TAKE ME THERE: APA Interplan, March 2018

Jason Winn is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners, and certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers. He has practiced architecture and urban planning in Texas and Illinois for 14 years and is currently conducting research at the Eastern Mediterranean University.
Deriving a Narrative Infrastructure
from Community Stories in Famagusta Walled City - Cyprus
by Jason Winn, AICP, RA, CEM, LEED AP+
I had never visited Cyprus before I decided to move here from Texas. Eastern Mediterranean University offers an academic community situated in contested space on the doorstep of an abandoned modern city—unique conditions to study urban sustainability through the lens of storytelling.
My professional work over the last decade led me to ask how can planners and architects support the sense of place? I hope to add to the work in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Planning Education and Research, the Community Development Society, Public Policy and Administration, or the Policy Studies Journal which have been publishing authors with diverse backgrounds all focused on how stories define cities for good or ill.
Famagusta/Gazimağusa, cradled in a great bay on the east coast of Cyprus, is a city fractured by conflict. After emerging from 2,600 years of colonial rule, Famagusta’s resort community Varosha briefly prospered as the most popular tourist destination on the Mediterranean. The centuries of ill-will between Greek and Turk ideologues erupted in a civil war during the 1960s that was only quelled with the intervention of the Republic of Turkey who forced a partition now overseen by the United Nations.
Yet, for all the drama, it is a laid-back Mediterranean island.
North Cyprus’s role as a meeting place of the Middle-East, Europe, and Africa is unusual. With its fleet of private universities, tens of thousands of students from Iran, Iraq, Syria, UAE, Niger, Palestine, Turkey, and many other places converge on North Cyprus striving to change the world together.
My neighbors, like many native islanders, typically spend Sunday in the company of family—barbecuing meats and sharing foods all afternoon. The ladies gather in the kitchen or around a big table to assemble the dozen side dishes (mezelar). The men of the family gather around the fire to debate the best way to cook the kebab. Later, having over-salted their own portion, they attempt to cleanse the meat with douse of lemon juice. All the while, children dash about exploring new ways to alleviate their boredom without wireless Internet.
Seeking Stories
There are subtle stories. Weekly another neighbor ventures into the ancient church-yard outside my window to fetch a bag of groceries from a tree left for her moments before by a vagabond-looking elder with a Bob Marley backpack. Over Türk kahvesi (Turkish coffee), my friend and translator Mehmet explained to me, "As long as you have a job and the latest car, no one will question what you do at home. Your home-life is entirely private and you can get away with anything."
There are the stories told about Cyprus: "a fractured land and divided people." There are the stories told by the Cypriots: "The young left for London and Frankfurt. Many elders moved out of the old neighborhoods. The immigrants moved in and we don’t know them." Then there are the secret stories they keep to themselves. All these stories inform the land use policy, they inform the sense of citizenship, and the result is a landscape of hidden histories and ruins – both ancient and modern – that is the setting of daily life.

Three years ago, the Famagusta Walled City Association (MASDER) started recording the narratives of walled city natives (in Turkish). The organizers graciously provided copies of forty-six of the taped recordings to me to raise funds to translate for research in stakeholder narrative mapping.
A typical public stakeholder-engagement process is a sharing of stories about life’s problems and joys relevant to the specific urban context (Hoch 2000, p.438). The cross-sectional nature of this process means it is limited in duration and its scope focuses only on specific issues (Sandercock 2003). Historic community narratives embody local cultural values (both civil and uncivil) and impart the meaning behind the observable urban context. These narratives provide a longitudinal means of public stakeholder-engagement with development actors (i.e. city administration, builders, and consultant designers and planners.) Reviewed and updated over time, such a method can lead to more germane outcomes. These narratives become the infrastructure that informs place identity (Valera 1998).
In a similar manner as the civil infrastructure systems underlie the city and support its function, a narrative infrastructure is the pattern of memories that underlie the outward manifestation of the city and impart "meaning" (or "relevance") to inhabitants and visitors (Arendt 1959, p.176). Civil and narrative infrastructures are both long-term investments that, when well maintained, improve stakeholders’ quality of life. Synthesis of narratives is a critical skill of urban designers (Hammer 1999). However, because narratological analysis has not been extensively employed by planners and urban designers, the synthesis of community narratives to both disciplines are not well understood.
Space and Narrative
Using the Walled City of Famagusta as a case study, my research aims to describe the spatial relationships of informal narratives at the meso (neighborhood) level. The first objective is to define and populate the components of the narrative infrastructure. The second objective is to define how the narrative infrastructure evokes the sense of place in stakeholders.
In the context of this study, domain is the approximate boundary of the teller’s range of activities. Meaning is the approximate degree of continuity of urban fabric from past to present that aids recall of spatially-addressed narratives. Identity is defined as the teller’s emotional investment in their narrative.
Using the explanatory and independent variables (teller, narrative, and urban fabric) to understand the dependent variables (domain, meaning, and identity), these are my initial research questions:
1. What is the spatial distribution of the narratives?
2. Do cohorts occupy the urban fabric in patterns defined by the narrative themes
3. Are the patterns of memory influenced by Walled City space syntax or service locations?
4. Is there a correlation between narrative characteristics and neighborhood condition, type, or age?
Using this narrative infrastructure, future research should ask:
  1. Can counter-narratives be responsibly and ethically applied through social and mass media to adjust a local narrative thus resulting in improved urban fabric?
  2. Can public policy, building codes, and urban design standards be derived from community narratives?
  3. After a narrative infrastructure is formally published, does it then influence tellers’ use of urban fabric or the narratives they express?
Planning Practice
All codes, all ordinances, all policies—from Hammurabi to Euclid—are the distilled "moral" of someone’s story shared with the polis. As a foreign planner, my biases and cultural-narratives are different from this island community.
Yet, the practice of planning is an exercise in listening to stories—from people, elected officials, the land, the specialists, and the developers. By gathering a narrative infrastructure for communities, practicing planners will have an enduring and adaptable tool derived from the stories of the local people to leverage both incremental and strategic planning processes. Without knowing whence we have come, how could we know which way is forward?
This article originally appeared in the American Planning Association, International Division periodical "INTERPLAN" in March of 2018. The author would like to thank the editor Alan Mammoser and the staff at the APA.
Arendt, H., 1959. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hammer, D., Lileiman, J. Park, K., 1999. Between Positivism and Postmodernism: Hannah Arendt on the Formation of Policy Judgments. Review of Policy Research, 16, pp.148–182.
Hoch, C.J., Dalton, L.C. & So, F.S. eds., 2000. The Practice of Local Government Planning 3rd ed., Washington: ICMA University.
Sandercock, L., 2003. Out of the Closet: The Importance of Stories and Storytelling in Planning Practice. Planning Theory & Practice, 4(1), pp.11–28.
Grand panorama from the west wall of Famagusta’s Walled City: http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/207220

