Selected essays & articles
» Grieving Earth. “There is only the realization of what’s underway, rising up around us like warming water.” Los Angeles Review of Books.
» Mourn and Organize. “Power prefers the dead to disappear; a rush to mourning risks disappearing them on behalf of the powerful. The lives COVID-19 most avidly consumes are the ones already closest to death. It’s no accident that they are also the most spatially set apart: in nursing homes, in factories, in prisons and jails, in segregated neighborhoods and enclaves of precarious immigrant workers.” Guernica, copublished with Urban Omnibus.
» We’re About Getting People Free, Period. “During the coronavirus pandemic, more than analogy has come to link those touched by “the system” and those outside its grasp. Though incarceration operates through removal and isolation, the virus is undeterred by barbed wire.” Audio documentary feature for Urban Omnibus
» Everyone Has Something to Give, Everyone Has Something That They Need. “Dozens of so-called “mutual aid” networks have proliferated throughout the city’s neighborhoods since mid-March. Part mobile food pantry, part virtual block party, and part political education collective, a mutual aid network allows socially-distanced neighbors to pool human and economic resources, plan actions, and forge bonds.” Audio documentary feature for Urban Omnibus
» The Long History of Debt Cancellation. “Moral laws derive their power from a sense of natural order. But in moments of crisis, when insolvency has become the norm, the morality and mathematics of debt have proven fungible, susceptible to thoroughgoing change.” Boston Review
» Walk the Walk. “There’s actually nothing ’21st-century’ about community policing; something like it has nearly always followed harm to Black men at the hands of police, from unnamed victims in 1960s news reports to Rodney King and Freddie Gray.” Urban Omnibus
» Introduction: The Location of Justice. “For many New Yorkers, the criminal justice system exists mainly as an order-maintaining abstraction. In that way, it is not unlike the infrastructures that, at great effort and investment, bring us running water, distribute electricity, or collect our trash: plants banished from the cityscape, pipelines tucked out of sight.” Urban Omnibus
» For a Level Field. “Space in this city is tight, and likely always will be. This city is deeply segregated, and likely will remain so for years to come. But that it is a fact of life does not make segregation a force of nature.” Urban Omnibus
» We The News. “Time was, when the news spread, it really motored. Whisked through the city streets on the back of a truck, slung to the curb, and brandished from a newsstand, the news was something that was first not there, and then arrived.” Urban Omnibus, coauthored with Lizania Cruz
» Haul Together. “Workers report independent unions cutting deals without consulting them, mounting pressure campaigns to get workers to sign substandard contracts, or pocketing dues without advocating for anything or anyone at all. ‘Sounds like organized crime to me,’ Henry says with a bitter laugh.” Urban Omnibus
Energy & Us
Energy & Us is a 300-page interdisciplinary curriculum for high schoolers that I developed, researched, wrote, and designed over the course of one year with the Curatorial Team of the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center. From atoms to the ecosystem to the globe, and from the physics of energy to the history of industry to the science and politics of climate change, Energy & Us examines the intersection of energy, environment, and human society through the prism of Jones Beach, a barrier island and beloved New York state park 20 miles southwest of New York City. The curriculum is available for free public download here.
» How Environmental Concerns, Property Activism and Density Fears Halted a Bid to Change NYC Zoning Rules. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If the forest in question comprises 90 acres along the east bank of the Harlem River, a felled tree never goes unnoticed.” City Limits
» NYC Homeowners Face Huge Unknowns as Flood Insurance Changes Loom. “As heavy rainfall inundates subway stations, sewer mains, and even Staten Island buses, residents of the city’s low-lying, water-fronted neighborhoods brace, unsure if an extreme storm will render their homes temporarily — or permanently — uninhabitable. Yet for the largely middle- and working-class homeowners in these neighborhoods, another rising tide threatens their ability to stay put, even on dry and sunny days: flood insurance.” City Limits
» Unruly Passengers. “Down the line, the goal is to get ordinary people thinking of transit failures not only as annoyances but as political problems, and of themselves not only as passengers but as political actors.” Urban Omnibus
» Planning for the Worst. “In the midst of a crisis, it’s perfectly possible to imagine ideally designed futures. But getting society to collectively course-correct might be more implausible than science fiction. For a real city, there’s no such thing as a fresh start.” Urban Omnibus
» Painter, Anew. “Asked why she might bring together this drawn figure with that digital backdrop, such-and-such block of text with so-and-so loud field of color, she answers simply: Because she can. Because she likes the way it looks. Because to do so brings her pleasure.” Harvard Magazine
» Visiting Hours. “In careful darkness, a photographer immerses paper in a chemical brew and agitates until shadows blossom. But if that process is a kind of alchemy, then instant film is sorcery, trapping a moment behind a pane of plastic—10 discrete layers of chemicals in a precise chain of reactions. The resulting image cannot be reproduced, and proves challenging to preserve.” Harvard Magazine
» A Category of One. “To the extent that an audience member might leave the theater feeling acquainted with Edward Gorey, the historical, human figure, he may well have considered that an insult. Knowability was anathema to him.” Harvard Magazine
I’m available to take on freelance editing, copywriting, and general communications work. Past clients have included not-for-profit organizations, independent academics, and political campaigns.
As editor of Urban Omnibus, I had the opportunity to develop two long-term thematic series.
» Series: The Location of Justice. An examination of the pervasive and often overlooked infrastructure of criminal justice in New York and the spaces that could serve a more just city.
»» Map: The Location of Justice. “To map “the system” is to demonstrate how its roots permeate the city — and to dispel the myth, once and for all, that its enterprises are marginal or its inadequacies remote.”
»» After Arrest. “Some people may move swiftly from stage to stage, aided by privilege or simple good luck; others may languish in holding cells for hours or days, awaiting the fleeting but crucial attention of a judge. Sleep may be possible, food may be offered, rights may be read — though legally promised, in practice, none are guaranteed.”
»» Where Corrections Meets Connections. “But when the system of incarceration works hard to separate “offenders” from society, maintaining those essential connections means navigating complicated transportation networks, strict rules, and confusing processes that can make being a family member of someone who’s incarcerated almost as traumatic as being incarcerated yourself.”
»» Where School Meets Prison. “Even if armed police are absent from the school building, students feel their presence on the walk to and from school, and in the form of metal detectors and X-rays that they must pass through daily, often to intimidating or humiliating effect.”
»» Reentry: Start Here. “Most importantly, public libraries are where people already go for help they can’t find elsewhere, or when they don’t know where to start. To a librarian, no question is off limits — even, from people returning home from prison: ‘How can I rebuild my life?'”
» Series: People Movers. Community organizers give a window into the city they want and the work they’re doing to get there.
Curatorial, research, and curricula
From 2019 to 2022, I served as curatorial writer and editor and curriculum developer for the Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, an interdisciplinary educational center of the New York State Parks Department focused on climate change and environmental stewardship. In this role, I developed more than two dozen interactive and interpretive exhibits, as well as audio tour scripts, educational videos, and graphics, and developed a book-length interdisciplinary curriculum about energy systems and society for high school students.
I have also contributed research and editorial support to academic projects and public exhibitions focused on the intersection of political history and the built environment.