I began writing for The Grid in December 2012. At this time, I was preparing to move to New York City for employment, having relocated back to Woodstock, NY temporarily in August of that year.
I was eager to start writing. I researched a number of potential ideas which could explore emerging planning and design themes in the Greater New York Area. Living 1.5 hours away, I commuted there every other week via Metro North to make site visits, take pictures and write field notes. I was very interested in pursuing topics which were pushing the limits of research and advocacy, having written about The Delancey Street Underground (an underground park in the Lower East Side) and The Welikia Project (an ongoing research project, which continues to investigate the original landscape ecology of NYC over 400 years ago.) These two posts - perhaps above all others - encapsulated what made me passionate about urban planning in the first place; its ability to transform and enliven society's understanding of cities. But as I would later learn, these interests would become greatly expanded in future posts.
Two months later I recognized that I needed to finish my Master’s Thesis at the University of Cincinnati and moved back to Cincinnati, OH in March. This move, as I would later learn, would also provide me with opportunities to explore local topics which I had originally hoped to investigate in the first place. Through this process, I discovered my interest in urban planning predominantly connected to urban history and how cities can change and evolve over time. Beginning with Cincinnati Bockfest and moving on to other topics, including strategic planning, neighborhood history and urban development, I reported on Cincinnati through a journalistic approach I had learned in college. While some posts largely did not receive the public attention I was looking for, one in particular - Cincinnati Public Staircases - was able to acquire national and even international attention, generating a companion article from the Atlantic Cities. Seeing my work spawn a larger discussion on a nationally respected urban planning website was enormously rewarding.
While my time writing for Global Site Plans is coming to an end, I can sincerely attest to how much I have learned and gained in the process. I strongly recommend that students interested in cities, architecture or urban design consider GSP to further their professional writing skills. There are also many opportunities to connect with talented writers reporting from all over the world who share your interests.
As a final note, I would like to personally thank Renée van Staveren and Meg Ryan for your time, patience and expertise. It was a pleasure writing for The Grid and I look forward to reading future posts.
As a closing, I'd like to end with one of my favorite quotes. I take it with me to every new city I visit. I hope that it can inspire the same sense of wanderlust in you as it does me:
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” ― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Credits: Photograph by Geoff Bliss. Data linked to sources.