Kristen Jeffers: Public Affairs and The Black Urbanist
To mark the North Carolina Humanities Council's 40th anniversary, every month in 2012 we'll ask our friends to respond, within the context of the humanities, to these three words: THINK. SEE. FEEL. So far, their responses are as individual as they are.
Kristen Jeffers has joined the North Carolina Humanities Council as the Public Affairs Officer. She holds a Master of Public Affairs with a concentration in community and economic development from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations from North Carolina State University. She is active in the Greensboro community, as well as the greater placemaking community through her website The Black Urbanist and speaking engagements at various community development conferences. She is an avid reader, writer, and connoisseur of music and food. She resides in Greensboro.
THINK. SEE. FEEL. with Kristen Jeffers
Think - My mind is constantly narrating, editing, and composing my world as a documentary, a music video, or a news talk show. Those videos co-star my wonderful multi-generational family and all their stories and food and music too. My friends, acquaintances, and people I work with on various projects make guest appearances and sometimes become recurring cast members. We’re usually talking about changing the world for the better. Finally, I’m coming to terms with how I see myself, who I am, and what my greater contribution to the world will be.
See - Life as an open book. Well, it’s more like a Kindle with modern accouterments, but a classic look. I like to think that I can read people and cultures well. I also see a map of wherever I’ve been in my head. Even if I’ve only been somewhere once, I can start to rebuild the map of the place in my head and get right back to where I was before.
Feel - Sure, then unsure. I also feel and feed off the warmth of people and their stories. It’s those feelings that compel me to write the words, to tell the stories, to create a community.
The Black Urbanist
The Black Urbanist has created a community of over 1,200 architects, planners, engineers, community developers, journalists, and citizens committed to celebrating the urban form as well as its diversity. I’ve been focused on urban design, urban planning, and other community development and maintenance issues for nearly two years now in various places in the blogosphere. Yet, that doesn’t tell the full story of my interest in the city and its quirks.
My dad was a key influence in my interest in the city. We used to bike around our working-class neighborhood, walk to the neighborhood ballpark, and go downtown to all the festivals. He also took me to more school buildings than I would care to share. In essence, I grew up with a love of architecture, gridded streets, trees, buses, trains, and lots of other things in the urban environment.
Now I bring this to [readers] in a format that is straightforward about who I am, a black urbanist, a young woman of African-American descent who likes all things in the built environment, especially when it comes to cities. I started to see a lot of online and printed material on placemaking that made me realize that it’s important to recognize and incorporate my culture into my blogging on the built environment.