I write about the messy tangle of urban, psychological and geochemical systems that we need to navigate in a changing climate. And I teach kids to gain agency in changing systems. 

 

 

Redesigning urban systems to sustain climate change and other shocks requires a range of skills: charm, grit, critical thinking and empathy. I help master's students gain the skill of writing clearly and persuasively about fixes to often-arcane policy. My course at Pratt Institute has evolved into a hands-on workshop for compelling, story-driven policy writing. My students have published and presented their work before key decisionmakers, and I now also teach writing workshops throughout Pratt's planning programs.

Here's how I do it.

Photo Credit: ms.akr

Photo Credit: ms.akr

The experts-only tone that covers most writing about how cities get the way they are does us experts no favors. People of all backgrounds and styles should understand the systems that embed bridges, buses, wages, schools and social roles. My writing works to clarify process and shine lights on mistakes, through stories that show human passion and its interplay with urban design. 

Some of my stuff ›

Climate change is ready for a new lesson plan. It's too embedded in reality to portray as a threat. It's a fact, and kids who treat it as one can nurture the realism, enterprise and patience they'll need to manage climate stress. My workshops and curriculum start by teaching kids to experience the systemic flaws in human rationality that got us here, then guide them to explore how changes in urban design can prompt people to act more patient, inventive and sociable. They then role-play their way to a proposal that can make a real place more conducive to social strength. As they go, they gain a sense of agency.

See how it works›