Blog Posts for District of Columbia

Leveraging Our Impact as Leaders & Followers

Posted by Elizabeth McCloskey Miller, Apr 03, 2012 0 comments

Liz Miller

Elizabeth McCloskey Miller

I have the pleasure of serving as co-chair of the steering committee for Emerging Arts Leaders DC (EALDC), a volunteer-led initiative that provides professional development, networking, and information relevant to emerging arts professionals in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.

EALDC hosted our first-ever “book club” event in January with the incomparable Liz Lerman. Liz agreed to meet with our group to discuss her new book Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer. About twenty emerging leaders came out for the event, which Liz began by getting the group on their feet for a short icebreaker activity. Liz paired up the group, assigning one person from each pair the role of leader and one person the role of follower. The follower closed their eyes and was led by the leader around the room. Leaders were encouraged to move their partners in creative ways as music played. When instructed by Liz, the leaders and followers swapped roles and swapped partners. For me, the most interesting part of the exercise came mid-song when Liz told us to stop moving and decide individually whether we wanted to continue in our current leader or follower role. After the activity ended and we took our seats, Liz told us that in this self-directed segment of the leader/follower activity, there was a time when almost everyone in the room had elected to be a follower.

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Urban Design is a Universal Language

Posted by Radhika Mohan, Nov 09, 2011 2 comments

Radhika Mohan

It’s no secret that cities are becoming larger and more diverse. The newest 2010 Census numbers speak for themselves:

  • Over 80% of our current population lives in a metropolitan area;
  • The Hispanic population grew by over 40% in the past ten years, now making up 16% of the total U.S. population;
  • The Asian population in the country also grew by over 40%;
  • Those identifying themselves as “two or more races” increased by over 30%;
  • Nearly 50% of the U.S. Western region’s population is minority.

What is it about cities that attract such diverse groups to one place?

I think on one level it is about comfort- as humans in an age of globalization and displacement, we find comfort in communities that feel like home. Cities are able to remind us of our heritage through access to specialized foods, clothing, and other goods and institutions: think of Chicago’s Devon Avenue, Philadelphia’s Italian Market, or even Tampa’s historic Ybor City.

Amongst all these different demographic and census groups, languages, and modes of communication that exist within cities there is something we all can understand about places and that is consistently aided with urban design.

In many ways, urban design is a universal human language, something that can traverse our differences and connect us all through visual and sensual interventions.

As an example, I will draw from my own neighborhood in Washington, DC: Columbia Heights.

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