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I’m back. Nervously and apprehensively. Unsure. Behind this though, and urging me on, are some tugs of courage to do something different. I stopped blogging a year ago because of the wooden-ness that had crept into the posts. I didn’t like what they had become (what I had become?) They read like so many other surly posts about streets and cities and traffic. “IT NEEDS TO CHANGE!” they screamed, judging and condemning the people who had been involved with the processes en route.

I do think “it” needs to change (street design, that is, and planning for cities, especially here in South Africa) as too often streets feel and act like places of aggression, rather than our home on this earth. I want to talk more of the role of streets in our precious lives and I want to acknowledge the role of respect for humanity and dignity of the person in street design.

More than that, though I want to carve out a small place in the cyberspace where I can talk out about the messy, maddening and sometimes hair-tuggingly frustrating act of working in places which seem to lack compassion for humanity, for the weak and vulnerable. I want to use blogging as a place to reflect on what works, what really doesn’t, and what I haven’t a clue about in all of this. I want to do this in a way which celebrates the reflective, the quiet, the compassionate and the peaceful and which moves from preaching to (horrible term I know but I don’t have an alternative) sharing, and inviting in. Along the way I hope to find some fellow travellers.

There are risks here. One is that I lose all credibility and never work again. Which is pretty terrifying. I have hope, though (and some threads of evidence) that I am not doing anything so risky here. Instead, I think that I am putting some words to a zeitgeist which is already emerging in street design and in research. Even if the traditional work which relies on my logic, rationality and quantitative analysis skills dries up then I am trusting there will be something else which calls on a deeper understanding of shared humanity, compassion and creativity. I’m guessing that I am also adding some words to an ongoing redefinition of what it means to be a woman doing research. Brené Brown is a flag bearer here, but there are others too. Their stand allows women, and hopefully men too, to do research unashamedly whole. If all this sounds a bit too earnest then I promise it won’t be. After all, ‘whole’ means I get to blog about macaroons.

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