Narrative Infrastructure Chapters 2-7

Copyright 2018 Space Poetics, all rights reserved
Chapter 2: Labor and Memory
Arendt (1958) introduces the genius homo laborans to describe the "ape laborers" to differentiate the actors who craft (homo faber) and the actors who speak (homo narrans). The product of labor is specifically not meant to last, but to be consumed immediately. The procurement of food from a plant, the baking of bread, the cutting of grass—each is a labor. The laboring actors is specifically focused on daily needs as opposed to creating durable goods or forging a better union among the polis. The somatic, often rhythmic, use of the body in labor, Arendt (1958) claims, induces greater subjective well-being. In other words labor is the cause of the emotion of happiness. The extents of this claim are not rigorously tested by Arendt (1958), but logic is rooted in the theory of natural selection that would filter for survival those specimens who's neurochemistry rewarded they who labored diligently to survive.
Though a wealthy actor may be able to hire the labor to support his or her life, and buy all the tools and artifacts to keep life comfortable, there are some elements of moment to moment human life that require personal labor. Each person must attend to their bodily functions, and, as of this writing, no one is beyond the need for personal health care. As a unifying thread of the human condition, all humans are predisposed to develop stratagems to meet their needs. The seemingly infinite variety of strategies mostly converge on ensuring survival of the individual actor. The more intelligent the actor, the more dynamic the strategy.
In order to make actionable the human drive to labor for survival and happiness and the tendency to exercise intelligence in the pursuit of happiness, it is necessary to posit a theoretical configuration of human intelligence. Seeking from first principles, Roger Schank’s (1990) text Tell me a story: narrative and intelligence sought to encode intelligence into an artificial information processor. Schank’s (1990) work demonstrates human cognition is governed by the rules of narrative structure. His work offers a baseline for examinations of phenomenon which are dependent upon the human faculty of cognition. Before discussing the ideas of domain or identity, it is necessary to establish how the laborer processes new ideas into memory via narrative patterns.
To convey a memory to another, a narrator knows subconsciously that the audience (or actor) interprets experience after it has been abstracted into linguistic patterns. In order to invoke an interpretation that is favorable, the narrator adopts a plot that is well known within the local culture and fits the facts of their own experience to that plot. Schank called this the "story skeleton" (Schank, 1990: p.147.) This adaptation process will omit facts that do not fit or contribute to the plot. Narrators rely on the typical plot to leverage common cultural ground. The retelling of the story replaces the experience of the story (ibid, p.170), and the now adapted tale becomes what the narrator remembers. This has the effect of diluting the facts of the event remembered while solidifying the emotional point of view of the narrator.
The actor’s method of interpretation leads to similar dissolution of factual data. Also referred to as "cool" and "hot" cognition by cognitive psychologists, there are two primary modes of intelligence: first and second-order thinking (Schank, 1990; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014; Mischel, 2016). First-order thinking is critical and discriminating of facts. It requires a great deal of attention and is unsuited to typical activity in daily life. Second-order thinking relies on patterns already in the actor’s memory. These can be as simple as how to walk or drive to work. This process is typically found in limbic, evolutionary older portion of the human brain by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. As new information is presented to an actor that is challenging or threatening to known patterns, the actor’s brain attempts to find a heuristic to provide a shortcut to assimilating the new information through the filters of past experience, education, and biological biases (Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014 ; Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli, 2017). Eventually the actor settles on an emotional response first and logical explanation second.
Menary (2008) describes this emotional response as a pre-narrative structure that is as much psychosomatic as it is neurological. pre-narrative fodder for narrativesThese embodied experiences and skilled behaviors are translatable to narrative, but they lack the cause and effect order of the narrative structure and lack meaning, which is discussed later. While emotional responses are inherently difficult to anticipate in a dialog or political engagement, the pre-narrative structure describes a pattern bounding the variety of emotional responses.
These patterns are successful repeated rituals or patterns of ideas established in a semi-lattice similar to Alexander’s description of a city (Alexander, 1966). Evidence that contradicts an actor’s prior knowledge or assumptions will be biased against in their evaluation process, while the reverse is also true: ideas or facts that confirm their bias will not be critically analyzed (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017; Jones & McBeth, 2010). An actor is not going to exert themselves to engage in first-order thinking if a second-order pattern is already complete and vaguely relevant. The second-order spattern will overlay the original data, resulting in false back-stories that the narrator has no control over (Throgmorton, 1992).
Stories that have no relation to embedded second order patterns or are contrary to those patterns require the actor to engage in critical first-order thinking. In either occurrence, the actor is thinking defensively: either to defend their lattice of interrelated ideas or to defend themselves from a potential threat. Whether a story arises in conversation or in art or architecture, the closer it adheres to an actor’s expectations the more favorable the idea’s reception.
Whether positive, negative, or neutral, the emotional response takes place 100-250 milliseconds prior to cognition (Lodge and Taber 2005, 2007, 16; Morris et al. 2003). Essentially actors have made up our mind before they think. Actors pre-assign an emotional frame of reference to new ideas prior to applying logic. The cognition process is largely focused on assembling from memory a logical reason for the emotional response. If the definition of "remember" is to "put members together" (the opposite of dis-member,) then the linguistic processing of a memory, each event of "remembering" is an act of dismemberment. The neurological record of an event in itself cannot be transmitted between people as it is composed of various contextually dependent sense perceptions that are filtered through internalized linguistic processes. The act of narrating sorts the sensory experiences and emotional responses into a continuity that can be expressed in language independent of the original context or sense perceptions.
Memories not sorted into a story and retold will fade as their sensory experiences blur with more recent sensory input (Schank, 1990). Idiosyncratically, the mind will linguistically take a story apart over and over each time it repeats the memory. In time the memory is wholly an abstracted fabrication of the mind (Schank, 1990). Over the years, retelling a story is going to constantly refer back to the evolved theme of the story, not the sensory elements of the experience. Over time, the stories lose resolution, and what we remember actually changes:
"In addition, and more importantly, the classroom related cluster of cognitions may eventually show changes toward becoming an over-simplified and idealized conception." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.65)
Experiences left untold are not extensively influenced by linguistic limitations that confuse the original theme (Schank, 1990). While subsequent experiences will confuse the memory, the details are not diluted by the interpretive process. Negative stories tend to reinforce the negative experiences, in exclusion of all other facts of the relevant events and locations. This is not typically what actors do: it is not psychologically healthy to dwell on negative memories. Actors are much more apt to tell positive stories of their past, thereby reinforcing their emotional theme.
New causes and conditions that give rise to phenomenon influence the emotional response—changing the memory (Schank, 1990). Mental trauma is healed by forgetting the original causes and conditions. As retelling of the story abstracts the sensory record of causes and conditions of mental trauma, retelling of stories dilutes the troubling memories. Stories repeated multiple times in a ritualistic manner become part of the actor’s identity and becomes an embedded neurosis with psycho-somatic implications for the actor’s physical health (Pennebaker & Seagal, 1999). The causes and conditions of stories can originate reflectively from the actor’s memories but their experience of their environment precedes the reflective process.
The experiential extent of the mind is limited to the extents of sensory perception. The human mind is capable of imagining what is not ontologically present. This faculty is rooted in the ability to take in givens from the senses—data channels that relay analogs of phenomenal world to the brain for analysis. Actors perform analysis on abstract narratives as well as sensory givens. While evolutionarily-older portions of the human brain will respond to sensory stimuli in the moment, the higher reasoning portion of the brain does not prioritize stimulus from senses or memories. This function to think about things in the abstract is a primary measure of intelligence (Schank, 1990).
This bias causes a perception that the world in general was better in the past. Negative outcomes of the present seem to outnumber our memories of negative outcomes in the past. Nothing in the past was beyond the actor’s ability to survive, hence subsumed into to second-order thinking patterns. Conversely the present is where the actor does first-order thinking, so subjectively threats are here or soon to manifest. This nostalgia has led to a desire to re-enter the past.
Loss-aversion, one of the key components of nostalgia, is rooted in this bias for things and ideas we already have acquired. Fear of loss is twice as motivating as desire for gain (Kahneman, Knetsch & Thaler, 1990). This drives an actor’s sense of protecting what they have (industry jargon term this NIMBY, or "not in my back yard").
One example of this is the perception of public safety in the United States. The refrain goes that "we used to be able to leave our doors unlocked; children could walk themselves to school. But now there are so many more deviants committing crimes against children." Actual crime numbers prove this to be exactly the opposite (Tyler & Cook, 1984). The new examples of crimes outweigh the extent of past crimes, many of which have been forgotten.
The reflexive, or narrative self, has an inter-subjective, or dialogical structure. It is structured by the interiorization of speech... The unity of the reflexive self is pragmatic, it is anchored in the experiences of an embodied self which is embedded in an environment. (Menary, 2008: p.83)
Schank’s analysis of the process of cognition reveals the higher reasoning portion of the brain does not prioritize stimulus from external senses over imagined stimulus. The well-crafted narrative has the potential to change actors’ memory of events in their past. Expressed language can arise as fully-formed expressions of ideas and emotions, but, per constructionist philosophy of language, also in response to the individual’s environment (Di Masso, Dixon, & Durrheim, 2014).
To understand how thoughts arise from sensory perceptions to ever be analyzed by the reasoning human mind, it is necessary to describe the primary influences of sensory input. Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff (1983) described this as self and place-identity (here following discussed as identity and domain) as critical to understanding:
"…that the psychologically healthy state of a person's sense of self is not a static one, rather it is characterized by growth and change in response to a changing physical and social world." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.59)
The influences of actor psychology must be sought in their personal ritualistic patterns and spatial-use patterns. These two provide adequate bounding to include a limited understanding of both actors and associations of actors in a way that informs the narrative infrastructure.
Chapter 3: Identity and Ritual
To discuss the concept of actor "identity" it is important to understand its etymological roots. The Latin root "idem" is defined as:
‘the same (as above),’ used to avoid repetition in writing, Latin, literally ‘the same,’ from id ‘it, that one,’ from PIE pronominal stem *i- (see yon) + demonstrative suffix -dem. (Online-Etymology-Dictionary, n.d.: idem)
The reference to the "id" was adapted by psychoanalysis to describe the self-interested motivations of people. In this text identity is used to describe the extension of the ownership of self beyond the gross anatomy defined by the actor’s natural body. Thus to identify with a thing or group is to establish a psychological attachment to something outside one’s own body. The degree of that attachment will vary but the essence of the definition is that a sense of personal necessity is assigned to something other than the actor’s natural body. Thus equated to a body part, an actor is likely to react to the threat of removal of an identified fabric as an attack on their body.
As in all attempts to delimit where an actor or actor network begins and ends, it is necessary to define a boundary of the extended body. Inside that boundary is presumably all objects and concepts necessary to define the actor. Process of defining that boundary requires a narrative to describe the difference between "self" and "other". Typically this process is exercised to communicate to other actors to lay claim to territory beyond the physical body.
The development of self-identity begins with learning to distinguish self from others by means of visual cues, auditory cues and other perceptual modes (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Through the process of observation and education the child develops concepts of "mine" and "yours", "me" and "other" and learns to verbally express these distinctions. Proshansky, Fabian, and Kaminoff (1983) go on to warn that the developed cognitions are going to include both positive and negative emotional actor predispositions to the identified urban fabric. In the process of learning to verbalize these predispositions, the actor develops their own "core story" as proposed by Sandercock (2010). The core story aggregates through the life of the actor until:
We become our stories. When we tell stories about ourselves, we draw on past behavior and on others’ comments about us in characterizing ourselves as, say, adventurous, or victims, or afraid of change, or selfish, or heroic. But in telling and re-telling the story, we are also reproducing ourselves and our behaviors. (Sandercock, 2010: p.22)
The core story is constantly in a state of performance: just as characters in fiction are unaware of their fate, the actors cannot anticipate the challenges they will face or joys realize. The actor network environment produces a complex system where actors co-author their core stories together (Throgmorton, 1992; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014). The actor develops their role in the polis to distinguish their value within the polis from other actors as well as claim membership so they can benefit from the action of the polis. As the core story evolves, it establishes the actor’s mental framework for second-order cognition. The core story becomes the reference system for second-order cognition and associated bias. The acquired identity of the actor conditions both confirmation and dis-confirmation bias (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017). Core stories, like all stories, are emplaced, leading to actor bias that has developed from ritual use of space.
Identification with an abstract concept or physical fabric beyond the actor’s body requires repetition to affirm the association in the minds of other actors (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983; Schank, 1990; Jackson, 1994; Molotch, 2000).An actor need not raise their hand to claim to own hands, but for an actor to claim to own a stick it is sociologically necessary to exercise that claim by routinely possessing the stick with their hand. The process of encapsulating the manufactured world and fellow actors out via identification, whether of necessity or comfort, results in a sense of safety by bodily inhabiting the space and association with those co-actors (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983).In this way, identity is a social compact extended to objects, concepts, and actors but requires a reification or ritual. The actor thereby defines themselves and their value to the society with the goal of receiving affirmation from the community (Maslow, 1943). The practice of identity requires a variety of ritualized actions, which is the physical manner of expressing a narrative.
Any shared narrative between two actors establishes a polis. In that exchange of ideas, this prototypical community relies upon a variety of linguistic and behavioral cues to establish rules between the two actors that provides a degree of civil container both actors agree to act within. If an ongoing mutual benefit between the two is agreed upon, the actors will codify their exchange of ideas. They will create a ritual or a thing to act as an embodiment and reminder of the relationship.
Where language sufficed for the initial trust and exchange, the two or more actors will agree to share a ritual, and likely a space for that ritual. Through this process they share an identification that they together share stories of co-memories (commemoration) with others (Sandercock, 2010). The mutual benefit the actors realize becomes common property and a civil container both actors agree to act within. Their group identity has been attached to a space.
In this manner a physical space can be domesticated by the process of group identification. The domain is made manifest by the rituals of the actors. This definable place-identity is perishable as it is dependent upon the reenactment of the rituals by the actors. The relationship is reflexive such that once a place-identity is established, the place and its acquired cultural symbols shape individuals sense of identity (Larkin, 2013; Di Masso, Dixon, & Durrheim, 2014).The majority of research on place-identity is focused place attachment as an intrapsychic process that can be described psychologically (Di Masso, Dixon & Durrheim, 2014). In addition to personal differentiation, actors also define themselves in relation to physical settings of daily life:
"While it is undoubtedly true that in the experience of daily life there is little self-conscious reflection on the meaning of home, the work place, or the neighborhood, there is theoretical value in articulating the functional properties of place-identity as part of the socialization process, and of place-belongingness as one aspect of place-identity." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.61)
Absent the rituals, the place reverts of mundane fabric available to any other actors who practice their own rituals in the same space. When two actors or networks of actors identify with the same space but do not share common rituals for that space, the space is contested. The opposite extreme is the increase of unclaimed space in established cities becoming havens for informal communities and economies. In contrast, with the relatively sedentary rural populations, contemporary urban actors are less likely to develop personal or cultural rituals that claim space due to their nomadic tendencies.
J.B. Jackson (1994) describes the essential nature of cultural rituals to define the sense of place. His examination of the sense of place in the late 20th century rural United States highlights the scarcity of either evolved domain or stable urban fabric to anchor personal or group identities. Yet a sense of place is still definable through the "…lively awareness of the family environment, a ritual repetition, a sense of fellowship based on a shared experience" (Jackson, 1994: p.159). Even lacking monumentation or physical patterns, the sense of a place can be psychologically anchored in memory without being anchored in space.
"In our urban environment which is constantly undergoing irreversible changes, a cyclical sense of time, the regular recurrence of events and celebrations, is what gives us reassurance and a sense of unity and continuity." (Jackson, 1994: p.160)
Hernandez, Hidalgo, & Ruiz, (2014), working with Scannell and Gifford’s work (2010), propose three dimensions to place attachment as a psychological process. The two of their three dimensions, affect (emotion) and behavior (action), are aligned with Arendt’s model of the civil polis of the laborer beholden to their animal needs and the actor as politician. Scannell and Gifford’s third dimension, cognition, is here proposed not as a unique dimension unto itself, but a manifest feedback loop between the emotional roots of action: identity.
Defined by Hernandez et al. as the "PPP framework" (Hernandez, Hidalgo, & Ruiz, 2014, p.126) for person, psychological process, and place dimension, their work does not explore the place dimension with spatial tools. The PPP framework defaults to psychological analysis techniques. The framework is effective in describing the relationship between action, ideas, and emotions as relates to actors. By assessing the degree and manner of identification with place, which joins affect and action (or affect and speech), it rarefies the participant such that spatial research can seek corroboration of that analysis in physical dimension.The urban fabric then, can be described through the rituals of the denizens:
"But the town is not really like a natural phenomenon . It is an artefact — an artefact of a curious kind , compounded of willed and random elements , imperfectly controlled . If it is related to physiology at all , it is more like a dream than anything else." (Rykwert, 2013: p.717)
Chapter 4: Domain and the Actor
A "narrative infrastructure" is composed of the built fabrics and biome that bound the externalized memories of individuals and communities (Childs, 2008, p.176). Childs (2008) identifies the narrative fabric as a public resource to be protected against the dangers of natural disasters and urban renewal, both of which could "engender a kind of mental health crisis that impoverishes individuals and can destroy a community." (Childs, 2008: p.176). Being composed of both a sequence of relevant events (a narrative) and a three dimensional matrix (infrastructure), the individual actor and groups of actors adopt specific spaces for the exercise of personal and group identity (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983; MacKian, 2004).
These actor domains are differentiated from the overall urban fabric through the degree of physical association. Their rituals and resulting feedback is, in turn, filtered by the domain as an aggregate of sensory input:
"The 'information' that is being transformed through spatial metaphor is not the prime focus. Above all, because the information comes from, is filtered through, is expressed in relation to the body, and its movement through or residence in space, this is inherently spatial, relational information already." (MacKian, 2004: p.618)
The "relational information" in the spatial dimension is chartable, in both duration and space. Yet the fidelity of that information is limited by the attention span of the actor. While an actor who has an unremarkable day will not be able to recall in detail what they were doing, they will have a sense of which urban fabrics they were using. If, hypothetically, an actor returned from buying food, they may not be able to remember all the items they bought at the grocery, but they are probably going to remember they were at a grocery. This is a function of how the actor indexes urban fabrics for use in daily life. The grocery, as the modern "hunter-gatherer" place, has a great variety of items cognitively mapped for the sake of gathering preferred foodstuffs (Schank, 1990). The tendency of an actor to subconsciously map or "plot" their journey through the store to optimize the shopping utilizes a narrative framework including a beginning, middle, and end (Schank, 1990).
This is not to suggest the actor is working from a script or storyboard, but a vague meandering among way-points between the entry and exit of the hypothetical store. Way-finding within the store obviates the need for detailed planning on the part of the actor. When an actor traverses any given space beyond the home, he or she is saturated with events and items that lack personal consequence or affect. In the memory of the actor, the multiple times retracing the same routes will cause interfering memories over time (Schank, 1990). The travel through known territory is more often subconscious, with little impact on the actor’s personal narrative. If pressed, the actor will retroactively embellish such indistinct memories with plausible sequences of events based upon their own presumptions. Schank (1990, 124) defines this as story-based memory, where a plausible yet fictional narrative fills in the gaps between way-points of more consequence to the actor. These embellished memories are substituted for an accurate record of events.
