Friday, May 30, 2008

Alden Library Award Winners:
Annual Student Research & Creative Activity Fair, May 2008

Two participants in the Research and Creative Activities Fair have been awarded prizes for their extensive use of Ohio University Library resources. These students were judged by a panel of librarians to have made the best use of the library for their research projects including materials, services, and spaces.

Graduate Award Winner: Kevin Fox
Graduate Award:
Dean of Libraries Scott Seaman pictured with Kevin Fox. His project was “Athens Geographic Expedition Report No. 2: — a [People’s] History of College Green”

Monday, February 4, 2008

Using the Geographer's Tools to Address Local Issues

This site was set up to engage the greater Athens - Ohio University community to examine some local social issues geographically in order to better understand their nuances and help contribute to the production of knowledge - local and not-so-local.

The main issue that has been followed is the 'free speech zone' debate at OU. There are some postings below. I have been personally interested in how the zoning of speech affects traditional public forum. In this case the College Green.

Other posts explore the role of psychogeography, namely the derive (French Situationists), in deconstructing our previous perceptions of the city of Athens. By taking purposeful walks throughout the city we saw things we never experienced in the normal paths of everyday (to/from work, to/from class). By creating mathematical algorithms (i.e. first left, second right) we went out on walks and documented some of what we saw. There are many ways to do this. We also walked and traversed the path of least resistance. At any given time along the way if we felt like we should turn, especially because we felt resistant to going down a certain block, then that is what we did. I think we did it the other way, too - following the path of most resistance.

The name 'Athens Geographic Expedition' comes from the pioneering work of Bill Bunge in the cities of Detroit and Toronto with his Detroit and Toronto Geographical Expeditions. He helped to redefine how geographers could engage their work with local communitites.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Counter Mapping

Counter the narrow vision of space instead of countering with an equally narrow vision of space. Is the counter an offering of the multiplicity of layers and the inventory of spatiality its own commentary on the narrow? Perhaps.

Here are some examples of some different counter mapping projects. Athens could explore its own cartographic imagination and come up with something. Any suggestions?

One favorite is the Counter Cartographies Collective (3Cs) 'disOrientation Guide' to the University of North Carolina. I wonder if something similar could be done for Ohio U?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


“Student Voices: College Green has served as a forum for the voices of Ohio University’s Students throughout its history. Whether supporting civil rights, advocating for the abolishment of women’s curfews, or in protest, students have and will continue to play a vital role in shaping Ohio University”. Interestingly enough, this plaque lies on the walkway a few feet from the very same War Memorial that has been at the center of this controversy.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Free Speech Zones on College Green

College Green used to be an open forum. The current zoning policy limits group interactions to the yellow 'zones'.

Free Speech Zones at OU

There are 22 such 'zones' located across the Athens campus.

Memory and Place

The Class of 2005 dedicated plaques to celebrate the College Green. They certainly contribute to give any passersby a sense of the place that is College Green.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Policy Precedent

OU Administrators claim their speech policy has legal footing due to the following case, Spingola v. Ohio.

The Civil War Monument

On the College Green the space around the Civil War Monument is perhaps the most contested. Erected in 1893 by the Athens Veterans Commission and funded by the Ohio people, it has embodied a good deal of conflict since it was placed on the Green, especially when it was home to the anti-war protests during the Vietnam area. During that time local veterans groups wanted to remove it from the Green because they thought the student protesters were desecrating what the monument stood for. Today the War Monument is not a zone where free speech activities are guaranteed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Free Speech on OU's College Green

On November 3, 2006 students at Ohio University (OU) took to the War Memorial on College Green to protest the War in Iraq by holding a vigil for fallen American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Over winter break a student leader was sent a letter to his home outlining how the actions of his group, the newly reorganized local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), violated University speech/ ‘use of outdoor space’ policies. On February 2, 2007 these students consolidated their efforts with other students and returned to the War Memorial to protest the idea of ‘free speech zones’ and to highlight the lack of a public forum for the student voice. Nationwide, university administrators have introduced similar policies that place geographical restrictions on speech activities by regulating where these activities take place. Free speech zones on campuses across the country have received national attention in the last decade in the popular press as well as in scholarly writing.

