9/11 memorial explores what happened and to whom—a touching, sensitive collective witness—but does not help understand why. #changebydesign
Twitter  25 June 2012 | LINK | Filed in ,

What is Essential

>  6 October 2011 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

The Occupy Wall Street Journal

The Occupy Wall Street Journal

Occupy Wall Street is gaining momentum and supporters. But what are they calling for? Read all about it in the forthcoming edition of The Occupy Wall Street Journal:

“We want to be the people’s media. Our first project is The Occupy Wall Street Journal, a four-page broadsheet newspaper with an ambitious print run of 50,000. It’s aimed at the general public. The idea is to explain what the protest is about and profile different people who have joined and why they joined. We will explain the issues involved and how the general assembly process operates at Liberty Plaza. It will also offer resources and ways to join. The emphasis will be on quality content, design, photography and artwork that uses incisive humor to make it a lively read.

Future projects include longer editions of the newspaper, bold stickers, edgy posters, colorful palm cards and inspiring flyers.

This project is a volunteer effort: every penny you donate will go directly to printing and distribution.”

Help fund printing and distribution (and get a copy for yourself) on Kickstarter until October 9, 2011.

Update 10/6/11: You can see the first edition here.

>  29 September 2011 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Field Guide to Phytoremediation

New York City contains over 30,000 vacant lots covering a combined 11,000 acres (nearly the size of Manhattan itself.) Much of this space can not be reused because of toxic contamination and the expense of excavating it. Enter the sunflowers.

Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove contaminants from the environment. This Kickstarter campaign hopes to both publicize and demonstrate phytoremediation in NYC:

“In 2010, youarethecity created the Field Guide to Phytoremediation, a DIY handbook to cleaning up toxic soils in your own backyard, neighborhood vacant lot, or other urban space. Working with soil scientists, urban farming activists, community groups, and others interested on (and in) the ground, we have expanded this research. We need your help to make this process more visible and accessible to anyone. We want to print 2,000 copies of the field guide, to distribute for free, and to create on-site installations that illustrate and explain the process of phytoremediation at field lab sites throughout New York City.”

Field Guide to Phytoremediation

I’m in.

>  7 July 2011 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Followers and Leaders

Twitter Truck

Conversation this weekend about food trucks in New York City working to update 30-year-old laws governing street vending: though Twitter is touted as a way for fans to locate your wandering concession, it turns out that having a large number of Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily lead to more business. But it does get you a meeting at City Hall — Council members want their names Tweeted favorably to all those virtual constituents!

>  28 June 2011 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Gay Marriage in NY

Quick sketch tonight:

Gay Marriage, New York


“On Friday night, as the Senate voted, a crowd jammed into the Stonewall Inn, where televisions were tuned to the Senate hours before the vote began. Danny Garvin, 62, said he had been at the bar the night of the riot, and came back to watch the Senate debate Friday. On the streets where police beat gay men in 1969, on Friday crowds cheered, as police quietly stood watch.”

From riots to public policy in just 40 years.

And barely two hours after the Senate vote, has posted an FAQ!

“With the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, people from all over the country and all round world are asking the question: can I come to New York City and get married? The answer is yes! Whether you're a lifelong local or someone who has dreamed of coming here your entire life, New York City is the ultimate spot for you to tie the knot.”

>  24 June 2011 | LINK | Filed in , ,

A Gift of Flowers

Katya, of non-profit marketing blog, spotted this in the lobby of a tony midtown office building:


It’s a nice gesture — and I’m certainly going to think of this wherever I see those red flowers this season.

>  15 December 2010 | LINK | Filed in ,


Recent happenings on old blog posts:

More Public Schools: In March 2009, I wrote about The Public School a website where people propose, discuss, and coordinate free, offline classes taught by volunteers. The project has since expanded from Los Angeles to 6 more cities including New York, Paris, and San Juan. And still more coming soon! I taught a class on Mapping as Activism last month and had a great time.


Listener Supported: In December 2008, I wrote about, a site for crowd-funded news where anyone can pitch and help pay a journalist to produce a local story. Last week, Public Radio Exchange announced they will pick up the software to launch StoryMarket to bring the model to public radio.


Guerilla Wayfinding in NYC: In March 2006, I proposed a compass rose stencil at the exits of New York City subway stations. Shortly after, stencils started appearing! A year later, City officials decided to implement a few test marks of their own, and I found out the idea had been proposed back in 1992. Now it’s 2010 and new compass stencils have popped up at downtown subway exits.


The Trouble with Hippos: In February 2006, I wrote about the Hippo Water Roller, a rugged, round water container designed to be transport water on tough rural roads. Last year, Alissa Walker reported on some of the obstacles the project encountered with extended use, and when trying to scale up production.


Public Designer: My first article for Communication Arts ran in February 2005 on citizens designing for better government. It included several examples orchestrated by Sylvia Harris. This month the AIGA published a great interview with her that’s worth checking out. Harris is a public designer if ever there was.


Get the E out of NYC: In 2004, I wrote about New York City’s trial collection of electronic waste for recycling. On May 29, 2010, New York State decided it’s illegal to throw away your electronic waste in the regular trash. Governor Patterson just signed a producer responsibility law requiring manufacturers to pay for collection and recycling of e-waste from consumers (including individuals, schools, municipalities, small businesses and non-profits.)


Invisible City

Why is New York City’s census count always so low? In addition some concern about a history of census abuse targeting minorities, there’s a whole host of ways people bend the rules to live here. Folks may not want to be counted if you live in off-the-books housing, with off-the-books tenants, or do off-the-books work for a living.

And though immigration is a perennially hot-button issue, I wonder whether this latest flare-up has more to do with mid-term elections or suppressing counts (thus money and power) in non-white districts where Democrats tend to lead.

>  22 May 2010 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Clothing Slashed. “It is winter. A third of the city is poor. And unworn clothing is being destroyed nightly.” Brief NY Times piece exposes big clothing retailers, particularly H&M, destroying clothes before discarding instead of donating or recycling.
>  7 January 2010 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

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