Recently, I learned the value of taking a pause in order to devote full focus and investigation to a quest. For me, the Civita fellowship journey presents an unparalleled opportunity to immerse myself in the overlapping layers of history, memory, food, culture, urban design, time, architecture, tradition, agriculture, story telling, language and social connection—the elements that together form truly sustainable and enduring urban places.

As a writer, I feel that it is my privilege and responsibility to bridge the dialogue between those who shape our built environment and those who dwell in it each day. This task is challenging, as the industry I serve tends to be inwardly focused, and sometimes a step removed from everyday discourse—and the very people for whom we ultimately design.

My philosophical approach to the NIAUSI fellowship centers on my desire to take such a pause so that I might live within Civita’s two and half millennia of layers, then return to Seattle to create my own while inviting new voices to the conversation.

Through my work, I hope to inspire a fresh dialogue of urban design, architecture and sustainable development, knowing that, for our own cities to endure, we must mindfully preserve the layers of man-made, natural, and social systems, thus creating a living stage for them to interact.

Employing narrative essays as my medium, I will weave observations, conversations and explorations into a larger tale that addresses questions including: 

  • What about Civita allows it to remain compelling and to endure? What is the nature of that significance?
  • What is the value of palimpsest, how can it be used most effectively to reveal and preserve layers of identity, and what role does it play in Seattle?
  • What physical and social systems native to Civita are relevant to our modern lives? How can we more successfully use overlay in our own cities to promote the vitality of these resource flows? 
  • What does sustainability really mean in terms of architecture, building materials, urban design and society as they relate to the human experience of built forms? What ancient design truths are relevant to development today—and tomorrow?
  • How can we promote a sustainable link between the design community, Civita, and Pacific Northwest residents that creates a living layering of perspectives that informs and enriches each other?
  • Where do natural and man-made systems intersect and how can we promote that connected pattern of green infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest?
  • How can we tell compelling stories that describe all of these elements but appeal to people in a personal, emotional, evocative, valuable and accessible way?
  • Finally, how can I contribute to the layered urban fabric of Seattle through my own work—and how will this experience knit the layers of my professional and personal lives?

Questions such as these distill the building blocks that together create an authentic sense of place. If we consider Seattle as a city of neighborhoods, what building blocks from the neighborhood of Civita can inspire us to make a bridge with the past, enrich today, and connect us with our future?

For me, this investigation begins with an engaging story…