College Green at OU has a long tradition as a forum for the University community, but yet in recent years has been regulated by zoning policies. According to students involved in the activities on February 2, the rally was about the larger goal of finding a forum where students’ voices would be recognized and heard. Following the tradition passed down from their predecessors from the 1970’s, students have used, and continue to use, College Green as a forum for expressing and exercising their freedom of speech. See figures 2 and 3 below for scenes depicting the use of the College Green as a forum for the exchange of ideas in both the 1970s and in 2007.

After witnessing the February 2 protest/rally my interest was piqued and I decided to take this on as a project. On that day I was walking across College Green on my way to a local cafe, entering the Green from the Southeast corner near Galbreth Chapel. Upon entering the Green I noticed a University official speaking with passersby about how he was just making sure nothing got out of hand. Also there were two uniformed policeman standing at attention – one at the foot of the stairs of Chubb Hall and the other on the West Portico of Memorial Auditorium.

I walk through this place everyday; I consider it to be a ‘public square’. Never had I seen or felt such a presence of authority there. I had not yet fully contemplated the meaning of this place or the rules – both spoken and unspoken – which exist to regulate interaction in its spaces. As I approached the War Memorial I began to hear the speeches by the different student activists. One of those students, I would find out later, was the SDS member who had received the official letter. I watched for twenty or thirty minutes. The same official that I had passed by back near Cutler Hall approached and spoke to other faculty and staff, who watched from a distance, reiterating what he had told the others – that he was there to make sure nothing got out of hand. Never did the official attempt to break up the event. Other people commented about how the students were ‘trying to recreate the 70’s’.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


2/3/07 Sun to Cloud
Arctic wind sweeping through.
Flip coin to start at Court/Washington.
Flip coin to go left. L-R-R.

Circling around alleyways of uptown. Film students near Wendy's dumpster.
Why are there not any Free Speech murals - large paintable bulletin boards to write whatever it is you need to.
Guts of uptown - back street alleyways. Circle around again LRR.
End at Red Brick house.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Athens walk

1/27/07 Cloudy
From Public Library
on Lincoln where sidewalk gives way to tree.

Elmwood, the sidewalk ends where the houses are taxed less.

Lost Cat, Gone Again.

Falling Rocks. Where was the point from where I saw what is my first lasting memory of Athens? Where was all that looting?

Back to Mt Zion Baptist Church. Wet phonebooks and cranberry juice.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A New Starting Point

Athens, OH dérive - January 27th, 2007 - 45 degrees F - 4:10 p.m.

Start: Athens Library - Home St and Lincoln St
Decided on Second Left and First Right algorithm.

Head down Lincoln St following....

2nd Left - onto Meadow Lane into a small housing complex with identical duplex homes. Two rows of homes. Homes appear very uniform. Built for affordability and utility. Due to the "U" path of the road, our next Right is onto Lincoln. This would take us back to the Library parking lot which we would exit and come back down Lincoln and take a second left onto Meadow Lane. We've entered a loop. Rather than enter the Library parking lot we follow the curve and take second Left onto Elmwood Dr.
1st Right - onto Lorene Ave.
2nd Left - onto E. State St.
1st Right - quick Right onto Ransom St. E. State Street divides the neighborhoods.
Forced Left - onto McGuffey Ln.
2nd Left - onto Tulane St. which is a split street, but both called Tulane St.
1st Right - back onto E. State St.
2nd Left - onto S. Shannon St. back into starting point neighborhood.
1st Right - onto Elmwood, a bricked road with large brick homes.
2nd Left - back onto E. State St. again!
1st Right - onto small, steep Merkle St. We might be off E. State for good now, and back into predominately college housing.
2nd Left and forced - onto Grosvenor St.
1st Right - up small, alley-like Fort St. Turns into a larger street and follows along top of hill and leads back down to....
2nd Left - Congress Street.