"Stories are a way of preserving the connectivity of events that would otherwise be disassociated over time. One reason we tell stories, therefore, is to help ourselves in remembering them." (Schank, 1990: p.124).
Relationship between the domain of an actor and the actor’s memory appear related to first and second-order thinking modes. Memories are physically outsourced to the ritually used landscape to reduce the necessity of first-order thinking. Physical items that are novel or discovered in unexpected locations will stand out in the actor’s memory as discontinuities, forcing the actor to update their mental map for use during their next visit. Actors must exercise skills of mimetic environmental control in changing the setting, the behavior of others, or his or her own behavior (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). The confusion caused by too rapid change in an actor’s expectation of their domain appear to result in a phenomenon akin to a mental health crisis (Fullilove, 2004) . An actor’s domain is defined by their memories of the urban fabric and biome:
"At the core of such physical environment-related cognitions is the 'environmental past' of the person; a past consisting of places, spaces and their properties which have served instrumentally in the satisfaction of the person's biological, psychological, social, and cultural needs." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.59)
The extreme example of the loss of all domains is experienced by refugees. The same but lesser experience of loss is nostalgia for childhood domains due to urban morphology. The demolition of an actor’s various domains seems to leave a memory gap with physical coordinates within the urban fabric. To reduce the sense of memory loss, actors externalize their memory into their domain with mementos. The process of serial vision as described by Gorden Cullen (1961) is applicable at both an urban and domestic scales. The way-finding of an actor through a familiar space, while not typically overtly mapped, is greatly informed by sensory or way-finding cues re-experienced in serial progression. The subtle ritual of noticing and dwelling on the memento reinforces personal identity. Both monuments and graffiti are expressions of outsourced memory: placing serial memory cues in space to lay claim to urban fabric as personally relevant domain.
As the actors tend to ignore the majority of sensory data they are exposed to, mapping this sense of place charts a city that appears to be nodes of consequence associated by largely fictional narratives. Actor’s memories of their domains are fungible, and their actual sensory interaction with those changing domains constantly demand the actor renew their domain: "The way we narrate the city becomes constitutive of urban reality, affecting the choices we make, the ways we then might act." (Sandercock, 2003: p.12).
Domain and the Actor Network
Jackson (1994) describes how small cultural rituals become reflected in the land in a similar manner described by Jacobs (1961) how an established fabric built by previous residents shapes the rituals of later generations. The city operates at multiple time scales: daily, seasonally, and inter-generational. Daily and seasonal needs can be satisfied by the urban change professional by interviewing actors about their needs and wants. Those needs and wants are more likely to be focused on short time-spans such as relates to employment and the lives of their children. If asked to describe their needs and wants for their grandchildren, a mid-forties aged actor is likely to speak in generalities about education and "high-quality of life". In general, those with the most capacity to act (be it political action, direct action, investment action) are using the narrowest planning horizon (Schwartz, 1991).
Jacobs’ seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) provides a variety of insights into the nature of domain. Unlike towns, cities are accumulations of strangers. Modern towns, with the large volume of migration have lost the integration of community that informs Jacobs’ distinction between town and city. The manifestation of the rituals of the street and sidewalk described by Jacobs (1961) are largely specific to mid-twentieth century Chelsey, New York City (and neighboring boroughs), yet she accuratlly described how those actors utilized the urban fabric as a collection of rituals. Starting with actors’ front-stoop, their sidewalk and street, the mix of commercial tenants on that street, up to and including maximizing pedestrian connectivity with small blocks; Jacobs described functionally and temporally dynamic domains of a city from the perspective of the actor.
Though the fabrics of the built environment respond only to actor intervention and entropy, domains require constant reenactment of rituals to persist in a given state. Jacobs (1961) suggests leveraging the diversity of possible rituals at different times of day to continuously induce culturally sanctioned activity. Throughout Jacobs’ (1961) work is the affirmation that the civil domain requires constant vigilance—literal watchers of the street—to ensure decorum, if not equity. Common domain requires the informal ritual of sentries to enforce the shared identity.
"In cities, liveliness and variety attract more liveliness; deadness and monotony repel life. And this is a principle vital not only to the ways cities behave socially, but also to the ways they behave economically." (Jacobs 1961, p. 99)
Space left idle is available for illicit rituals that can become habituated to the space by their actors, changing the associations of all actors who might use that space. This cycle leads to a perceived loss of a domain by the first actors, which is expressed in their narratives. Through the process of assigning meaning (discussed below) these narratives reinforce the surrender of that specific domain to the new actors.
To exclude actors of one socio-economic class from the domain of a higher socio-economic class results in segregation and disintegration within urban fabrics (Jacobs, 1961). At a personal scale there is a need for a degree of privacy within the close confines of the city: "… it is not considered dignified for everyone to know one’s affairs. Nor is it considered dignified to snoop on the others beyond the face presented in public. It does violence to a person’s privacy and rights." (Jacobs, 1961: p.59).
Shared neighborhood scale public domains exists as the venue for class integration. The public domain is the ideal space to share with strangers or passing acquaintances. As the space is public, none are making personal sacrifice for others. The exchange is limited to the conversation, rather than an act of hospitality which might suggest expected reciprocation. Absent this shared domain, the community will develop insular private domains which preclude the sharing of temporal rituals, which in turn precludes the development of common identity. Such segregation leads to contests for the limited urban fabric.
At the macro level, national communities do not typically exhibit homogeneous values and knowledge (Cranz & Lindsay, 2014). The lack of frequent shared rituals at a national level is largely a result of each meso or microculture having different domains. The sited meso or microculture will address its membership spatially, and define the group members partially through the actor’s relations to the shared domain (Cranz & Lindsay, 2014). In addition to the specifically micro and meso domains of actor’s lives, there is the parochial institutions such as places of worship, education, and social assistance groups which "supervise the neighborhood and organize pro-social activities" (O'Looney, 1998: p.223). Other institutions such as adult-oriented entertainment venues contribute contrasting narratives to the local neighborhood. Social conflict arises where the rituals of actor groups diverge within the same domain.
Mapping Domain
Without getting into the process of land-use policy (as discussed below in the subsection meaning), contested space is a chief concern of the urban change professional. To understand contested domains, it is necessary to abstract the domains to a common map. The abstract boundary provides an extent to the contest, and helps to identify other actor networks who may be unaware that their domain is contested. Through the process of describing the rituals of an actor network and how they are reflected in the space, the competing actors have the potential to enter into a dialog about how domain use, and is the first step to discovering how to share a domain.
The process of mapping of a domain is a seizing of fabric or biome. The map or artifact record publishes a narrative of the actor’s identification with a specific fabric. The act of assembling the narrative around the artifacts or landscape requires the community at large to address the defined claim on contested space. Overtly or subversively, the meaning or theme of the map or catalog is not legal title, but that the physical fabric is an extension of the actor’s natural person (Caquard & Cartwright, 2014). At the behest of the aboriginal community, portions of rural Australia is under federal protection to preserve the significant Aboriginal area (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984, Australia). Many of the land forms are mnemonic ques for the aboriginal "songlines" which form a network of story-based transportation maps have been utilized for many thousands of years by the aboriginal community (Chatwin, 1988; Kearney & Bradley, 2009). The navigation of the land was performed by singing the story of the land, with the land itself being the cue for each verse. Thus ancient stories could lead a tribe from water source to water source with an accurate anticipation of required supplies to accomplish the journey. These walking/singing rituals were claimed as substantive to aboriginal identity, thus worthy of overriding private land-use rights.
Childs (2008, p.176) writes: "[w]ith generations of weddings, the institution of marriage becomes part of the soil", claiming that the identity of a culture is merged with the landscape and urban fabric the culture inhabits. Lacking pervasive externalized mnemonics such as aboriginals of Australia, most cultures rely on formal monumentation regarding a limited number of historical points of political import. The majority of cultural memory is not formalized, resulting in casual loss of culturally relevant urban fabric or boime. The act of mapping and cataloging allows both the transmission of the meaning and the extents. Any policy is arbitrary if lacking definitive extents. When the extents of cultural memory are known, the polis can take definitive action or enforce policy that protects that fabric or biome.
Similarly, any cultural landscape lacking definitive extents is subject to arbitrary action by current or future generations. Actor memories are both fungible and temporary. Each successive generation tends to inherit the fabric of their parents, but not necessarily the plot or pattern that domesticated the fabric. To remember is to re-tell the story, and thus perpetuate the domain within the fabric. When paired with external mimetic media, such as wedding pictures or maps, the study of domain enters into the field of anthropology or cartography. Lacking such external media, ritual use, or story-telling tradition, the place-identity (the domain) is likely to return to homogeneous fabric or biome:
In the field of literature, maps are employed by scholars to better understand how a narrative is placed in a geography, how a geography has informed or influenced an author or how the narrative is ‘locked’ to a particular geography or landscape... In other words, the potential of maps to both decipher and tell stories is virtually unlimited. (Caquard & Cartwright, 2014: p.101)
Regrettably, the best map is an imperfect representation of a domain. As noted by Alexander (1966) the interactions between actors and fabric is, subtle, multi-scaled, temporally dependent, and diverse. There is an important point towards establishing a domain: it must intentionally exclude. While maps reduce the richness of personal experience of an individual’s domain, it is necessary to translate some of that experience into a narrative that can be communicated to others for the preservation of personal or group identity.
Typically the identity documented by mapping exercise is not desired, but indicative of the extents of social decline: poverty, crime, and inequity are important deficit maps for planning processes. There is the risk of focusing too much attention on narratives of decline, which can cause communities to identify with deficits. Analogous to Schank’s (1990) discussion on the need to forget past trauma to truly heal, community actors need to avoid identifying their natural person with a map describing a domain of decline. The actual act of publishing a map of decline can lead to apathy within a community (O'Looney, 1998). The goal of a governmental mapping effort is to identify boundaries and limitations for land use, but when mapping social issues the map’s narrative is focused on community need (O’Looney, 1998). This bias inherently maps neighborhoods with descriptions of their failings: crime, poverty, lack of care, lack of food. Each of these layers compounds the narrative of failure, which tends to reinforce public and institutional bias. This has resulted in literal "red-lining" of neighborhoods in the past, requiring various laws to force lending institutions to limit their use of bias (Civil Rights Act 1968, s. VIII [USA]). Such maps of formal memory are drafted to exert control over the polis and its institutions.
Maps that chart personal narratives tend to be informal by nature. Personal or group domain is where actor networks categorize and sort memory to effect long-term propagation of their identity. The process of encouraging long-term thinking is an important part of the work of urban change professionals. In contested domain where expressed narratives overlap there are likely to be conflicts of interests between story-holders but also the potential of fostering comedic integration (see Meaning below). Domains without a diversity of narratives maps are at risk of tragic actions of short-term exploitation.
Chapter 5: Works; Artifice and Attachment
Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool. -Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841). "Essays", p.26
Every tool is designed to effect a specific desired product, be it another work or a support of labor (Arendt, 1959). Each artifact is designed for the task with which it is engaged, not the resulting human experience of the benefits of the work or labor. Where consumption is the point of products of labor, the inevitable destruction of the product of work is incidental to its use (Arendt, 1959). The artifact’s durability is eventually used up, weathered, eroded, or destroyed by natural disaster, but only after it has served its purpose many times.
Though it fails, the built environment is composed of all that has been brought from the raw to the finished state with the intent to endure. The process of transforming by violence raw materials into assemblages of works, the homo faber becomes a creator of his or her own solutions to problems: "…in order to erect a world, not—at least, not primarily—to help the human life process" (Arendt, 1959: p.132). If decay is the presence of problems, that which alleviates decay promotes life. Thus by supporting labor and alleviating decay, the work becomes associated with the life and subjective well-being of the actor.
A place attachment with the work is affirmed through the process of ritualized identification. As the work eventually succumbs to wear and tear, it becomes a source of psychological loss. Until then, the actor jealously defends the work against theft. The psychological attachment to the work is defended like attachment to life itself. Though Arendt (1959) presents homo faber as "lord and master" of the material world because of the super-position over the work, the inherent impermanence of both the actors and their creations defines a tragic narrative arc between having - then losing - artifacts.
The narrative of the artifact starts with the desire for better outcomes from labor than those remembered. Schank (1990) describes creativity as the ability to adapt memories of stories to present conditions. This can be as simple as recognizing an old friend who has changed their hair style or as nuanced as noting the similarity between precedent law and current legal entanglements (Schank, 1990). For manipulation of the built fabric, this suggests actors do not mimic the previous forms, but leverage the human ability to partially match memories to problems at hand.
The actor’s adaptive process is structured by narrative: starting with a domain (givens), identifying a villain (problem), and inventing a hero who uses the givens in a novel way to overcome the villain. This narrative arc presumes the solutions of the past are the raw material to deal with the present, thus establishing a continuity through artifacts. Schank (1990) reaffirms the successful designer as the "bricoleur" of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1966). This theory of intelligence and creativity mandates that the urban change professional be thoroughly immersed in the narrative of their context — as much as their own craft. Using the memory of the local narrative simultaneously with the craft of design determines the success of "adapted" solutions.
Those built solutions are, at a minimum, the setting of actor stories: containers whose shape influence the rituals of actors. The integrated density of narratives embedded in the urban fabric develops a kind of agency through its unpredictable influence (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). The actor is neither capable nor motivated to integrate the multitude of narratives that arise from any one fabric (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Actors tend to ignore much of the setting of their lives until it is dysfunctional (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Often the goal of the urban change professional is to imbue notable aesthetic beauty in the mundane functionality of spatial design. Given the actors’ self-interest, the design risks distracting the polis from the actors’ narrative. This is the equivalent of a stage-set up-staging the actors. Yet the set is simultaneously vital to the action as the minutia of the settings (e.g. size of a room, color, location of windows, bed, chairs, etc.) form the fabric of the user’s place-identity (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983).Adapted to the terms of narrative infrastructure, Proshansky Fabian, & Kaminoff (1983) suggest that works that underlie a user’s domain that complicates or inhibits their practice of their identity are rejected designs.
To proceed without awareness of local narratives is to impose alien culture on the local community. This requires the community to engage in first-order thinking, which will be heavily biased by previous conditions. Such design work does not leverage the continuity granted by the local narratives, making adoption by the local actors much less likely. Referred to as architectural colonialism and imperialism (Mazrui, 1999), glaringly inconsistent built fabric is less sustainable than materially more perishable indigenous fabrics. Similar folly is design meant to replicate a local narrative, rather than adapt that narrative. Replication of fabric invariably suffer from errors and a lack of patina. The local actors would presume to use second-order thinking relating to the work, but the subtle errors give rise to the awareness of uncanny discrepancies. The foundation of a narrative is its setting, and when inauthentic, the narrative is discontinuous and untrusted due to a subtle alien presence.
Nanetti & Cheong (2017) discuss the relationship between the intangible and tangible heritage as symbiotic:
Through this feedback between intangible and tangible heritage, not only do buildings, monuments, and mountains rise above the profanity of day-to-day human interactions, but art, music, dance, and theater can also become sacred. Even food and culinary practices become associated with places or peoples. (Nanetti & Cheong, 2017: p.344)
The actors "read" the tangible built text composed with the vocabulary of materials (glass, stone, wood, concrete, plastics). This vocabulary is composed in architectonic and spatial relationships of mass, light, sitting, and scale (Yanow, 1995). No single material choice or element of symbolic content will suffice to distinguish ‘place’ from any other (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). Neither would their absence exclude a new fabric from being part of a larger built fabric—so long as a local actor performs one of their many rituals therein. The most obvious ritual would be the builder’s ritual use of material: the material might change but the techniques of assembly will be particular to the sense of place. Molotch, Freudenburg, and Paulsen (2000) define place tradition as dependent upon the Structuration theory of this bricolage in time.
The order of assembly of new fabric is not the defining factor of overall fabric continuity. Each moment is unique in itself, but is predicated on the immediate prior events. Each actor is similarly unique given their unique combination of biographical identity and physical domain. Both actors and historic fabrics are unique given the assembly of unique prior conditions (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). Thus the definition of continuity is the process of drawing upon prior conditions, yet impossible to predetermine due to the path-dependency that is unique to each actor and location. Persisting in this time-dependent media, the actors translate the the city into narratives in the same manner they translate memory. The linguistic filter and associated bias is overlain the built fabric and reflexively becomes constitutive of urban reality (Childs, 2008; Sandercock, 2010). Actor discourse relies on the narrative turn to discuss the built fabric. This narrative informs the sense of place, which affects the choices made by the actors (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000; Sandercock, 2010).
Childs (2008: p.175) describes this as a "virtuous cycle: the urban realm emerges from a cycle of relationships between built forms and stories of place, and between multiple buildings in a settlement in which, like an ecosystem, one forms the context for another." No individual portion of the built fabric is excluded from the narrative: the content of the city is enfolded into the actor’s urban fabric narrative due to its ontic persistence always prompting the actor’s memory. The actors go on to judge changes to the built fabric based upon how those changes integrate with their personal and cultural narratives (Childs, 2008). Rapid changes to the built fabric can result in domain shear that threatens the actor’s place-identity. Under normal circumstances, the actor perceives change in their lives happening at a much more rapid rate than urban morphology. This leads to a misconception of environmental stability, which in turn validates the actor’s belief in their own continuity over time (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Their sense of place-identity, mirrored in the physical world’s seeming persistence, provides the mimetic container for the rituals underpinning their self-identity (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). As buildings tend to outlive actors, the meanings and interpretations may change, causing generational strife as the actors of today yield their agency to their children (Yanow, 1995).The implications for the development of city narratives leads to considerable consternation. Anticipation of housing and commercial filtering whereby new market-rate construction becomes the next generation’s low-cost housing option requires long-term thinking by those with the capacity to act. Developing for a diversity of rituals and income levels today overcomes the danger of mono-cultural developments built to serve a single level of affluence:
We cannot blame their (the developments) poor staying power and stagnation entirely on their most obvious misfortune: being built all at once. Nevertheless, this is one of the handicaps of such neighborhoods, and unfortunately its effects can persist long after the buildings have become aged. (Jacobs, 1961, p.198)
Works are adopted as domains through development of meaning. Meaning develops through inter-generational ritualistic use. Urban fabrics that fail to bridge generations will become abandoned domains that attract emigration of new actors or foster a narrative of decline which accelerates the narrative of abandonment. Which ever result is present, the narrative is unbroken so long as the artifacts are sensible. That narrative may become one of decline, but the strength of works is in their persistence, which they lend to their narratives (Childs, 2008).
Chapter 6: Meaning in Stories
Meaning and Homo Laborans
[narrative is a ] form of human comprehension that is productive of meaning by its imposition of a certain formal coherence on a virtual chaos of events.' (White, 1981, p. 251)
The threat of existential crisis is omni-present in the human psyche. Most actors who trace the narratives of their lives identify the common plot of growing old and eventually dying. This ultimate bounding of the human condition is beyond the text of Arendt (1959). Whether through procreation or authorship or some other stratagem, actor’s desire for continuity of their physical being, their contributions to society (via their works), their reputation (usually through their works and occasionally labors), or their domain (Dunstan & Sarkissian, 1994; Valentine, 2009). As every manifestation of people and their societies are perishable or subject to change, there is no ultimate remedy to the common existential crisis.
