In thinking about what I want to accomplish and discussing it with a colleague I made this declaration.

I want everyone to look at their own home with the eye of an explorer.

It is a brief enough statement but what does it mean?

I want…this should probably be read as:

“I want to make…”

“I want to help…”

“I want to teach…”

or better yet “I want to inspire…”

Is merely wanting people to change their perceptions what I am attempting to express? Or is their another phrase meant to direct my actions? If there is a verb missing somewhere, what is it?

What do I use to make/help/teach/inspire?

everyone: it is either a disgustingly vague assertion or an impossibly huge endeavor. Everyone!

“I want everyone…” Presumptuous, isn’t it? Who are they? How do I reach them?

to look at: I do not only mean “to look”. I also mean to touch, to hear, to taste, to sense your place. Looking, the eye, are devices in my own expression not limitations on possible future experiences.

their own home: This is more than their domicile. This would be any space identified as theirs: the domestic space, the building, the street, the neighborhood, the town, the city, the state, the nation. Any place that arouses their loyalty and affection. That feeling of intimacy is necessary if developing this vision is to have a deeper purpose. Mostly, I am thinking of the spaces closest to us, the ones we know the best, the answer to the question “Where are you from?”

with the eye: Not the eyes, the eye. This implies an alteration of the mind and a redirection of the heart. This would not only be an increase in the absorption of details but also an increase in appreciation.

of an explorer: If we are developing the eye and deepening our affection for home what else do we need to prevent parochial attitudes, exclusion, blind partisanship, and the denigration of other places and experiences? We need a measure of detachment. We need context. We need to be an explorer, not a conqueror or a colonizer but an observer in the field. We need to seek greater understanding and new experiences to prevent our vision from slowly sinking into a lazy aestheticism and nostalgia. It is necessary to attempt to understand how things function. Their purposes and who they serve. Their origins and the sources of their longevity and power or their degradation and decline. We need an understanding that gets beyond “this is lovely and good and will, of course, last forever” and “this is terrible but nothing can be done but to leave.”

My idealized explorer sees causes and effects but does not interfere; the citizen, the home maker, the resident, the neighbor how would they behave if they could see what the explorer sees? Would they work to maintain what is good? Those places and traditions that serve not only themselves but as many other people as possible?

Would this new vision prompt them to preserve history, buildings, and materials? Inspire creativity and deter wastefulness?

I think this is the hope and purpose behind the original statement. The question arises again: How?



Posted in architecture, landmarks, preservation, Urban Design | Leave a comment


How far is church?

How far is church when you have to walk there?

How far is church when everyone else rides in a car?

Continue reading

Posted in general | Leave a comment

My City

My city is a great ship
and the water is on fire

we’re in the know, oh so hip
it’s always been a funeral pyre

we go about our business
what else can you do

when every step you take
leads past a grave or two

we know where the bodies are buried
where coins dropped from their eyes

where impatient spirits are ferried
and heavy smoke muffles their cries

Posted in general | Leave a comment

Friday Night in Siem Reap 01/23/2015


Posted in general | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bayon, Angkor Thom 01/20/2015


Continue reading

Posted in architecture, landmarks, preservation | Leave a comment

Banteay Srei 01/18/2015


Posted in architecture, landmarks, preservation | Leave a comment

Preah Khan I 01/15/2015

Preah Kahn 1 by Ellen Brenna Continue reading

Posted in architecture, landmarks, preservation | Leave a comment

Chores 01/11/2015

I spent a slow day doing chores instead of busily pedaling around Siem Reap trying to take as many photos as possible. I got a little sunburned yesterday and that always makes me sleepy.

The temples, the mopeds, the gaudy shops, the dusty side streets, the tuk tuks, the roadside stalls, and the crowds will be there tomorrow morning.

Posted in general | Leave a comment

Will “protected cultural zones” save heritage sites in Syria?

Gates of Nineveh: An Experiment in Blogging Assyriology

Earlier this month UNESCO held a major conference in Paris on cultural heritage destruction in Iraq and Syria. Headlining remarks by UNESCO director Irina Bokova emphasized that there is “no purely military solution” to the conflict and that bringing about peace will involve promoting ideological change. “To fight fanaticism, we also need to reinforce education, a defence against hatred, and protect heritage, which helps forge collective identity.”

To accomplish these ends, four ideas seem to have received prominent discussion:

1) Again emphasize the need to implement the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties in the Event of Armed Conflict, which has been raised by UNESCO before. The trouble is, there is pretty much zero motivation for any of the major actors on the ground in Syria to observe its stipulations.

2) Collect evidence for possible prosecution of people who intentionally destroy heritage sites as war…

View original post 1,531 more words

Posted in general | Leave a comment

Inside Angkor Wat 01/10/2015

Angkor Wat 1 by Ellen Brenna Continue reading

Posted in architecture, landmarks, preservation | Leave a comment