After a week stuck in front of computer and in workshops, I let myself wander a bit this weekend. The weather was beautiful and I realized how important rambling, both geographically and intellectually, is for my mental health and for my academic work. When I get out in the city and when give my research space to wander, I find that the connections begin to emerge in unexpected ways.
It began Friday when I went to the Grassroots Uses of Technology conference at MIT to hear my neighbor-friend Bob talk on open source, usability, the non-profit world. Before Bob’s talk, I wandered over to the new Stata Center, a Frank Gehry design that I wanted to see after enjoying my visit to the new Los Angeles Philharmonic in June. As with the building in LA, I enjoyed the playful geographic forms, and I found the amphitheater-like entrance to the backside of the building particularly interesting. As I sat eating my lunch in the warm spring sun, I appreciated the trees planted in the theater seats like audience members as well as the sense of anticipation that the space created.
When I walked into the conference’s opening session, I recognized the man sitting near the door as Benjamin, the homeless man I found him sleeping our porch on day a couple of years ago. He took a shower in our house, did some laundry, drifted in and out of the yard, and then disappeared about a week later.
I thought of Benjamin as I watched “The Parrots of Telegraph Hill” at the Coolidge Saturday night, since he looked a bit like Mark, the main character in the film. He cares for the parrots in San Francisco and had been homeless quite often in the years preceding the documentary. The film took me back to a part of the San Francisco I explored last month when I was there for the CCCC conference.
Yesterday afternoon I thought of the parrots as I rode my bike past the white geese that congregate near the BU bridge, and I wondered if there’s anyone like Mark to care for them or the homeless folks who live nearby. It turns out these urban birds also have an advocate—the Friends of the White Geese.
Just after crossing the BU bridge, I stopped by the BU Photography Resource Center to take in the Land/Mark: Locative Media and Photography exhibit I mentioned earlier this week. Both Margo Kelley and Brooke Knight’s work connect with my own interests in important ways, and I’m tempted to get in touch with them since they live in the area. The Yellow Project exhibit encouraged me to take a closer look at this project that I’d run across online a while back—and to pick up some arrows that I might plant somewhere in the city.
This morning I’ve wandered back to psychogeography via Yellow Arrow, Conflux, and Glowlab and its derive approach to critically engaging with the city makes me feel like my ramblings might actually be taking me somewhere.