Buckingham Youth Brigade Plan Lee Highway

I’m the Youth Advocacy Representative for Arlington’s Plan Lee Highway Community Forum, and so I recently worked with Mireya Vitela, Coordinator of the Buckingham Youth Brigade, to organize an activity involving the Youth Brigadiers in Plan Lee Highway. Here’s my report, which I sent to Arlington staff and to others involved in the PLH process, and here are a few other documents related to the activity:

  • All the notes taken during the activity, and some of the survey results
  • The slideshow I used to present the images on the Complete Streets Global Tour and the handout
  • The survey form (for reference only!)

Journalism about Cities

Since the end of 2018, I have been working as a freelance journalist, writing about urban design, planning, and development, mostly in the DC area. My articles cover a range of topics, from mobility planning to gender inclusivity to development explainers.

Drawing in Cities

For about two years, as a hobby, I have been teaching myself to sketch architecture and urban scenes. I’ve enjoyed it very much, and it has helped me develop an appreciation not only for buildings and spaces but for visual art in general. It’s also helped me keep a record of places I’m lucky enough to visit, including counties I toured on my way going to Jordan.

Here is a brief selection of some sketches I’ve made over the past year, some for more practical and other for more artistic purposes.

Memory Advent Calendar

Welcome to the Memory Advent Calendar.

The mainstream American holiday season, as it is often celebrated, follows a thematic arc, moving from the modern past to the ancient past to the future.

Thanksgiving in late November is the first holiday of the season and functions as an introduction, setting the stage by focusing on tradition.  Thanksgiving is usually celebrated in old places, where people tell old stories and eat old kinds of food.  Together with the Fourth of July it honors, in however mythologized or confabulated or ridiculous a way, the origin of a group national identity.

Throughout December, our attention stays focused on the past.  We go “home for the holidays”, often returning from our modern urban lifestyles to a family house in the countryside.  We practice traditions of the “old world.”  We sing old songs.  We play old games in the snow.  The month of December, the month of the winter solstice, is a time to observe recurrence.

Christmas arrives as the centerpiece of tradition, even for many families that are otherwise secular or even of non-Christian faiths.  On this day, and on its eve, we’re made to consider the origins of Christianity.  While Thanksgiving brings us back 300 years, Christmas brings us back 2,000.  It is a time to contemplate past continuity and change, change in our mass identity as well as change in our families.

Less than a week later, when we’ve barely recovered from yule logs and eggnog, the narrative shifts abruptly. We suddenly look to the future.  We make a flurry of New Year’s resolutions and start planning for the months to come.  Christmas and Thanksgiving are holidays meant for those old enough to reminisce; New Year’s is a holiday meant for those young enough to drink and celebrate well into the morning.

In the spirit of this narrative, I would like to focus on the span of time leading up to Christmas.  These weeks have great potential as a time of reflection and memory, but often become swallowed up in day-to-day affairs: buying presents, planning trips.  To help guide my friends toward consideration of the past, I have assembled a Memory Advent Calendar.  By providing your email address below and signing up for the calendar, you will receive, every morning from December 1 until December 25, a brief email containing a prompt that asks you to consider some aspect of your personal history.  I hope that it can be a source of mindfulness.  The prompts are not religiously-oriented, and people of any or no faith are welcome to subscribe.

In return for these daily prompts, I ask that you consider donation to a charitable cause.  The holiday season is also a time of generosity and giving.  I do not require it, but I suggest that you donate perhaps ten dollars to a local food bank such as the Arlington Food Assistance Center: https://afac.org/donatepage/donate-give/.

To sign up, please contact me directly and let me know what your email address is.  You can reach me at dtr(at)DavidTaylorReich.com or, if you know them, my phone number or facebook account.

I wish you a happy holiday season.
David Taylor

Amman Volunteer Station Mapping

Riding public transit in Jordan can be very confusing.  Although buses run fixed routes, it is hard to learn what those routes are. Unlike in the US, the government does not publish official maps of the various bus routes, and almost no marking exists at street level.  The clearest indication of where a bus might be headed is usually a young man, leaning out of its door, hollering the name of the destination – but even then, intermediate stops are ignored.  Ma’an Nasel, a local nonprofit, has helped solved this problem by publishing خطوطنا / Our Lines, an unofficial map.  Volunteers rode buses, figuring out where they went, and the data was gathered and publicized.

Although Ma’an Nasel addressed this issue, to an extent, within Amman, the intercity Jordanian lines can still be quite mysterious to outsiders, particularly those who do not speak Arabic.  Seeing this opportunity to contribute, I collaborated with Ma’an Nasel and led a group of volunteers to gather information and produce maps of Amman’s major intercity stations.  I indexed the various lines radiating from the capital, gathering information on fares and hours of operation, and began synthesizing the information into user-friendly maps to assist Ammanis and visitors in making use of the country’s extensive intercity network.

To view a draft of the map of North Station  (the final versions will be produced in collaboration with an Amman-based graphic design firm), see this link.

Undergrad Thesis

After four years of majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, I wrote an undergraduate thesis!  It might not be very accessible or interesting to people outside of my particular field, but feel free to take a look and ask me any questions you want.  Read it at this link: David Reich biochemistry thesis

Placemaking in Providence

As part of my work with Armory Development in Providence, I explored the post-industrial neighborhood along the banks of the Woonasquatucket River and developed a set of maps to help with placemaking in this unique urban environment.  Please take a look at the maps at This Link