Introduction

My name is Lou Thomas, and I’m a second year PhD student in Urban Studies & Planning / City Design & Development group. My recent research has been around the political economy of “placemaking”, by which I mean trying to grapple with how urban design “best practices” often have results such as gentrification, for example, because the power relations are unarticulated in terms of who will benefit. My B.A. (Bard, 2000) is in experimental film & video and I’ve off and on again created and taught media, but I’m at least ten years behind on what’s happening in theory and with the internet. I was a bit of a protest kid back in the anti-coporate globalization days of the late 90s/early 2000s (I even volunteered with Paper Tiger TV in NYC years ago helping them collectively edit a video of a Howard Zinn lecture that was going nowhere). Anyway, I’m now trying to figure out how to integrate media back into my research, and also bring myself up-to-date on current media theory prior to my exams (this fall). I took professor Vivek Bald’s short-attention span doc class last fall, and documented an activist arts group, the Design Studio 4 Social Intervention, and their attempt to bring “tactical urbanism” to disempowered residents in Uphams Corner (here’s a link to the final 8min30sec version if you’re interested: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rhycn06z9njn6c8/SLU_FINAL_120913.mp4)

Outside of my current ivory tower life-style (1st gen.), I’m a 5th generation native Baltimoron, though I spent a number of my adult years in Brooklyn, NY, Portland, OR and DC. I played in indy-rock bands for a long time. I’m now the proud father of an amazing 1 year old daughter, and live in co-housing in JP. I’m also a recovering bohemian and barista–and yes, Portland is just like the tv show.

I look forward to the class and the discussion with all of you.

-Lou

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