framing common sense moments in urban places

An introduction to the new series, depicting the common sense dimensions of urban places


A few days ago, in Moustiers Sainte Marie, France, I watched several shopkeepers return a lost young bird to a part of town closer to its natural habitat.

This small drama was a play of few acts, but reflected a pattern of human conduct embedded in urban life. I was well-positioned to capture the moment with a Fuji XT camera, and was immediately reminded that the complex issues of wildlife in the city are often first framed by common sense, ingrained patterns—a “let the bird go moment”—readily captured by watchful eyes.

I’ve made little secret in past writing of my strong belief that these simple, underlying patterns merit repeated attention and illustration as we attempt to set up best practices in the urban environment. Best practices often begin as first principles worth capturing, but the question remains how to recognize such “teaching moments” for use going forward.

I suggest that in many instances, these moments are obvious to the beholder, and essential to record and later evoke for illustration and discussion.

How we should capture such first principle, “teaching moments”?  What tools should we use?  What are the secrets of documenting compelling examples for posterity’s sake?

This series will answer these questions, and explain how to capture common sense portraits of the urban environments for later use, and why.

Stay tuned.

Image composed by the author in Moustiers Sainte Marie, France, in June, 2014. Click on the image for more detail. © 2009-2014 myurbanist.  All Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

For more information on the role of personal experience in understanding the changing city, see Urbanism Without Effort, an e-book from Island Press.

3 thoughts on “framing common sense moments in urban places

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