In terms of relative relief from this common crisis, oral stories are one of the longest lived media -- the oldest known with accurate factual content originating in Australia 13,700 years before present time (Reid, Nunn, and Sharpe, 2014). The song lines (stories) of Australia have increased over the centuries, interlinking and increasing the cultural interconnectedness between aboriginal communities (Chatwin, 1988). Preservation of personal identity through stories or other media is only likely to happen if the story has meaning to future actors.
The work of an artist, or architect, or writer is not the source of cultural meaning. Neither is the creator the source of the cultural meaning. The meaning is established through interpretation by the audience (Throgmorton, 1992). This share of the meaning of a work belongs to the audience. The phrase "the beholder's share", which was introduced by the Austrian art historian Alois Riegl, denotes that part of an artwork's meaning which must be contributed by the viewer (Gubser, 2005).
This degree of agency granted to every individual who consumes narrative of all types foists the individual into the action of the narrative, hence they are each "actors". At the least they must take the cognitive action to ignore a narrative, if not actively accept or reject it for its implications. This action requires them to replay the narrative in their own mind, but being within their mind, its interpretation is greatly influenced by the memories of the actor.
Meaning is the Moral of Stories
Meaning, here used in the sense that an artifact, idea, work of art, or piece of writing defines the culture beyond the artifact’s original function. The preoccupation of actors with preservation of their identities makes meaning an important part promoting the preservation of any artifact or idea (Dunstan & Sarkissian, 1994). According to Dunstan and Sarkissian (1994), every actor and actor network has a "core story" that is composed of elements of their narrative that is interlinked with meso or macro narratives of their domain. This layering and interlinking of stories is the "lash-up" of stories and facts described by Molotch, Freudenburg, and Paulsen (2000):
Any identifiable thing in the world, be it a toaster, a norm, an ethnicity, a fact, or a city, gains its reality through an even more complex ecology of enrollments among diverse actors and the "stored-up" human activities represented by physical objects that also, in this sense, have a kind of agency. (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000: p.793)
The stored-up meanings integrate knowledge of events in a domain and attains meaning by associating with other second-order patterns of memory preexisting in the minds of the audience (Schank, 1991; Sandercock, 2010). 19th-century New England factories and schools were built to resemble churches on order to leverage a "church behavior" to school children and factory workers. The politicians and architects of that era were keen to leverage the aggregated meaning inherent in the church-style to provide a psychologically container for the activities within schools and factories (Yanow, 1995). This deliberate use of hermeneutics channeled the actors’ experience of the public space towards a narrative meaning "control" and away from a meaning "democratic". This is a clear example of how meaningful works can be utilized as a tool of societal control.
Works take on meaning by serving as the enclosure or context for familiar narratives that arise directly from the lived experience of actors (Menary, 2008). The semiotics of works is manifest in the residue of changes wrought on the work as growth, ruin, or maintenance.
Research in belief systems has found meaning can be systematically assigned within a culture (Ewick and Silbey, 1995; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014). Meaning is not randomly assigned because the narrative or work is relative to the domain and local identities. The combination of community rituals in discrete space with established narratives is often reduced to the name. The name of an actor or work becomes a short-hand for the collected stories about the named (Childs, 2008). This is not to suggest a name inherently grants meaning, but that actors name artifacts they find meaningful to package the semantic content for ease of communication.
Systems of meaning encoded in observable symbols (i.e., written, verbal) ability to encode emotional underpinnings are limited by language (Dunstan & Sarkissian, 1994). Vocabulary shortcomings not withstanding, the need for language to proceed from cause to effect within the sentence structure limits the number of conflicting views that can be expressed any one time. The mind appears capable of holding simultaneous conflicting views that manifest as multi-dimensional fields of meaning and implication.
The "discursive perspective" (Di Masso, Dixon & Durrheim, 2014) proposes that place attachment is not limited to an intra-psychic process. The identification with domain needs ratification from others for it to be a shared domain. The social "glue" that binds society are the inter-meshing of agreements established through common rituals or agreed upon meanings about community-possessed works leading to institutionalized socio-spatial order (Di Masso, Dixon & Durrheim, 2014).
The agreed upon meanings of narrative plots constitute the morals espoused by the culture. The moral - the policy or design - is the resolution of the plot between the characters in a specific setting. The moral is not the dénouement, the rising action, or the anti-climax. The moral of a story is the definitive end of the narrative, and it is upon these morals which civic policy is founded (Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014), and is the starting point of urban design.
Tradition and Place Character: meaning of a pastori and priori
Quality fiction is not only transportative, but the reader imagines being the character in a similar way a thespian enters the role of a character of a staged fiction. Readers do not re-read fiction or historical narratives because they forgot the plot, rather they are re-imagining the character’s emotional arc. The actor needs to "relate" to the character though a common sense of identity and/or domain. If the author successfully identifies their audience, the audience can more easily don the persona of the characters in the story.
These characters can be adopted by the actors as constitutive of their sense of personal and cultural identity. In much the same way a place becomes saturated with enough meaning for a community to adopt it as their domain, the great stories likewise become "meaning full" and archetypal for the culture. The narratives of the story become a cultural territory of affect. Such social structure contains stories that are proverbial, and have been adopted as local tradition. The rote format of the traditional narrative is an infrastructure that provides for continuity of meaning from generation to generation (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000).
Meaning of the a pastori domain encountered in the field as described by Norberg-Schulz (1980) or Rykwert, (2013) is composed of these traditional narratives. A culturally significant narrative drives the idea of a town or genius loci. The story becomes compartmentalized as a teaching unit for transmission from one generation to the next, thus facilitating continuity. Such cultural myths tend to operate at the macro level, or the subtle narratological structure of the community. While these narratives tend to form a baseline for cultural values, their origins tend to be obscured by time. The residue of they myth may be limited to commemorative coinage, monuments, and other state-sponsored physical reminders of the common myth of the community.
Other a pastori domain narratives accreate physical residue at the meso level. Current and recent generations are and have been proceeding with the labors and works of life together in shared domains. Their pursuit of labors and works result in changes to the land and the character of the publicly visible works. Within these actor-network "lash-ups" the character of place is the manifest interactions of these uses (i.e. works, labors, and rituals) over time, plus the deterioration with use and time (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). This informal socio-cultural sharing of identities to establish domain distinctions between actors gives rise to neighborhood character.
A priori narratives about how the traditions or character should be adjusted focus on the needs of present or future actors. In pursuit of political action, these micro-level narratives attempt to demonstrate how an injured party (victim) needs redress from those responsible (villains). Within these policy narratives, the advocates call upon the policy makers or enforcers (heroes) to change how the domains or common goods are distributed or used. These a priori narratives are subjected to the uncertainty of interference from other actors. Much of the effort of policy makers is to establish the continuity of a policy proposal with the traditions and character of the domain and its polis.
In this manner, the a priori narratives influence the established domains, and will be considered a pastori by the following generation. The society is composed of ever-evolving narratives (Brand 1992; Aravot 1995; Molotch 2000; Childs 2008):
In order to imagine the ultimately unrepresentable space, life and languages of the city, to make them legible, we translate them into narratives… Planning is performed through story, in a myriad of ways. (Sandercock, 2003: p.12)
Urban narrative tends to be composed of formal and informal stories and associated myths. Composed of monuments, district names, and street names, the formal stories push a political agenda of domestic or international story manipulation: war memorials, memorials to thinkers and activists, heroes (Kearney & Bradley, 2009; Pinzaru, 2012; Filep, Thompson-Fawcett, & Rae, 2014). The informal, a pastori stories are layered from many narratives and themes over generations. Formal, a priori, stories are hierarchal societal influence imposed on memory to change the future behavior of the population.
The rational, a priori, myths are representative of a culture’s highest morals but often manifest as propaganda (Mazrui, 1999). Joseph Rykewert (2013) provides an examination of this phenomena and demonstrates the root inspiration to memorialization through stories of the built fabric. Taken to fascist extremes, the governmental definition of domain and meaning can manipulate personal identity (Rykewert, 2013).
Rykwert’s (2013) text is an detailed study on the infusing of meaning from the first gesture of Roman urban design. The initial Roman camp-building process of dividing the land into cardinal quadrants was partly an act of paganism and partly pragmatism. The land itself was meant to reflect the astronomical order defined by sunrise and sunset. Noon was marked on line joining sunrise and sunset (decumanus), and a vesica piscis constructed to establish north and south (cardo) at a near-perfect ninety-degree angle from east and west. The camp and future city would reflect the celestial order in its plan on Earth. The orderly quartering of the land continued to finer and finer divisions until individual domus were defined from the original astronomical order of the city.
Such rational land use by empires would not resurface until the Law of the Indies imposed by Spain upon the Americas. Where the Romans were obsessed with leveraging the power of their numens in their city, the Spanish similarly were seeking a balance between the Catholic Church and provincial governance. Though they mapped different domains, the meaning of each was markedly similar.
Ancient China developed a multi-scaled land use policy based on the celestial underpinnings of the Dao Te Ching: a regular nine-fold square division of each farm was established to allow for eight fields for the family, one for the local government. The local government established a common warehouse with nine divisions: eight for community support and the ninth for the empire (Rykwert, 2013).
The United States separation of church and state within the laws of the republic established a land use system that left no place set aside for the numens. The Land Ordinance of 1785 stretched a cartographic reticulum across the sparsely inhabited interior of North America with no regard for geography or biome. The meaning of the land of North America was made simple: it was to be a source of profit. By disregarding all numens, the United States put land ownership forward as the most important meaning of life in the new republic.
The acts and rites of defining a domain have been studied in depth by Joesph Rykwert in his 2013 text "The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World". The earliest built fabric was a farm plot: an inviolate portion of the land that received the labor of a family, and though a social compact agreed to be thereby owned by that family. Ancient civilizations shared this principle of domain establishment by cutting the earth with a plough into plots (Rykwert, 2013). This first map was full-scale, writ on the land itself. The meaning thence attached to the boundaries became the earliest land use laws.
The boundary, though initially only the furrow in the land, would acquire height until it was a wall. The ancient Roman story recounted by Rykwert (2013) of Plutarch’s ‘Life of Romulus’ speaks of Romulus slaying his own brother, Remus, for jumping over the farm wall of Romulus. Reportedly Plutarch was never satisfied that the offense was simply described as violating a sacred boundary as Romulus’ land had a serviceable gate accessible by all including Remus. This story is an early narrative about acceptable use of private land. The story’s theme is death will be meted out to those who violate the integrity of an actor’s works in a manner beyond the actor’s control. In this manner, a story’s theme became a law enforceable by the polis (and eventually the police).
The narrative allows the identity and domain of an actor to be situated in both time and space, making a verbal or written claim on works. The justification is the work is legally part of the actor due to investment of time or resources. The wall is the embodiment of a land use narrative that states "within these walls is not yours—keep out." All artifacts are developed to satisfy a need, and the isolation of domains within the urban fabric means the land is "spoken for": a story has been told that lays claim to this land and others have agreed with the the premise of that story and have acted to reserve it for the teller of the story.
Be it a law, a public work, or a building code, the moral of a policy story espoused in the public space first starts as a narrative (Pierce, Smith-Walter, & Peterson 2014; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014). Incidentally distributed by traders, these narratives guided many early city-states to codify some of the earliest recorded examples of land-use law in the Mediterranean region (Rykwert, 2013). Communities use laws to control the ritual activity of actors, their works, and their labors. Inspiring policy preference, the morals of narratives are codified into the will of the polis (Marris 1982; Throgmorton 1992; Yannow 1995; Paulsen 2004; Larkin 2013).
Policy and unconscious predisposition are both the result of meanings implied by a narrative (Gray & Jones, 2016). When a narrative uses plot, characterization, and setting it becomes storied. The moral of a narrative or story is a matter of interpretation by the audience of same. Story-craft leverages human cognitive function to cause the mind to adhere more implications to the given narrative (Schank, 1991). In contrast, rhetoric takes the intentionality of story-craft and insists the meaning of the narrative is present and critical to the polis (Cicero, 1954).
In contrast, informal stories are composed of the living stories of stakeholders (Alexander, 1979; Childs, 2008). Such myths of cities arising a posteriori, in that the myth of a city coalesces around dispirit facts and forms of the city in an attempt to give meaning, is employed to rationalize negative and positive values associated with a specific urban society (Aravot, 1995). This is the opposite of a priori myths, such as Rome's founding myth (which, arguably, could be a posteriori, as it would be difficult to prove one way or the other.) Where Rykwert (2013) would describe the idea of a town as an a priori story that organized the founding of a city and provided a durable pattern to unfold its future, urban change professionals today are tasked with composing a new core story from the narrative threads spun by the inhabitants (Alexander, 1979; Throgmorton, 1992; Childs, 2008; Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017). Based on the Cassirerean theory that comprehension, Aravot (1995) stratified human cognition between the spheres of the practical and the theoretical at the conscious level, yet unconsciously there is a 'sympathetic' or meaning-aware cognitive functionality. "Thus the mythical perspective does not aspire to objectivity or neutrality but sees the world as saturated with emotional qualities." (Aravot, 1995: p.80) Christian Norberg-Schulz (1980) anthropomorphized this sympathetic cognition as the "genius loci", a "spirit of place" -- both guardian spirit and the ambiance of a domain:
Ancient man experienced his environment as consisting of definite characters. In particular he recognized that it is of great existential importance to come to terms with the genius of the locality where his life takes place... Survival depended on a 'good' relationship to the place in a physical as well as a psychic sense. (Norberg-Schulz, 1980: p.18)
Whether invoking Schank (1991) and second-order thinking, Avarot’s (1995) sympathetic cognition, or Norberg-Schulz (1980) numina, the common mode is an a pastori assemblage of stories and meanings. While many works have begun with an a priori development model, through time they are all recomposed, renovated, and repaired a pastori by subsequent generations (Alexander, 1979; Brand, 1991).
Thus as aggregators of many stories told by the polis, the works become storied. Actors may not be aware of the multitude of stories that surround a work, but they will be aware of semantic content associated by others. The a posteriori (i.e. informal) narratives are composed of the overlapping patterns of daily use.
In his article "A City is Not a Tree", Christopher Alexander (1966) described actors’ use of urban space as a densely nested semi-lattice of inter-related patterns of daily life. This semi-lattice describes the relationships between such prosaic urban elements as a news stand, a traffic light, and commercial store. Co-located, the three together have been observed to become an informal media source for users of that street intersection. This pattern is enmeshed in other patterns depending on time of day, week, season, and actors. They become meaningful when actors—in action over time—are observed using and recombining the patterns.
Four decades ago Christopher Alexander and his research team at Berkley University proposed a physical or "pattern" language and a intuitive method of assembling those patterns into urban fabrics (Alexander, Ishikawa, & Silverstein, 1977). Alexander’s method was predicated upon the intuition of both the designers and users in a design charrette process. The foundation of Alexander, Ishikawa, and Silverstein’s (1977) theory was the need for a spatial language that uses patterns of activity as the unit of the language.
The pattern language technique is a mixture of storytelling and graphical demonstration. The resulting publications are anthropological extrapolations of some northern European and northern American patterns of spatial use. These different systems of organizing space, like language, bounds actors’ memory, where they lend meaning to the actor’s definition of domain (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983; Aravot, 1995; Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000; Paulsen, 2004; Bailey, Devine-Wright & Batel, 2016).
Domain’s limitation of Meaning
A narrative or story’s temporal dimension is the plot: the past injuries of the victim justify the present action by the protagonist—all of which is summed by the moral. Per narrative theory, changing the victim or hero of a story changes its moral, fundamentally changing the story (Herman, 2009). While the setting is interchangeable to a unitary story, it is not for narratives that are hypodiegeticly nested. The nested domains acts as a unifying thread to the story (Kwan & Ding, 2008).
Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1978) is an example that does not rely on the unifying thread of domain. It is a collection of fictional city descriptions told by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan, fifth Khagan (Great Khan) of the Mongol Empire. The fictional Polo character is placating the ruler with descriptions of the various cities within the realm. The Kublai character knows he could not visit every city in his empire within one lifetime, and relies on reported descriptions to expand his sense of domain. The cities described are unitary, unique macro works unrelated by culture or other narratives. The result is a collection of fictional domains that mean nothing to the audience because the audience will neither visit them nor perform any rituals of life there in or share in the locals’ exotic rituals.
In contrast to the unitary nature of each "invisible city", the Scheherazade character of Alf layla wa-layla is also narrating to a ruler, but her stories are interwoven with stories and places to which Shahryar has domain. As one of the most popular "frame stories" of central Asia, the flexibility of Alf layla wa-layla allowed the narrator of Scheherazade’s tales to retain stories they understood or preferred, omit the others, and add new stories heard from other places. In this the meta-narrative is a pattern of plots, morals, and settings into which characters from different stories can be staged. The result is a hypodiegeticly layering (framed one within the other) of personal (micro) narratives within neighborhood/tribal (meso) narratives within cultural/regional (macro) narratives - each unique but using common domains.
To the actor, meanings are those elements of the narrative which integrates those layers already within their memory. When hearing or reading a story, the actor must rely on their internal faculty to fabricate a memory of the setting of the story. Unlike visual media, this imagined setting could only be generated from elements of the actor’s own memory of personal domains (Schank, 1991). This mode of active listening allows the actor to fabricate an artificial association with story domains using their personal domains.
This bias, where only known domains are the building blocks of imagined domains, greatly limits the variety of narratives that can be employed by an urban change professional. Visual media can aid in overcoming the limit imposed by experience, but as of this date the immersive potential of digital media is still restricted to the sense of sight and sound. Such media is consumed in discreet units within a persistent real domain in which the actor engages in the full spectrum of the human condition rituals.
Professional storytellers have subverted the limitation of actor experience through incorporation of descriptions of sensory experiences that the actor likely has in their memory, for example: the dripping of water, crackling of fire, the smell of coffee (Ellis 2012; Harvey, 2013). The more fragments of sensory memory a storyteller can evoke from an audience, the more the audience is mapping the story like a memory of their own domain. An example of this is a storyteller who, telling a small group of people who’s names he knew, integrated locations in the story to the listeners:
Shotoku built a grand palace four hundred years ago, on the hill behind where Angela bought the bread yesterday. (J. Convery, personal communication, December 28, 2010)
In this example, Convery emplaced Angela by name into the opening line of the story about a great king, and attached the Angela’s memory of the ritual of buying bread from the redolent bakery to anchor the her attention to the story about to be told.
While a domain’s cultural symbols may physically persist, new narratives can fail to promote semantic content of storied domains when they are not associated with listener domains (Harvey, 2013). Each individual and collective integrates new narratives into their ongoing emplaced stories. This can result in assigning new meanings to existing symbols, particularly as the work ages or changes over time (Filep, Thompson-Fawcett, & Rae, 2014).
When a domain loses all semantic meaning or becomes associated with negative narratives, the actors tend to abandon the domain (Jacobs, 1959). In both occasions, the point of inflection is the micro and meso domains of the actors. Policy makers tend to see morals of stories as unitary rather than framed, and the actors as recipients of policy solutions rather than the agents of change. The moral-cum-policy in isolation tends to fixate on the moral of one story and the associated works in isolation and disregard the nested story of the actors composed of many domains maintained by that diversity of actors (Yanow, 1995).
The actors practice this agency as the final arbiters of a new policy or works adoption into common use. If the urban change professional has not successfully mapped a common domain between the proposed change and the actor’s existing domains, the actors are likely to ignore the work (Yanow, 1995). Long-lasting works with no recent problems, such as buried water pipes, storm drainage, power supply, or natural infrastructure are usually not identified with by the polis. In contrast, roads are scenes of daily human drama, and have a higher share of community media. Until an infrastructure fails or under-performs, actors take it for granted and omit them from their domain maps.
