Policy and Imagination: Placekeeping in Portland

"How artists and city managers can envision the future city!"

A panel discussion in relation to the recent exhibition at Open Signal titled "Annexation & Assimilation: Exploring the Archives East of 82nd Avenue," by Sabina Haque. The program features speakers Sabina Haque from Portland City Archives, Leslie Lum from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Candice Kita from the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and CEO and founding partner of Design + Culture Joy Alise Davis.

Parsons Feature

I am the featured student for the MA Theories of Urban Practice program at Parsons The New School for Design. I am very honored to be featured for this amazing program.  Check me out :) 


The Master of Arts in Theories of Urban Practice reframes the study of urbanism and urban design as transformative practices that draw on an expanding body of knowledge, research, and action. The basic premise is that specific types of critical knowledge and creative thinking can transform cities in fundamental ways. This research-driven program is designed for students who wish to pursue advanced studies in urbanism or careers as urban researchers, designers, teachers, design critics, policy advisors, and leaders of nonprofit organizations, public agencies, private design and development firms, and innovative collaborative practices.



Midnight Tunes

I had a very interesting midnight walk in Leuven, Belgium the other night. While walking this song was playing in my head. 

New Year

This is strange, I haven’t written a blog post in almost a year. I am very ashamed that I didn’t have the time to write. Please forgive me.

So many updates, I don’t know where to begin.

I am now an graduate student at Parsons The New School of Design, studying Theories of Urban Practice (Class of 2014). This Masters of Arts program is designed to reflect a new approach to urbanism.

I am really honored to be apart of the first class. As I complete my first year of the program, I am excited for my final year of study.  The upcoming year will be filled with thesis prep, travel, original research and urbanism networking

More Details: This research-driven graduate program provides an innovative pathway for students interested in acquiring a critical understanding of the design of cities and the transdisciplinary knowledge required to transform them. Drawing on the expanding and evolving body of urban knowledge, urban research, and action, the program will redefine urbanism and urban design as a field of transformative practice

Another fun fact, I am also apart of the ATLANTIS PROGRAM: URBANISMS OF INCLUSION ( )  in Leuven, Belgium .

Urbanisms of Inclusion addresses the emerging territorial and socio-ecological issues that accompany the dual challenges of rapid global urbanization and the adaptation of cities in response to climate change and transnational migrations. The program views these issues—including dualization, gentrification, mobility and migrations, territorial fragmentation, and uneven development—through the lens of social inclusion.

I arrived in Belgium February 2013 and I will be heading back to New York City to continue my studies in July 2013. My biggest regret in undergrad, was that I didn’t cease all the study aboard opportunities Miami University offered me.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Studying in Europe as a graduate student gives me more academic freedom than I would in undergrad. I had an amazing time in Europe, but it was extremely stressful. Studying in a traditional Urbanism program was difficult. Being surrounded by planners and architects really gave me a new lens. I wanted to know how traditional urbanist solved urban problems through design.

I hope this will be an eye opening experience!

7 Non-Traditional Ways To Give Back

My Article on Her

As Millennial women we tend to look for innovative ways to solve old problems. It is no surprise that Millennials have found an innovative approach to volunteerism and giving back to their community. In The 2012 Millennial Report, experts stated that 49% plan to volunteer in 2012 the same as 2011 while 41% plan to volunteer more in 2012 than in 2011.

Become a mentor.
There are plenty of national and local mentorship programs around the country. Mentoring is an easy way to make a positive change in a someones life. Check out the local boys and girls club, community centers and/or school for way to get involved.

Teach a class or share a skill.
If you have a skill or knowledge of a particular subject that your neighbors would benefit from teach a class at a local organization. Volunteer to teach an elderly neighbor how to use email.

Share information.
There are many amazing organizations doing much needed work. A quick and easy way to support nonprofit work would be to simply educate your peers about a particular issue or program. Knowledge is the first step to action. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends and family about the good work your favorite nonprofit is doing. Use social media outlets to get the conversation started.


