Repost: ‘I Just wanted to Say’ on Burning Man Blog

4 03 2011

Thanks to Jess for repost on Burning Man

Design is too often seen as a superfluous and elitist preoccupation. In this project, however, Yen moves beyond the realm of logos, posters and objects and uses design as opportunity and agent for change. This project re-imagines design concepts typically found in public transport signs as an opportunity for interaction and conversation. Namely, it takes the idea of “priority seating” and adds a unique twist.

Easily accessible seats on public transport are universal. They have traditionally been designated for elderly and disabled based on both a culture of courtesy and handicap access legislation. This project uses similar visual design to create “priority seating for people who want conversation,” helping to cultivate “a culture of friendliness.”

Finally, someone has articulated what I’ve been trying to say for awhile. “Design as opportunity and agent for change”….I’m totally going have to steal that line.

What makes this project interesting — and relevant to the cultivation of Black Rock City spirit — is its call for participation

I only know a little about Burning Man, from a documentary I saw once. It is grounded in 10 principles, which I think are strong ideas that could be easily adapted principles to urban community building (and good collaborative design process):

1. Radical Inclusion
2. Gifting
3. Decommodification
4. Radical Self-reliance
5. Radical Self-expression
6. Communal Effort
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
7. Civic Responsibility
8. Leaving No Trace
9. Participation
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
10. Immediacy
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience

Repost: Geotagged on Design Boom

4 03 2011

Repost from Design Boom.
This is pretty exciting, as it is a site I’ve followed and blogged ideas from the past. It feels like the biggest design site this project has been on to date.

Repost on

28 02 2011

Thanks for post PSFK.
‘PSFK is the go-to source for new ideas for creative business.”


Check out Dory’s other urban space related posts like – Bus Stop Video Games in San Francisco

Yahoo has installed digital video screens, on which commuters can play video games against each other, at 20 bus shelters across the downtown core.

Passengers identify which of the 20 specified neighborhoods they would like to represent when playing, and the one that wins the two-month long contest — presumable the area with the highest score — will win a block party featuring the band OK GO.


The BioBus

17 02 2011

More conversations on a bus…

The BioBus

After purchasing a 1974 San Francisco transit bus, Dr. Ben created the BioBus, a high-tech laboratory on wheels, boasting an array of advanced scientific equipment.  The Cell Motion BioBus is a mobile science laboratory. Our students explore the world around them with research-grade microscopes, and make their own discoveries under the guidance of professional scientists

The StartupBus

17 02 2011

More conversations to be had on buses….

The StartupBus

As many good things do, the StartupBus began life as a half serious but fully beer-infused joke about driving a bus from San Francisco to Austin for SxSW 2010, with a bunch of friends attempting to launch a startup by the time they arrived.

In 2010, forming into six teams ion the bus, they produced six functional prototype web services and presented them to a panel of high profile investors. The inaugural bus received a lot of exposure, had the winning team offered funding to turn their prototype into an actual business, and created a community of entrepreneurs who still work together on their subsequent projects.

Now in its 2nd year, an dexpanded to 6 cities, it brings together the best do-ers, thinkers and designers who want to hack a real startup together over a few sleepless days in a confined space moving at 60mph.

This is why Republicans hate mass transit

5 02 2011

Repost via GOOD-

In case you often wonder, as I certainly do, why so many Republicans openly mock mass transit, this chart (click through for a bigger version) tells you pretty much everything you need to know: Republicans represent suburbia, Democrats represent cities.

Even in the Australian context (local and State government levels), it feels pretty clear that investment into road and public transport infrastructure is forever a contentious political issue.

Free Public Transport for Homeless

5 02 2011

Repost via GOOD:

Santa Clara County has the highest median household income of any county in California (PDF), and now its residents are spreading some of that wealth.

Beginning in April, anyone enrolled in the county’s program to help homeless find permanent housing can also apply to get a photo ID and up to 1,850 free-ride transit stickers on the Valley Transit Authority’s light-rail and bus lines. The stickers will be good for three months, at which point the rider can re-apply for more, if necessary.

With an estimated 3,500 of the county’s 7,200 homeless people expected to take advantage of the offer, the local government expects to pay about $111,000 per year for the program. But Bob Dolci, who heads up Homeless Concerns in San Jose and will oversee the free-rides project, says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This will enable them to get to medical appointments, job appointments or anything related to helping deal with their homelessness,” he says. “Absolutely, it’s a lifeline.”