The meaning of any domain map is representative of the actors’ bias. Without overlaying the different bias from each stakeholder actor, there is a lack of meaning for that actor (Pierce, Smith-Walter, & Peterson, 2014). Thus a common map includes all actors’ meaning. Without mapping actor bias, the map itself is devoid of relevance to the actors. This suggests a causal link between domain and meaning. As abstractions, maps cannot avoid incorporating bias as it is the bias that grants relevance to the actors’ domains (O'Looney, 1998; Paulsen, 2004).
This suggests a causal link between domain and meaning assigned to all works. It is incumbent on urban change professionals to address the source of morals (narratives) directly in order to produce moral outcomes with common domains with the local actors.
Chapter 7: Action and Narrative
Persuading actors
Per Aristotle (1929), political power aggregates through persuasive political discourse. Political speaking urges the audience to either change society or maintain society (Rhetoric: i, 3, Freese, 1929). The political arena is only definable as a place where words are exchanged to motivate the combined action of the polis. Absent the words, the revelatory meaning of mute action is incomprehensible—and the continuity of society would be haphazard at best (Arendt 1959). Without describing the agent of the action and those influenced, the policy action is a violence committed by an agent against another.
Thus the political necessity of speech between contesting actors: speech offered only to supporters is propaganda meant to reinforce an argument for action taken against political opponents (Arendt 1959). Until the narrative is expressed to the political opponents, it is impossible to reach a negotiated solution.
This distinction includes political art which is a type of propaganda which relies on slogans, satire, or irony projected at an audience (willing or no). The beholder’s share of a work of art retains its relevance the the beholder without the artist’s signature, without a laborer or worker as subject, and without an opposing view (Arendt 1959). While policy change has been achieved through the use of propaganda, it is more akin to attacking or shaming the opposing actors. Its ability to foster a culture of cooperation between all parties is limited. The pathos (affect) or bathos (humor) of such art work does not avail itself of the full range of modes of persuasion as detailed by Aristotle in Rhetoric:
Ethos: appeal to the authority or credibility of the presenter (Rhetoric: iii.16.8, Freese, 1929)
Logos: appeal to logic and facts (ibid: i.11-12)
Kairos: situating the argument within the contemporary domain or mode of the culture or audience (ibid: ii.4)
Pathos: appeal to the emotions of the audience (ibid: iii.1-7)
These modes of expressing political narrative are constitutive of a citizen’s political agency (Deuten & Rip, 2000). The results of actors exercising their agency--exchanging stories and inspiring common action--are inherently unpredictable (Case, 2017). The diversity of personal histories and skills of all the actors combine into a new shared sense of meaning that will be specific to the moment and location (Arendt, 1959). Unlike the gardener who can predict crop yields or the engineer who can calculate the point of failure of a beam, an agent of political change, whether by mute action or political persuasion, cannot guarantee the stakeholders any particular policy outcome:
"This insertion [into the affairs of the polis] is not forced upon us by necessity, like labor, and it is not prompted by utility, like work... To act... means to take initiative, to begin," (Arendt 1959: p. 157)
Types of Stories:
Schank (1991, p.39) differentiates between 5 types of stories:
1. official stories that tend to be used for societal control;
2. invented/adapted stories that are inherently meant to entertain and are derived from historical stories;
3. first-hand stories recounted by witnesses;
4. second hand stories that we heard about others (i.e. rumors);
5. culturally common stories (ossified) are evolutions of narratives told ritualistically.
The official story that tends to become policy are negotiated value judgments based upon the stakeholder-actors. The intent of a official story is to affix cultural meaning, hence such stories (and the laws based upon them) are outdated at a rate roughly inversely proportional to their detail. The more specific a law is, the less generalizable is its application (Rhetoric: i, 13, Freese, 1929).
The invented and adapted stories have been used by two teams in a urban change professional application. Dunstan and Sarkissian (1994) recomposed the interviews of many local actors (types 3 and 4 stories) into a new story that relied upon the ossified, or mythic, mode. Tassinari, Piredda, and Bertolotti (2017) engaged in the same goal, but utilized local specific storytelling modes to present the new story in two case studies (puppetry and public access television). Both urban change professional teams noted stakeholder adoption of the new stories, though how much this is due to the novelty of the approach is untested.
The first-hand story is the least threatened by interlocutors. An individual’s expressed remembrances of facts can only be countered by challenging their credibility. Within public discourse, such an attack tends to polarize debates and leaves little room for negotiating perspective to a mutually supportive policy outcome.
The second-hand story has the least ethos of persuasion when spoken by a single orator. However, commonly-held second-hand stories tend to reinforce group identity, and can polarize a debate when challenged outright.
The ossified story takes on an air of "wisdom" in that it is both antiquated yet still kept relevant through associated sense of group identity. They tend to emphasize assumed cultural values and meaning, and are partly told to reinforce cultural bias and prejudice.
Elements of action narrative
Unlike the macro-culture focus of most culturally common stories, action narratives are future-oriented and emplaced in definable meso-level domains (Throgmorton, 1992). While micro-level narrative analysis can be action oriented, they are typically focused on the non-policy struggles of a single individual actor. The meso-level analysis blends elements of both with an ethnographic approach.
Most narratives, be they personal, traditional, fictional, or political, share a fundamental framework:
1. a setting or context: this can include physical and legal domains consequential to the problem in the plot
2. the characters: victims (those harmed), the villains who perpetuate the harm, and the hero who will stop the harm
3. a plot that introduces a temporal element (beginning, middle, end), providing both the relationships between the setting and characters, structuring causal mechanisms, and assigning blame to the villain;
4. the moral of the story, from which the beneficial result can be derived. (Jones & McBeth, 2010; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014 Gray & Jones, 2016) In policy narrative, logic plays a supportive role to the emotional components. Logic is the foundational premise of scientific research, and it is a common mistake for urban change professionals and academicians to rely on the logos of their argument without engaging the full spectrum of narrative elements (Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014; Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
Aristotle’s kairos is here equated to domain: the relevant time and place where the action narrative unfolds. Unlike the macro-culture focus of most traditional narratives, action narratives are future oriented and emplaced in definable meso-level domains (Throgmorton, 1992). Both however make themselves compelling by manipulating time, voice, and space (Eckstein & Throgmorton, 2003).
Sandercock, (2010) elaborates on these narrative variables of time and space (voice is a function of characterization, discussed below):
Space -- The interlocutor and audience judge the sincerity of the narrator partly upon the duration he or she assigns to the contested domain versus inconsequential domains proffered as supporting or damning examples. The narrator’s domain definition must successfully encapsulate actors as policy stakeholders (Deuten & Rip, 2000).
Time — A narrator can control the duration of different parts of a story so as to lend emphasis, or dismiss as inconsequential, certain characters or locations. Repeating important points or locations within a narrative suggests patterns of significance between context or character and policy theme (Sandercock, 2010).
As the meso-level analysis involves individual actors as a well as actor-networks, there is a considerable need to synthesize the affect and motivations of the characters per Aristotle’s pathos.
We are our own authors, being the central character of the autobiographical narrative, we create our- selves (Menary, 2008: p.68)
It is the characters of a narrative that link the time and place of the story to the emotional content, or pathos. The narrative pattern of cognition (Schank, 1991) relies on the imagined cast of characters to act in the plot of those cognitions (Menary, 2008). There must be the emotional catalyst of hope, fear, or desire for the pathos to arise in the mind of either the narrator or audience.
As the narrator aims to evoke the relevant emotion in the audience, the narrator must describe a character who is experiencing the action. The more completely the audience can imagine the character, the more they can sympathize with the character as a persona who might share their rituals and values. Thus they can identify with the character in the story. As discussed in the chapter on identity, this identification between the audience and the character engenders idiopathy in the audience. The imagined insults and adorations experienced by the imagined character is idiopathiclly assumed unto the audience (Wirling, 2014).
By mapping the emotional responses of a character, the audience tends to engage in more second-order cognition with the logic of the narrative: if logical data suites the assumed priors of the character the audience is more likely to adopt the results as truth, if it contradicts the character’s priors they will look to undermine the foundations of the logic. The character’s map becomes a frame of reference for the plot as a whole, and the other characters acting within the narrative. The victim is usually assigned the audience’s pity, the villain their ire, and the hero their sense of hope and justice. The hero’s action are the prime mover of narrative persuasion, regardless to the audience’s prior disposition of the policy subject as a whole (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
The characters significance to the audience is moderated by the narrator’s use of voice. The first person voice is used to indicate the narrator is reporting events as a direct actor. Use of the third person (she/he, they) or first person plural (we) indicates the narrator is an advocate, literally "adding voice" to promote the views of a actor/character coalition. Narrators will often employ more than one mode in a single story. Where they give prominence and where they suppress voice is judged by the audience as indicative of their bias; first person narration being associated with testimony is presumably less likely to be biased by others.
The use of first person plural in narrative is an overt coalition-building language that attempts to ask the audience to join the narrative’s chorus (Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017). The traditional Greek tragedy uses the chorus to express the voice of the common characters separate from the central characters who move the plot. At the conclusion of a tragedy there is typically bliss, honor, loss, or destruction visited upon the hero, victim, or villain, but the chorus is left to absorb the lessons/theme/moral. The chorus is representative of the polis, witnesses to the drama. The appeal by a narrator to the chorus is an appeal for fair judgment of the moral of the story, to suggest the polis adopt a change to the community policy or fabric to reflect the lessons encapsulated in the narrative. Which voices, to what degree, and absent voices are highly indicative of the narrator’s bias (Sandercock, 2010).
While a personal (micro-level) narrative can be biased towards an action, they are typically focused on the strengths and limitations of a single individual actor. Mythic (macro-level) narratives are typically not change-oriented but focused on sustainment of cultural values. The neighborhood (meso-level) narrative blends elements of the two with an ethnographic approach. Meso-level policy action narrative involves individual fictionalized characters and actor-networks often based upon real actors and actor-networks as a means of arousing sympathy or apathy towards those actors (Ivory, 2013; Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017).
As the real actors of a community are turned into characters of a narration, they tend to be simplified into one of the character types (victim, villain, or hero; Ivory, 2013). Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli (2017) describe this process as the devil-angel shift. Narrators will employ the "devil shift" to exaggerate the influence of their villains and their malicious motives. The "angel shift" exaggerates the narrator's (or narrator network's) ability to resolve the policy problem while specifically de-emphasizing villain characters (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017). Provided the audience is emotionally engaged by the characters’ interaction (i.e. the plot) the logic of the domain or research is subservient to the characters’ disposition towards the findings.
Plot: Linear and Spatial
What one character does to another and the ensuing results is the story plot-line oriented on the axis of time. While the narratives of political actors are rooted in their desire to protect themselves, goals, and priors, the narrative structure limits the categories for which audiences are culturally primed:
Three Basic Categories of Narratives
stories of social harmony being restored
Tricksters protagonist
stories of people of noble character who also have a fatal flaw
Heroic protagonist
legal parables
religious parables
stories of just deserts
Antagonist (typically)
Disassociated from time, plot is used to refer to the two-dimensional graph of a community. O'Looney (1998) expanded upon classical narrative theory of plot-lines to the mappable society. The two dimensional plots can be combined into different narratives within the bounds community norms and expectations to form derivative designs.
The polis has the agency to compose their own neighborhood narrative by selecting a linear plot from a two dimensional group of plots. They are free to choose a starting point and the characters, and the outcome can reflect any of the three categories of narrative. Through this agency, the individual actors use narrative to express their emotional predisposition towards the domain. In comparing narratives (essentially sharing stories) they attempt to find consensus on the narrative category of the domain under consideration. Urban change professionals are usually obtruding on the local actor network, and must become acquainted with this endemic narrative infrastructure in the exercise of their agency.
An actor’s negative predisposition towards a domain will reduce its perceived sense of safety, and thereby the likelihood of ritual use. Expanding upon Jacobs’ (1961) principle of "eyes on the street", O’Looney (1998) claims the published map of a community can predispose actor narratives to plot-lines of decline: "When, for example, we avoid an area marked 'high crime area' on our map, we effectively reduce the number of 'public eyes' that can act in the capacity of a neighborhood watch." (O'Looney, 1998: p.211). The process of mapping tragedy tends to chart excessive individual actor strengths (O’Looney, 1998). Urban change professionals need to be aware that the plotting of tragedies on shared domain maps in exclusion of plots of success will brand a community, possibly even being adopted as the local cultural identity (thus starting a reinforcing cycle of decline, O’Looney, 1998).
O’Looney (1998) claims the inverse is true as well: that maps can include the intangible assets possessed within a community, not just the challenges and decline. There is a potential for political action that leverages the narrative potential inherent in a map: "…stories of community strength can activate self-fulfilling prophecies. An experience of prior success appears to enhance the possibilities of future success—even if the lessons of the earlier success or failure do not necessarily apply to the current situation." (O'Looney, 1998: p.222)
Any community’s domain is likely to have systemic assets and deficiencies. Mapping deficits establishes the domain where the rituals of a community have not led to subjective well-being or prosperity. The mapping of domains that emphasize adversarial, either-or, win-lose processes, even if the results came out in favor of the protagonists or victims, is inherently a map of tragedy. Alternatively:
[comic maps] emphasize unitary, multiple-perspective approaches to discovering truths… chart out the places, circumstances, and modes of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. (O'Looney, 1998: pp.218-219)
Where a tragic map might focus on equity, development, and the fostering of the arts, science and education, comic maps focus on domains that are venues of forgiveness between actors or where identities/rituals of actors are collocated. This process takes the original casting of the actors into the roles of victims and villains and proposes everyone involved in domain disputes be recast as humane actors in a story striving together for mutually beneficial outcomes. In the most strict definition of "comic" there needs to be an expected ending that is defied. O'Looney (1998) fails to make this obvious, but the notion of mapping where a community has overcome a negative reputation through "play" rather than "heroism" is inherently comic. The foundational theme of all comedy is humans succeeding together to spite the forces of entropy and short-term thinking (O'Looney, 1998).In a tragedy tale, the characters make a choice between two or more valuable goals, and one is sacrificed. In a comedy, one or more competing goal is demonstrated to be without value, and discarded. Working within a tragic narrative, the actor will likely be faced with elements of value that cannot be reduced to a "pro/con" assessment or benefit-cost analysis. Domains that harbor deep meanings for a community are not inherently quantifiable because of the layering effect of aggregated narratives over generations (Throgmorton, 1992). Often, a linear plot will exclude other narratives in the same domain. The spatial mapping of all the valuable goals can aid the urban change professional in mixing narratives to offset potential tragedies in the process of political action/impact.
Yet a comprehensive map of the narrative infrastructure is not sufficient if the goal is to effect change through community narrative adjustment. Narratives require the time dimension added to domain’s length and breadth. The moral of the narrative is derived from the plotting of various competing characters within that domain. The agency of any actor is dependent upon their use of kairos (Caquard & Cartwright, 2014). The narrative structure relies on cause and effect to seem consequential to the audience.
Narratives, by their very nature, are composed assuming an audience to receive a story. This dictates that the narrative is fundamentally inter-subjective: even narrative patterns of cognition assume an imagined audience (Menary, 2008). As the narrative cannot be conceived without the audience, the audience (intended or not) is a component of the narrative.
The relationship between the storyteller, the story, and the audience is the thesis of Hannah B. Harvey (2013) lecture series and text The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals. Stories persist in a venue only so long as the audience affective response is poignant. The persuasiveness of a story can be diluted by ineffective storytellers who fail to bridge the characters and the plot with the audience through the use of adjectives, similitudes, and metaphors to evoke the memory of sensory experiences and relevant cultural tropes (Ellis, 2012; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014).
Narratives of political action, being future-oriented, are dependent upon the favorable reception by the polis to change the society. As members of the two dimensional plot of community, the the polis are chorus to all linear plots through their domain, and effectively characters in the proposed narrative (Throgmorton, 1992; Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017). Except in performance with a hushed group, the storyteller must incorporate the political audience as interlocutor, joint author, or discursive partner in the delivery of political narrative (Menary, 2008)
In the inter-subjective arena of political narratives, the storyteller is presumed a character of the story or of a related story. For any narrative expressed, the polis presumes a subtext of the expressed narrative. The polis will rely on second-order thinking to identify a likely motivation for the narrator, regardless of how dispassionate the narrator or their subject matter (Throgmorton, 1992). The only purpose of speaking to the polis is to attempt to persuade the polis towards a combined action.
The action narrative’s persuasiveness lies upon a spectrum between canonicity and breach (Jones & McBeth, 2010). The status quo of sociality relations and interactions can be recorded in the ethnographic canon, or precedent, of the society. For the political narrative to breach canon is a violence to the polis’s collective sense of personal and/or spatial identity. The degree of breach that a story achieves is indicative of its persuasiveness (Jones & McBeth, 2010).
To avoid the appearance of an attack, a policy narrative’s goal is to tell a story with a moral condemning a ritual or law of the community — that it is counterproductive to the values or sustainment of the community. Narratives that mirror the culturally congruent to the audience’s prior cultural type are more likely to be tolerated, if not taken up by the polis (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
Congruence is achieved by cognitively transporting the audience into the plot of the story. Elaborating on the logics of a policy narrative requires an audience to engage in first-order thinking. The whole mind-frame of the audience is placed into a judgmental process where new givens are compared to established patterns. Narrative transportation erects a false world for the audience to imagine, populated with engaging characters and sensory cues that reinforce the visceral experience of the imagined world (Green & Brock, 2000; Jones & McBeth, 2010). The narrative can then rely on audience second-order thinking which makes it more likely the audience to follow the plot-line as laid out by the narrator. An imagined world manifests in the brain of the audience with the same neurological processes as their own memories (Schank, 1991).
This posits the narrative into the semi-lattice of memories of the audience members. Where descriptive details are lacking, suggesting incongruence, the audience will exercise their beholder’s share by subconsciously filling in the narrative with remembered experiences. Engaging simulated experiences triggers memory associations and causes the narrative to be incorporated into the personal map (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
The process of cognitively distancing the actors from their domain allows perspective, reflection, and appreciation of places (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983); which is also typical of imagined landscapes when the audience mentally returns from being transported to the action of the policy narrative. Throgmorton (1992) has summed the process of persuasive storytelling about the future in five points:
  1. Urban change professionals are authors who emplot the flow of action using logical conflicts and their resolution to change the disposition of both the characters and the audience as they respond to evidence such as surveys, simulation models, forecasts of future conditions, or other data.
  2. The characters are interesting and idiopathiclly believable.
  3. The action’s kairos is accurate: the characters identify with the domain which is specific to the ritual or law under consideration.
  4. The author choose the appropriate voice to grant perspective on the action of the narrative, and is clear which character is relating to which, in what form, and with what mode or limitations. Once an ethical voice is chosen, it is seldom varied.
  5. Employ the use of imagery and rhetorical devices such as rhythm of language, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony to transport the audience and maintain their attention.
Persuasive storytelling relies on Aristotle's four modes of persuasion: ethos, logos, kairos, pathos. Agreeing upon the moral of a story is dependent on the audience participation in narrative transportation via authoritative speakers describing plausible chains of events in a sensorially dynamic domain about characters with plausible motives.
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Neighborhood kid turns into a City Boy--Lost in Boulder, Colorado

