THE GRID began in 2010 with Renée van Staveren, the Founder of Global Site Plans, blogging about branding, social media, content, and more – all related to environmental designers. Since its inception, the blog has grown to run weekly. Every weekday of the month The Grid is your destination for blogs related to architecture, engineering, environmental non-profits, landscape architecture, and urban planning. With a Featured Blogging staff of five, beginning in March 2011, and growing, Global Site Plans looks forward to providing you free and valuable information that relates to both the individual environmental designer, and firms. Furthermore, we hope that you will join our discussions and comment on what we are saying. Because without you, the reader, we would just be talking to ourselves. Below, please find a brief bio of each blogger.
Renée van Staveren: Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Renée van Staveren is the Founder of Global Site Plans. She holds a M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Environmental Planning and Policy from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She also holds a B.S. in Sustainable Community Development from Prescott College. Prior to establishing Global Site Plans and The Grid, Renée van Staveren was an Assistant Planner for A-M-M-A Transit Planning and the Program Director for Planet Green. You can find Renée blogging about featured environmental design firms, providing free website critiques via 15 Days of Fame, plus helping you achieve industry distinction through innovative discussions. Renée currently lives in Istanbul, Turkey; adding to the list of places she has traveled and lived.
Debra Hawryzki: Senior Editor
Debra Hawryzki is a recent business graduate from the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, where she obtained a concentration in marketing and a publishing minor.Although she grew up in Nanaimo and Victoria, she considers the Greater Vancouver area her home. As can be gleaned from her time at SFU, her interests lie with publishing and marketing. She is also interested in baking, music, and travelling to exotic locations. An avid fiction reader from a young age, Debra’s passion for books has naturally led to her interest in the field of publishing and editing. Volunteering at such events as Word on the Street and the Vancouver Writer’s Fest in her spare time helps Debra stay connected to the world she aspires to one day live and work in full-time. She plans to do a Masters in Publishing in the near future.
Elizabeth Bastian: Assistant Editor
Elizabeth Bastian is currently pursuing a B.A. in Urban and Regional Studies and Anthropology, along with a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems, from the University of Michigan at Dearborn. Growing up in the metro-Detroit area produced in her a vested interest in urban planning, environmental design, and community development. Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for her school newspaper, The Michigan Journal, President of the Cross Country Club on campus, and a member of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, Dearborn chapter. After graduation, she plans on obtaining a Master’s in Urban Planning and becoming an urban planning consultant, acting as a mediator between the neighborhood residents and the city planners.
Meg Ryan: Assistant Editor
Originally from south central Arkansas, Meg Ryan recently moved to Norman, Oklahoma, and is currently searching for a job in her field of interest. While attending the University of Arkansas at Monticello, studying to receive a B.A. in Speech Communication and a minor in English, she gained experience writing and editing for the university’s publications, including their newspaper, The Voice, and The Foliate Oak magazine. Her interests include traveling and reading. Meg hopes to eventually receive her Masters in Communication, and to teach at a college level.
Adam Dickinson: Assistant Editor & Social Media Coordinator
Adam recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in International Development and Environmental Science, and currently resides in Londres, Costa Rica. A native of Toronto, Canada, his experiences have centered around sustainable livelihoods and rural development. Whether working with migrant workers on Canadian farms, alternative schools in rural India, or agroforestry in the Caribbean, he enjoys being a part of rural transformation and revitalization. He is currently exploring these interests in his role as a Communications Officer with the International Analog Forestry Network. A dyed-in-the-wool bookworm, Adam’s love of the written word has led him to collaborate on several publications, contribute to exciting websites, and author a blog of his travels. His literary journey continues to the present day, where as an Assistant Editor, he has the pleasure of accompanying a team of talented, up-and-coming planners. An aspiring tweeter, he also helps coordinate The Grid’s social media presence.
Andrew Kinaci: Blogger
After graduating from Princeton University with an A.B. in Architecture and a Certificate in Urban Studies, Andrew Kinaci set out to the Midwest to break out of the insular world of academia, and into the direct service of non-profit work. After a year working on Chicago’s West Side with a social enterprise specializing in re-entry employment training for ex-felons, Andrew now works for a different organization conducting energy audits of multi-family affordable housing buildings. He will be blogging about the many ways Chicago is seeking a more sustainable and equitable urban future.
