This site is two things. The first a meandering exploration of land and community and history, public space and architecture, permaculture and sustainability, social networks and social movements … along with thoughts about cities in general and how they work from books, film, exhibitions and &tc. An informal set of reflections to improve my research and theory, and a slightly embarrassed admission that I best assimilate information through writing about it and I often prefer that to television. I prefer writing to most things. You can see my fiction here.
The second? A collection of other things I love as they come along. Writing and photography and more…
I’ve made some wonderful connections through writing this, you can get in touch with me at andrea @ writingcities.com though I do love getting comments too.
I was born in Taos, New Mexico and grew up in what my dad called the nautilus house. My parents built it of adobe in Tucson’s Sonoran desert, with help from many beautiful friends. We lost our home after years of fighting banks and lawsuits to keep it, and I won a big fat scholarship to an elite liberal college on the East Coast in the same year. That schism and a sadness I no longer share a home with lizards: this probably explains everything.
Floundering post college I worked at K-mart, used my K-mart savings to live in Guadalajara, Mexico too briefly. I spent three years working with Central American refugees as a paralegal for the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles. Frustrated with law as a vehicle for change, I went to UCLA, then became an organizer and then the the lead organizer and researcher for SAJE: I organized tenants, reveled in popular education, uncovered slum housing empires, and helped create the Figueroa Corridor Community Land Trust – now TRUST South LA. I was proud to be there at the inspiring beginnings of the national Right To the City Alliance, but burn out was unrecoverable. I sold fancy underwear in Glasgow for a while, and then helped get PM Press going for a few years, where I was also an editor of the noir Switchblade imprint with Gary Phillips. Every book we published was awesome, you should go buy all of them.
Now I’m in London, the land of public transportation and streets safe for me to walk alone in at 3 am and social housing and the NHS and all the support my family and all the many families I worked with in LA needed and never had. All under threat, and so I am part of the fight to keep it. My mum is from South London, and Brixton hums with laughter, loud voices and some old-school reggae even as I write this. I’ve just finished a PhD in Geography at the London School of Economics, and Verso will be publishing a better, more exciting version of it. Working towards bridging theory and practice, I also blog for the popular education website Dr. Pop — complicated things simply explained — and I’m an issue editor for the journal City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. I’m still writing fiction as well, and the world is golden when I find time for it.