I grew up a neighborhood kid. If I saw different parts of Boulder it was because of the indeterminable car-rides with my parents.
When I was a boy of about 7 or 8, I got permission from my dad to ride my bike to the bookstore about 10 blocks away. I had lied--my intention was to ride out to the big bookstore at least 40 blocks away. I got lost.
About 1/3 of the way there was the old army-surplus store my dad took me to several times. I remembered that there was a map of the town on display in the store, so I went in there to get my bearings. Total failure: it was a tourist map (none of the landmarks I needed where on the map).
I kept riding, further than I'd ever ridden before. This was a scary adventure, because I had no idea how far away that bookstore was! Moreover, while I knew what it looked like and what was around it, I didn't have a map of the intervening space. Being driven by my parents, the automobile had allowed me to have two independent domains that I knew had to be linked, but I didn't know how.

That day my domain expanded dramatically by using systems. I knew my home was at the foot of the mountain (and the sun set behind that mountain), and the streets of the city were nearly all cardinally aligned. My whole sense of "city" emerged. Nodes became connected by grids. I noticed the street numbering system (east to west) and the street names (north to south). I still thought I could influence traffic lights with the powers of my mind, but I did know where I was.

Note conflict Orderly Chaos: Is there a Dharma Architecture? An invitation to senior students:

I am recruiting volunteers to help integrate the architecture and planning language developed at UC Berkeley with the teachings of the Mandala principle and Natural Hierarchy as presented by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Together our goal will be to develop insight into the needs and desires of the elder community of the sangha.

Using a virtual workshop, the volunteers will select spatial patterns and discuss their application in a retirement life-style. The volunteers will themselves be selected from the elder population of the sangha to leverage both their life-long experiences and their engagement with the Dharma.

The volunteers will have the opportunity to develop their skills laying out architecture and community spaces. To advance architecture and planning research I will document the workshop process and results. The insights garnered from the volunteers will influence the development of an intergenerational community under consideration by a sangha in North America.

For more information, or if you are interested in participating in the workshop please email me at JasonWinn@SpacePoetics.com

-Jason Winn is a registered architect with the State of Texas, certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners, and certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers. He has practiced architecture and urban planning in San Antonio and Chicago for 13 years and is currently teaching design at the Eastern Mediterranean University. Read his research on storytelling and persistence in the built environment at Space Poetics

Is there a Dharma Architecture? (take two) An invitation to senior students:

Orderly Chaos: Is there a Dharma Architecture? An invitation to senior students:

I was raised in an old house in Colorado. For a home in the United States, it had two very unique spaces: a purpose-built Buddhist shrine room and a servant’s access staircase that duplicated the grand staircase. That house had been remodeled several times, but its mixture of culturally-instigated features left me a little confused about what belongs in a home. The conjunction of the patterns of space tended to be disjointed.
Traditional cultures define "spaces" in a house, or a neighborhood, or town. Anthropologist can spend a whole career understanding how a village kitchen is intertwined with matriarchy, fealty, numen, gods, and the practicalities of cooking. The modern household inherits some aspects of these ideas from ancestral patterns, but the advent of "modern" theory of architecture demanded we abandon a great deal of the wisdom and superstitions of our forbearers. The result has been a separation from our awareness of space itself.

On average, North Americans relocate every seven years, reinforcing a sense of independence from space – even a superiority to space. We treat homes and neighborhoods much like clothing: we use them until they wear-out, then we try something new. Awkwardly, our old homes and neighborhoods do not go away like our old clothes. They persist; they often fester for the lack of attention.

The irony is many of us take holidays to visit quaint old villages to enjoy their authentic qualities of space and construction. We seek out such well-maintained, long-lived-in communities that have centuries-exercised patterns in space. We take our money that could improve our own neighborhood and spend it to fund the maintenance of the historic villages’ authenticity. Then we return home to spaces we consider lacking in authenticity and would consider nigh-uninhabitable without wifi.

KTC Dallas pilgrimage group at Jokhang kora, Lhasa Tibet - a touch overwhelmed by the vividness of tradition. Photo by Jason Winn, 2016
Over the last four decades communities in North America have expressed longing for a revival of traditional living patterns, particularly the emotions they evoke. This longing has resulted in whole movements within the design community attempting to reincorporate those missing patterns in space. Examples like New Urbanism has had mixed results at best. New Urbanist villages often have a "theme park" feel: a distinct ego is omnipresent rather than the collective contributions of generations of villagers. That looming ego is particularly obvious if you have invested time working with your mind.
My exposure to Buddhist practices has presented me with a manner of working with the mind to re-engage with space. Utilizing the rugged individualism of my culture, I took it upon myself to gently reengage with space, however disjointed the patterns of my space seemed. Like with New Urbanism, the results were initially mixed. However, I also was introduced to a variety of alternative means of engaging with space: Maitri Space Awareness Practice, Mudra Space Awareness Practice, Ikebana (the art of flower arranging), Chado (art of tea), and a few other disciplines arising from traditional Japanese culture. These practices invert the approach by working with space as a way to work with mind.
  • Shotoku-an Kyoto, garden
  • From the tea room at Jack and Hiromi's - click to zoom way, way in.
Ironically, much of modern Japanese culture has fully embraced modern architecture’s disassociation from space and spatial awareness. Though the above-named contemplative arts are still widely practiced in Japan, they are now more hobbies than literal components of everyday life. Still, some attempts are underway to replicate the old-relationships to space once cultivated in Japan. One pioneering bridge-builder in Japan is Jack and Hiromi Convery, tea teachers. Their school, Shotokuk-an in Kyoto, has begun to manifest as a reverse-bridge for their Japanese students. In the grossest analysis, thier western-Dharma interpretation of Chado for their modern students is providing them a window into their own culture without the burden of Japanese cultural classicism.
Jason attempting to demonstrate Turkish Çay to Jack and Hiromi's chado class. Photo by Angela Hartsell 2016
To be sure, every centimeter of Jack and Hiromi’s school (simultaneously their home) is alive, potent with a connection to the natural world, the craftsmen who built the traditional-style house, and the traditional foods coming from the little kitchen. The ease with which sound travels around and beyond the house inspires you to speak in a lower voice and to listen. This and other sense-inspired patterns adjust the visitor’s relationship to space.

I venture to say that Jack has taken the challenge of evolving practice and living into a seamless whole. These traditional local patterns are focused on achieving a home for its teachers and a school for its students. Jack, as teacher, has a great advantage: he has leveraged a 100-year-old house that employs 400-plus years of tradition in its native context. Its timeless qualities are reinforced and actualized by the surrounding culture which venerates the art form and practice.

With an unceremonious modern culture of construction, the inhabitants of the West are unduly challenged to develop the required attention and diligence to effectively merge practice and daily living. Furthermore, due to a chronic deficiency of integrated patterns of space, there is a desire to fill space with the contents of our mind. Whether posh or kitsch or somewhere in between, the collections of our lives with which we decorate our space are reflections of our habitual patterns: our aspirations and our hang-ups. The focus of the space is not pointed at the natural world, nor is it accommodating an expansive perspective (chronologically or spiritually). Rather it serves to highlight that which distracts us from others and our experience of nature.

Another interesting attempt to "reverse engineer" a sense of architectural space was initiated in the 1970s by a group of researchers at UC Berkley. They developed a collection of spatial patterns and a theory for how places that have a sense of timelessness employ those patterns. As it was funded by the United States government, the study was culturally focused on North American and European patterns. In the simplest definition, this collection of patterns invites the user of proposed architecture to lead with an emotional desire, and then build a space that fulfills that desire. The results were interesting but challenging to apply consistently.

In my career as an architect, I have found myself fawning over a single pattern in a design for a building which had a high potential for user delight. I could lavish hours on tweaking such spatial patterns to maximize their connections to the elements, the seasons, etc. Such isolated patterns were not consistently grown from a language of patterns, and so my results in employing patterns similarly have been mixed. Even so, opportunities to delve into the design of a spatial pattern arise more often for me since a disproportionate number of my projects are sacred spaces. Such work also has led to conversations with sangha members about the design of retreat cabins, retreat centers, and, recently, retirement communities.

Elegant retreat cabin at Thule, Greenland. Photo by Jason Winn, 2010
All of these conditions and situations raised a very interesting question: is there a way to bring the sensibilities of the Dharma together with the patterns of the UC Berkley team? The Dharma does provide matrices in which to grow patterns of space that facilitate an increased sense of user delight.


There has been an expressed need within the sangha to develop a manner of living suitable for the elders of the community, a space that integrates our culture with our practice. To achieve this, I invite the elders to participate in a two-month study that integrates your understanding of the nature of mind with your innate understanding of delightful space. This invitation to Western senior Dharma students is manifold in purpose:

  1. you have the most experience with the traditional patterns of abiding
  2. your contemplative energies are likely focused on the question of how to live in a manner that fosters practice
  3. you are likely possessed of the bittersweet awareness that a home is a possession of Samsara

Trungpa Rinpoche interpreted a variety of cosmological traditions from Tibet and Buddhism and reintroduced them collectively as studies into the nature of art and psychology. Curriculums at Naropa University have been taught for four decades on these subjects, spawning books and weekend workshops and a significant body of research. (My career as an architect began at Naropa in 1996 with the class "Sacred Geometry of Architecture" under Dr. Phillip Tabb.) There is a vast ocean of Dharma cosmology we could draw upon to infuse an "Architecture of Dharma". While there may be more nuanced approaches we could use, the following teachings provide a starting point that has immediate utility, in part because they are not secret:

  1. Five Wisdom Families
  2. Natural Hierarchy

The experience of this workshop can guide us to better organize future workshops that address other cosmologies and these patterns of space examined and developed by the volunteers.

The Berkley team developed 253 spatial patterns. Organized by a loose internal logic they can only really be completed with the environmental influences of an actual construction site. Categorizing the patterns with our collective understanding of the Natural Hierarchy and the Five Wisdom Energies changes how we might use the spatial patterns and resulting space. There is the potential with these modified patterns to learn about our own states of mind (similar to Maitri Space Awareness Practice.)

For example: Is a kitchen more focused on the abundance it creates, the desire for its craft, or the industrious sous chefs? Would a kitchen be focused on the earth for which it supports or is it a place of inspiration? Does a kitchen that is focused on feeding the masses express more industriousness than a hot-plate in an efficiency apartment? When I’m feeling paranoid should I go cook a meal for a friend?


The goal of this project is not to develop a Buddhist "Xanadu". It is to develop skillful means to create delight in space. Developing these patterns as a group will leverage our collective knowledge in a way that this architect cannot alone bring into being.

This process will be documented as academic research with the Eastern Mediterranean University, Faculty of Architecture. If you would like to learn more please contact me at JasonWinn@SpacePoetics.com
Or to sign up, click on this link
Thank you!
Your author at the Court of Two Sisters, New Orleans. Photo by Angela Hartsell, 2010

Orderly Chaos - Is there a Dharma Architecture? An invitation to senior students:

I am recruiting volunteers to help integrate the architecture and planning language developed at UC Berkeley with the teachings of the Mandala principle and Natural Hierarchy as presented by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Together our goal will be to develop insight into the needs and desires of the elder community of the sangha.

Using a virtual workshop, the volunteers will select spatial patterns and discuss their application in a retirement life-style. The volunteers will themselves be selected from the elder population of the sangha to leverage both their life-long experiences and their engagement with the Dharma.

The volunteers will have the opportunity to develop their skills laying out architecture and community spaces. To advance architecture and planning research I will document the workshop process and results. The insights garnered from the volunteers will influence the development of an intergenerational community under consideration by a sangha in North America.
For more information, or if you are interested in participating in the workshop please email me at JasonWinn@SpacePoetics.com or click here to sign up.

-Jason Winn is a registered architect with the State of Texas, certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners, and certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers. He has practiced architecture and urban planning in San Antonio and Chicago for 13 years and is currently teaching design at the Eastern Mediterranean University. Read his research on storytelling and persistence in the built environment at Space Poetics

What is the ideal size of town? Ideal density?

Surely there has to be an inverse ratio for an ideal city. I live in a city part-time that is 450 sqmi and 2.8k/sqmi. It is a slow-burn disaster on roids. The transportation plan shows borderline F peak LOS now, with F off-peak residential areas in 20 years. Our sewer system is broken in the middle ring of development. Bloat is the real question. Land is like cheap carbs for a city: it gets fat and dysfunctional. The more people the higher the necessary density.
What bugs me is the definition of "city". People say they live in a city because they work in the MSA, but likely live in a bedroom community. Tokyo, Shanghai, Chicago, I've found everyone identifying as residents of the greater city but can only afford to live in Yakota, Schaumburg, or Guilin. The commute times are unsustainable.
Let's invert the question: what if the whole planet were one metroplex? Now how do you define your place? What differentiates any one geographic location from another? Industrial fringe and CBD both attract daily commutes, so there isn't any real border - no inside and outside. Low density neighborhoods would be a luxury. Commuting infrastructure has an upper limit (Robert Heinlein "The Roads Must Roll" is a wonderful read on this subject). What is a city? We need a better definition than geographic or political boundaries. I know what Rykwert would say. People are being sold a false bill of goods when buying a suburban house or condo with 60 minute commutes to the employment centers.

Technology will not prolong us

I have a sincere mistrust of engineering solutions for extending carry capacity. I can't blow-up a river, but I sure could blow up a dam. Or a water tower. Or a treatment facility. Leveraging technologies is called leverage because it puts one thing on the far end of a lever to effect great action. That relationship, over the long-term, is precarious. History books are full of stories of failed cities that leveraged a critical infrastructure that failed. Cities that over-extend their population on the back of engineered solutions find themselves hostage to a "right-sized" solution suitable 30-50 years in the past.
Sand hogs in New York and the trash carrier strike are cautionary tales. 80% of Los Angeles electricity is used to move water. Use of technology without redundancy and resilience is a disaster, it just may not have happened yet.

A Persistent Architecture - building to tell stories

I believe in buildings which enrich the experience of the moment, or at least fail to detract from that experience. They are commodious, adaptable, facilitate hospitality, and easy to maintain. Each is a container that mitigates the natural elements for human activity.

Some good buildings intentionally blend the line between nature and culture. Those buildings are difficult to photograph. Most easily-photographed buildings are sculptures in space - attempting to stand forward from nature or local context, often to the point of contrasting - and tend to disappoint when experienced in person. They are akin to the fashion expert who brings no books to the book club. Like us, building design is a balance between the contemporary and the timeless. My goal for buildings is to tilt the scales towards a timeless quality.

This modest goal requires buildings express little "meaning"; unlike artistic artifacts that often rely on dualistic expression to convey "meaning" about something other than what is at hand. Modest buildings, like other artifacts of craft, express the process of their creation and persistence. While the details delight, the overall design helps the user engage with the environment and neighbors, not estrange them.

Persistence is critical because the most sustainable building is the one that is maintained. Neglected, buildings will return to the Earth. We can buffer buildings from this fate by making them important to people who have stories involving that building. Buildings are performance stages where we set the plays of our lives. Once we stop setting our stories in a building, it is truly doomed. The long-lived building is kept healthy by human hands. We adore that which helps us see beyond our day-to-day shuffle. That which orients us to an expansive view points out a way towards broader perspectives.

In addition to hosting good stories, good company, and insight a building needs to be efficient and flexible. A wasteful or constrained building is like a beautiful hat that is too small and constantly needs gold threads replaced. You will eventually discard it for a floppy sun-hat that is less attractive but more practical. In buildings, this is accomplished by designing for a "loose fit" that we can renovate later; by directing resources towards a stronger structure and greater utility-capacity rather than towards fancy finishes.

Esthetically, an abstract design built without regard to the subtle differences in land, light, breeze, and views is like an android. An android looks a lot like a human, but its designed-perfection lacks the common thread of humanity: time and our adaptations in the form of foibles, neurosis, humor, and wisdom. The building acquires character by adapting to circumstances. Nature becomes the esthetic through careful incorporation of site characteristics like views and seasonality -- these can be a part of the building’s creation. Characteristics like patina are acquired over time, and cannot be designed but they can be planned for. We can plan for the wear of use and seasons, to celebrate the wrinkles as they manifest.

Most, if not all, of us harbor a love of antiquity and respect for elders. Such antique culture is the backdrop for our own stories. Old buildings’ stories lend orientation and depth to our stories by being tangible links to our history. When people see the utility or function of a building as still valid to them in their day-to-day lives they will make the time to affect any required repairs. Veneration for the elder is normal as it reminds us that there is continuity in the human realm.

Nostalgia, on the other hand, is a desire for a simpler existence. The ironic truth is that we look favorably upon the past but with the full insight that only hindsight grants. We were all just as confused in the past as we are now, but we now understand that earlier territory and would like to go live there. Obviously, this is not possible. We each are facing new challenges as we age, our children age, and the wheel of life spins on. Nostalgia is a kind of mourning for the past, and we need each other’s help to stay focused on the opportunities before us right now. Buildings designed in a historical mode cannot deliver us from the present; rather they lead into the uncanny valley of theme-park design.

Even without a design theme, a home is highly suggestible. It is filled with our belongings. Our homes tend to become an extension of our state of mind. We decorate with reflections of our mind, creating a personal model of our neurosis and aspirations. Thus the power of geomantic arts like Feng Shui are not limited to working with Kami, Drala, and faerie folk, but an actual input channel to working with our minds. Architects can facilitate such personal work, but your inhabitation needs to be intentional. My role as architect ends when you take possession of your home, but my aspiration is your home helps you achieve your aspirations.