Poem Of The Day: Power



The difference between poetry and rhetoric

is being ready to kill


instead of your children.

I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds

and a dead child dragging his shattered black

face off the edge of my sleep

blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders

is the only liquid for miles

and my stomach

churns at the imagined taste while

my mouth splits into dry lips

without loyalty or reason

thirsting for the wetness of his blood

as it sinks into the whiteness

of the desert where I am lost

without imagery or magic

trying to make power out of hatred and destruction

trying to heal my dying son with kisses

only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.

A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens

stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood

and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and

there are tapes to prove it. At his trial

this policeman said in his own defense

“I didn't notice the size nor nothing else

only the color”. And

there are tapes to prove that, too.

Today that 37 year old white man

with 13 years of police forcing

was set free

by eleven white men who said they were satisfied

justice had been done

and one Black Woman who said

“They convinced me” meaning

they had dragged her 4'10'' black Woman's frame

over the hot coals

of four centuries of white male approval

until she let go

the first real power she ever had

and lined her own womb with cement

to make a graveyard for our children.

I have not been able to touch the destruction

within me.

But unless I learn to use

the difference between poetry and rhetoric

my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold

or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire

and one day I will take my teenaged plug

and connect it to the nearest socket

raping an 85 year old white woman

who is somebody's mother

and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed

a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time

“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”

Audre Lorde, "Power" from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1978 by Audre Lorde.  Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1997)

Voyage 2


The Friends of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol presents its annual summer cocktail party.

When: June 14, 2012
Time: 7 - 10pm
Where: 320 Studios (320 West 37th Street)

all photographs courtesy of Mike Dunckley Photography @Mikedunckley1

More photographs of the Voyage 2 Event.


I had an amazing time volunteering and attending this rooftop fundraiser event hosted by the Friends of Brotherhood/Sister Sol. I really loved the performance by one of my favorite artist Emily King and an opportunity to meet young professionals in New York City. Did I mention that Joy Bryant was the host of the event!?!

It was a great night of networking,music, dancing and coming together to raise money for such an amazing organization. I am really excited about continuing my involvement with this organization. All of the proceeds goes to the summer programing for Bro/Sis.


Success Planning

I came across this success planning worksheet while cleaning my room this afternoon. I wish I could give you the source but I received the sheet during one of my nonprofit training while in my apprenticeship. Thank you Public Allies!!


Whatever your life plan is and whatever success means to you, the first priority is understanding what your goals are. With a careful planning, you'll be able to best understand what you want and how you want to get there. Here is 6 simple Steps:

Step I: Work Out Your Goal(s)

Brainstorm your goal(s)- keep them realistic and simple. You should be able to sum them up in one or two sentences. You should be able to easily share them with others.

Step II: Do Some Research

You should quickly become an expert in the field of your goals. Questions you should be able to answer: Who else has similar goals to yours? Are the products or services you offer in demand? What resources (including people) can you speak to that may be able to support you or provide insight on what you want to accomplish? Try to think of and ask as many questions as possible! Read up on everything you can think of!

Step III: Assess Where You're Up To:

Where are you at so far? What have you accomplished so far? What skills and experiences have you already got that will help further support you when it comes to achieving your goal(s)?

Step IV: Work On What You Need To Do Next:

Break your goals down into concise steps. If your goal is to "travel to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup," then some steps would be: researching the price of plane tickets, looking at hostels, creating a budget, etc. Simple steps make the goals easier to accomplish.

Step V: Create a Timeline:

When you make a timeline that works best for you, talk stock progress ,, and include breaks. By making a timeline, you plan the actions you need to take within a certain time frame. You can break down your timeline by days, weeks, months , or even years.

Step VI: Revisit Your Goals

Keep track of your progress. Have you accomplished your goal(s) in the given time frame? If not, why not? What can you do to accomplish them the next time? It is up to you to measure success! Good luck and don't give up??


