Cafeaplis — coffe + community @ minneapolis

A New Focus

I began this blog way back in 2007 with a three-fold intention: 1. get to know the Twin Cities better by visiting, and writing about, independent coffee shops in the metro area, 2. practice my writing, and 3. get into graduate school. It worked well for those purposes and I received encouraging feedback about the blog from many readers (thank you!). Obviously it’s been awhile since I’ve written here, again for three reasons: 1. I got into graduate school, 2. I was very busy while in graduate school, 3. I’ve since graduated and my interests in writing have changed. Coffee shops no longer hold my curiosity as a subject matter, but they are certainly great places to get some work and writing done (for example: I’m sitting in Peace Coffee on Minnehaha Avenue – love this place! Also wish they had more evening hours….).

Since graduating with a Masters in Landscape Architecture in 2010, I’ve been working as a research fellow at the Metropolitan Design Center in the University of Minnesota’s College of Design. We function as a small think tank/consulting non-profit, assisting communities and cities in the metro area with research, planning, and conceptual design on urban design projects. We’ve worked on streetscapes, parks, housing, greenway plans, and many other issues. I get to do research, create graphics, design a bit, and help with community workshops. I love what I do and I’d like to keep doing it.

My favorite part, aside from knowing that we are helping communities make good urban design decisions, is the research. I love immersing myself in interesting topics, figuring out how to communicate my findings to other people, and seeing how what I’ve learned can make a difference in real ways. For example, in 2011, we worked with a Minneapolis neighborhood to reduce crime in a nearby park. I got to research how crime evolves in parks and how neighborhoods can fight back. In a nutshell, we discovered that busy parks are safe parks and that neighborhoods need to “take back” their parks by making their presence known and using the space. Since learning this, the neighborhood has started a non-profit dedicated to the park and has programmed weekly events in the park. MPR did a story about the changes the neighborhood has made. I’ve heard that since then, crime has greatly diminished in the park.

This experience convinced me that research does not have to be a frivolous pursuit by a nerdy person sequestered in an academic vacuum that never sees the light of day beyond a library. It can have real and lasting impact on real world problems. And that is what interests me. That is what I’d like to continue doing.

While doing research, I come across many amazing resources, fascinating tidbits of history, and interesting facts or ideas. This collection of articles, photographs, graphics, and ideas about cities, culture, history, and the environment are just gathering digital dust in my computer. So I’d like to share some of what I’m learning here on Cafeapolis, because others might find it equally as interesting – or maybe even life-changing, who knows. In many ways the blog is for me: to help me practice my writing and to have a display case for what I find. If it is successful and evolves into something really worthwhile, I may transport it to a “real” blog with its own name and intent. But in the meantime Cafeapolis will now function as my virtual workspace and fun informal project. You are welcome to follow along with me!

1 Comment

  • […] in winter right now. Research for the second phase of the park project (mentioned in the last post) is exploring how the neighborhood can embrace winter in the park, activating it year-round to keep […]

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© Copyright 2006 Adrienne Bockheim.