Creating Green Infrastructures

Metropolis Magazine
Infrastructure Activism
By Tiffany Meyers, November 12, 2009

To introduce his panel at last Thursday’s Infrastructures for Change Workshop, in Chicago, Giles Jacknain reminded us that the ancient Greeks had two words for city. The first was asty—or the inanimate bricks and mortar. The other: polis, or the city as a human entity. The conversation we were about to have, he suggested, was about moving from “asty to polis.”

Jacknain is the founder of the consultancy the Oikos Collective and a faculty member of Archeworks, which sponsored the day-long Infrastructures for Change event. The conference offered a mash-up of bottom-up and top-down projects designed to make cities of the future sustainable “before it’s too late,” as more than one speaker put it. It’s the first in a series of Archeworks workshops that will showcase design alternatives to the waste-intensive, auto-dependent, low-density infrastructures of the 20th century.

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Wicker Park: Where History Meets Haute

Canada’s Globe and Mail
Wicker Park: Where history meets haute

By Tiffany Meyers, June 15, 2010 

Like so many of the best travel anecdotes, this one will start at The Crotch. At least that’s what some people are calling the six-corner intersection (Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues) of the Chicago neighbourhood Wicker Park. On a typical day, a throng of people who care about progressive fashion, music, food and books, plus originality and Pabst Blue Ribbon, spill forth from that intersection, which, in all seriousness, you should really just call The Corners.

Along those three main drags, you’ll find a caffeinated, high- and low-end mash-up of DIY creativity, $200 skinny jeans, $2 tacos, new and used books and respectable people watching.

In 1870, Charles and Joel Wicker (a pair of brothers-cum-developers) appropriated 80 acres of land and called it, after themselves, Wicker Park. The devastation following the great Chicago fire, one year later, inspired a real-state boom in their domain, as German and Scandinavian brewery tycoons built their mansions along Hoyne and Pierce Streets, a.k.a. “Beer Baron Row.” (For more architectural eye candy, add Caton Street to your walking tour.)

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Artful Tension

Chicago Tribune
Artful Tension
By Tiffany Meyers, September 5, 2010

Every art lover knows: Creative expression, whether it’s museum-quality paintings or videos by Madonna, is sometimes about making you squirm. Hang a few provocative pieces on the walls of your home, and you’ve got a different kind of challenge — how to incorporate edgy artwork into an interior that’s welcoming and happy; and whether you should take down your precious paintings when mom and dad stop by for a visit.

For Jeanne Landolt Masel, owner of the online gallery, the answers came easy. In the loft home she shares with husband Dennis Masel, she has created a space that puts the couple’s art collection center stage. And she wholeheartedly embraces the reactions from visitors. Masel’s eclectic collection includes work by emerging artists, African masks and contemporary urban art from the likes of Paul Insect, D*Face and Banksy, the British street artist whose identity remains unknown.

In terms of temperament, Masel doesn’t fit the profile of an iconoclast. She’s cheerful and outgoing. She has stuffed animals, for goodness’ sake. But the girl does enjoy a little indictment of contemporary culture. At a recent party, her piece by D*Face, which depicts the Statue of Liberty with a clown nose and makeup, sparked debate among friends, including one whose sense of patriotism it offended.

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