There is something about being a room full of power women...the energy was simply amazing! I really want to thank the NYC chapter of Af3irm for bringing the art, politics and power together. It was a great event and I cant wait to support this organization. Check out the Af3irm site.

I had a wonderful time at the La Bracera: Women and Word Exhibit. I got an oppunrity to buy a piece from the very talented muralist Crystal Clarity. Make sure you take a look at her site, she is a wonderful llustrator and Muralist (Also a fellow Parsons School of Design BFA student). I cant wait to work with her in the future.

Check out a few pictures from the event.


Nonprofit Branding

I love my cohort!!! The Public Allies  Nonprofit Apprenticeships for emerging leaders has truly been an amazing experience.

This is a quick video of DearDeleta , Rosa K and I during a quick transition to the next training workshop. !!

I love this video because we were talking about just an important concept for nonprofit sustianablity but we still managed to bring out our personalities and have a great time.


M.T.A. Episode 1

So I have decided to do a small video series on the Joy Show called M.T.A. Soul Sessions.

It is a really simple concept. Have honest conversation while transiting from one location to the next. MTA has become a big part of my life. I spend an average of 17 hours a week riding on the subway. I reflect aclot during my travel. So instead of keeping the growth internally, I thought it would be fun to bring the Joy Show back.

Not much has changed with the Joy Show. We still believe in amateur camera skills, cheesy theme songs and honest conversations.

Check out the first episode !!!!!

The Brotherhood / Sister Sol

I had an amazing time visiting The Brotherhood/ Sister Sol space in Harlem in February. I was so inspired by the people and the space. My cohort got an opportunity to learn more about the structure of the organization, the mission and we loved soaking up the positive energy. I cannot wait to volunteer with the organization! There is a lot of love in this organization.  It was truly inspiring.

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Take a look at the outside space!

The Brotherhood/ Sister Sol was founded in 1995 with the mission to provide comprehensive, holistic and long-term support services to youth who range in age from eight to twenty-two.

The Brotherhood/ Sister Sol offers wrap around evidence-based programming. The organization focuses on issues such as leadership development and educational achievement, sexual responsibility, sexism and misogyny, political education and social justice, Pan-African and Latino history, and global awareness. The Brotherhood/ Sister Sol provides four-six year rites of passage programming, thorough five-day a week after school care, school and home counseling, summer camps, job training and employment, college preparation, community organizing training, and international study programs to Africa and Latin America.

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Seven Month Transitions

“We strive to become what we naturally already are; becoming is just the moment of realization.” -Mara Hruby

Wow its funny how NYC life can consume you. I have only been here for seven months, yet it feels way longer.


There is no middle ground with this city, either you love it or you hate. No two days are the same.

Random Observation:

I can't recall the moment of clarity the  last seven  months, but my friends in Ohio seem to all noticed the growth. Ok ok, I will give this city acknowledgment and note that I have developed a strong sense of self here. I am more confident in my own abilities and strength more than ever before.I no longer feel uncomfortable in my eclectic vintage printed pants and T-Shirt. I feel like this city has awaken a sense of pride.I am proud to be where I am , coming from where I am from. I am a Midwestern girl with island memories living in the city that never sleeps.


In a city full of immigrants and history, I find myself proud to be an African-American. Even though my family was not brought here by choice but rather by force, no one can deny that this country is my land. I found may lack of origin disheartening the first few months here, but I now smile with pride . I may not be able to trace my line back to Africa, but I am proud to be among the African-Americans who successfully turned lemons into lemonade.

Back to the topic at hand:

You can't be unsure in New York City. Walking aimlessly can  result in people taking advantage of your journey. You must be confident and at times even aggressive.

This is a strange feeling...

While I love this city, I know I can't stay here forever. This Midwestern girl must take this new-found knowledge and better her own community. No matter how much I love the NYC community, I know that it is not my own. I will forever be a product if my true environment... Ohio.

