Friday, December 11, 2009
Earlier this fall I realized that I was getting really tired of the stories the mainstream media chooses to show. It sounds like high-minded elitism or some principled stance but honestly, I was just tired of the hype, the drama, the celebrity focus and the sheer negativity. Over the course of the last few months, and as I began my first semester of graduate school, I slowly began exploring the previously overlooked(by me at least) world of blogging as a new way to stay connected to the world. In the process I found some really inspiring and interesting people who have put a lot of time into writing thought provoking and meaningful articles about things that both I and the authors care about. Thanks to Google Reader I was able to incorporate a few sites I've long been a fan of and combine my various other readings and new favorites into one spot.
More important than my fascination with Google and its array of web dominating applications has been my experiences with my first semester in graduate school that has caused me to start writing this. In August 2009 I dropped everything to move 500 miles and begin working towards my Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Those who knew me in college were surprised at my choice as my career path in those years led me to pursue a variety of health professions and hinted more towards a career interest in sports or student affairs. Nonetheless, I think that I really have found a field that challenges me, inspires me and most of all, makes me believe that there are better ways to do everything and that LOTS of smart, hardworking people are out there trying to make them happen.
I've come to realize that the things I care about are all wrapped up in the way we design and plan the world around us. Our failure to protect our water, our air and our land as we built our cities is catching up to us. Our failure to address systematic racial discrimination, economic segregation and stigmatized poverty has divided every neighborhood in this country. I worked for the Obama Campaign in St. Louis City in 2008 as a filed organizer and it really put me on the path I'm on today. In the course of knocking thousands of doors and making thousands of phone calls, recruiting and training hundreds of volunteers, and generally working harder than I ever had in my entire life I realized just how important it was for me to feel like I was making a difference. In my time walking and driving all over St. Louis, I also realized just how messed up and divided this world is.
All put together with my childhood obsession of creating entire worlds out of Legos, my love of fixing and building things big and small, my innate curiosity and love of working with people and protecting the environment has made urban planning the right fit for me.
I'll be experimenting with this over winter break to find out what works best for me to write about but I'm happy to take suggestions or submissions from anyone.