This is me, back in 1993. I was competing in a Lego tournament hosted by the Chicago Children’s Museum. Legos were a big part of my life back then: I had a large piece of cardboard under my bed on which I had built my own little Lego city. It had houses and streets for cars. It had an airport and it was situated on the waterfront in the event I got around to building some Lego boats.
I bring this up because it's possible I've had a fondness for cities for a long time without ever really knowing it. During family vacations, I would be the one responsible for holding the atlas and navigating the interstate. When we went to the mall, my first stop was always the directory to plan out our path to each shop.
The joy I get out of placing myself in the context of the larger world is something I still don't fully understand. Perhaps it is for that reason that my thesis took a strange journey through maps, cities, and the communities that build them.
Thesis and purpose statement
Locus connects planners and other city officials with community residents through a web-based application. What emerges is a conversation which establishes long-term goals for the neighborhood.
Residents are the people that live and work within the community. They sometimes elect the community board; other times the board is appointed by other members of city government. Residents have the local, day-to-day knowledge of what is working in the community as well as the voting power to enact proposals put forth by the community board.
Planners is the shorthand I give to the urban planners, developers, and architects who perform design tasks at the building, neighborhood, or city level. These are professionals, and they have definitive answers for questions such as, “Does this shopping complex have appropriate parking?” or “What would happen if we extended the subway to this location?”
For many cities, including New York, the Community Board is the body of civic administration for a given neighborhood. Typically, the community board acts as an interface through which residents view planners’ work, and through which planners learn of the decisions of the residents.