Side Note:

Sometimes I feel guilty for leaving the Queen City for Queens, New York. For years I told myself that I would fix my community (Cincinnati) then move forward. But what did I do? At the first chance I got, I move 500 plus miles away. I feel selfish in my efforts.

In February, I randomly went home. Visiting the Queen City made me truly miss the energy of the it. I got the opportunity to witness the growth, the strives, the efforts.

Sometimes I feel like I could have created my own, but instead hopped in the train called learning.

I know I will one day make my way back to my hometown. I will take my new found strength and innovation to rebuild the city. The only question is when ...

So many opportunities in both cities.It doesn't help that I have a love/hate relationship in both locations.

I have so much more to learn, I'm not sure if my voyage up north is complete. I am in a constant state of transition. This transition is both exciting and nerve wrecking. I must learn balance. I think patience will be my greatest lesson in this city. I am always so ready to create my space. I think I need to allow myself to gain knowledge first.

Speaking of knowledge, I will be attending Parsons New School of Design in the fall. I have gained acceptance into the new Masters of Arts program, Theories of Urban Practices. This unique program is a research based program for urban planning . I will be taking a look at how urban spaces are transformed from an art perspective.

I am very honored and excited about transitioning into this program. It's funny I was just thinking of transitions before I received my acceptance packet for Parsons.

I have come to the conclusion that transitions are beautiful. The uncertainty is scary yet exciting. It's the moment when the past and the future collide. Transitions allow you to take a critical look at your past and find ways to merge into a the future. It's the reflection period.

I feel like my past and future jut made a collision the night I gained acceptance into Parsons. Everything I have experienced in and outside of the classroom merge together and formed that moment. I can't wait for the future, but this transition feels right...

N Line

When I first moved to NYC the subway system was something that was completely foreign to me.

Sadly, Cincinnati, Ohio finds no need to invest in public transportation. But I won’t completely bash my hometown, we do have the Metro bus system however, it is nothing like New York.

For a Midwestern girl , the New York subways can be a very scary experience. I owe my success exclusively to my smart phone and websites like Googlemaps and HopStop.

I remember how nervous I was in the beginning of every journey. I had a crackberry that would hardly hold a charge for more than a few hours, and I couldnt understand the concept of express verses local trains. I over compensated for my inadequate phone by keeping an extra set of directions in my pocket at all times.

I was a mess!

My late night travels would take hours due to delays, unexpected transfers and train construction.It took me months before I truly mastered my way around the 3 and 4 train in Brooklyn.
The NYC trains may be the only place where you can “interact” with people from different backgrounds, races, genders, economic status for 30 mins or more. I mean I know NYC is a huge Melting pot, but I have noticed the segregation of the city.

Real interactions for more than a few minutes are rare. Don’t get me wrong you can travel all over the city and experience authentic cuisines, but you don’t have to truly interact. The subway system takes it to a whole new level. I don’t think I have ever been so “close” to stranger… And don’t get me started on rush hour. Traveling downtown to work everyday at 8:30 in the morning is the worse. People jam into the train cars and complete ignore the “personal space rule”.

Let’s just say for example, a train cart can accommodate 100 people comfortably; During rush hour that number can double to 200 on each cart. You kind of force yourself onto the car and hope you fit, when the automatic door closes.

If you are afraid of small spaces or germs maybe this system is not for you. Unfortunately, for an AmeriCorps member, public transportation is THE ONLY option. (thanks to my small living stipend)


While there are times I can’t stand it, I must admit the more I ride the subway, the more I love it. Traveling home after a long day of work can be calming. For a minimum of 45 mins, I get to enjoy “Joy-time “. Due to the lack of cell service and Internet, I am able to escape the world twice a day and really reflect. In the beginning the idea of losing my cell service twice a day was so frustrating, now I enjoy my time. I have never realized until this BIG move how obsessed I was with technology. I love the idea of having information at my fingertips . This love affair has made me into a crazy multitasker. I am constantly sharing my time with many thing at once which can be overwhelming.