We use buildings both as vessels for our neuroses and containers for realization. They are an expression of our desires and aspirations. They are on display for all to see. They are artificial constructs of culture and our personal desires, aversions, and inattentions. Done well they are commodious, flexible, efficient, locally adapted, and adaptable to future generations’ needs.

Simple environmental sun room, Darchen, Tibet. 2016 Gregory "Duke" Carlson

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech is beautiful in photos, but chalky in person. 2009 Jason Winn
Civilian Conservation Corps look-out tower at Bastrop State Park, Texas. Beautifully crafted details, built to last. 2014 Angela Hartsell

Simple, functional retreat cabin, Thule, Greenland. 2010 Jason Winn

Adapted barn at the Windhorse Retreat Center, Wisconsin, 2013 Jason Winn

Timeless courtyard homes of Rhodes, Greece. 2014 Jason Winn

Horai tea room by Sen-no-Rikyu at Daitokuji, Kyoto, hospitality without pretension. 2016 Jason Winn
- Jason Winn is a registered architect with the State of Texas, certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners, and certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers. He has practiced architecture and urban planning in San Antonio and Chicago for 13 years and is currently teaching design at the Eastern Mediterranean University. Read his research on storytelling and persistence in the built environment at Space Poetics

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Invisible Cities 02 Oarlock: Galleys of San Araba

Invisible Cities 02 Oarlock: Galleys of San Araba

The Game of Commuting! Win no Prizes! How do you win the commute competition? The captives, pulling oars by the thousands in galleys that stretch from suburb to city. It is not a walk to work, it IS the work. What makes you find your remote colony where you define your safety through isolation? The galley is long, but your children are safe and plumb in the good school, demanding the latest iPad so they can further overcome their geographic isolation.
It is banality in its most destructive form, so when the patched-coat man on the road-side holds up a cardboard sign that reads: "Are you winning the commute?" you pause. Are you winning? Are you losing? Is anyone living? Is the only way to avoid losing is to not play the game? Are the miles between you and work paved in coins that your Mario Cart is gobbling up, working you way up to the next iPad? Or are you dragging a muffler and your royal seat in the galley leaching away your iPad dollars? Your time to read a book? Are you missing your children even as you transport them from one extracurricular event to another in a bid to give them access to an active lifestyle that the colony does not offer.
Would you shop at a store that offered only one product every week? Would you eat out at the same restaurant every time in exclusion to all other? Or is our obsession with diversity in third places a result of the monotony at home?
DAVE COVERLY's work at speedbump.com; outstanding

Dutifully, you moisturize your hands, lower you shades, crank the AC and radio as you reach for your oar. Conditions have improved, but a galley slave is still a slave. We will do to ourselves what we would rise up in frothing condemnation were it done to another. We genuinely believe that such conditions are dismal, but so many of us impose it upon ourselves.
What is the option??? The jobs are in rich part of town, the housing in the cheap part of town. So, must we pour money down the tank into the depreciating assets to save money on an appreciating asset? Such math is damning at best. The odd relationship to "home" among the neo-colonialists is fleeting. With the average household relocating every seven years, there is no grass growing underfoot. When more waking hours are spent in the car than the home, which is actually home?
Wasn't there a promise of freedom? Wasn't there an open road with natural wonders over the horizon? They are wholly different seas, out beyond the loop roads, with wide open spaces and even wider highway signs, but there is relief from monotony. Sad that we must work the oar to reach the remote wonders.

These centipede lines of galley slaves have come to the fore only in the last three generations. We can't dispute the logic: we needed new housing after WWII, and we had a love affair with the freedom of the car before the war. During the Great Depression Ma and Pa would load up the family Ford till it sat on the springs, and with all the young'ns flea to California seeking Grapes of Wrath where their agriculture hands could find employment. A great reversal of the migration began when California reached the bursting point in the last decade. The moderately well-to-do began an exodus from California seeking reasonable housing prices near jobs where their computer skills could find employment. The resulting income asymmetry has caused ripples of gentrification in states like Texas. The oarsmen of California now join the Texans and our combined progress is reduced logarithmically.

With mass-housing development and mass highway building coupled, it was guaranteed today's worker would be chained to an oar. Each of us does our best to make our bench as comfortable as possible. Given the diminishing efficiency of the system, some cities reward you if you have co-oarsmen; you get a lane with HOV (high occupancy vehicle) painted on the hot asphalt. Our traffic engineers are focused on moving more cars rather than more people. Over-sized the city gasps on the fumes of inter-county oarsmen. With each stroke, the oarsmen looses more income.

Couldn't we offer prizes? Most miles driven gets you a gold star, or a free tank of gas? How about a club: Lodge of the Oarsmen. Log your GPS miles with your local Metropolitan Planning Organization and get a free pod-cast subscription to a career improvement feed of your choice. Build skills while pulling that oar!

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- Jason Winn is a registered architect with the State of Texas, certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners, and certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers. He has practiced architecture and urban planning in San Antonio and Chicago for 13 years and is currently teaching design at the Eastern Mediterranean University. Read his research on storytelling and persistence in the built environment at Space Poetics

Invisible Cities 01: Streetlights of San Araba

Invisible City 01: Streetlights of San Araba
by Jason Winn, AICP, RA

As you pilot your personal carriage through the hill country you become aware of the glow on the horizon that is San Araba. Its rainbow of light-waste shimmers up into the sky like polychrome fog. Cresting the last hill you look down upon the glittering veins of the city. The street lights are all tunable LED lamps that create gremlins of orange dots (speeding cars) rushing down boulevards chased
Descending into the valley of the city you will find your own line of red and white. Your fellow drivers heading towards the glitter are blinking red tail-lights in jerky fits. Those fleeing the city are burning the back of your eyes with high-beams of all descriptions from umber of lorries through the squint-eyed blue of sports-cars' stylized lamps. Ahead, throbbing white street lights indicate an auto accident. It is lit to maxiumum to aid the distressed. Above your lanes the city's lights cascade from yellow to blue depending on the speed of traffic under them. In the distance ahead of you a wash of blue rushes towards you, rippling down the road towards you. The yellow glow around you is extinguished. Simultaneously the red tail-lights stretching away in front of you wink out. Each driver anticipates the mood.
From up in your hotel roof bar you survey the other badged convention-ers. All weary but electrified by the rainbows stretching away from the city center. Glancing across the city you note the roundabouts with wisps of yellow pinwheeling in towards the city with blue tendrils spiraling away into the suburbs. You discern the residential neighborhoods as smears of gentle blues and greens across the hills.
The jazz quarter below is a pulsing red and yellow like neon glitter pulling revelers towards the heart of the city's beat. of free-flowing traffic.
Each their own neon glittering, dancing showgirl, the towers of downtown compete for your attention. One round egg of a tower bubbles like Champagne, with a froth of small dancing spotlights effervescing from the roof bar. Business towers wear reserved tracery of neon pulling their edges into relief leaving the glass facades dark.

How is this impossible?
How is this beautiful?
How is this annoying?

Please comment below

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- Jason Winn is a registered architect with the State of Texas, certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners, and certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers. He has practiced architecture and urban planning in San Antonio and Chicago for 13 years and is currently teaching design at the Eastern Mediterranean University. Read his research on storytelling and persistence in the built environment at Space Poetics

Watch "Poynton Regenerated" on YouTube


Poynton Regenerated

Published on Jan 31, 2013

A community in decline, divided by decades of anti-social traffic engineering, is reunited and revitalised by streetscape redesign

Comments • 354

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I work for Free Wheel North, the Glasgow based special needs cycling and access charity. We work with thousands of people with additional mobility needs. Poynton village is an exemplar of how things should be, combining human access rights with a vast increase in quality of life and safety. We are advocating similar changes to the town of Kirkintilloch near Glasgow. Once people see it action they usually can see how shared space works. This is a return to public space for people, the foundation of civilisation as it evolved over thousands of years. Contemporary examples regenerate community rich in shops, cafes, post offices pubs; the fabric of village, town or city life. This was how it was before cars destroyed  all our urban spaces. We visited Poynton and sent a small boy across the main junction without hesitation. No problem. See youtube clip Poynton Village shared space Free Wheel North.
+norman armstrong Please read what I actually wrote. Whenever I have been to Poynton the majority of the cyclists have illegally been on the pavement with pedestrians. Most of the cyclists on the road were lycra-clad "dedicated" cyclists. Those on the pavement were exclusively "normal" people in everyday clothes.
+norman armstrong Your philosophical claptrap about institutionalisation (etc) is demonstrably false. (1) the more people used Ashford, the more they wanted changes. In other words, familiarity breeds fear of shared spaces. (2) desire lines were not followed; people huddled against the edges out of fear! (3) The majority of people, and 91% of women, felt anxious there. Take the trouble to read the UWE report http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/17937/ and you will see how "unusual" your viewpoint is.
I visited Poynton in 2013 and witnessed the best example of how deregulation can build a caring, supportive and collaborative society; and it involves cars!!! Poynton is typical of small high street towns in the north of England, it was a mining town originally and eventually became part of the greater Manchester conurbation. The main high street is a major trunk road ( A road) with a steady stream of N/S traffic. Also typical of many UK high streets, the shops have struggled and many were closing down due to the GFC and general poor environment.   Low a miracle.....someone was inspired to sort it out from an urban design point of view and develop a deregulated, uncontrolled shared surface concept. The local council and the transport authorities embraced the idea and had the courage to say yes!! This as many know is not a new idea, but one that is hard to get over the line especially in Australia!!   I see this as much more than a great example of excellent urban design or even social engineering. It is a metaphor for how we should be approaching many issues in society, in health, education, housing. Let us remove the burden of control and regulation which breeds expectations that, somehow it is someone else’s responsibility to manage the individuals interaction with their environment and within their community. We have all to varying degrees abdicated responsibility for our own actions, There is clearly another way to  get us Poynton in the right direction. Australia should look and learn David Bagshaw -architect change by design
Martin, Loved the video and the concept.  Hoping cities in the US can follow this example...though it would definitely require a reversal of current trends.  My question for you is: are there any metrics taken from Poynton before and after the change (average time to navigate the intersection, average speed of moving cars, average number of pedestrians, and safety statistics)? The video alludes to all of those aspects, but didn't present any stats.
+Martin Cassini I went through Portishead and was surprised to see the pedestrian crossing is being reinstated. Right now, not planned! I then googled and found that article, so the date is irrelevant. Designed for "equality", implemented, found unsatisfactory, being removed. People don't feel equal with HGVs, busses, white vans etc. Shame that your dream of equality doesn't work in Portishead (and elsewhere).
+Martin Cassini BTW, not my negative outlook. That's the considered opinion of the people in Portishead, based on hard-won practical experience of the shared space, not some mere theoretical concept. When reality contradicts the theory, reality wins. (Unless you are a political or religious extremist, of course)
It looks brilliant! Will fast moving Bostonians buy into it?
+Lori Wadsworth Why wouldn't they?
Hopefully they will do a little research, and can see the emperor has no clothes.
It would appear that some people don't care if visually impaired citizens can't use these ill-conceived 'shared spaces' - not really sharing if part of the population can't use it.
This project is a great example for cities in America to take note of. I think it demonstrates improvement for Poynton, no doubt! However, I wish I could have seen more about the prototyping stage of development - it's true that designs aren't always "perfect" at first blush. I think some of the criticisms (hard to distinguish dark pavers at night / unfamiliarity for out-of-town drivers in the rain) could have been designed around if there had been a few rounds of iterations in order to discover and consider solutions to all those pesky unforeseen problems that always pop up. Granted, this is difficult to prototype in such a busy intersection!  Nonetheless, good work, I hope you get the chance to continue to modernize and HUMANIZE streetscapes over in your area, continuously learning new and better ways to accomplish this!
Unfortunately. And still no response from Hamilton-Baillie. Again.
Antti, I know what you mean, and you are referring to Monderman-inspired wisdom, but I see it differently. Given streets designed for equality and a social context - as distinct from streets designed for priority and a traffic engineering context - we rediscover our humanity, our empathy and our manners.
+Tom Gardner Tom, I am not in your debt. If you weren’t so snide, demanding and self-important, and if you used the word "please" and meant it, I might feel more inclined to find the time to edit my substantial correspondence with Kay into chronological order. So you can whine and whinge all you like but I will do it in my time, when I have time. 
+Martin Cassini I'll ignore your strawman points. The information Kay has published in the newsletter directly contradicts your assertions. If you make vague assertions about what other people have said, then it is your responsibility to justify your assertions. You say you will justify them, but then fail to do so - which makes you look bad. Doesn't do your arguments much good either. Over to you...
Recently I while visiting the UK I went through this "shared space" It was a mess. Terrible.
+Robert Walker Part of the point of voonerfs is UNCERTAINTY. The "green light" gives drivers no reason to think and every reason to drive fast. Yes, but you are not comparing this exact intersection to the before version, which was also a "horrible mess". This looks to be a lot better than what this town had before, especially for the pedestrians and people breathing the air. There are just too many cars. Congestion pricing of this and nearby roads for peak times would help.
+StreetsAre ForPeople I don't want to have to guess what the other guy is going to do, Using your logic we should get rid of all road signs. If someone makes a wrong guess people die.
Shared Space shows an astonishing lack of understanding and concern for those of us with disabilities. I walk on crutches and have previously fallen in a crosswalk and had trouble getting up. I wasn't hit because I had the light, the traffic was stopped, and drivers could see me. How would that have worked out in a shared space? Why are the needs of disabled people put on the bottom of the agenda for what is essentially an aesthetic ideal and not a compelling public interest on a par with my safety and the safety of other people with disabilities, the elderly, and children? I shouldn't be afraid crossing the street; I shouldn't have to ask for help; I shouldn't have to avoid shared space junctions, and I shouldn't have to risk being hit or killed thanks to the ego of a few urban designers.
+Tom Gardner You can certainly be relied upon to offer no constructive suggestions. You demand evidence from a fledgling movement that strives to transform road-user relationships, safety, efficiency and quality of space, but gets no support from the traffic control establishment which refuses the trials that could provide the evidence (it would undermine their empires). The problem the world over is that vehicles have been allowed to dominate public space. I haven’t visited India, Vietnam or Palermo, though I suspect that egalitarian road culture would bring mutual respect and authentic safety anywhere. In Poynton, cyclists use, or could use the wide strip between carriageway and pavement. The carriageway itself is single track, and cyclists don’t want to hold up motor vehicles unnecessarily. This might be my last post for a while.
+Martin Cassini Nonsense: shared space advocates make claims they can't substantiate, and that's morally reprehensible - even if it is commercially/politically acceptable. E.g: you haven't visited India/Palermo/Vietnam, but you repeatedly make emphatic false statements about them. Typical. Stop waffling and address some issues: tell us why ordinary (not lycra-clad) cyclists choose to cycle illegally amongst pedestrians in Poynton, when they choose to cycle on the road outside the shared space area. And tell us why it is acceptable and required that pedestrians are afraid in shared spaces (Ashford, Hamilton-Baillie statements referenced above).
Great piece Martin. This just shows that drivers and pedestrians can co-exist and share the same space. I hope to see more of this throughout the world.
It is a roundabout without clear lane makings! People will get killed!
+DARKOvibrations No, it isn't safe to say that. Someone being killed is a rare event, so it is unlikely to happen in any given time period. There have been several narrow escapes; remarkably one looks like it might have been caught on film, and if that's the case it suggests they are relatively common occurrences! See the background at http://vimeo.com/118137432. Also see http://www.macclesfield-express.co.uk/news/local-news/poynton-shop-crash-ignites-new-2528455 which would probably have been prevented by full-height kerbs.
+DARKOvibrations No it isn't safe to say that - KSI incidents are rare. I suggest you find out about the statistics of infrequent events. Have a look the unscripted incident in the background at 3:50 in http://vimeo.com/118137432 - perhaps the elderly pedestrian felt he had nearly been knocked down? Also http://www.macclesfield-express.co.uk/news/local-news/poynton-shop-crash-ignites-new-2528455
Forced to drive through the "shared space" recently, witnessed one near collision when a truck was attempting to negotiate the imaginary roundabouts but I'm sure, if you want your village to look like a cheap seaside resort (without a beach) then it is fine. I think it has turned a really pretty village into an unsightly area full of brick paving and scared drivers and pedestrians, if that's the look you were going for...nailed it!
I take it by "all Users" you mean blind people too? Or are shared space people anti-blind?
Put a Fork in it the argument is done.
I would never drive through Poynton ever again, Used to love visiting but the ''improved'' roundabout scares the hell out of me. Even taxi drivers don't like driving through there. Well done Poynton, you killed your village.
I am struggling to see how Poynton has killed its village. Poynton is evidently thriving. You on the other hand could do with getting better at driving by the sounds of it. I sense a bit of village envy. One way to check if a village is dead is to check the house prices/market..... Nobody would want to pay good money to live in a dead village now. Would they?
Have a look at this https://vimeo.com/118137432 video, particularly the at 3:50 in the background. Have a look at this http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/17937/ unbiassed peer-reviewed report (i.e. not an "infomercial") into a similar scheme, which notes (among many other interesting findings) that 91% of women are anxious in the shared space, and that the more people used it the more they wanted changes.
I received an alert about a post by Tom Gardner claiming Poynton has seen a tenfold increase in accidents since the scheme opened in 2013. Jiggered if I can find the post, so I'll reply here. The following traffic incident data is from the Cheshire Constabulary Force Command. It includes all incidents with codes TA1(Fatal RTC), TA2 (Injury RTC) and TA4 (Damage only RTC) within a 200m radius of Fountain Place: 2009-10 total of 58 accidents (48 damage, 10 injury). 2011-12 roadworks. 2013-14, total of 20 accidents (13 damage, 7 injury). At least one of the injuries reported since the scheme opened was on private land. There have been no deaths or severe injuries since the scheme opened. So Tom Gardner, your credibility is shot. Please do the decent thing and find another forum for your prejudiced posts.
Try harder, and don't misquote me. Google is your friend. http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/11274430.Police_boss_vows_to_keep_Bradford_on_Avon_HCZ_safe/ Pedestrian accident rate before shared space: 0.2/year in a shared space: 2/year, i.e. SHARED SPACE HAS 10* MORE PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS. (Pedestrian accidents 2005-2010: 1; 2012-2014: 4)
Another reversal in the face of reality: "A pedestrian crossing is being reintroduced in Grimsby's Bethlehem Street. The original crossing was removed as part of the multi-million pound regeneration of the town centre in 2013, when the controversial shared space was introduced at the junction of Station Approach." http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/Pedestrian-crossing-installed-Grimsby-s-Bethlehem/story-27448405-detail/story.html
+Janet Martin That's a sane sensible report without anything that could be mistaken for "religious fervour". They focus on something that is directly important to everybody (a safe space), rather than focus on some abstract philosphical principle that isn't bourne out in the real world. As an example of the latter, consider that in many parts of the world the "shared spaces" (where there are no rules and everybody is equal) turn out to be extremely rude, uncivilised and downright dangerous spaces - as witnessed by the accident statistics.
Seems like cyclists are against it too - so that's the blind, partially sighted and cyclists.
+Janet Martin Yes indeed. My daughter noted that most of the cyclists in Poynton were whizzing along the pavement narrowly missing pedestrians - and accurately pointed out that means the cyclists felt afraid to be on the shared psace with traffic. For a balanced, nuanced appraisal from a cyclist, see https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/poynton/ plus the comments and some of his other blog posts.
+Janet Martin Shared space proponents fail to acquit themselves well, and don't do The Cause any good. Sample comments: "Your message is completely incoherent." "You’re really quite, quite mad." "It is irresponsible to encourage people to break the law merely for the convenience of your agenda" "As other have already pointed out, this is a horrible mis-use of statistics." "You’ve again dodged the question." "I haven’t seen a clearer example of Orwellian NewSpeak and DoubleThink in a long time!" "Again, your position is inconsistent." "Mere repetition doesn’t make the statement valid, nor even sensible."
+Janet Martin I hadn't noticed that the article now alerts people to teh dysfunction aaspects of shared spaces. I hope that doesn't get edited out.
Martin Cassini wrote "If the Cabstand junction in Portishead is anything to go by (lights scrapped in 2009), congestion and quality of life will see permanent improvements even with an increase in traffic" They weren't: the traffic lights are being reinstated. See http://www.northsomersetmercury.co.uk/Peak-time-traffic-lights-return-Cabstand-resort/story-26266061-detail/story.html
+Martin Cassini Oh, the old "any problems with the shared space is because it isn't a true shared space" excuse. Also known as "no true Scotsman" fallacy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman . The Portishead shared space features are being rolled back because of the problems they introduced. Stop trying to deny reality. (And don't forget that pedestrian accidents have gone up ten times in Poynton since the shared space was introduced there) Derived from a Freedom of Information request described in http://m.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/11274430.Police_boss_vows_to_keep_Bradford_on_Avon_HCZ_safe/ and http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/where-crashes-are-shared-space-and.html
+Tom Gardner Portishead isn't unique... "A pedestrian crossing is being reintroduced in Grimsby's Bethlehem Street. The original crossing was removed as part of the multi-million pound regeneration of the town centre in 2013, when the controversial shared space was introduced at the junction of Station Approach." http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/Pedestrian-crossing-installed-Grimsby-s-Bethlehem/story-27448405-detail/story.html