Jasna Hadzic: Blogger
Born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but having spent most of her adult life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.; Jasna Hadzic has been greatly influenced by both cultures, most specifically in terms of architecture, planning, and design. The transition of living in a small European pedestrian-oriented city to a large and vehicle-oriented American city greatly influenced her interest in the field of planning. She came to appreciate the vibrant, culturally diverse and faster-pace of life, while also looking toward her native city as a paradigm of sustainable living with traditional architecture, multi-modal transportation systems, and pedestrian-friendly spaces and streets.A recent Master’s graduate in Community and Regional Planning and G.I.S from Iowa State University, Jasna’s Thesis focused on the analysis of the built environment and demographic factors that influence physical activity, while examining street connectivity and infrastructure. In addition, Jasna holds a B.E.D. in Environmental Design, with a minor in Urban Studies, from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her most recent work experience as a Planning Research Assistant at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, as well as volunteer work with the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has exposed her to new city projects, as well as community engagement. Her career goal is to not only work directly on sustainable urban design projects, but to also ensure equitable and sustainable planning practices.
Luis Lozano-Paredes: Blogger
Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution.Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University.Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.
Jennifer García: Blogger
Born and raised in the Midwest, Jennifer García now enjoys the energy and quality of life that Miami has to offer. Professionally, she uses traditional architecture and the principles of New Urbanism in her consulting work at Garcia Design Studio. Based on careful research, she designs each project within the context of the local architectural language, distinct culture, and regional settlement patterns. She proudly holds aMaster of Architecture from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Traveling has taught her to immerse herself into each place’s history, culture, traditions, and how they contribute to the range of urbanism and local vernacular. She also enjoys blogging as a local transit advocate for Transit Miami. Her daily bicycle commutes reinforce her belief in nurturing a living urbanism with livable streets.
Lisa Gran: Blogger
Lisa Gran is an undergraduate student studying Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As an aspiring engineer, Lisa is especially interested in the utilization and development of environmentally sound materials in sustainable planning and design. As she progresses in her studies, she is finding more and more that her passion lies in sustainable urban design and engineering principles, drawing inspiration from cities around the globe. Although reporting from the mid-western city of Lincoln, Lisa is setting out to explore how Lincoln is becoming a place of innovation for sustainability.
Meg Mulhall: Blogger
Meg Mulhall is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She calls Kalamazoo, Michigan her hometown but is currently exploring community organizing and urban planning efforts in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan. Planning to pursue a degree in either public policy or political science, Meg is interested in the relationship between government and non-governmental organizations and how those relationships can help remedy the lack of responsible and smart planning-related policies.
Steven Petsinis: Blogger
Steven Petsinis is an Urban Planning graduate from Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in Urban Research and Development projects in Medellin, Colombia and Saigon, Vietnam and is currently pursuing his masters in Melbourne, Australia. His main interests lie in land use and social planning, sustainability, as well as studies involving globalization and it’s effect on third world communities. He has recently spent one year travelling throughout North and South America, as well as Europe, where he has gathered material and inspiration for his upcoming blogs for The Grid.
Sunny Menozzi: Blogger
Sunny Menozzi’s military duties have taken her to diverse and exciting places; from Singapore to Arizona, South Korea to Afghanistan, and North Carolina to Hawaii. Sunny’s travels inspired her interest in cities, especially how they function, the impact of the built environment on the residents, the methods planners employ to shape natural features, and the vibrancy that can be cultivated by good planning and design. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in planning with a focus on re-use and historic preservation, community-building, and economic and environmental sustainability. She hopes to contribute to projects that re-purpose military bases. An avid runner, Sunny is interested in the design of recreational trails and policies that encourage the development of walkable communities. She holds a B.S. in International Relations and Russian from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Alkisti Victoratou: Blogger
Alkisti Victoratou originates from Andros, a Cycladic island in Greece, and has lived and studied in Thessaloniki, England, Spain, and Athens – where she currently resides. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and in Architecture from the National Technical University of Athens. Having this multicultural and interdisciplinary background gives her a better understanding of socially sensitive urban issues. Her dissertation thesis in Architecture dealt with the study and assessment of the legislation relating to Bioclimatic Architecture in the European Mediterranean countries of France, Spain, and Greece. Her interests also extend to sustainable technologies and parametric design, contributing to building design and urbanism. During her internship with The Grid, she will concentrate on the most important top-down and bottom-up urban transformations of Athens during their current Crisis. Her aspirations are to further her academic and professional specializations in urban issues and sustainable design.
