Archive for 2012

Resolutions and Best of the Year lists: Twelve Best Places of 2012

Door County’s as good a place as any to start an adventure by land and by sea.
Joining the spate of year-end round-ups; I thought I’d offer my list of 12 favorite and fantastic places I had the joy of being in at some point during this passing year. Below are images I made at each one along the way. Some of these places I’ve written about and some I plan —... Read more »

Photographs, Violence and Place: Christmas Lessons for Change Following the Newtown Tragedy

Bandit's Roost (1888) by Jacob Riis, from "How the Other Half Lives". This image is Bandit's Roost at 59½ Mulberry Street, considered the most crime-ridden, dangerous part of New York City.

Riis’ book "How the Other Half Lives" was first published as an article in the 1889 Christmas issue of Scribner's Magazine.
Since the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, CT, I’ve been thinking about photographers who focus on social change in efforts to end suffering and injustice. Since early in its history, photography has intersected with the idea that giving view to tragedy can help prevent it. Photographs can offer evidence – a look into... Read more »

Welcome the Return of Light at an Ancient Wisconsin Effigy Mound Solstice Observance

New Year’s day; I love it. All the holiday parties are done, all the expectations met in one way or another. This is a day I can do whatever I want. Half the population is staying in with a headache or a football game, (or both); the streets and byways are quiet. With any luck there’s been some snowfall…. It’s a wondrously quiet day. Just me and my resolutions.
Every solstice and equinox, an observance ceremony is held on a small Native American Effigy Mound known as Frank’s Hill in southwestern Wisconsin. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places, and considered sacred by many. The hill – part of the Shadewald Group – is owned by a local farmer named Frank... Read more »

Independent publishing and bookselling in the heart of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area

The rolling hillsides typical of Wisconsin's driftless area.
The independent book publisher is alive and well in Wisconsin. Tucked into the southwest corner of the state, a lively, smart and diverse group of writers and publishers gathered on Thanksgiving weekend at the Southwest Wisconsin Book Festival in Mineral Point, Wisconsin’s creative beehive in the heart of the driftless area. I drove to the... Read more »

Grant Park Chicago; Election Night 2012. Place and history for Obama

Grant Park overview Election Night 2012
A very different feeling, a different kind of place than four years ago. Rainy, still, the party moved indoors… I took a walk around near Grant Park earlier tonight. Four years ago flooded with joyful citizens hailing a brand new hopeful day. Four tough years later, and after a brutal campaign the drizzly park felt... Read more »

Swimming in the shadow of the nuclear tower

Red car in the driveway, cooling tower in the yard.
I’ve been making the rounds on Lake Michigan this summer; doing a version of the “Circle Tour”… in pieces. Part 4 of the journey took me south to Mt. Baldy Beach in Michigan City, Indiana. This is a great beach, crashing waves, lovely sand, families, dogs … and a looming power plant cooling tower. That... Read more »

Jessica Stockholder's "Color Jam" and Placemaking in Chicago

Artist Jessica Stockholder has created what she calls a '3-dimensional painting' spilling across the surfaces of street and buildings at the intersection of State and Adams in Chicago's loop. The piece is called "Color Jam" and will remain in place through the summer.  In addition to the physical installation, the piece also invites the public to participate in a series of related programs or "JAMS", which include happenings, talks and concerts. Local businesses have invented related products ('color-tinis') and services inspired by the piece.
The concept of “placemaking” has been on my mind these days. The contest by the Metropolitan Planning Council mentioned in my last post has brought it into immediate focus, and lately I realize I’ve been more surrounded by the idea than I had previously thought. (Reminder: if you or anyone you know is engaged in... Read more »

Transforming Urban Places - A new contest awards creative urban artists and neighborhood organizations

How does a city enliven its public spaces and enrich the lives of residents? One option is to promote ‘placemaking’. That’s a term that seems to cover a lot of ground, but at its most basic expression, involves individuals working creatively to make a place better. A contest recently announced by the the Metropolitan Planning... Read more »

A Short History of America

A Short History of America
In honor of the 4th of July, I offer this, from the great cartoonist R. Crumb. Crumb drew “A Short History of America” in 1979. It shows an urban landscape gradually obliterating a single wilderness scene. Later, Crumb added three possible scenarios to the question posed in the final panel: “What Next?”. He drew a... Read more »

Wilderness, the Frontier and the Chicago Marijuana law

Wilderness, the Frontier and the Chicago Marijuana law
I’m researching a trip into the wilderness for some R&R soon, and I came across a headline on a National Park website about staying safe from bears and marijuana. Intrigued and slightly bemused, I clicked on the marijuana warning. I figured I’d find a ‘Reefer Madness‘ sort of imagined terror. Instead, the warning raised a... Read more »