We end on Congress Street and Carpenter Street by Mt. Zion church.

Originally I thought starting at by the Library we would explore the adjacent neighborhood much more but with skipping the first left, it takes us a bit further away than I expected. This is a small area. Second turns may often not happen on some of the streets. We need to decide a standard rule for these situations to follow. Or do we decide each separate dérive and let the path take us as it goes?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Different Toss, Same Algorithm

Athens, OH dérive- January 24th, 2007 - 31 degrees F

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Start: Ark and Mound
1st Coin Toss: Heads start down Mound - Tails start down Ark. Tossed Heads.
2nd Coin Toss: Heads take a Left - Tails take a Right. Tossed Tails.

1st Left, 1st Right Algorithm

1st Left - onto shortcut alley.
1st Right - onto Carpenter Street shortway back towards Mound.
Next Left - back onto Mound
Next Right - onto main part of Carpenter

I just ended up where I would have if I had walked straight down Mound.

Next Left - what I think is an alley off of Carpenter but it turns into a parking lot. Look around and take some pictures. Walk back out to Carpenter.
Repeat Left - onto 1st Street. I've never been on this street yet it's so close to home. Steep street. No sidewalk. Cemetary on the left.
Next Right - Walker Street. Still no sidewalk. No Outlet sign ahead but....
Next Left - I turn before entering the No Outlet. Interesting road layout. Two lefts onto roads nearly parallel. I take the 1st left according to algorithm. I'm not really sure what road I'm on. West Hills Road above.

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The two roads combined again.

Next Right - onto Slaughter Road.
Next Left - onto Rardin Avenue. Quite road with 70's style homes. Seems as if it is a thru street for traffic.
Forced to turn Left onto Schafer. Sidewalk starts.
Next Right - onto Clarke Street.
Next Left - onto Central Avenue. Pass West Elementary. A few kids sledding.
Next Right - onto West State Street which leads directly to the power plant and no outlet. I take a Left instead. I will take Next Right due to forced Left. Pass the infamous Miller's Chicken.
Next Right - back onto Schafer Street. Pass a restaurant (Mistretta's) and see a new store, Beads & Things. The University Commons on the Right.
Next Left - Washington Street. Passed the West End Tavern - whatever happened to West End Tavern? Lots of alleys on the Left but none on the Right. I pass the girl who was running he camera from the lecture las night.
Next Right - onto Maple Street. Cross paths with old man I passed on West Hills Street. Is he on a
dérive too?
Next Left - into an alley. I think twice about going down it. Maybe it's another parking lot, or a place I'm not suppose to be.
Next Right - another alley with two loudly whining beagles.
Next Left - onto Byard Street. Quiet but void of office building and storage?
Next Right - Smith Street. Very quick and then a turn onto....
Next Left - Foster Place. A abandoned looking, very large home on the Right.
Forced Right - Interesting homes across from each other. One is very run down and the other is a brand new apartment type building.
Next Right - onto Union Street.
Next Left - onto Factory Street. Now out of neighborhood and into Ohio University facility buildings.
Next Right - Moore Street. Feels more like an alley or thruway than a road.
Next Left - onto S. Schafer Street. Bank on the left and practice fields on the right. Hospital after fields. Following the river and bike path.

End at Richland and Schafer.

Monday, January 22, 2007

dérive in Athens

First dérive in Athens, OH. January 20
32 degrees F
2:50 PM to 4:00 PM

Leave from corner of Ark and Mound. Out Ark (coin toss tails). Take left (coin toss heads).

1st left, first right algorithm. Back alleys down off W. State
shotgun row houses. Public graffiti.
4 benches outside Baker
busyness of campus

VOID at Maya Lin

Border between machines (cars) and speed and
pedestrian non-friendliness AND
campus walking windy roads where cars can't go fast.

Cross the Hocking. Right/Left. Ridges. Circle around.