Loneliness in Urban Design: Causal or Symptomatic?

Nicias’s rousing words to the Athenian soldiers on the beach at Syracuse:
‘You are yourselves the town, wherever you choose to settle… it is men that make the city, not the walls and ships without them….’
"Idea of a Town" - Rykwert p. 3
Nicias tells his soldiers looking to found a colony that it is the people that define community should they enter into a covenant with the land and each other.
"Loneliness can be the result of our built environment." [Photo: courtesy Schemata Workshop]

Architect Grace Kim thinks that a solution may be differently designed housing. "Loneliness can be the result of our built environment," she told an audience at TED 2017.
Are Dorms For Adults The Solution To The Loneliness Epidemic? by Adele Peters, Fast Company, April 2017
Peter's article suggests the answer for loneliness: people... Yep, that figures, but this epidemic (I argue pandemic) isn't going to be solved by our built environment. We need a diversity of issues reinforcing interdependence to gel a colony, town, or sense of community. Co-housing is a format that fosters close interaction and encourages intern-dependence. It is not a panacea for society.
To be honest, a co-housing in South Texas is a colony in a wilderness. In contracts, co-housing in Toronto is an established development pattern and membership is fluid (people move in and out like a rental apartment). Founding a co-house is different than settling into an existing co-house.

Having worked with groups in Chicago, San Antonio and now Kerrville I've noticed that groups have more success that establish an ideology that provides the glue that holds the vision of "the commons". In central Texas the typical ideology is that of individualism, and most potential groups find that they have heard of the idea, but their definition of "town" is quite different. What they can all agree on is that the current housing model is unsatisfactory.
That agreement alone is not enough glue to gel a community. A community cannot be founded on a negative principle. Inter-reliance provides a stronger glue, and loneliness is banished in the action of giving attention to each other.
The nitty-gritty is covered in the book "Creating a life together" by Diana Leafe Christian.
Joseph Rykwert's "Idea of a Town" is the seminal text on what town founding is - as a ritual and tradition.
Volunteering Does Not Need a Greater Agenda - In a Community, EVERYONE Needs Help Sometimes
Meetup is another answer to loneliness, and this community-building platform leverages the existing built fabric of our cities. I agree that our cities are not conducive to personal engagement, but their dysfunction is not stopping you from (first) finish reading this article and picking up your phone to call a friend. If we are going to talk about the isolation of individuals, it would be better to attempt to boost volunteerism rather than try and unwind 70 years of development policy all at once.
Again, single issue community engagement is not a method to build reliance and interdependence. I know it is a convenient way to organize a volunteer-fueled non-profit and get grants from corporations, but the farming isn't accomplished by "ploughers", "seeders", "harvesters". It's accomplished by "farmers". A comprehensive approach to community cultivation - one that integrates quality of life issues - is the only way to be bounteous. There is a ethos within the non-profit corporate-culture that being "on topic", "relevant", and "focused" is the path to success as a non-profit corporation. The typical community engagement approach is to create events for people to meet (addressing loneliness) and talk about addressing a social-ill.
This last step is important to community but it is not inherently community building. The exchange is labor and/or monetary from the participant who is then achieves a sense of gratification from having contributed. This kind of exchange is philanthropy but not building community inter-reliance.
2010 M*A*S*H Pot-luck party in San Antonio - We dined, watched the episode, and talked about ways we could help Haiti and committed to relief funds [Photo: Jason Winn]
Community inter-reliance isn't just a question of "how are you helping?", but "are you asking for the help you need?" For example: If you need help getting your home clean, ask two friends if they will come help for a day. Throw a small pot-luck dinner party the next day and invite six friends over. Ask two of those people to help you wash up. Everyone is fed, your quality of life has improved, and every involved spent time and energy helping each other. This is an exchange of energy with tangible results for all involved.

This is the day-to-day experience of co-housing. The close proximity of co-housing adds a social pressure to the members to foster such informal acts of community, but that proximity isn't a prerequisite. Did our development pattern create disconnection and loneliness? No, it made it more likely. Our lack of disorder, our affluence has led to a turning away from one another. Noted author Richard Sennett addresses the use of minor crisis to help gel a community in his text The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity and City Life. The sum of the modern lifestyle allows us to avoid relating to each other - so we don't. It is inter-reliance that defines a community, not the walls.
This phenomenon is becoming a pandemic around the world, and has a clinical label in Japan: "hikikomori ". Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry apply this definition to the half million residents who haven't left thier homes for at least six months. As noted in the noted in the research by Kato etal, this is a world-wide phenomenon of profound loneliness enabled by the total of the modern lifestyle, not just the built environment.
Any good non-profit would suggest I end on a call to action. So go call a friend, particularly one that seems in the doldrums. Ask for a favor.

Takahiro A. Kato etal, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
July 2012, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 1061–1075

- Jason Winn is a registered architect with the State of Texas, certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners, and certified energy manager with the Association of Energy Engineers. He has practiced architecture and urban planning in San Antonio and Chicago for 13 years and is currently teaching design at the Eastern Mediterranean University. Read his research on storytelling and persistence in the built environment at Space Poetics

Quantum Computer Reality, Seth Lloyd

Jason's Notes:

On a very fundamental level we have been forced to transition from hunter-gathers of information into filter-feeders of information. This may or may not be beyond our capacity, but in the most direct terms it is not what we are evolved to do. A high-level analysis of why we have computers indicates the reason we invented computers: to help us gather and filter the data that we may consume data. The limitation is the phenomenal quantity of useless or untrue information that washes up upon our Internet browser shores. Whole industries have developed to make some sense of this wake, but they themselves provide a feedback interference in trying to customize the output to the supposed desire of the user. We have become caricatures of Google's algorithm and are fed data based on statistical models informed by our demographic and past browsing history. A separate industry chops the chum of click-bait to use many of the same tools as Google to exploit our subconscious tendencies.

The capacity to fail is the enabler to exceed. (75:45) Allen Turning 1951 struggles with Godel's Incompleteness Theorem: When you have the capacity for self-reference you can no longer predict what you are going to do. Turning showed the computational program would be self-referential (an operating system is a program working on a computer that modifies itself) and the software is inherently unstable. Once an intelligence is self-aware, the computational results are indeterminate. I would suggest that this phenomenon lies at the heart of adaptability, art, the very notion of surprise. Without an interference pattern causing us to botch a recipe no new culinary delights would be invented.

Seth Lloyd is a professor of mechanical engineering and physics at MIT researching quantum information and quantum computing. He is the author of Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos.
To watch or listen to this Seminar, visit the Seth Lloyd Seminar Page. To follow the series, you can become a Long Now Member, download the Seminar app, or subscribe to our podcast. Members help to support this series and can access tickets to the talks, our live stream, and HD video of our full catalogue of Seminars.

The following is a summary of Seth Lloyd’s Seminar "Quantum Computer Reality", presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s Seminars About Long-term Thinking. These monthly talks started in 02003 to build a compelling body of ideas about long-term thinking. Links to media and more information about this series can be found at the bottom of this page.

The 15th-century Renaissance was triggered, Lloyd began, by a flood of new information which changed how people thought about everything, and the same thing is happening now. All of us have had to shift, just in the last couple decades, from hungry hunters and gatherers of information to overwhelmed information filter-feeders.

Information is physical. A bit can be represented by an electron here to signify 0, and there to signify 1. Information processing is moving electrons from here to there. But for a "qubit" in a quantum computer, an electron is both here and there at the same time, thanks to "wave-particle duality." Thus with "quantum parallelism" you can do massively more computation than in classical computers. It’s like the difference between the simple notes of plainsong and all that a symphony can do — a huge multitude of instruments interacting simultaneously, playing arrays of sharps and flats and complex chords.

Quantum computers can solve important problems like enormous equations and factoring — cracking formerly uncrackable public-key cryptography, the basis of all online commerce. With their ability to do "oodles of things at once," quantum computers can also simulate the behavior of larger quantum systems, opening new frontiers of science, as Richard Feynman pointed out in the 1980s.

Simple quantum computers have been built since 1995, by Lloyd and ever more others. Mechanisms tried so far include: electrons within electric fields; nuclear spin (clockwise and counter); atoms in ground state and excited state simultaneously; photons polarized both horizontally and vertically; and super-conducting loops going clockwise and counter-clockwise at the same time; and many more. To get the qubits to perform operations — to compute — you can use an optical lattice or atoms in whole molecules or integrated circuits, and more to come.

The more qubits, the more interesting the computation. Starting with 2 qubits back in 1996, some systems are now up to several dozen qubits. Over the next 5–10 years we should go from 50 qubits to 5,000 qubits, first in special-purpose systems but eventually in general-purpose computers. Lloyd added, "And there’s also the fascinating field of using funky quantum effects such as coherence and entanglement to make much more accurate sensors, imagers, and detectors." Like, a hundred thousand to a million times more accurate. GPS could locate things to the nearest micron instead of the nearest meter.

Even with small quantum computers we will be able to expand the capability of machine learning by sifting vast collections of data to detect patterns and move on from supervised-learning ("That squiggle is a 7") toward unsupervised-learning — systems that learn to learn.

The universe is a quantum computer, Lloyd concluded. Biological life is all about extracting meaningful information from a sea of bits. For instance, photosynthesis uses quantum mechanics in a very sophisticated way to increase its efficiency. Human life is expanding on what life has always been — an exercise in machine learning.

--Stewart Brand

Mariana Mazzucato: The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Private vs. Public Sector Myths


Jason's Notes

For every Tesla grant success story you will see a half dozen Solindras. Without that government investment you will never get Xerox, micro computers, the Google search algorithm, or the Internet. These concepts became singularities that changed how business is done, but as singularity were wholly unpredictable with very high risk.

It's difficult to write out the question for the government versus entrepreneurial elements until you examine the risk factors. The simple easy truth is that big business has no interest in high-risk. The foundation of a good business is to outsource your risk to others. The entity that can take on big risk is big government. This has been shown over and over with major innovations in technology and pharmaceuticals in the last 50 years. You have no interest as a big business in taking those big risks and why not capitalize on a government program that allows you to upgrade and market basic research.

Countries that invested in themselves. Germany for example has a higher debt than Italy does. The issue for Italy is not its debt load, but rather its lack of income because it does not support basic research which leads to innovation which leads to market share. Germany, on the other hand, has consistently been riding a wave of innovation after innovation starting with becoming the preeminent tool and die makers to the world. Finland has been capitalizing on the concept of providing services to the Alternative Energy Market not the actual technologies.

The caveat is the necessity to share innovation with other innovators. The USSR had three times thee research funding as Japan. Japan's system of lateral sharing of ideas created a multiplier effect that outperformed the USSR's hierarchy of research silos.

Mariana Mazzucato

From the Long Now Foundation :

Government as radical, patient VC

The iPhone, Mazzucato pointed out, is held up as a classic example of world-changing innovation coming from business.

Yet every feature of the iPhone was created, originally, by multi-decade government-funded research. From DARPA came the microchip, the Internet, the micro hard drive, the DRAM cache, and Siri. From the Department of Defense came GPS, cellular technology, signal compression, and parts of the liquid crystal display and multi-touch screen (joining funding from the CIA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy, which, by the way, developed the lithium-ion battery.) CERN in Europe created the Web. Steve Jobs’ contribution was to integrate all of them beautifully.

Venture Capitalists (VCs) in business expect a return in 3 to 5 years, and they count on no more than one in ten companies to succeed. The time frame for government research and investment embraces a whole innovation cycle of 15 to 20 years, supporting the full chain from basic research through to viable companies. That means they can develop entire new fields such as space technology, aviation technology, nanotechnology, and, hopefully, Green technology.

But compare the reward structure. Government takes the greater risk with no prospect of great reward, while VCs and businesses take less risk and can reap enormous rewards. "We socialize the risks and privatize the rewards." Mazzucato proposes mechanisms for the eventual rewards of deep innovation to cycle back into a government "innovation fund"---perhaps by owning equity in the advantaged companies, or retaining a controlling "golden share" of intellectual property rights, or through income-contingent loans (such as are made to students). "After Google made billions in profits, shouldn’t a small percentage have gone back to fund the public agency (National Science Foundation) that funded its algorithm?" In Brazil, China, and Germany, state development banks get direct returns from their investments.

The standard narrative about government in the US is that it stifles innovation, whereas the truth is that it enables innovation at a depth that business cannot reach, and the entire society, including business, gains as a result. "We have to change the way we think about the state," Mazzucato concludes.

--Stewart Brand