This paper challenges the current practice of cultural coexistence and how this practice has failed to evolve beyond the 1960’s rhetoric.This study looks toward a country that is at a tipping point. We can continue to ignore our cultural differences or as a country we can be dedicated to cross cultural dialogue and understanding. Without adequate preparation, the country is at risk of continuing the cycle of conflict and cultural distrust. This thesis seeks to answer the question: How can urban practitioners meet the needs of cultural groups [multiple publics] and progress beyond the coexistence of difference [multiculturalism] into the cohabitation of difference through coproduction [interculturalism]?


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.

Physical Divisions Create Invisible Divisions: The Economic Desegregation of the Schools Districts

Chapter two of The City Assembled: Elements of Urban Form through History, by Spiro Kostof, focuses on the historical accounts of division within the urban city. What I liked most about this chapter was the connection between urban divisions and the culture of the city. The relationship between built environments and social structures is one of the main reasons I wanted to study design. I have always found the two interactions very interesting. The physical division within a city can (directly and indirectly) affect the social invisible divisions within the city, whether it’s intentional or not. “Urban divisions can also come about independent of- or even despite- the apparent intensions engraved in the city’s structure, or can develop within a formality smart neighborhood, or when the forced departure of a particular group, like the evacuation of the Jews from Alexandria under Nasser, radically transforms the internal makeup of the city “ (Kostof, The City Assembled: Elements of Urban Form through History , Page 72)

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Landscape Urbanism Field Work: Ca Mau, Vietnam

Design Research Questions:

  • How is the water structuring the territory AND daily life: in other words, what are the (cultural, social, economic) practices in and around the water (and this on different scale levels)?

  • How does life (living and moving) inscribe itself in the logics of the domesticated landscape? What are the settlement patterns and how are they affected by the city’s rapid modernization, motorization and the aspirations and expectations of modernity?


 Field Work Sample pdf (zip file) 

Field Work: Urban Fabric Ward 5/6 


Site 1:

 Camau’s dynamic transformation is constantly being argued in double fields of tension; the formal versus informal, new versus old, big versus small, modern versus traditional. Here , large banking investments , communist party establishments , large road infrastructure investments replace, retrofit and juxtapose existing informal tissue and old pedestrian accesses to usher a new urbanity.



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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)

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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 things at once which can be overwhelming.


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 :)

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Photo.  ©JoyAlise.- N LINE-My Social Cohesion




SPOTTED IN ASTORIA: on the corner of Vernon Boulevard and Broadway, The Socrates Sculptor Park. This park is truly a gem of the neighborhood. When I decided to take a trip to the Sculptor Park, I expected to see beautiful art at an arms distance. So you can imagine my surprise when I entered the gates of the park. Not only did I see children touching the sculptor but I witnessed them fully experiencing it. My only regret is that I didn’t visit this park before the winter. I cant wait for the many picnics and movie nights in this Spring.

Photo.  ©JoyAlise.-SOCRATES SCULPTOR PARK-My Social Cohesion


SPOTTED IN ASTORIA,NY  :on 30th avenue


Photo.  ©JoyAlise.-MAILBOX- My Social Cohesion


SPOTTED IN ASTORIA, NY : near the East River… my backyard

Photo.  ©JoyAlise.-MY BACKYARD-My Social Cohesion


SPOTTED IN ASTORIA, NY : at the triangle formed between 8th St., Astoria Blvd., and 30th Ave./Main Ave, a community garden. I find it so interesting that this 25,000 square feet plot can completely transform a neighborhood.  When I first moved  New York City, gardens were the last thing on my mind. I anticipated city lights, concrete sidewalks, tall sky scrapers, smog and  public transportation. Surprising,  I found  the Two Coves community garden two minutes from my apartment. As the winter quickly approaches, I look forward to the smell of fresh basil, Thyme and Oregano.

Photo.  ©JoyAlise.-SECRET LIFE OF PLANT- My Social Cohesion


SPOTTED IN ASTORIA, NY : on the corner of 27th avenue and 8th street, a pay phone. It’s strange that something so revolutionary in the late 1880s can be so obsolete in 2012. I wonder if William Gray knew his invention would still be around 100plus years later. The very notion that this pay-phone is still  in existence within Astoria Queens, is a testament that something as simple as a phone can still shape a community.

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Photo.  ©JoyAlise.-THE PAY PHONE-My Social Cohesion