everyone who is involved in managing The Grid, as well as my other fellow bloggers for making this experience so special. I also would like to wish Renee and the rest of The Grid team a lot of success as The Grid is growing and developing.
Credits: Images by Sarah Essbai and Mariame Chahbi. Data linked to sources.