Allyson McAbee: Blogger
Allyson McAbee is a graduate of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge with a degree in Landscape Architecture. Currently living in New Orleans, Louisiana she works at a residential design, build firm while volunteering at gardens and farms around the city. Traveling to various countries initially sparked her interests in Landscape Architecture. While traveling, her desire to understand relationships between various cultures and their environments became apparent. Immediately after graduating Allyson continued her passion for traveling before making a home in New Orleans. In the Big Easy her love for culture, people, food, dancing, music, visual and performance art are available by walking down the street. Allyson plans to pursue a Masters in Urban Studies with a focus on anthropology. Finding fulfillment in community social planning, she would like to not only design with the environment in mind, but for the people who live in it. Her writing will be reflective of her interests in cultural relationships to land.
Laura Granieri: Blogger
Laura Granieri graduated from Ball State University in the spring of 2012 with a Bachelor in Urban & Regional Planning. Upon graduating, she moved to Indianapolis and accepted a position as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Laura is passionate about urban planning and the relationship between people and the cities in which they live. In her free time, she enjoys attending events around downtown Indy. For The Grid, Laura will be writing about the exciting changes happening in Indianapolis as the city focuses on redevelopment projects, a new transportation system, and a downtown comprehensive plan.
Gina Kiani: Blogger
Gina Kiani is a Graduate student at the University of Southern California and will complete a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology in the Fall of 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of California Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Urban Environments. The primary direction of her objectives and pursuits focus on the use of Geographic Information Science (GIS) to facilitate Sustainable Urban Planning. Her interest in GIS concerns how spatial analysis can provide an over-arching context to many of the themes that are relevant to the interpretation of data and information required in efficient decision-making and modeling. With indisputable evidence of anthropogenic induced climate change, she hopes to utilize GIS in areas such as change detection of atmospheric composition and water levels, epidemic outbreaks, deforestation, reforestation, energy and food production etc., to contribute to the continual characterization, monitoring and evaluation of natural resources for sustainability purposes. Her skill-set includes dissecting and performing the critical components of a site suitability analysis, sustainability inventory, spatial analysis, field techniques for GIST, programming and customization, spatial database management, research and dissemination. Her final year of study will include project management and her thesis in GIS for Sustainable Urban Planning. As the Oakland and Berkeley California correspondent for Global Site Plans, she hopes to remain current on relevant development issues and discover emerging GIS strategies while advocating for sustainable planning.
Sarah Essbai: Blogger
Sarah Essbai graduated recently with a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Ball State University in Indiana where she pursued her studies as a Fulbright scholar. Prior to moving to the US, Sarah obtained her Diplome d’Architecte from the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture in Rabat, Morocco. In Morocco, Sarah worked on the development of a green lodging facility in the Moroccan desert as well as the historic rehabilitation of the historic center of Fez, her hometown. Sarah’s interests include affordable housing, which was the subject of her master’s thesis, community development, real estate crowdfunding and social design. She believes that within these topics, sustainability should be inherent and should be a necessary component of every design project and development.
Alexandra Serbana: Blogger
Because of her strong background in Urban Planning and Design, from her bachelor’s at “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, in Bucharest, Romania, Alexandra decided to pursue planning from the perspective of policy and decision-making. She is passionate about traveling and experimenting with new cities, and moved to Milan, Italy where she is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Urban Planning, Policy, and Design at Politecnico di Milano. The experience of working and living in the multicultural city of Milan has sparked her interest in the reaction of urban places to new real-estate developments, as well as conflict resolution for urban design projects that reorganize urban city life. She hopes to make an improvement on the way cities deal with physical urban changes and their effect on the quality of social and environmental life.
