The Urban Diary as a City-Dweller's Tool

Chuck Wolfe champions the 'urban diary' tool as a universal means to understand the city around us.

Writing in Seattle's Crosscut, Wolfe builds upon a section of his recent book, Urbanism Without Effort, and further defines "urban diaries” as an important ongoing source of documenting and better understanding traditional relationships between humans and the urban environment.  

He describes alternate diary forms, from notebook, or scrapbook to a digital file displayed by computer or tablet that reflects changing views of the city over time. He explains how such "diaries" can be narrative or figurative; they might capture actual events or record internalized memories or intuitions. They can document details of the history, culture and climate of a particular urban place, and particular aspects of "place-engagement".  
Finally, Wolfe offers specific suggestions for various approaches to implementation of the urban diary tool, noting:

Creating an urban diary is a kind of archaeology that involves more than unearthing distinct artifacts from another era. While urban diaries can be figurative or memory-based, we are also tangibly recording our explorations with whatever tool we choose — a pen, keyboard, camera. As we make note of some building or object or underlying relationship, we are actively engaging with a place....

Documenting and contemplating the journey from place to space — crossing and intersecting and embracing the edges of the public and private realms — may be the best way to understand where we live, the choices we make and the choices that are made for us.


Full Story: Understanding cities through urban diaries

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