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It’s weird looking back at my first subway experiences and how far I have come. I am no longer the girl who has to keep an extra set of directions in my pocket, just in case I get lost. I am no longer the Midwestern who refuses to get in the subway because it’s “too packed”. I am no longer the girl who panics when my phone dies or terrified of being pick pocketed (let’s be honest, I’m not a likely target ) .

 I think I am adjusting :)

Photo.  ©JoyAlise.- My Social Cohesion

10:20pm Thoughts on Truth and Justice

Each time I place my hand over my heart (touching my "Seek Truth and Justice" tattoo) to say the pledge of allegiance, I am reminded that in its inception, words were not intended for me... I may never have total justice but that will NEVER stop me from constantly seeking LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL !


My Tattoo: Seek Truth and Justice in Arabic

Lack of Origin

It's very strange, but I have found myself having a lot of Midwestern-Ohio pride lately.

Bragging, I used to joke around with other Ohio natives  that my city was the unofficial capital of Ohio. I  claimed that my city was the gem of the Midwest.

Ok, so I am neither naïve nor ignorant of my surrounding, I know my claims were far-fetched. I have slowly came to the realization  that Cincinnati might never be the pride of the Midwest but no matter where I go, it always feels like home. I don't know if my future will ever led me back to Ohio. I am very unsure if I will ever live "long-term" in Ohio, but I know that it will always play an important role.

Being an African-American or a Black American (depending on how you identify), I have always felt  like a nomad. Let's be honest, I can't trace my history back hundreds of years like my other friends. I will never be able to look at any national flag and feel a strong sense of belonging. I am not saying I hate America or anything like that, I do have pride for my country. As a Black American with African descent, I have been taught to adapt to my surrounds in respects to community pride. Don't get me wrong, I do feel connected to America but I can't shy away from the fact that this connection was forced and not chosen by my personal family. I will forever feel a disconnect from my roots.

I am sure that I could pay tons of money with this new technology and find out the region my ancestors came from, but I will always feel  disconnected. Something about  experiencing history opposed to reading history , feels different. I will never be able to bedtime stories from my grandparents about their pride and love for their country. Instead, I had stories of struggle. I envy the men and women who know their history or at least knows where to find it.

 I can trace my father's family back to Alabama and my mother's side to Georgia . My great-grandmother also says that her father was 100% Native American, but that is all I can do.

I remember visiting Birmingham Alabama a few years back while my grandfather was alive. We drove around to his old neighborhood, his home and familiar places of his past. What hurt me the most from this trip was when we drove past an old beautiful church building near my grandfathers home. My father and my uncle instantly ran inside and began to play the instruments and take pictures. What my grandfather did next still haunts me. My grandfather ran out of the car and begged his sons to leave the church.

You should have seen my grandfathers face. He yelled with straight fear that we weren't  "allowed" in this church. Of course my aunts and uncles tried to explain that we wouldn't get in trouble by any white men for being there but, my grandfather couldn't comprehend the security of this current decade.

He was scared.

I know my grandfather had great times in Alabama, but no matter what I do, I can't seem to erase his fear from my mind.

This was my history. My first and only trip back rooted in fear and isolation.

Living in New York City makes me feel awkward at times. This city has so much culture and pride. Everyone I meet seems to be able to trace their history back with a sense of strength. There is nothing worse than having to answer with " I don't know" when asked about my origins. It's weird because in Ohio I never felt ashamed because of my lack of origins. While I know there is nothing to be ashamed of,  I still feel like I should be able to state my country with pride. Hopefully one day I can save enough money to have someone truly trace my origins, until then I will rep my city with pride!

 I Love Cincinnati!

Zen Heart

So, I started reading Zen Heart by Ezra Bayda again.

It is very strange but I have started reading this book like 20 times since buying it last january. I remember the day I bought this book. I was on a date and we spent hours going through every inch of the bookstore (good times).

Up to that point I had always used the word zen, but I never truly understood what having a zen heart truly ment. Buying this book was supposed to begin my "year of enlightenment". The weird part is I could never get past the first few chapters. I think the book will be more affective this time around.

