Writing

I write about roofs, walls and fences: housing, homelessness, exclusion, enclosure.

Lately I’ve been fortunate to serve on the California Studies Association steering committee. It’s a privilege to work with real scholars there. Some links to our newsletter, which I currently edit:

For the September 2015 newsletter I worked with Carey McWilliams Award honoree Hiroshi Kashiwagi to blend two interviews conducted 13 years apart. Topics included his wartime incarceration at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, thoughts on Carey McWilliams as a writer, and current events, which already in 2015 involved comments on restricting citizenship by the future chief executive.

For much of 2014 I was editor of California Planning & Development Report. I was a contributing editor there for another year. I’m now working on a mix of freelance projects.

Laurie Shigekuni and I wrote for Discover Nikkei in spring 2015 about the filming of the “Farewell to Manzanar” TV movie on location at California’s largest wartime incarceration site, Tule Lake. With photos taken during the 1975 filming by the late Barbara Parker Narita. Part 1Part 2Part 3.

A few CP&DR news features that are outside the paywall:

Failed Architecture: “San Francisco’s NEMA: Parvenu Luxury, Surrealistically Marketed“, December 2013. On the use of futuristic hoopla to promote a fancy residence for young office workers that fits patterns established a hundred years ago.

Global Urbanist: Series published in 2012 on U.S. informal housing sites.

BeyondChron, coauthor with Angela Chan: “Should the SF Chronicle be proud of its award?” Jun. 19, 2009. What does it mean to treat an award from an anti-immigrant organization as an honor?

Chelsea House / Infobase Publishing, The Right To Privacy (2003), Search and Seizure (2005), Unions and Labor Laws (2009). Three small books in a “Point/Counterpoint” series introducing law-related political debates to U.S. high school students.

Shelterforce: “When Supportive Housing Isn’t“, Winter 2007. When formerly homeless people with disabilities move to “supportive housing” they don’t always live happily ever after. Supportive housing programs can be great when they’re run right, but they’re often sold politically as a way to reduce costs of emergency services. So it can be a question whether such programs do enough for tenants’ own wellbeing.

Affordable Housing Finance: I wrote a monthly regulatory column for AHF from 2002 through 2007 and ran the magazine’s weblog for two years (archive link here). That meant following HUD pretty closely during the subprime boom and the Katrina debacle. Some of my stories are still online:

“Pictures of George Orwell’s Spain”, Oct 2004, with photos by Joel VanderWerf. (Turns out we were a little off from the Republican positions on the ridge in Aragon — Here’s a comparison to the restored Ruta Orwell site west of the area we visited.)

POOR: “Goodbye, Mr. Stag”. Written during 2000-2001 before it all changed

The Baffler: “Fear and Lofting in a Silicon Boomtown“, Issue #14, summer 2001. People forget how much Web 1.0 had to do with San Francisco’s current economic polarization.

Bad Subjects:

Past personal weblogs:

Long ago: I trained as a journalist but went to law school.

It was during law school, as an intern with a legal aid office, that I first visited the Tule Lake Basin in northeastern California. Like many American small towns, it’s the beautiful site of both happy homes and painful injustices. Uniquely, it was the site of the Tule Lake Segregation Center, where more than 18,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. Other people have told and continue to tell stories of what happened inside the camp fence during those four years of incarceration. My main area of research is outside the fence. I’ve been trying for long time to write about how the wartime incarceration history interacts with the rest of Tule Lake’s very Wild West story.

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