ISA HOPKINS

Raconteur. Adventurer. Kimchi Enthusiast.

Cleveland Rocks

Literally.   (Check out that insane woodwork in the last photo.  The entire house probably cost less than a studio apartment in San Francisco.  The charms of the Rust Belt are real, y’all.)

Perceiving C-Town

A little bit of a follow-up to my last post: this essay offers a lovely discussion of the ways in which our perception of a place (in this case, Cleveland) can blind us to lived reality.

Carried Urban Landscapes

I’ve been in DC for the week, which has been an interesting coda to my recent travels.  Although I’ve previously lived in DC for a fair amount of time (two years as a kid, three years in college) and can lay claim to a certain urbane smugness in knowing it well enough, it’s also a place where I never quite found my footing – by which I mean both that I lacked a.. Read More

A Good Plan Is Hard To Find

Urban planning puns are what all the cool kids are droppin’, amirite?   Ta-Nehisi Coates offers an excellent response to a discussion about how maybe rising property values (the central feature of gentrification) really aren’t THAT bad for residents after all.  His usual insight is nicely buttressed by a commenter, whose experience in gentrifying Baltimore sheds light on the different motivations of the working-class versus the professional class as they move in and.. Read More

On Food (And Cooking)

I’m back stateside… and happily so.  South America was exhilarating (and my Spanish improved tremendously), but to be from the US is to be accustomed to a constant supply of consumer goods that isn’t available everywhere.  Being cut off from such luxe living can, in many ways, be a good thing, offering the opportunity to discover life beyond such consumption (even I can go three months without Scooby Doo fruit snacks) – but.. Read More

Cities We Love

This post over at The Urbanophile really struck a chord – perhaps it’s my sadness at hearing about the massive cuts to the Oakland library system while I was gone (nearly all of the branches and services which made the system nationally renowned – its Spanish-language collection, its Chinese-language collection, its tool lending library, its e-book loans and its trendsetting youth room – have now been shuttered), but I do agree with the.. Read More

Building the Future

Two good posts today, with divergent takes on urban experience:   1.  Colorlines discusses ground-up initiatives in urban agriculture – this time, coming from immigrant communities and people of color.  The foodie movement is easy enough to dismiss as the purview of rich white people, but doing so overlooks both the movement’s goal (inclusive food justice) as well as many of its active participants.  Sure, Michael Pollan might be the figurehead, but solutions.. Read More

In A Nutshell

Tom Philpott does an excellent and incisive job of laying blame where it belongs: not on urbanity or the rural, which operate in an interdependent binary, but on that interstitial layer we call the suburbs.  Both city and country are vitally – and complementarily – productive, in a fashion yet to be located in suburban experience.  Bickering between city folk and country folk might be a pleasant enough pastime, but it ignores the.. Read More

Conceptualizing the City

I’m a sucker for attempts at conceptualizing the wildly diverse (and divergent) category of superorganisms we call cities: as platform, sites of cloud computing or heightened ambition, scaled behaviors, or structural racism.  Perhaps most remarkable is the truth – that cities in general, and any city in particular, are vast enough to be all these things at once.

Consuming Housing

The Economist last week ran a special issue about property, with special emphasis on the perils of this particular asset class.  It was too bad, however, that the magazine did not take the opportunity to make the real point that the mortgage crisis should have made abundantly clear: investing in houses is disingenuous, because houses do not create or retain real lasting value.  Communities do.  This is why urban cores and inner-ring suburbs.. Read More