Subway Art Blog

20 01 2011

I found Subway Art Blog,  via a Map Magazine link to art about MTA Metro cards, only to discover a WHOLE site of my favourite awesomeness. Public transport + art + community personalizing space.   Worth a browse!

The New York subway is truly unique. In its 100+ years of existence, it has become so much more than just a mode of transportation. It is an experience: a canvas for artists, a venue for musicians and a sort of dendrochronological record of the city’s collective subconscious.

Since creating this site, I have become more and more aware of the many subtle alterations people make to the subway. I have also discovered the abundance of art the subway system has inspired. Countless artists, including Reginald Marsh and Mark Rothko, have depicted life in the underground. Other artists, such as graffiti legends Keith Haring and Eric Haze, have chosen to use the subway system as their canvas. Whether a famous artist, common vandal or simply a commuter en route to work, every rider leaves his or her mark on the subway in one way or another. The intention of this blog is to document these markings as well as the art inspired by, made in or performed in the subway.

-Jowy Romano, Editor

NYC’s Hottest Subway Routes: 36 Saucy Snaps

20 01 2011

Repost via Map Magaazine, via Refinery 29

Unless you’ve got a driver or a phobia of underground spaces, you’ve hopped a ride on the subway, and, unless you’re asexual, we guarantee there’s been a lad or lady that struck your fancy. In NYC, our mass transit experiences are full of snatched glances, sudden crushes, and lots of “what ifs?”. Really, it’s no wonder that the majority of the Big Apple’s Craiglist’s “Missed Connections” are train-related….
Read more at –


Union Square,  L train, 2pm  (my old line, and my kind of cute… :)

Let’s talk, stranger: Why our subways should have conversation cars

15 01 2011

Via New York Daily Times: Let’s talk, stranger: Why our subways should have conversation cars

For decades, one of my chief pleasures as a New Yorker was chatting up the person next to me on a packed subway car. I’ll admit to a bias of trying to converse with pretty women – but a conversation with even the least attractive member of either gender would often prove to be enlightening.

And most people were glad, even eager, to talk, especially when all they were doing was passing the time between, say, W. Fourth St. and Columbus Circle.

But such spontaneous conversations are becoming rare on city trains and buses. The sound of silence reigns.

Quite simply, times have changed. More and more travelers are immersed in their iPods, iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Kindles or other electronic devices.

Subway cars now resemble libraries or monasteries. That’s why the recent altercation over New Jersey Transit’s Quiet Commute program, with commuters arguing over the precise definition of what constitutes “quiet,” is especially silly. With a pair of earbuds, we can all have as much solitude as we’d like.

But what about someone who wants to engage in an activity that used to be normal: talking to the stranger next to him or her? What if, instead of treating your morning commute like a yoga retreat, you actually wanted to take a (wholesome, noncreepy) interest in one or two of the several thousand human beings around you. Where’s the car for that? Where, on your bus or train, do you go for decent conversation?

Let me admit that the fault lies as much with me as with the people around me. I am often attached to my own electronic media device. I watched eight seasons of the show “Scrubs” on the subway on my iPhone. Lately, I’ve been reading from my own Kindle. To converse with someone else, I must first  disengage myself electronically. Once that’s done, I must then find someone else already equally disengaged. That’s two very high hurdles to jump over at eight in the morning, or after a long day of work.

All of which leads me to a modest proposal: The Conversation Car. In this train car (or bus section) one would be assured, upon entering, that fellow passengers are ready and willing to chat. Putting speakers against your ears or a screen in front of your face would earn frowns as severe as those now cast at someone who conducts a business call in a Quiet Car.

This would, first of all, help in some measure to restore the dying art of conversation – especially the spontaneous kind, when you haven’t already prepared your stock answers about all matters mundane.

And it would also restore that measure of accidental contact for which New York is famous. After all, the person jammed next to you could be from Sweden. Or from Queens. Or a Swedish queen. But if you’re just zonked out on your iPhone, you’ll never know.

There will be some rules in my proposed Conversation Car: no insults (hard for some New Yorkers, I know), no overly aggressive come ons, no street preacher crazy talk. Just ordinary people enjoying incidental, temporary company instead of plugging in and tuning out.

A dose of conversation might just be the new, much-needed antidote to our solitary digital domains.

Alex Marshall is editor of the urban planning newsletter Spotlight on the Region


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