Planners Network Boston Chapter

Planners Network, originally uploaded by siqi.zhu.

This semester, a group of MUPs at Harvard have been working on founding a Boston Chapter of the Planners Network. The Planners network "is an association of professionals, activists, academics, and students involved in physical, social, economic, and environmental planning in urban and rural areas, who promote fundamental change in our political and economic systems."

We will be having an INITIAL MEETING on OCT 25th at Ravneet Grewal's house, 47 Meacham Rd, Somerville (right near the Davis Square T stop) from 3 TO 5 PM to found the Boston chapter and to talk about the sort of events and community involvement that we'd like to have.

Some major beliefs of the Planners Network: "We believe that planning should be a tool for allocating resources and developing the environment to eliminate the great inequalities of wealth and power in our society, rather than to maintain and justify the status quo. We are committed to opposing racial, economic, and environmental injustice and discrimination by gender and sexual orientation. We believe that planning should be used to assure adequate food, clothing, housing, medical care, jobs, safe working conditions, and a healthful environment. We advocate public responsibility for meeting these needs, because the private market has proven incapable of doing so."

Or, in summary, we're a group of people who believe that planning can be a primary tool in defending human rights.

We've been in touch with a lot of people around Boston who are interested in joining with us: students and professors from MIT, Harvard, BU, Tufts and UMass, as well as activists and practitioners, so this will be a great chance to meet and work with other planners from around Boston.

Check out the website and and the "disorientation guide" and please think about coming to the meeting and being involved.

Zakcq Lockrem
MUP Candidate | Harvard Graduate School of Design
Teachers Assistant | Boston University Department of Applied Social Science



A few samples of work from our second assignment, which we just finished up:





And, as is featured here in my friend Siqi's iPod photo, due to a last minute room mixup, we ended up presenting in Piper Auditorium, which is the main hall at the GSD. Fancy Harvard lectern and all.

More Southie, originally uploaded by siqi.zhu.

My Flickr site has the rest of the presentation and Siqi's has more photos from the presentation as well as his team's boards (he's an amazing graphic designer).



I’ve finally got some time for an update, so I think I’ll spend it explaining life at Harvard, so that I can just jump into what I’m working on in the future. I’d say I’ve settled in pretty well to life at the GSD. I’m spending about 50-60 hours a week there, but compared to my previous life of working 40 hours a week at Borders and then being at BU for 9 hours a week with all the travel time in between, it doesn’t seem all that bad.

Life at the GSD revolves around our studios. We take 8 credits of studio per semester and 12-16 credits of coursework, but studio definitely takes up more then half of our workload. For the first two semesters, we (by which I mean all the first year planners) are in the same studio, and then in the second year we get to select our studios based on the kind of project that they are doing. Second years this year, for example, are doing things in Newark, the Netherlands, Las Vegas, Mumbai, ect. This semester, my studio is working on the South Boston Waterfront, which is a mostly undeveloped ex-industrial site just east of downtown Boston. It the moment we’re just doing preliminary work, and I’m excited to get started on the actual stuff, however so far I have gotten to use a lot of new skills, especially in mapmaking as well as getting much better with Illustrator and Photoshop.

South Boston Waterfront

My courses this semester are mostly pretty basic: Market Theory and Methods of Planning. On top of that I have one research seminar titled “Balkanization: From Metaphor of War to Shaping of Cities” with an architect named Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss (one of his projects is below). I’m just beginning my research, but I think I’m going to be looking at Balkanization as a metaphor in Canadian media discourse and how that relates to territorial differentiation at national and urban scales. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it as I start getting into it more.


Outside of school (outside being relative, everything in my life seems to be interrelated at this point) I’m also teaching a module of an Urban Design class at BU, which is going well. Right now we’re considering what design interventions would go into making a streetscape more “livable.” I’ve also beginning working on a project with a friend of mine from BU dealing with a prototype design for a sustainable (environmentally, economically, socially) street for Mexico City. If things go well, I’m hoping to spend a few weeks down there over the holiday break doing some site visits. Lastly, several others and myself have been working toward founding a Boston chapter of Planners Network, which is a group for planners who are interested in seeing planning activities primarily from a human rights perspective. If anyone out there is from Boston (or for that matter from anywhere else) and would like to be involved, please drop me a message. It seems like a great organization, and a lot of people that I really respect are involved (Peter Marcuse, Robert Beauregard, Keith Pezzoli, Faranak Miraftab, Kanishska Goonewardena, ect). I’m sure I’ll be writing more about that in the near future as well.

ps. I've added links for a Planners Network as well as for my friend Siqi from the GSD, who's a great writer and designer (but unfortunately doesn't post often) and for my friend Ben's girlfriend Mellisa who we met in Chicago this summer and writes both well and often and... added bonus... happens to have studied anthropology of food at University of Chicago, which means her posts are full of yummyness... mmmmm.



GSD Photo Blog

I've been meaning to write a little more for awhile, but have gotten pretty busy. In the meantime, here's a quick photo tour of my new life at the GSD.

We live in Gund Hall, a wonderful brutalist building:

This is our exhibition space. What's up rotates. In the picture it's new projects by architects from Croatia and Slovenia. Around graduation time, we all get to display:

Pun Lovers Rejoice:

The back side of the building is called the trays. This is where we have our studio space (and therefore spend most of our time.


We're seated along with everyone else in our studio, which in our case is all of the first year planners:

And my desk:


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