Nick Danty: Blogger
Nick Danty is a graduate of the Geography and Planning Department at California State University, Chico and currently works at the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) in Santa Rosa. Nick has been involved in several programs at RCPA, but is most proud of the 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Project, for which he served as the project manager and outreach coordinator. A Northern California native who calls his single-family detached dwelling home, Nick is not a stranger to the ills of suburban sprawl and the toll it takes on human and physical environments. Nick’s travels to Europe and throughout North America have shown him preventing and retrofitting sprawl is possible through intelligent neighborhood design, beautiful architecture, mitigation banking, innovative transit systems and visionary urban and rural plans. He is very excited about writing for The Grid, and plans on discussing projects and programs happening at his agency related to transportation planning, climate adaptation, livability, urban land development, and environmental conservation.
Greg Shermeto: Blogger
Greg Shermeto is a recent graduate at the State University of New York at Buffalo with a B.A. in Environmental Design. While studying,Greg worked on projects including the South Buffalo Trolley and Trail System, which helped to connect the Western New York Railway Historical Society’s railroad museum to the downtown corridor. He has also worked for the University at Buffalo’s Center for Urban Studies, where Greg assisted with the redevelopment of the Perry Choice neighborhood in downtown Buffalo. Greg also spent a semester studying the built environment of the Baltic States in Estonia and Latvia. Greg’s interests include transportation planning and community design, and the efforts to make urban areas accessible and functional for the future. For the Grid, Greg will be writing about planning issues and topics about the city of Pittsburgh, where he currently resides.
Abbey Seitz: Blogger
Abbey Seitz is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Design of Art in Architecture and minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Growing up in a small suburb of St Paul, Minnesota, she knew no different than cold snowy winters filled with snowball fights and summers spent swimming in one of Minnesota’s many lakes. It was there that she gained an interest for the urban environment. This interest brought her to study in Chicago, Honolulu, and now Minneapolis, where she has honed her studies; how we can design and repair our cities to be environmentally sustainable and livable. Specifically in Minneapolis, she is intrigued in investigating how livable communities can be created through complete streets, public transportation, and urban agriculture.
A Large Thank You to Previous The Grid Contributors:
Andy Carr, Amanda Bosse, Dafni Dimitriadi, Steven Chang, Sean Glowacz, Michael Jenkins, Maxwell Vidaver, Katherine (Katie) Poppel , Jessica Yoon, James Gardner, Geoff Bliss, Devon Paige Willis, Alex Lenhoff , Alex Riemondy, Aascot Holt, Joshua Larson, Mary Heberling, Finbar Gillen, Courtney McLaughlin, Bonnie Rodd, Athina Kyrgeorgiou, Luise Letzner, Evan Comen, Michael Lytton, Jamaal Davis, Jordan Rockerbie, Matthew Traucht, Ellen Schwaller, Kennith George, Wanyi Song, Selin Mutdoğan, Patricia Kent, Alexandria Stankovich, Akua Nyame-Mensah, Miriam Ansorena, Lillian Mathews, Nazlı Ödevci, Erman Eruz, Alex Banuelos, Jeff Jilek, Jordan Meerdink, Benjamin Ha, Ubaid Khan, Christine Camilleri, Ashley Roberts, Nina Coveney, Sarah Thomas, Barrett Lane, Yosef Robinson, Laura Paterson, Daniel Sheehan, Shelley Rekte, Paul Drummond, Jessica DeVries, Nidia Garcia-Erceg, Ryan Champlin and Pamela Abee-Taulli.
Global Site Plans is consistently seeking new bloggers for The Grid. If you are a student or professional with a passion and talent for writing about architecture, engineering, urban planning, landscape architecture, and related fields, and are able to make a minimum 6-month commitment, then Global Site Plans wants you as a contributing blogger. Visit http://www.globalsiteplans.com/internship for more details.