The book is split into three phases: " the Me Phase of practice",the phase of Being Awareness", and " the phase of Being Kindness".

It was very hard for me to tackle the first phase in the book. Ezra  made it clear that the phases of a Zen Heart wont be concrete levels,  in other words I might be in the section phase and be fully aware of  the first (Which made a lot of sense to me).


I started reading the book again this week. While in  "the Me Phase of Practice", I find myself feeling very uneasy. Going through this book section will take me a couple of weeks, but I think it will be worth it in the end. I keep reading over the same chapter within "the Me Phase of Practice" section. I really want to focus on learning all i can from each sentence.

I have declared that this year would be called the year of self discovery! I think this book will give me a new and unique perspective on life. I would really love to adopt a lot of the practices from this book. For example, I used to meditate once every month for clarity. I committed to meditating every morning during the next year. I love the concept of starting my day with a clear mind.

I know this will be a great book!

Limbo part 2

More Limbo,

My father never graduated from college. He went to bible college for two years and then got married to my mother. My mother was a college drop out also until recently. After getting married and having my brother she decided to be a full time mother while my father was a police man. My mother went back to school 8 years ago and received her bachelors and two master degrees. I am so proud of her for making her own path.

During my first five years of life, I lived the middle class life. I was told that I had everything I ever wanted (at five ha). It all changed when my family moved my family to Jamaica to be missionaries. This move affected my entire view of the class system. My parents got bumped down to working class by "American Standards" but we remained middle class by Jamaican standards. Life was not easy in Jamaica. We couldn’t afford all the luxuries we had back in the states.

As my memories begins to fade from my five-year mission work back in Jamaica, the ideals of serving my community never seemed to diminish. That experience changed my whole perspective of class.

When we moved back to America, my family status went from middle class Jamaicans down back down to working class Americans . All of a sudden it was hard to do the simple things we could in Jamaica.

My parents have always instilled the importance of a good education at a young age. They wanted their children to have everything they needed and wanted from life. They believed education was the way to go.

My siblings soon formed our own small class system ( based of education) while attending the Ohio school system.

My brother got a partial scholarship at a great prep school in the area. He later went to Yale undergrad and attended Harvard Law School soon after. I have always wondered what life would be like in that system. Like the rebel that I am, I turned down my prep school opportunities/scholarships to attend a suburban school in the area. I told myself that didn't want to go to school with "rich kids", but really I was scared that I wouldn't fit in.

My and  my little  sister attended a charter schools in elementary and moved on to our local suburban school.

My older sister attended a public middle school and had a hard time recovering once entering our  suburban  high school.

...just like that my family had a system divided by education.

Don't get me wrong, my sister isn't  destined to be in working class due to the lack of prep school or Ivy League resume, but I do believe that her journey had a lot to do with her public education.

From the prep school turned ivy league, to the public school turned state university my family had it all. I fell right in the middle and attended the "Public Ivy" Miami University. I had no problems adjusting to the "Miami" life. While I was surrounded by upper and upper middle class , I found a way to find my voice.  As a recent college graduate and Americorp volunteer, I wonder what class I will soon fall into.

I feel comfortable in both worlds. I seem to be this weird mixture with my working class background, my middle class dreams and my middle/upper class education. No matter what I decide I know I will be working to improve my community. I refuse to move upward and fail to bring others with me.

While I feel like my future class is in the process of being shaped today. I wonder what I will choose, and what will be chosen for me.

I found it interesting that the book Limbo used education as the main focus for moving up in the American class system, yet  nationwide our public school system is in a terrible state. I know Limbo recognized other factors of advancing, I just felt like it was important to highlight education as a tangible hindrance for feeling trapped int he working class.If great education system was available and accessible to all, then maybe the "american dream" could be more attainable FOR ALL RATHER THEN SOME.

Many claim they want the "american dream", but many believe that dream no longer exist in this CLOSED class system. I believe that education is the best way for achieving that dream.