January 31, 2012, Washington, DC: And this is how we saw Brisbane: At sunrise, the river peeking through the trees in the backyard, rowers from the University of Queensland fitting in a morning workout. More than a decade later, my jaw still drops and I cannot believe I had the good fortune to live there.
January 30, 2012, Washington, DC: Dear Australia, How on earth has it been so long since we met face to face? How it is possible it’s been precisely twelve years to the day since I first boarded that plane headed for Sydney? I remember it well: January 30, 2000, the Superbowl just getting started as our flight departed from Los Angeles. We missed the game that day. We missed January 31, too. All of it. An entire day erased from the calendar. It was February when we landed.
January 30, 2012, Washington, DC: This weekend I had the privilege of working for Barracks Row Main Street to take photographs throughout my neighborhood of an event called the Culinary Education Crawl. (Full set of photos coming soon now posted on www.barracksrow.org!) On Sunday, nine restaurants and establishments on Barracks Row offered courses throughout the day in what they do best — from shucking oysters to making ravioli, tasting champagne to baking tarts and cupcakes. In banning together, restaurants and businesses saw classes sell out fast, attracting their best customers and neighborhood regulars to come into the kitchen, behind the counter and behind the scenes of their local establishments. I had a great day documenting the event on the 8th St. SE corridor.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
January 29, 2012, Washington, DC: Traveling by bicycle affords me the opportunity to see places I’d never see in the car or on foot. The allure of the bicycle comes not only from the pace of the exercise and the access to fresh air, but from the observations about this cityscape I collect along the way. Mustering up the motivation to go for a run sometimes requires a pep talk, but a trip by bicycle requires no such coaxing. On a bicycle cruising west down C Street into another part of town, I don’t need to force myself to enjoy the experience as it is happening. On two wheels, I live fully in the present moment, in part because riding a bicycle requires strict attention to detail. It is the optimal mode of transport for the observer within.
January 27, 2012, Washington, DC: It’ll turn on you without warning, the weather down here in the Mid-Atlantic. A morning like today’s — windows down… the temperature a balmy 61 degrees and rising… dark, severe, layer cake clouds luring you out for a long, warm morning run — and it’s impossible to remember what January is supposed to feel like. Today’s scene is offbeat. Distracting. It’s nothing like that season a few years ago that you swore you’d never forget and yet can’t quite recall in the warmth of this morning.
January 24, 2012, Washington, DC: And then it was everywhere. In every book I opened, every conversation I overheard, every article I read. People were curious about why those around them gravitate to the places they do. Suddenly it was clear I’d been pursuing this independent study for years. While packing and unpacking boxes. While working as a trip leader for a travel company. While studying the sociology and history of cities like New York. While writing essays about my neighborhood from Royal Ground Coffee on Polk Street. Over time, the books piled up, reflective of this narrative I was stringing together. They were reflective of my story.
Lens tightly focused on one subject, the proof bubbles up everywhere. To remind you that it’s a worthy exploration. That it’s a good use of time. That these are good questions.
Read on for my suggested reading list on the power of place and add your suggestions in the comments after the jump.
“An ardent supporter of the hometown team should go to a game prepared to take offense, no matter what happens.”
January 22, 2012, Washington, DC: You know the drill. The remote control is out of your hands. The television volume quickly rises through the roof. Bets are placed. Competition is underway. There’s yelling. If your family is anything like mine, this reminds you of home.