We Are All Homeless by Willie Baronet (and Co-Conspirators in Empathy and Creativity)

This project is genius because of the spirit it evokes and invokes.

May we each find and live our hearts purpose in a creative manner such as this. May our most cherished work be a gift in the lives of all who participate, and inspire all who bear witness.

May it be so.


And so it is.


Back to the Future of DUMBO & the Manhattan Bridge

Time warp: pciture of DUMBO street with Bridge framing 1974 and in 2009

I had no idea this block was a photo op!

In my internet wanderings I chanced upon this Business Week picture taken in DUMBO with the Manhattan Bridge in the background. Total déjà vu ensued not because of the bridge (hey, “I’m a New Yorkah”! I’ve seen it like a bajillion times)  but because of the framing. A couple of years ago my friend and I celebrated New York’s bike month by riding in the Bike New York activities though Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the end of a long day in the saddle, we went to DUMBO park and stopped to take photos.

The cobblestone streets are still a mess, the warehouses are the same (though maybe they’ve been bleached at some point), and the bridge is still blue. The only difference is the number and models of the cars parked. Neat time warp moment!

Read the full article at Business Week, where they have more photos!

Second Act: Digital Storytelling

Last week, I presented at the General Meeting in the Graduate Center’s New Media Lab where I work on the visual portion of my PhD research. I excerpted and modified this blog entry from my post on the New Media Lab blog. In the meeting, I shared my experiences using Prezi and critiqued its limitations after praising it’s strengths. During the Q&A /conversation session, I mentioned a well-known lecture named “Killing Us Softly” by Jean Kilbourne, in which she analyzes gender stereotypes in advertising. I led the conversation in the Lab meeting  about the merits of digital and visual storytelling as a means of broadening the audience for our research, so I decided to share Jean Kilbourne’s talk here.

I have no way of knowing at this moment whether she used Powerpoint, Keynote or a film editing program. What matters for me is the way that she wove the technology into the fabric of her talk. As an underlying structure, it indicates that she memorized her talk and only looks to her paper for notes and pacing. She begins her discussion by sharing anecdotal information which the etiology of the project idea and situated herself in relation to the topic of interest.

By being less focused on slide progression, Ms. Kilbourne can be herself. She can interact with and ingratiate the audience in a way that encourages audience participation and investment in the topic. The few statistics she employed were easy to understand bar graphs and bulleted lists. I am firm believer that social, physical and life scientists, philosophers, and even theoretical mathematicians can increase baseline interest in their work by presenting it in ways that are organically enjoyable to hear, see and learn from.

Shawndel Fraser

What am I doing?
What’s on my mind? Nit-Twits

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What do I see?
What do I support?

“Womanifesta” for the Future of Environmental Psychology and Geography

My thanks to Adeola Enigbokan for the color highlighting idea, which I have imitated in this post. As they say, “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. Therein lay the entirety of what is not my own original inspiration within this post.  This was written originally for a workshop in which we are re-envisioning the fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography, or Psychogeography..hold the jokes, please.  I’ve edited this to be a standalone post for this blog, as it is removed from its original context, a larger, ongoing conversation with my colleagues. Onward!      

My overarching research interests involve interrogating “American” popular culture for perpetuation and sometimes creation of otherwise hidden social and systemic norms. From gender roles and associated /expected life-choice trajectories to cultural ideas, ideals, images and understandings and methods of producing nature and our relation to / with  it.  My current research uses visual analysis techniques to discern the underlying myths of nature portrayed in post–WWII car ads in National Geographic Magazine. Here is a link to a more detailed project description.     

 The Visual and The Creative 

My research , and conversations and collaborations with fellow researchers aims to expand our current bevy of methods by which we engage with the visual (analysis and methodology), and to encourage acceptance of the creative. To add the visual, is to create, assemble or find  an information base for the fields of Environmental Psychology and [Cultural] Geography (Imagined Geographies or Visual Geography) to accomplish two things:           

  1. Supports and encourages the exploration and use of visual analysis techniques to interrogate images and other material cultural artifacts for their contextual and storied content, rather than solely categorizing and counting their elements a la content analysis or adapted quantitative survey measures
  2. Allows for the dynamic presentation and sharing of said information so as to be maximally interesting, sensorially engaging and technologically relevant beyond the academy, or at least beyond one specific discipline.

3…2…1…CARE!!! OR Emoting can increase readability and interest

My second goal for the field is to advocate for storytelling techniques and/or interpretive methods that allow exploration of the sensorial aspects of our physical, cultural and social environments. This is to say that students and PhD’s alike need some exposure to publications of interest wherein language is used expressively, with all attendant emotion and individual personality. This can only serve to enrich the texture of the analysis, discussion and presentation. It is time for us to release the imposed rational objectivity of the physical sciences which often stifles the potential for brilliant insights and inspired research inquiries in our interdisciplinary and subjective fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography.            

Technology is our friend

Lastly, I sense an opportunity for Environmental Psychology and Geography to seize the opportunity to step ahead of the curve and make our fields relevant and popularly appealing again by encouraging the use of current technology in data collection, analysis, presentation and distribution. There is but a small window of time in which we can be “the first” and still have the luxury of our lead time to become “the best” at producing researchers whose methods and mediums reflect the current array of possible information flows, storage, presentation and technological advancements. The [written] word is no longer enough in a world where people read few books and “learn” from TV and the Internet.           

Signed, Shawndel N. Fraser
Static [written] Dissertations behind Dynamic PhD Student

Signed, Shawndel