Space and Place – I was first introduced to the idea of “place making” by my sister, a modern dancer who in college created “space based” pieces – in museums with works of art, in campus spaces, and in old factories in North Adams, Massachusetts. At the time it sounded like some foofy-academic stuff made up by artist and ivory towers.  I love my sister and her dance, but really?  Conversations about space?

As I moved into teaching space took on far greater importance.  What is a good “learning space”?  How do I set up a room to encourage open dialogue?  How do I make this room feel different for this afternoons fun-activity than this mornings workshop on sexual orientation?

My capstone presentation for my Masters was in my favorite room on the SIT campus except – the last time I had been in there was to mediate one of the most intense conversations of my time with the youth programs.  Each time  I walked in the room my heart started pounding, I got hot and dizzy, theroomshrank – I felt like vomiting.  The room, that space, held all the emotions of that conversation.  It held my students stories, their pain, their confessions, my reactions and sense of helplessness. The room was memory as real as any connections my neurons could fire.

Space holds meaning.  There are spaces that feel safe, places you can let your guard down, places that are home – be they your favorite swimming pool, or best friends couch, that basketball court around the corner, your wood shop, the third stool from the end at your favorite pub or the boulder on the end of a Cape Cod pier.

I’ve been thinking a lot about space and place in Delhi.  Who has rights to it, power over it, decision making authority, what are its cultural, economic, political and caste implications?  With such a huge population every inch of space, every sidewalk square counts.  I am working on a more personal, indepth look at space in India, but for now…

I turn your attention to my collegue Mellisa Garcia Lamarca.  She writes for an international blog called polis, as has just published a concise and illuminating article on the issue of space and state power in Delhi.